Tutorial: Accessing Your Plex Server on a Personal VPN Like Tailscale

In my latest sponsored Plex video, I delved into accessing a Plex server through a personal VPN like Tailscale. This curiosity was sparked by Apple’s recent update that allows the use of VPN clients on the Apple TV hardware natively, eliminating the need for any special hacks or tricks. Native VPN support is not exclusive to Apple TV and extends to several Android TV devices as well.

The motivation behind using a personal VPN for Plex is simple: added security. For someone like me, who only shares the Plex server with myself, there’s no need to expose the server to the Internet. One of the advantages of Tailscale is that it works without exposing any ports on my router to the outside world.

In the video I demo an Apple TV connecting to a Synology NAS located about 10 miles away at my mom’s house. This NAS, securely locked behind a router with no open ports, is inaccessible to the outside world but it is running the Tailscale VPN client.

Once connected through my Tailscale network, the Plex server, which was previously inaccessible, became available. The experience was smooth, with a Blu-ray MKV file playing at 19 megabits per second over the internet without any transcoding. My mother has Frontier’s 500 megabit symmetrical fiber optic service at her house which worked seamlessly.

Tailscale offers the advantage of limiting access to specific devices. For instance, I can choose to share only my Plex server with others without exposing the entire local network. Tailscale is free for up to 100 devices, making it a cost-effective solution for most users.

Personal VPN clients like Tailscale are also available on mobile devices, providing the same seamless experience on the go. The compatibility with TV boxes makes it easier to take your Plex server off the public internet without losing functionality. It works well with Android TV, and while it’s doable on Fire TV, it may require sideloading. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with Roku at the moment.

Personal VPNs are an option worth considering for Plex servers, especially for people who don’t share their Plex server with many people. It offers control and peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your content wherever you are while keeping everything locked safely behind your firewall.

Disclosure: This video was sponsored by Plex but they did not review or approve it before it was uploaded.

Tailscale is the Easiest Way to Implement a Personal VPN

My latest video takes a look at Tailscale – a personal and enterprise VPN solution that is the easiest solution I’ve come across in quite some time. You’ll see me set it up and demonstrate a few real-world examples of it in use.

I made this video in the hopes that it will get more casual users to lock down their home network security. There are far too many exploits in the wild now that look for devices like Network Attached Storage devices that are exposed to the public Internet. Locking those devices behind a router or firewall keeps them safely hidden and solutions like Tailscale help with accessing them from the outside securely.

Tailscale is based on the open source WireGuard VPN protocol to establish encrypted connections, but it completely eliminates the friction involved with setting up such a secure connection.

It utilizes a mesh networking approach, where devices authenticate with a central server and then establish direct encrypted connections with each other. This allows devices within the mesh network to communicate securely, even across different networks or firewalls.

One of the key advantages of Tailscale is its ease of use. It provides a user-friendly interface and supports a variety of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and even NAS devices like Synology and QNAP. It integrates with existing identity providers, such as Google, Microsoft or Apple for authentication, making it convenient for organizations to manage access to their networks. Tailscale’s free tier was recently expanded to allow up to 100 devices per account.

It allows users to access resources as if they were on the same local network, even if they are physically located elsewhere. This can be useful for accessing files, services, or applications that are typically restricted to specific networks.

Each device gets its own Tailscale IP address that will only be accessible to other computers in your Tailscale network. It’s also super easy to share devices outside your personal network with others which I demo in the video.

Certainly for those technically inclined running your own VPN server is the ideal solution. But for many a turn-key solution is what’s needed and that’s what I like about Tailscale’s solution.