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Plex Blog

October 26, 2021

Going Off Grid Just Got Great

Sync is Dead (really). Long Live Downloads!

Airplanes. Trains. Submarines. Cabins in the woods. Or just super-crappy WiFi in that AirBnB you paid a fortune for. The ability to take your media with you and stream it—sans internet—anywhere you go has long been a Plex Pass favorite. Have we been working on it for years? Yes. Have we delivered on our own lofty expectations? Um. Well. Let’s just say it hasn’t always been smooth sailing in Syncville.

Trouble in Syncville

Trust us. We’ve had a love / hate relationship with our Sync implementation for years. When something goes wrong with Sync, it can be especially frustrating—no one wants to be stranded on a 12-hour flight with their trusty back catalog of comfort content maddeningly out of reach, or frantically trying to convince your iPad to finish a sync while running out the door to catch your Uber.

So over the past few (okay, many, many) months, we’ve dedicated ourselves to completely overhauling Sync from the ground up to be simpler, smoother, and more reliable. In the process, we’ve also given it a slightly less-confusing name: Downloads.`

Down and Dirty with Downloads

For the most part Downloads works the way we’ve always hoped Sync would work: just a few taps, and you can take your favorite media with you to enjoy anywhere in all its Plexy glory, no connection required.

Our goals when we set out to build the new Downloads included:

  • Simplicity. Most things can be downloaded with a single tap. No fiddling with settings or item limits. (You can still “subscribe” to TV shows to keep the next few eps on hand.)
  • Speed. Start downloading right away at full speed in most cases.
  • Reliability. Downloads are more consistently accessible and playback reliability has been improved whether you’re online or not.
  • Better format compatibility for less transcoding. Direct download anything your device can play. (You can still choose to limit the quality/size in settings if you like.)
  • Progressive conversion and simultaneous downloading. Downloads begin even while the source media is being transcoded; no more waiting for the entire transcode to finish before the download can begin.
  • Simplified management. Everything is visible and managed in the Downloads list on the device where the media was downloaded.

Helping Us Get Buttoned-down

We’ve been testing the new Downloads with the help of several intrepid testers in the forum (thanks as always to those folks who have helped us work out the kinks), and we think it’s ready for primetime! The latest version of the iOS and Android apps will now default to new-style Downloads. Sync will still be available as an option for a short time, but both Sync itself and any content that’s been synced to your device using the old mechanism will be removed in a future version of the apps, so make sure you download anything you still want to keep around!

Note: You will need to be signed into your Plex account with an active Plex Pass subscription or be part of a Plex Home of a user with a Plex Pass to use Downloads.

Now It’s Time for You to Get Down

Curious to get under the hood? Find out all the details in our Downloads support article as well as find answers to your many of your questions at our Downloads FAQ.

Ready to give Downloads a spin? Make sure to have your Plex Pass handy. Don’t have a Plex Pass? Well you’re missing out. Check out all the superpowers that Plex Pass enables, whether you’re a newbie or a pro, there’s plenty of enhancements that will make your Plex experience magnifico.

The Best of Plex

Plex Pass gives you exclusive access to awesome new features and apps.

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The Best of Plex

Going Off Grid Just Got Great is a premium feature and requires a Plex Pass subscription.

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Plex Media Server

Plex Media Server is the software that allows you to stream your content to all of your devices, anywhere.

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