Raspberry Pi Plex server issues with ext ssd

Alright, apologies if this has been covered already but I’ve been working on and off trying to get Plex on my Pi to recognize my media files I have stored on a external USB SSD. I understand this is due to how Linux handles file permissions and I found a few tutorials on how to bypass the permissions, etc, but have had no luck so far. Any Pi pros here that know the correct way to get Plex to recognize external drives? Or is there a detailed tutorial that I’ve missed that explains this? Thanks in advance!

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I haven’t tried running Plex on a Pi, but to start with the basics, are you able to browse the disk independent of Plex? Do you see your files if you run the ‘ls’ command on the disk?

If not, assuming the disk is formatted with NTFS, you may need to install a software package to enable NTFS support on your Pi. Take a look at this site for a quick guide - Raspberry Pi NTFS: Adding Support for NTFS File System - Pi My Life Up

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How is the drive formatted?

How are you mounting it? Have you added it to the list of mounted drives or are you relying on the desktop mounting system? The latter will only work with a logged on user, AFAIK.

The best way would be to use FAT32, which, if the video files are large, but under 4GB, is probably the most flexible way of doing things, if you are going to use the drive with other systems, otherwise format it native Linux.

NTFS has been read-only for over a decade, but writing files is more complicated and needed an external driver up until recently. Writing access was considered “experimental” with Kernel drivers. I’m not sure what level of support PiOS has. As @knewman says, there are guides to adding NTFS support, if your drive is formatted that way.

Mounting is also a thing. You need to mount the drive into the OS. I believe the desktop will only mount when the user is logged on - something you generally don’t do on a server. You will possibly need to add it to as a permanent mount point (this also means it will always be in the same location).


It’s also worthy noting that Plex isn’t meant for playing random files. Its design is such that it expects the files to be constantly in the same place, and then you add the path to that place into the Plex configuration and it reads data from the files to build its user interface. The places it presents files from are called libraries, and you can have multiple of them, but the files need to be reliably in the same place for that to work as designed.


Alright so I’m getting back a month later and messed up a config file fiddling with settings so I just ended up reimaging the card. For the record this is the tutorial I’m using to setup: How to Setup a Raspberry Pi Plex Server - Pi My Life Up

As for my drive- I formatted it gpt – i think that’s the linux format if i’m not mistaken
Updates to come-- thanks everyone for the advice so far!

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Technically GPT is only the partition table, and then you need to choose a filesystem for any given partition (you probably only have one.) In Linux land EXT3 or EXT4 are pretty common filesystems, and for NASes btrfs is becoming increasingly common. There are many other choices, more than you probably want to know about. Understanding Linux filesystems: ext4 and beyond | Opensource.com

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Alright, I’ve doublechecked my drive format and it is ntfs formatted. ntfs-3g is installed. The part I’m getting stuck at right now is changing Plex’s default user from plex to pi. Most point to the plexmediaserver.prev file to be changed using nano. however, the file doesn’t exist and when you try to change it, you basically just make a new blank file. Has this step changed since that tutorial was made?
Also, is Plex looking for a specific directory structure?

thanks again!

I can’t imagine any reason why you need to have a specific user ID. I can’t see why Plex would need root privileges. It’s smarter and safer to run web facing services under their own user ID so that if they get compromised they are restricted to having less system access. You, as the admin, should be able to set user to any account you need. “sudo su plex” for example.

so after many months and not a lot of time to play around with it, I finally got some free time and managed to get PMS to recognize my media files after manually mounting the drive and giving user plex ownership to the drive. (Raspberry Pi Mount a USB Drive Tutorial - Pi My Life Up) I guess I overlooked this section of the tutorial :man_facepalming:

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Nice, glad you got it figured out!

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