5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Plex Pass

Dan Price Updated 05-12-2019

If you have lots of locally saved media on your computer, Plex is a must-have piece of software. Unlike Kodi, it’s easy for beginners to set up and has apps available for every major operating system and media streaming device.


The other significant difference between Plex and Kodi is pricing. While Kodi is entirely free, Plex offers a paid tier. Called the Plex Pass, this paid tier introduces several additional features.

But do you actually need a Plex Pass? Is a Plex Pass worth it? Arguably, many people could do without a Plex subscription.

What Is a Plex Pass?

The basic Plex app is free on every platform, whereas the Plex Pass has three price tiers. You can pay $4.99/month, $39.99/year, or $149.99 for a lifetime subscription.

As you’d expect, there are numerous Plex Pass benefits that are unavailable on the free version of the app.

The most useful additions are arguably the Plex live TV and DVR offerings Plex Live TV: Everything You Need to Know Plex has added live TV channels to its service, but what exactly is Plex Live TV? We have everything you need to know about this exciting new option for cord-cutters. Read More . If you add an antenna and tuner to your setup, you can watch and record any over-the-air channels in your area through the Plex app.


The Plex Pass also includes mobile syncing for offline viewing, support for multiple users, parental controls, movie trailers, and music features such as “mood mixes” and lyrics.

Clearly, these are all great features. However, for most users, they’re totally unnecessary. In fact, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Many people believe you need a Plex Pass to perform certain tasks when the reality is different.

Do You Need a Plex Pass Subscription?

Here are five complex tasks you can perform without a Plex Pass.

1. Remote Streaming

plex remote access screen


One of Plex’s best attributes is its remote streaming function 10 of the Best Plex Web Shows to Watch Right Now In 2018, Plex launched Web Shows. Here are the best Plex Web Shows worth watching and how to access them. Read More . It allows you to view all your media from anywhere in the world as long as you have the Plex app installed on the device you want to watch on.

This is especially useful for keeping the kids entertained when you’re away from home or if you spend a lot of time bouncing around hotels as part of your job. After all, there’s only so long you can watch MTV and international news channels before you start pulling your hair out.

However, the perception is that you need a Plex Pass to watch remotely. It’s not true. All users can stream remotely providing you’ve configured your Plex Server correctly. Head to Settings > Remote Access > Enable Remote Access to set it up.

In this regard, the Plex Pass is only useful if you’re going to be in a place with no internet—it lets you save content directly onto your device.


2. Use Plex on Mobile

If you want to access remote streaming on mobile rather than on a laptop, you’ll need to install the appropriate Plex app.

The app is free but has some restrictions. Each video and music file is limited to one minute of playback, and your photos will have a watermark added.

To remove the restrictions, you’ll be asked to pay a one-time fee of $4.99. It’s a fraction of the cost of a full Plex Pass. Of course, you don’t get access to any Plex Pass features, but if you just want to watch content on a tablet a few times per year, it’s more than adequate.

You can also access your Plex server using your mobile device’s web browser if you don’t want to pay the fee for the app.


3. Share Media Libraries

share plex settings

Are you the tech guru in your household? If you are, there’s a good chance you’ll want to share the benefits of Plex with the rest of your family.

But setting up Plex on lots of different devices is time-consuming. And, unless you’re willing to continually add new media to other people’s computers, it’s almost impossible to keep everyone updated.

Luckily, Plex lets you share your library with anyone. They don’t even have to be on the same network as you. Best of all, the feature doesn’t require a Plex Pass—all the other person needs is a free Plex account.

To share your library with friends and family, open your Plex Server app and make sure you are signed in, then go to Settings > Family and Friends> Sharing > Invite Friend. Fill in the person’s Plex credentials, and they will receive an invite in their email inbox.

4. Sync Content on Mobile

There’s an ongoing misconception about how mobile syncing works. As mentioned earlier, you need a Plex Pass if you want to download content onto your mobile device for offline viewing. That’s clear.

However, if you have a Plex Pass, anyone who you have shared your server with does not need a Plex Pass. As long as the server is registered against your account, they can download content for offline viewing. The upshot is that you probably only need a single Plex Pass per household (or even per family).

There’s just one catch. The other user will need to pay the aforementioned one-time fee of $4.99.

To allow other users to sync your content onto their device, open the Plex Server and navigate to Settings > Users > My Home > [Username] > Restrictions > Allow Sync.

5. Non-Mobile Plex Apps

plex roku app

All non-mobile Plex apps are entirely free to download and use. That includes the native apps for Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and where applicable, smart TVs.

If you’re using the app on your local network or if you want to use a streaming dongle while you’re traveling, you don’t need a Plex Pass to access the benefits.

You can also access your Plex server from any Plex media player app without charge.

