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Plex Cloud Solves the App's Biggest Problem

Plex, the popular media server program, has grown from a niche OS X app into one of the most powerful tools in a cord-cutter’s arsenal. As both aficionados and critics can attest, though, Plex has one critical limitation: you need to run a server from somewhere constantly. Plex Cloud aims to change all that by letting users set up their very own media servers through Amazon Drive’s online storage.

In a blog post on its official website, Plex explained (in somewhat highfalutin, Biblical language) that Plex Cloud is pretty much what it sounds like. By collaborating with Amazon, Plex will allow users to upload files to Amazon Drive, then stream them from any device with a Plex app. No more will you have to boot up a computer or an Nvidia Shield and leave them up and running every time you want to stream a TV show or movie you’ve recorded or downloaded (hopefully legally).

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The concept is as dead-simple as it sounds, although there are a few caveats. First, perhaps not surprisingly, users will need both a Plex Pass and an Amazon Drive subscription in order to use Plex Cloud. Both services cost money, depending on what kind of Plex subscription and Amazon account you have. A year’s worth of Plex and Amazon Prime, for example, will set you back about $140; other options could cost more.

Plex won’t arrive on Amazon Drive fully functional, either. Camera Upload, Mobile Sync, Cloud Sync, Media Optimizer, DLNA and DVR are not available via Plex Cloud. However, since Plex Cloud and a user’s home Plex media server are not directly related, users can still make use of all those features at home and then upload files separately. It sounds like a bit of a pain, but Plex will most likely implement these features at some point in the future.

Furthermore, while Plex Cloud works only with Amazon Prime at present, the company will “continue to evaluate adding support for other cloud storage providers over time.” This could be good news for those not invested in the Amazon ecosystem, as there are many cheaper alternatives available elsewhere.

As Plex Cloud is currently in beta, the company will prioritize subscribers who want to join over free users. There’s no hard date for the functionality’s full release yet, but if it’s as far along as Plex suggests, videophiles may want to start uploading their collections ASAP.