Getting Plex with Hardware Encoding running on Synology DiskStation DS918+ and DS718+ NAS

Recently I’ve wanted to find a NAS solution that could host media I cared about (music, video, PVR, etc) and present it in a compelling way from all of my devices both in my home and outside of it. I had the good luck to be recommended the Synology plus series by a friend and love them, originally I had a DS718+ to try out and ended up settling on and purchasing a DS918+ for my use (I’d recommend the DS918+, you’ll never regret having more storage and it supposed flash-stage for caching).

Another nice thing about the Synology NAS is it’s software manager had Plex listed, so I thought I was home free to just install that and go. Which, to be fair I was, it worked fine but I did notice Plex glitching on large media and with some digging found that Plex Hardware Encoding wasn’t enabled even though both NAS devices definitely supposed it.

It turns out, in order to get hardware encoding support with Intel-based Synology NAS devices you need to manually install the 64bit version of Plex on the device. The process for this is super easy and I’ve outlined the steps here with screenshots to help the next person who wants to do this. There are reports of the hardware encoding on a DS918+ being enough for 4K, but, personally I’ve only tried up to 1080P without issue.

You can use these directions even if you’ve already installed the Plex version provided by Synology. It will replace it and your libraries will be imported. You should also do this to upgrade when a new version of Plex is release or after installing new versions of the Synology DSM OS on your NAS. After upgrading DSM hardware encoding will stop working until Plex is reinstalled as permissions and extensions required for hardware encoding are removed during the upgrade.

Let’s get the party started…

  1. Head over to the Plex Download Center and click the Download button for the Plex Media Server. If you have Plex Pass you should sign in as sometimes Plex Pass members get access to new versions with features faster than the public release. Make sure to grab the 64bit download for Synology.
  2. That will give you an SPK (Synology Package) file, which we’ll need to go to the package center on the Synology NAS to install. Open your NAS up in your browser to continue.
  3. Next, you’ll want to open up the Package Center.
  4. If this is the first time you’re install Plex manually, you’ll need to add Plex’s signing key to your Synology NAS. Choose the Settings option and open the Certificate tab. You’re going to need to import the Plex signing certificate to install the SPK you downloaded. Download the key from Plex here (or here is their support page on this if you’d rather download it from their page). Choose import and select the key.
  5. Once imported the new key should appear in the Certificate list, and you’ll be ready to go (click OK to dismiss the setting dialog).
  6. Click the Manual Install button and select your SPK file for Plex and click Next, review the changes and click Apply.
  7. You’re now ready to use Plex with hardware encoding on your Synology NAS. Plex Media Server will now appear in your Applications list, and you can open it from there to sign into your Plex account and select which folders from your NAS you want Plex to index and present.

Let me know how Plex on Synology has worked for you in the comments, and if you’d like more guides around using Plex or the Synology NAS!

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