A Plex Pass Supports the Developers

You don’t need a Plex Pass to access any of the five features discussed above. However, if you love Plex, use it every day, and share your library with lots of other people, you should consider buying a Plex Pass anyway.

In addition to the extra functionality we discussed at the start of the article, you’re also helping to support the developers and fund the app’s long-term future. Remember, even the free version of Plex doesn’t include any ads; the Plex Pass is the company’s only form of income.

If you would like to learn more about Plex, check out our articles detailing how to record live TV with Plex DVR How to Watch and Record Live TV With Plex DVR In this article, we show you how to watch and record live TV using Plex DVR, a solid option for cord cutters everywhere. Read More , our list of the Plex channels you should install right now 20 Unofficial Plex Channels and Plugins You Should Install Right Now Want to unlock more Plex plugins? We show you how to access 20 of the best Plex channels to watch via the Unsupported AppStore. Read More , and several hidden Plex settings you should be using 7 Hidden Plex Settings You Should Be Using Here are all the hidden Plex settings you should be using, including how to find them on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Read More .

Related topics: File Sharing, Media Center, Media Server, Media Streaming, Plex, Television.

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  1. mematron
    September 24, 2019 at 7:38 am

    The writer and all of you in this comment section aren't very tech savvy.

    1. Setup up your Plex server

    2. Enable remote streaming

    3a. Setup port forwarding on your router to listen for requests for port 32400. This is the local address for the Plex server. You will then forward them to the IP address of you machine as it appears on your local network.

    There's a reason that step 3 is called "3a." I left out the secret sauce that requires you tunnel traffic for port 32400 directly to your server. Doing this makes it appear that you are accessing the server locally even when you're not.

    Remember you can view your content directly off the server and to Plex you still are. There are also a ton of plug-ins that - Well, if you are as smart as you think you are you'll figure out the rest. I'm smart but you no, I can only speak or in this case write for myself.

  2. Jim
    July 26, 2019 at 8:42 am

    This article is false. It will not let you add a tuner unless you get the Plex Pass. I have a hd Homerun and I had to get the monthly pass to load it, I will not pay for a free service, i'll find another way to record OTA shows I want since I Cut the Cable. Thank You.

  3. Steven
    April 27, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I downloaded the PLEX software on my MacBook and tried to upload my music. After 12 hours it barely loaded a few songs and the quality was terrible. I couldn't stop the uploading process nor adjust the music quality. I couldn't even select what folder it chose to scan for the music. There was no customer support - just a forum of other users. This is a terrible software so I deleted my account.

    • Gavin
      May 15, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      User error, entirely your own doing.
      You need to set the plex media server up properly.
      Put your songs in the appropriate folder(s), point the server to the folders and then scan the library.
      If you didn't do that, you could possibly be scanning your entire PC, but even with that, it wouldn't take 12 hours.

      Also, if the quality is poor, that's potentially down to your network connection and it downscaling the audio in order to accommodate a bad network.

      Works perfect for the vast majority of people, so don't just start wagging your finger at the software before actually checking you're not the cause of the problem.

  4. Joezbro
    April 27, 2019 at 11:47 am

    What you wrote in point 4 is not entirely accurate: if the hoster has a Plex Pass, he can create accounts on his server. If someone logs in with this account on this server with an unpaid mobile client, there are no view restrictions. In this scenario, the friend/family member doesn't need to pay $5 to unlock the mobile client, as this is part of the subscription from the host.

  5. Brian
    April 17, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Why does the link for topic #1 "remote streaming function" take you to a page about
    "10 of the Best Plex Web Shows to Watch Right Now"?

    One of Plex’s best attributes is its "remote streaming function". It allows you to view all your media from anywhere in the world as long as you have the Plex app installed on the device you want to watch on.

  6. Henry
    March 10, 2019 at 2:38 am

    ALthough not as seamless if you need a cheap way to sync Plex video to a mobile device. Download the VLC app the go to local servers when on the same network as the server the server will show up and all you shows and movies will be listed by, library/show(if applicable)/season(if applicable)/episodes or library/movie

  7. Tony
    April 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    I purchased the Plex Pass lifetime subscription right after it went up from $79. I had already been using Plex for a year or two for free. I chose to pay the lifetime, not because of the features I got with it but, because I feel that the app deserves my money. I agree that the limited Pass features do not warrant the fee, but I've saved a lot more than what the pass cost me in cable tv fees. It's a thank you payment more than anything.

  8. Harold Culpepper
    March 23, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    At $5/mo, the Plex Pass is vastly overpriced. What it provides is not worth that fee. I like Plex but, I am sorry, I am not going to pay that amount of money for the Plex Pass service.

    • Christian Robert Ford
      April 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      Buy the lifetime then. As for overpriced? Seriously??? It's the companies only source of income. Get it for a month or two a year to at least contribute to the people who are providing you a valuable product!

