You can use a free Let’s Encrypt certificate for your self-hosted Plex Media Server VM. With Certbot and a simple Bash script, this will provide a secure connection without certificate warnings. It will also auto-renew certificates. I’m using Debian Bullseye, but this will work on any Linux distribution.


There are two possible options how to secure the connection to your Plex server when exposing it to the public Internet:

  1. Use a reverse proxy like HAProxy or nginx that forwards the traffic and performs SSL offloading.
  2. Use Plex’s remote access feature and forward the port on your firewall directly to your Plex server.

Generally I would prefer the reverse proxy since I can use my existing reverse proxy which already has a valid Let’s Encrypt certificate. Also, I have more control on how the server is exposed to the public Internet. Unfortunately, a few Plex features like the Sonos integration and the mobile Plex apps are not working with this setup since they need direct access. So I chose the remote access (reverse proxy will work fine if those features are not important for you). The following guide will explain how to use a valid Let’s Encrypt certificate with Plex remote access.


First, install Certbot. The EFF provides installation guides for multiple operating systems. For Debian the official recommendation is using Snap:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install snapd
sudo snap refresh core
sudo snap install --classic certbot
sudo ln -s /snap/bin/certbot /usr/bin/certbot

HTTP or DNS Let’s Encrypt Challenge

Verification of the domain can either be done via an HTTP challenge or a DNS challenge. I choose a DNS challenge because it doesn’t require opening port 80 to the public Internet. In the following, I use a DNS challenge using Cloudflare. The rest of this guide works the same, even when you choose to use a different type of challenge or a different DNS provider.

Install the DNS Cloudflare plugin:

sudo snap set certbot trust-plugin-with-root=ok
sudo snap install certbot-dns-cloudflare

Create the file ~/.secrets/certbot/cloudflare.ini with the API token you created in your Cloudflare account:

dns_cloudflare_api_token = SECRET_TOKEN

PKCS #12 Certificate

Certbot generates a private key file, a certificate file, and the CA file. By default, these files get created in /etc/letsencrypt/live/ Plex however, expects a PKCS #12 certificate file that bundles all of these together. I created a script that is triggered by Certbot’s renewal hook, which will convert the Certbot output into a PKCS #12 certificate file that is compatible with Plex.

In the following, I’m using as a domain, replace this with your own domain name. Also replace PASSWORD with a random password of your choice.

Create the /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/ file with the following content:


openssl pkcs12 -export \
  -out /var/lib/plexmediaserver/plex_certificate.p12 \
  -in /etc/letsencrypt/live/ \
  -inkey /etc/letsencrypt/live/ \
  -certfile /etc/letsencrypt/live/ \
  -passout pass:PASSWORD \
  -certpbe AES-256-CBC -keypbe AES-256-CBC -macalg SHA256

chmod 755 /var/lib/plexmediaserver/plex_certificate.p12

The chmod command is necessary because this Bash script will be executed as root and the Plex user has to be able to access the file. After the creation of the script file, use sudo chmod +x /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/ to make it executable.

Now you can initialize Certbot and obtain the first Let’s Encrypt certificate:

sudo certbot certonly \
  --dns-cloudflare \
  --dns-cloudflare-credentials ~/.secrets/certbot/cloudflare.ini \
  -m [email protected] \

Every time the certificate is close to experiation, Certbot should renew the certificate and regenerate the /var/lib/plexmediaserver/plex_certificate.p12 file using the renewal hook. To achieve this, install a cronjob using this command (see Certbot automated renewals for details):

SLEEPTIME=$(awk 'BEGIN{srand(); print int(rand()*(3600+1))}'); echo "0 0,12 * * * root sleep $SLEEPTIME && certbot renew -q" | sudo tee -a /etc/crontab > /dev/null

For testing, you can use sudo certbot renew --force-renewal to force a renewal and trigger the post renewal hook.

Use the Let’s Encrypt Certificate in Plex

Go to the “Network” tab of the Plex settings. Set the following configuration (replace PASSWORD and

  • Secure connections: Required
  • Custom certificate location: /var/lib/plexmediaserver/plex_certificate.p12
  • Custom certificate encryption key: PASSWORD
  • Custom certificate domain:
  • Enable Strict TLS configuration
  • Custom server access URLs:

Plex Network PKCS #12 Certificate

DNS Resolution and Port Fowarding

The last step is to set up DNS resolution and port forwarding. I’m not going into great detail here because it depends on both your DNS provider and your firewall.

In summary, ensure that your domain resolves to your public IP and forward port 32400 on the public IP to port 32400 of the Plex VM. In case you use pfSense you have to add a firewall rule on the WAN interface. Make sure you are familiar with the security risks of opening a public port before configuring anything on your firewall.

Last Steps

Go to the “Remote Access” tab of the Plex settings and enable remote access. If you see the message

Fully accessible outside your network

your setup is working!

Update (April 20, 2023): OpenSSL 3.0

With Plex, OpenSSL was updated to 3.0 which requires different encryption algorithms to be used. If the script does not explicitly use stricter encryption algorithms, the Plex server will use the default certificate instead of the custom certificate. This will result in a browser security warning and the following Plex server log lines:

ERROR - [CERT] PKCS12_parse failed: error:digital envelope routines::unsupported
ERROR - [CERT] Found a user-provided certificate, but couldn't install it.

Based on the article in, it can be fixed by adding -certpbe AES-256-CBC -keypbe AES-256-CBC -macalg SHA256 to the openssl pkcs12 command – I updated the post above accordingly.