Configure Plex Media Server to Allow Offline Access

Internet down? Good thing you host your own media server...or so you think...

Configure Plex Media Server to Allow Offline Access Photo by qimono from Pixabay

Introduction

I have been running Plex Media Server for quite a few years and enjoy self hosting all of my family’s media files. With self hosting, you do not need to rely on the Internet and cloud services. Being in control of your own data increases privacy. Imagine my dismay when my Internet was down in my neighborhood and receiving an error accessing Plex on the Apple TV. Then I tried to access the web interface and the same thing happened. I tried restarting Plex and still nothing.

Plex Authorization

So I began Googling about the issue and after a while I found the solution. When you set up a Plex account, it makes it easy to login to your server locally and remotely. The login experience is seamless regardless of the network you are logging in from. However, there is a tradeoff – it requires an Internet connection. Even if you are already signed into Plex on your devices, you still cannot access your Plex server. Being on the local network does not matter. It was very frustrating to not to be able to log into my server on my own network.

The Solution

Fortunately, Plex has a setting to allows the network addresses you specify to access Plex without authorization on the “Settings > Network” page. You could enter your entire local network range or just specific network(s) separated by commas in the “List of IP addresses and networks that are allowed without auth” box. If you have multiple networks in the 192.168.0.0 range such 192.168.10.0 and 192.168.20.0 you could enter 192.168.0.0/16 to include both ranges.

Plex Offline Settings

Important: This setting must be set while you have Internet access – otherwise, you will not have access to the web administration page to change the settings!

It is a shame that Plex has defaulted to not allowing access to your local Plex server when your Internet connection is down. As long as you are online, logging in is easy to do, but once you go offline, you lose access to everything. I am not sure how long ago this changed, but I am glad I have it resolved. I thought I would write about this issue in case you may experience something similar and be surprised like I was. I really enjoy the Plex experience but this is one thing that is frustrating especially since I paid for a lifetime PlexPass to use all the features they have to offer. Please Plex, let me run my server locally even when my Internet is down.