      • Sketch29
        July 14, 2018 at 10:06 am

        I hear this all the time but why contribute to them if I don't enjoy it? Free is fine for me - it's not not my main source for streaming at all. It's just to get me a bit extra.. I have YouTube TV and many anywhere apps etc..

        Even if Plex Pass could take over what I currently use and save money, with a family and an elderly Mom - no way they will be able to use Plex Pass.

        • Christian Robert Ford
          July 14, 2018 at 4:32 pm

          If you don't enjoy it then why are you using it??


        • nick s
          August 14, 2018 at 4:55 am

          The Mobile Sync feature only works for a minority of users anyway. Search "plex mobile sync" and you'll see pages of frustrated people. I tried it in 2015 it didn't work and on a new server in 2018 and it still doesn't work. Someone will always chime up and say "but I got it working" but the majority of users have issues, especially on Android. The company just does not care.

          For this reason, I'm canceling my lifetime subscription (getting a refund). Maybe their management will actually address the issues, but I'm moving to a software to do the offline sync.

    • Bob Johnson
      February 8, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      That's cheaper than Netflix? Cheaper than Google Music? It's actually really frickin' inexpensive in the long run for everything it gives you. It's like people expect everything for free nowadays....

    • Johnny Walker
      August 31, 2019 at 12:31 am

      You are absolutely right. It's a few $$ below Amazon Prime or Netflix. You get a LOT more for your money. I want to support Plex, but $5/mo is just not worth the extra features. I wish Plex could convince me otherwise. Maybe a yearly subscription is s fairer way to support them.

  9. Bert
    March 13, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    So where are the 5 Reasons Why You Don’t Actually Need a Plex Pass?


  10. John
    October 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Thank you for the article. I've been a Plex user for a while and I want to clarify something you touched on here with #2. If you do not have a PlexPass, you can access your media content without restriction using your mobile device's web browser. If you wish to use a smartphone/tablet app, you either have to pay $4.99 to activate the app on that device OR become a PlexPass member, otherwise, your only option is to view it through the web player.

    • Toast
      May 30, 2018 at 2:59 am

      Thank you

  11. Forrest Gump
    September 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Only option I want is the parental controls. I don't need or want the other useless options. I don't want to pay $120 just to have that option of parental controls or even pay $40 a year for it. That is just plain greed.

    • BoxofChocolates
      December 4, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Sort your content into age-appropriate folders and create separate libraries.

  12. Sweetness
    September 11, 2017 at 7:15 am

    While Plex does offer many channels without the pass, all the channels offered do not allow you to watch any or all shows. For example, USA does not show Suits. And recently, NBC stopped all shows on Plex. So, the Plex pass will allow users to record all shows on listed channels and watch at their convenience.

  13. Sweetness
    September 11, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Although Plex does have many channels listed to watch shows, many will not allow you to watch any shows. For example, I like to watch Suits on USA, but it is not available on Plex. Also, NBC recently stopped allowing Plex to stream their shows. So the pass will allow people to record the shows and watch at their leisure.

  14. Don in NC
    July 19, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Why write an article telling us why we don't need a Plex Pass, only to end the article saying "You should consider purchasing a Plex Pass"?

    • likefunbutnot
      July 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      ... because while the feature set of Plex Pass isn't that exciting, supporting the continued development of Plex is.

    • Sam
      October 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Exactly. This is a baited article. The most shocking of the "do not need" claims:

      Quote: "The app is free, but has some restrictions. Each video and music file is limited to one minute of playback, and your photos will have a watermark added."

      Basically, the app is virtually useless without a Plex Pass, yet hey! it has "some restrictions".

      Total rubbish, this write-up.

      • TMorgo
        December 7, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        You don’t need a Plex Pass to watch on your phone, just pay a small one-off fee that’s actually fairly reasonable. But what am I saying, you know this already! Wait... you did actually read the article, right?

  15. likefunbutnot
    July 19, 2017 at 2:32 am

    I've had a lifetime Plex Pass for years. I too feel that I don't get much out of the new features, but I do appreciate the core product to such a degree that it was worth every penny to get what I have.

  16. Chase
    July 18, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    I have Plex Pass solely to support development. Plex helped us transition away from Netflix/Hulu and now do the same for over 30 friends & family I share with. Maybe some day there will be a feature that makes it worth it, but for now it's just a way to show my thanks.

  17. Phil
    July 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I will consider purchasing a Plex Pass when the development team start responding to bugs and feature requests.

    • T
      March 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Very good point. I am a long time Plex Pass subscriber and they don't give us anything in return. The apps are buggy, customer service is non-existent and they couldn't care less. The Android TV app is broken, Philips TV owners can't use the app at all for at least a month now, their forums are flooded with customers, who have the exact same problem and they are doing nothing. Not even a short answer or acknowledgement.
      Don't give them your money as they will not appreciate it!