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Confused by download setting


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alchemi183

Can someone help me understand the server-side user setting called "Allow downloading that requires transcoding"?

 

Server > Users > {select a user} > Downloading

 

There are two settings that can each be independently enabled/disabled per user:

 

  * Allow media downloading

  * Allow downloading that requires transcoding

 

The first seems pretty self-explanatory and I have it enabled for all users. The second setting is relatively new (I don't remember seeing it before) and it confuses me. I understand what transcoding means in the context of video playback over the network, but not what it means in the context of downloading a media file. What does transcoding have to do with a file download?

 

Any help you could give me in understanding that setting would be appreciated. The wiki doesn't show the setting (yet?).

Edited by alchemi183
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Luke

It is related to offline downloading used in the windows store app and android app.

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alchemi183

It is related to offline downloading used in the windows store app and android app.

 

Thanks for your reply, Luke. Nice to know what it's related to. I still don't understand it well enough to know whether I want to enable or disable that setting.

 

I think transcoding can be used to tackle a few different issues. Let me list the ones I can think of:

  1. Network is too slow. Video and audio files have a file size and a playback length. That translates into an average number of bits per second (bitrate) that must be transferred over the network in order to stream playback without interruption. If the network speed isn't fast enough to transfer at that rate, then the media file can be transcoded to a lower bitrate or resolution so that it requires a lower network speed for uninterrupted playback.
  2. Limited CPU, GPU, or memory on the playback device. A certain amount of processing power and memory is required to play video. If the playback device can't supply that, then a media file can be transcoded to contain less information that needs processing (lower bitrate/resolution), or to a format that requires fewer resources to play.
  3. Playback device doesn't understand container or is missing a codec. In this case, the media file could be transcoded to a format the playback device knows how to play.
  4. Storage requirements. If a media file is too large for available storage, it could be transcoded to a smaller file size. Another reason to transcode to a smaller file size might be to reduce the time required to download it.

Number 1 is specific to streaming, and number 4 is specific to downloading. The other two could come into play with either playback method.

 

So, I have a few questions:

  1. When Emby transcodes a download, is it for one or more of the reasons I listed (2, 3, or 4?) or some reason I missed?
  2. Is the transcoding done on the server before the download, or as the file is being downloaded? If the latter, is it just done the same as for playback, but the client app saves the stream to a file rather than playing it in real time?
  3. Are we talking about downloading by choosing "Download" from an item's "More" menu, or something more like the automated Sync feature, or both? (I'm not very familiar with the Sync feature, but it seems some of the settings around that have changed recently.)
  4. While looking at the "More" menu in a Firefox browser on Windows 10 (so, in the "app" Emby refers to as Emby Mobile), I see an option I haven't seen before, "Download to other device." I'm hesitant to actually try that, because the six devices listed there are ones that I've never used but some of my other users have. If I choose that option, will it download the media file to another user's device? Or does it format/transcode the download for that device but download it to mine?
  5. You said that transcoding a download only happens when using an Android or Windows app store version of the Emby app. Is that because the devices that run those apps are the only ones that need transcoded downloads, or they're just the first to implement it?

I think if I can learn the answers to those questions, that would be enough for me to make a decision on that setting. Thanks in advance to you, Luke, or to anyone else who can fill in the gaps here for me. Thankfully, most of the server options are easier to understand. This one is just kind of kicking my butt with the limited info I've been able to find so far about it.

 

Thanks,

alchemi183

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Luke

hi @alchemi183, yes when a downloaded is transcoded, it could be for any of the reasons 2, 3, and 4. The user downloading can always override and just download the original.

 

Transcoding happens on the server before the download, and can be managed in the server Sync menu, although we're going to rename that to Download & Sync. We are more or less merging the two concepts together because as far as the user is concerned, they're just downloading something to their tablet.

 

It will download to those other devices, and those two apps are the only ones who have currently implemented the feature. It is on our roadmap for iOS. 

 

When downloading with the web app, it's just pure on demand because the web app does not have access to storage folders. Let us know if this helps. Thanks.

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alchemi183

Yeah, that's helpful. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

 

Now I'm curious if I'm seeing the option to download to another user's device because I'm admin, or if all of my users see other user's devices listed there? I'll do some testing.

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