Is the Plex Pass Worth the Expense?

Plex is simply the best free media server available right now. It works reliably and seamlessly, has a ton of features, is continually developed and works on a range of devices. It is also free but has a premium subscription called Plex Pass. Is the Plex Pass worth the expense if the platform is free?

This is a question we get asked a lot here at TechJunkie. If the basic platform is free to use and the media you use is yours anyway, why pay? There is a very short and compelling answer to both questions. The developers work hard to keep Plex up to date, feature rich and bug free. It is well worth buying a Plex Pass to help support those developers. Even the free version of Plex has no ads so the only way to support the platform is to pay for the Plex Pass.

So the short answer is yes, the Plex Pass is very definitely worth the expense. If you’re more interested in features and benefits, the answer becomes a little more complex.

Free Plex

The free version of Plex comes with the Plex Media Server and many of the apps. Some mobile apps are also free but will have time or feature limitations. It is entirely possible to load the Plex Media Server onto your device and watch your own media without ever paying a dime. But that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Plex is concerned.

I used Plex for free for several months and loved every minute. Once the install was completed, I could watch all my media on any compatible device with no buffering or lag and without any configuraton or access issues. But then I wanted more.

Plex Pass

The Plex Pass costs $4.99 a month, $39.99 a year or $119.99 for a lifetime pass. In return you get access to all the free parts of Plex, plus mobile apps, Live TV and a DVR feature, trailers and extras, mobile syncing, cloud syncing, profile switching with Plex Home, parental controls, early access to new apps and features and a few other minor benefits.

The full features list is available from here.

The Plex value proposition

There are some important things to note about some of the features included in the Plex Pass that may help clear up some confusion.

For example, Live TV is different from the TV channels included in the Plex Pass. Live TV is that which is broadcast live, like you see on cable or DirectTV or whatever other service you use. The free version of Plex still allows access to the TV channels offered by some major networks and the community.

The Plex Media Server is free, but any mobile apps or other apps can cost $4.99 each. If you want to watch on mobile for instance, you need the app to watch offline. You can still share content among other users with the free version and still control who can watch what, but parental controls are only available with the Plex Pass.

Cloud sync is like mobile sync but uses cloud storage instead. If you travel, work away from home or just want the freedom to access anything anywhere, this could work. You can upload copies of media to Dropbox or Google Drive and you can watch it without the Plex Media Server.

The other features of Plex Pass may or may not be worth it depending on how you live. Camera upload, previews, member-only forums, premium music features, mixes, geogtagging, audio fingerprinting and song lyrics are all useful for some, but not necessarily for others.

So is the Plex Pass worth the expense?

I think I answered this in the first couple of paragraphs, but in short yes the Plex Pass is worth the expense. If you love Plex and want to continue using it into the future, it is well worth investing a little money into it. The lifetime pass costs less than many cable contracts charger per month or $4.99 is a couple of cups of coffee for unlimited viewing.

If you think you will use Plex for a while, a lifetime pass makes sense. Even for a year, it is $10 a month. That’s cheaper than many other streaming services and certainly cheaper than cable or satellite. Get two years out of it and you’re down to the equivalent of $5 a month, get more and that amount goes down accordingly.

While we are used to getting our stuff for free, sometimes things require investment. Paying a little helps the developers keep the lights on and pushing Plex further and coming up with more features. While the free version is very good in its own right, buying a Plex Pass helps secure the future of what is arguably the best media center out there for now and for the foreseeable future.

2 thoughts on “Is the Plex Pass Worth the Expense?”

Avatar WDS says:
I disagree. The Plex Pass does not get me anything whatsoever that I can’t already do without it. The Live TV offering is, quite frankly, worthless, bearing in mind that free TV is – as it has been for years – worthless. As for the other perks that you get from the Plex Pass, I don’t need them nor want them. In truth, I find it difficult to believe that the Plex Pass would make sense for anyone barring a small, niche audience.
Avatar C says:
If you like using Plex free, then it is also nice to support the people that bring it to you for FREE. even if you did a yearly pass once then it still helps the developers keep it running smooth for you
Avatar John Hoss says:
I am glad Plex works for you. After installing it on my NAS the only thing it can find are *some* of my photos. No music, no videos and the TV Plex app explodes.

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This Guide Last Updated: April 20, 2018

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