Run Plex Media Server as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

How to Run Plex Media Server 24x7 as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

Ensure that Plex starts automatically when your computer reboots and is always available to serve your media. No need to log in!

Plex Media Server is a free "digital hub" that shares your movies, TV shows, music and pictures across all your Plex-enabled devices.


To setup Plex Media Server with AlwaysUp:

  1. Download and install Plex Media Server, if necessary:

    Install Plex Media Server

    Configure Plex to serve all your media and make sure that the software operates as expected.

    If Plex doesn't work now, it won't do any better when run as a Windows Service!

  2. Download and install AlwaysUp.

  3. Start AlwaysUp.

  4. Select Application > Add to open the Add Application window:

    Add Application

  5. On the General tab:

    • In the Application field, enter the full path to the Plex Media Server executable, Plex Media Server.exe. If you installed Plex in the default location, this will be:

      C:\Program Files (x86)\Plex\Plex Media Server\Plex Media Server.exe

    • Since Plex will be running in the background and may not be able to work through a tray icon, you probably want to add the -noninteractive flag in the Arguments field. If not, you may see a bunch of warnings like "Shell_NotifyIcon(NIM_ADD) failed: 0x0" in the Plex Media Server.log file.

    • In the Start the application field, select Automatically, but shortly after the computer boots option. This will cause Windows to launch Plex about 2 minutes after your computer boots — ensuring that all important services are up and available to Plex when it starts.

    • In the Name field, enter the name that you will call the application in AlwaysUp. We have stick with Plex Media Server but you can specify another name if you like.

    Plex Media Server Windows Service: General Tab

  6. Click over to the Logon tab and enter the user name and password of the Windows account in which you installed and configured Plex Media Server. Plex must run in this account so that it can find its settings.

    Plex Media Server Windows Service: Logon Tab

  7. On the Startup tab:

    • Check the Ensure that the Windows Networking components have started box. This informs AlwaysUp that the media server needs the TCP/IP networking stack to operate.

    • We also recommend checking both the Stop all copies of the application running on this computer and Also whenever the application is restarted boxes. These options will ensure that another copy of Plex won't prevent the instance launched by AlwaysUp from starting properly.

    Plex Media Server Windows Service: Startup Tab

  8. We are now done configuring the Plex Media Server as a Windows Service so click the Save button to record your settings. In a couple of seconds, an application called Plex Media Server will show up in the AlwaysUp window. It is not yet running though (the state will be "Stopped"):

    Plex Media Server Windows Service: Installed

  9. Before we start Plex as a Windows Service, we must prevent a second copy from starting when you log on. To do so:

    1. Start Plex Media Server if necessary (Start button > All Programs > Plex Media Server > Plex Media Server)

    2. Right-click on the Plex Media Server tray icon (Plex Media Server Tray Icon) and uncheck Start Plex Media Server at Login if it is checked:

      Stop Plex Media Server Start at Login

  10. If Plex Media Server is running, close it now by clicking on the tray icon and selecting Exit from the menu.

    Exit Plex Media Server

    Also, open the Windows Task Manager, switch to the Processes/Details tab and ensure that all Plex executables (named like "Plex*.exe") are stopped. AlwaysUp may not be able to start Plex Media Server properly if any of its components are already running.

  11. To start Plex from AlwaysUp choose Application > Start "Plex Media Server". In a few seconds, the state should change to "Running".

    Note that you won't see Plex's tray icon because the server will be running invisibly in the background (in Session 0). However media sharing should work just fine. Please open your local Plex website in the browser and confirm:

    Plex Media Server Windows Service: Running

    If you do need to interact with Plex — to add media or change settings — you should:

    1. Stop Plex in AlwaysUp.

    2. Start Plex normally on your desktop.

      (Search for it from the Start button, or run "C:\Program Files (x86)\Plex\Plex Media Server\Plex Media Server.exe" directly.)

    3. Make your changes.

    4. Exit Plex.

    5. Restart Plex under AlwaysUp, to resume 24x7 operation.

  12. That's it! Next time your computer boots, Plex Media Server will start up immediately, before anyone logs on. We encourage you to edit Plex in AlwaysUp and check out the many other settings that may be appropriate for your environment.



Download & Import the Plex Media Server Settings File

For your convenience, we have provided an AlwaysUp Settings File with all the settings recommended in this guide.

To use the file:

  1. Download Plex-Media-Server_alwaysup.xml to your computer. Please make a note of where you save it.

  2. In AlwaysUp, select Application > Import from the menu.

  3. Choose the file you downloaded in step 1.

  4. Make the following adjustments in the Add Application window:

    • On the Logon tab, delete the placeholder values and enter the username and password of the Windows account where you installed and run Plex Media Server:

      Enter your Windows account information

  5. Click Save to record your new Plex service.



Plex Media Server not working properly as a Windows Service?

  • Now that Plex is running 24/7, automatic updates can cause problems. For example, AlwaysUp could restart Plex unexpectedly when it's going through an upgrade.

    We recommend disabling automatic updates in the Server settings. Please ensure that Plex asks before applying an update:

    Disable Plex Media Server Automatic Updates

  • Check the Plex logs for error messages. The files can be found in
    C:\Users\<your-user-name>\AppData\Local\Plex Media Server\Logs.

  • During testing on our Windows 7 computer, we encountered a peculiar situation where Plex would not run if we stopped it in AlwaysUp and started it from the Start button. The server log (C:\Users\<your-user-name>\AppData\Local\Plex Media Server\Logs\Plex Media Server.log) recorded a puzzling error — "Access denied". Fortunately we were able to resolve the issue with little fuss by running Plex as an Administrator (just once). Strange indeed.

  • Consult the AlwaysUp Troubleshooter — our online tool that can help you resolve the most common problems encountered when running an application as a windows service.

  • From AlwaysUp, select Application > Report Activity > Today to bring up a HTML report detailing the interaction between AlwaysUp and Plex. The AlwaysUp Event Log Messages page explains the messages that may appear.

  • Browse the AlwaysUp FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions and troubleshooting tips.

  • Contact us and we will be happy to help!

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