Fix Plex error: There was a problem playing this item

Imagine you hosted a movie weekend with your friends at home and just as sit back with a popcorn bowl in your hands, Plex displayed “there was a problem playing this item?” Ugh!!! isn’t it?

Well, if this image of yours has lately come true, Then it’s a common problem if you’re a newbie to the app.

A Plex “error playing this item” occurs if you’re trying to play a video file that’s in MKV format or using the Plex Media Server 0.9.17.X and above. 

Plex is a global streaming platform with millions of users worldwide. It is annoying when it fails to stream any audio, video, or photo files from online devices in its player.

But when there’s a glitch, there’s a fix too. To know how we can easily fix the ‘’there was a problem playing this item’’ error on Plex 

Keep reading. . . 

What causes the Plex problem of playing this item?

If you’ve lately encountered the Problem playing this item error on Plex, there may be several reasons behind this. But don’t worry! Learning the causes of the error will help you fix the glitch quickly.s.

  • Newbie to Plex

Setting up and installing Plex can be a little challenging if you’re a first-time user. This is because it requires considerable patience, time and effort. 

So, if you’ve missed out or overlooked certain important considerations during the process, it can cause the app to stutter, buffer and of course not be able to play any content.

  • A bugged Plex Version

The Plex Media Server 0.9.17.X and its versions above have transcoders that operate differently. In case the transcoders have changed and they aren’t generating the AC3 codec properly, you may face the problem loading this item error. 

  • Mkv Files incompatible with Plex

Plex does not support Mkv Files. However, you must follow two ways to play an Mkv file. Burn the subtitles of a particular video file which is the root cause of this issue and the video file needs to be transcoded for you to play it on Plex.

Problem playing this item” on Plex- Can We Fix This? 

Now that you know the problems causing the ‘’Problem playing this item’’ on Plex. 

There are a couple of solutions like Upgrading Plex, adjusting transcoder settings, clearing disk space and many more that we have compiled for you to fix the error. Let’s get started

  • Upgrade Plex

The first and the basic step before you go on to solve any software/application error is to check if you’re using an upgraded version of the software. 

Plex similarly is no exception to this rule. 

When you encounter the pop-up message displaying “Problem playing this item” on Plex, check if the application is an updated one.

A bugged version of the application is the root cause behind why you are facing this error. 

The application requires an update to fix bugs or malware that slow down its performance in such cases. To check whether you’re using an upgraded Plex version:

  • Open the hosted Plex application
  • Tap on Settings from the Upper right corner
  • Under Settings select General
  • Here, you should be able to see the version number and whether you’re using the updated/current version of Plex.
  • Also, if you already have a Plex application running on your browser, refresh the browser page and the new version will be automatically loaded.
  • Delete old devices linked to Plex

The reason why Plex is a popularly used software is that you can link multiple devices to your Plex account. These may include Plex Cloud, Plex Web, Plex for Roku, and Plex for Android among others.

However, using too many devices can cause the media player to stop working if there is a device clash. 

A device clash occurs when multiple devices are accessing the same server resources – memory, interrupt request, etc., or simply running at the same time.

Similarly, the Plex not working error can occur if your account has multiples of the same devices. For example, if a web browser is listed several times on the account. This means that each browser runs independently. Although the media player may know which entry to use, you may remove it to avoid future device clashes and errors. 

To delete or remove old accounts linked to Plex:

  • First, sign in to your Plex account and launch the Devices list
  • Locate the devices that you have added to your account
  • Now tap on the red X to delete the specific devices from your account
  • Finally, confirm deletion

Note: Removing a device, will need you to sign in to your account again on the device to restore access.

  • Change/Adjust transcoder settings

Transcoding means the process to convert video files into a size that will consume fewer data and run optimally.

This requires a high processing power that allows the server to transcode files and stream videos simultaneously. This means you need a higher CPU power to change media file formats on the fly.

If you have an Mkv file, this is the best approach to fix the error loading on Plex.

But you can easily fix this, unable to play media error. All you need to do is change your transcoding settings. 

Plex automatically transcodes files. But to match the performance of your CPU, the default settings must be changed. The best way to do this is to reduce the quality of transcoded files and free some CPU space.  You may change the settings by following the procedure below.

  • Visit the Home Menu and select Settings followed by Transcoder
  • In the Transcoder tab, click on the drop-down menu to change the Transcoder quality. You can choose from the four qualities listed below:
  • Automatic –Will allow the Plex Server to select the quality automatically
  • Make my CPU hurt –This allows for the best quality of images. It will slow down transcodes to encourage higher CPU usage.
  • Prefer higher quality encoding –Allows for slower transcodes at a higher quality
  • Prefer high-speed encoding –Allows for faster transcodes at a lower quality

If your option is set at automatic and you’re encountering the error, try opting for the other three to notice the changes.

