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Plex Blocks Hetzner in Move Against Piracy

Recently, if you host your own Plex server on a Hetzner IP address, there’s a very good chance you received the following email:

Important notice about the hosting service you may be using.

We’re contacting you to let you know about an upcoming action that is likely to affect your Plex Media Server setup.

You’re receiving this notice because the IP address associated with a Plex Media Server on your account appears to come from a service provider that hosts a significant number of Plex Media Servers that violate our Terms of Service.

Due to the large-scale violations occurring from that hosting provider, we will be taking action soon to block access and activity from Plex Media Servers hosted by that provider. We will start these blocks on Thursday, October 12, 2023.

If you leave your current installation as-is, you will have issues connecting to it from Plex apps as well as managing it. To avoid these issues, we suggest that you consider alternative hosting options, including hosting it from your home.

When moving your Plex Media Server installation, we encourage you to review our article on moving a server install to another system. These instructions will assist you with migrating the install as-is, so that you don’t have to set it up from scratch.

If you do run into migration issues, please post specific details in our Plex Media Server forums.

We appreciate your understanding and we apologize for the inconvenience.

The part in context that they’re likely referring to?

Plex respects the intellectual property of others. When Plex becomes aware of express third-party allegations of copyright infringement in material distributed through the Plex Solution, Plex will investigate the allegations and take appropriate action. This responsive action can include, without limitation and particularly in the case of individuals who repeatedly infringe the copyrights of others, termination of access and usage privileges. You acknowledge that you may be liable for damages (including attorneys’ fees and costs) if you materially misrepresent that a work or activity is infringing your rights. If Plex terminates or suspends access to or use of the Plex Solution, Plex will make a good-faith attempt (as warranted) to contact the person who posted the content so that they may make counter notification pursuant to applicable laws. It is Plex’s policy to document all notices of alleged infringement upon which Plex decides to take action. As with all legal notices, a copy of the notice may be sent to one or more third parties who may make such notice available to the public, including as a part of legal proceedings.

The Con of Centralization

With Plex, all of the information is sent home first.

You will always have a sketchy corporation watching over your shoulder. That’s how Plex works.

Here’s the information they collect:

Plex collects the following Personal Data from your Plex Media Server: email, IP address and username.

Plex does not share information about your Personal Content with third parties.

Plex does not collect:

  • Content titles of your Personal Content.
  • Filenames EXCEPT those that may be collected under Debugging Information below.
  • Metadata for Personal Content (e.g., information about the specific file, cover art, subtitles, running length, etc.) EXCEPT to customize viewed content syncing to enhance your account or if you have enabled metadata matching capabilities in which case such data will be anonymously sent to us or you have integrated with a third-party control or playback mechanism that requires us to access your metadata to play the relevant content (e.g., if you use Amazon Alexa to play a particular song or movie from your Personal Content, then our Services may search your Personal Content metadata in order to find and play the song or movie requested.)
  • Data transferred through the Plex Relay Service. If you use the Plex Relay Service to connect or stream your Personal Content to another device, we will transfer the data necessary to perform the service. All such traffic is encrypted from end-to-end in a manner that makes it impossible for Plex or the Plex Relay Service to decrypt or view any data. The data transferred via the Plex Relay Service is not stored by Plex except for the temporary buffering of data required to provide you with an optimal streaming experience. You can disable the Plex Relay Service by turning off the “Enable Relay” preference in your server settings.

Plex does collect:

  • Configuration data. Information about your configuration or use of our Services when you create a Plex Media Server on a local device, connect to a Plex Media Server that you or another person have configured, or download or connect to a Plex app, or interact with or use other Plex software or Service. This information may include an IP address and port number(s), the name of a Plex Media Server, and information used to secure access to our Services
  • Application Information. When a request for information or content is sent to a Plex Media Server, we may collect an application identifier that identifies which application sent the request. An application identifier uniquely identifies a particular copy of an application. For example, if you download an application from Plex, fully uninstall the copy of the application, and then re-download the application from Plex, the new copy of the application will be associated with a different application identifier than the uninstalled copy of the application. Note that simply deleting the app without fully uninstalling may not reset the application identifier.
  • Debugging Information (logs, crash reports, or other information about your devices, media, and experiences for the sole purpose of resolving technical issues with the software). You may choose not to send crash reports in Plex Media Server settings.
  • Usage Statistics.Information related to your usage to run and improve our Services, to provide, customize, and personalize your features and account, communications, and other content that we deliver or offer to you.

So, certainly, they are aware of the hosting provider you’re operating your Plex Media Server on.

