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Definitive answer - UNC or path substitution


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I have read conflicting answers about what is best or if it really matters... UNC paths or path substitution.


Is there any advantage or noticeable difference in performance relating to any aspect when using either or?


My current setup:

  • Emby Server installed on a Windows 2012 server VM.
  • All media is stored on a separate, physical Windows 2012 server with SMB file sharing.
  • I used UNC paths for the library locations in the Emby Server settings.

Is there really any benefit of using path substitution?


Any precautions if I switch to path substitutions?


If starting a new install would you recommend UNC or substitution? 

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Koleckai Silvestri

Whatever is best is the method which works best for you.


I use Path Substitution because it works best for me. It was easier to configure for the server user. In the end, Path Substitution changes my local drives to the UNC shares. I just don't have to set up permissions on client machines or allow Everybody write access. This solved the problem where Emby wasn't able to download images or metadata.

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In your situation, it won't matter because the media is across the network from the Emby server.  Therefore, it would be simpler to just set the library up with UNC paths.


When the Emby server runs on the same machine as the media, then it could be beneficial to use direct drive references in the library setup because that would not force the server to go through the network layer for all media access.


The difference, even in this case, is probably not enough for someone to change an already setup system, but if setting up a new one, that would be optimal.

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