  • Downgrade the server

The “there was a problem playing this item” error on Plex often occurs after you upgrade the media server to a new version.

You may have noticed that some files fail to play when you upgrade the server on Windows. To fix this and continue watching your shows, consider downgrading the media server to its previous version.

To fix this error, try your hands on the following:

  • Note the current Plex Server software version you’re using
  • Using the Tray icon, stop Plex Server
  • Now navigate to apps and uninstall Plex
  • Next, navigate to your Plex 1.4K data folder
  • Here, you should find the Updates subfolder comprising the previous versions of the installer.exe.
  • Execute and get the previous installer version

Note: Refrain from using Third Party uninstaller software and registry optimizer or cleaners. 

Also, this entire process can be conducted without rebooting Windows, but we recommend rebooting your Windows OS as a safety aid.

Whether you’re using Windows OS or OSX, both locations have an updated PMS installed folder. This contains the previous updates of the server. Choose a version of your choice to downgrade the server to an earlier version.

  • Add AC3 codec to Plex

Another reason behind why you’re facing the plex problem playing media is maybe you’re using a media format that is unavailable for direct playback. 

Plex uses playback systems for Smart TVs supplied by device manufacturers. 

Unsupported audio formats in a video will automatically be transcoded to AC3. 

But this is possible only if the AC3 codec is generated properly. If not then you will have a problem playing content.

To fix this error, add AC3 codec to Plex using the steps listed below:

  • Download any video file from a web browser of your choice (Chrome, Firefox etc) and add the file to your Plex Library
  • Tap to play the video file, it should be able to generate the AC3 codec. When you play the media player, the codec is automatically generated.

Play the video stream again to note the changes applied.

  • Clear Disc Space

Note if you’ve been using Plex for some time now, you should have noticed that the current Plex versions consume a lot of disk space. Therefore, if you don’t have enough disk space already, you will face this error.

So, to counter this issue, you simply have to clear up disc space using a couple of easy steps:

  • Launch the Start menu and navigate to Settings>System>Storage.
  • Now set Storage Sense. This enables Windows to automatically delete unnecessary or unwanted files
  • You can also manually delete unnecessary files. To do this select Start>Settings>System>Storage>Clean Up Recommendations>select temporary, unused, synced files to cloud and apps no longer used>Clean Up.

Note: You can also move files to a separate device to free up space.

Drawing the Curtains. . .

Looking for a single platform that allows you to host and upload your content via its servers? and one that can share your server and its contents with others in an easy-to-access way? Plex is the name you’ve overlooked.

Specifically, there are two components to Plex – the server that runs your media and the client that streams that media. 

However, like any other application, Plex too can signal some unusual hindrances one of which is the problem of playing with this item error. 

But if you found this guide helpful to fix the error on Plex, don’t hesitate to share your views with us.

In case the above steps haven’t helped solve your problem, contact Plex technical support for diagnosing the issue and help you to fix it. But first, try the steps above for a quick fix.

Frequently Asked Question – FAQs

Need some additional knowledge to fix the problem of playing this error on Plex? Here are a couple of frequently solved questions we have compiled to help you out.

Q. Why does plex keep saying not available for playback?

Often, while you try to play content or look at the details of a media item, your Plex Media Server may tell you that the content isn’t unavailable. This means that your Plex Media Server was unable to find the content at the expected location.

Q. Why aren’t my movies playing on Plex?

If you find Plex not playing your movies, check if you need to update your Plex Media Server and the Plex application itself to the latest version. 

If you’re facing this error on an Android device, visit Settings>Quality settings. 

In case you’re experiencing bandwidth issues, Plex will try to preserve the video quality by playing it as a smaller video.

Q. How to update Plex Media Server?

To access the latest Plex version, simply launch the hosted Plex Web App. If the app is already launched in your browser, simply refresh the browser page to load the new version.

Q. Which is the latest Plex Server version?

As of this writing, the latest Plex Media Server version is 1.43.4 for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and FreeBSD, Nvidia Shield and Netgear Nighthawk X10 route.

The version also supports popular NAS devices such as QNAP, Synology, Netgear, Drobo, and many more.

Q. How can I update the Plex app on my TV?

To use the current version of Plex, you simply need to launch the hosted Plex Web App. If you already have the app launched in your browser, refresh the browser to load the new version.

Q. Why is Plex saying ‘unable to play media’?

Plex forces transcoded content on mobile connections or when its default settings detect slow internet connections.

Thus, if the server doesn’t support transcoding or has insufficient resources, Plex simply won’t play the file.

Q. Why is Plex not working on my Samsung TV?

Plex will seamlessly play your content if your server and TV are connected to the same network, without any issues. However, if the server you’re connected to is remote, you must change the Plex settings on your TV to allow insecure connections. To do this, visit settings and find the “Advanced” section.

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