Presumably too many of these paid shared streaming services that rely on Plex were using Hetzer…

Because, let’s be honest; Hetzner is huge and dirt cheap. It wouldn’t surprise me if half of all Plex servers were running on Hetzner.

I’m sure they received outside pressure that prompted this change.

What Does That Mean for Plex Users?

Well, you have two options here:

  1. If you’re on Hetzner, move providers if you want to continue using Plex. That’s a lot of moving.
  2. Switch to the competition.

Plex themselves basically said if you want to continue pirating; do it at home.

On the note of competition, Jellyfin is a notable option I could recommend.

It’s not quite as pretty or polished around the edges, but it will certainly get the job done.

Best of luck streaming!

P.S. If you’re interested in ranting your frustrations, our local email savior, Jarland, opened up a LowEndTalk thread right here about this that’s calling your name.

Sir Foxy


  1. Person:

    Switch away from Plex before they give their shareholders your address. They got were bought and sold to the media companies, stay with Plex at your own risk. Go support Kernel Media

    September 15, 2023 @ 7:14 pm | Reply
  2. Sean Zipperer:

    There’s a reason jellyfin and Emby exist. Last time I loaded plex it was a bunch of ads for shit that wasn’t even on my server anyway.

    Shame on Plex for their actions the last 5 years or so. They blatantly don’t want the community that built them up to what they are now. Self hosters can and will (many of us already have) migrate to better software that isn’t run by maniacs who are collecting stuff they don’t need to and giving it to third parties.

    I remember when Plex started and were doing some awesome open source work to improve the media hosting landscape, it used to be something one could recommend with pride and a “This is a cool thing you can do”. For those still looking for the original spirit of Plex try Jellyfin. For those that want a closer replication to Plex before it decided to say screw you to its users try Emby though it has the same problems Plex does if they ever decide they don’t like you.

    September 16, 2023 @ 9:50 am | Reply
    • nz:

      i went to emby after plex went to the unified server interface. and from what i seen it only has gotten worse since then. emby has been good, and ive shown support by buying the lifetime.

      September 17, 2023 @ 1:47 pm | Reply
  3. Chris Sanders:

    This seems like a minority compromised mostly of idiots. Why are you hosting Plex in the cloud? Stop being lazy and build a home server already. Also, my Plex installation works just fine in offline mode if needed. As for ADs?? There are zero ads. If you’re talking about the FREE programming that you can stream from Plex’s own content, then just unpin it from your home screen. If you don’t understand anything that I just said, maybe self hosting media isn’t for you.

    September 16, 2023 @ 10:44 pm | Reply
    • Sean:

      I have my own home servers now and they’re hosting Emby and jellyfin among other things but for a while I had garbage upload so had servers in hetsner and ovh for when I wasn’t at home and as off-site backups.

      I honestly didn’t look too closely at whatever garbage they’d shoved all over the home screen to see what it cost but it certainly wasn’t my media, and I’m not interested in whatever trash it was free or not, the point of the software is you provide the media…Netflix or whatever 900 competitors exist for the people who want others content.

      September 17, 2023 @ 12:10 am | Reply
      • Simon:

        Developing software especially once you reach a certain size is a expensive though and ad 99% of people don’t pay and I suspect most who do buy a lifetime Plex pass most likely on a deal it means the likes of Plex get to a point they have to try and find extra revenue streams, the likes of Jellyfin and Emby would be in the same boat if everyone switched.

        It really is the problem of the internet as a whole, users hate things like ads but people largely aren’t willing to pay. It’s a catch 22 situation

        September 17, 2023 @ 5:05 am | Reply
  4. Aaron Johnson:

    I am a plex lifetime customer and I use plex for my own media for my household and family. Jellyfin and Emby isn’t a option because they don’t have native apps on everyone’s devices but plex does.

    What’s most likely to have happened is someone in law enforcement has gone look people are selling plex server access do something about it.

    That said plex hasn’t released a single good feature in a while, I never have and never will use their media. Basic features have been broken for years (local downloading), HDR tone mapping etc. it’s not hard to expect basic features to work but plex failed al it’s customers on that.

    September 17, 2023 @ 7:32 am | Reply
    • nz:

      emby has native apps on all the platforms and is a lightweight app not like plex which wont load onolder devices

      September 17, 2023 @ 1:43 pm | Reply
  5. Person2:

    I mean if all they are going to do is be blocking IP’s of that service provider wouldn’t it just be as easy to setup a vpn to route plex traffic through while still using the same host? I don’t see this really resolving their issue. Just adding an extra step.

    September 17, 2023 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

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