Are you seeking a single location to save all of your photos and videos? Or are you looking for a place where you may learn new IT skills? What about your smart home, do you have one? A home server can be useful in a variety of situations and is an excellent addition to any home network.
When we talk about a home server, the majority of people are concerned about the amount of power it consumes or the amount of noise it generates. However, there is no need for such. For roughly $500, you can create your own home server that consumes less than 10 watts when idle.
In this post, we’ll look at what you can do with a home server and what you’ll need to create one or buy one.
What is a home web server?
When we say “home web server,” we don’t always mean a large enterprise-grade server that you operate at home. A home server is any computing device that is used in a home context for central (cloud) storage, backups, serving media files, surveillance, and so on.
The majority of people use a home server to play media files on their television or as a central storage device for all members of their family. The benefit of storing your files centrally is that everyone in your household can access them. You also only need to back up one device and don’t have to pay for cloud storage on a regular basis.
IT professionals frequently use a home server to hone their abilities. If you work in IT, you might want to test scripts or programmes in a non-production environment first. This is when a home lab server comes in handy. It allows you to install virtual machines (VMs) and set up a tiny network/domain to practise and acquire new skills.
Home web server uses
A home server can be used for a variety of purposes. I’ve previously covered a few concepts, but let’s dig a little deeper into the many roles of a home server. We’ll begin with the most prevalent scenarios.
Central storage with a Home Cloud Server
The size of files is increasing, and we all want to save our images, videos, and other things for as long as feasible. When you have a server at home, it makes perfect sense to keep all of your data on it.
Every household’s dilemma is that data is dispersed over multiple PCs and external storage. Everyone can quickly access the files by combining them into one area on a home file server, and your data will be more protected.
If you save all of your data in one location, be sure you have a decent backup of it. A RAID solution isn’t a backup in and of itself; make sure you preserve a copy of your data on an external device.
One of the benefits of cloud storage is that you may access your data from any location in the world, including your smartphone. You may receive the same functionality as other cloud solutions with a home cloud server, but with your own storage.
When compared to using a cloud service, there are a few advantages of hosting a local file server:
Speed – You can access your files through your local network in a flash (no need to download them first)
Privacy – Nobody is snooping around in your files.
Security – You have complete control over who has access to your data.
For storing data centrally, there are a variety of options. If you have a Synology NAS, you may create network shares and access your data remotely using the built-in functionality. Other good choices for a home cloud server include:
Home Media Server
The most popular application for a home server is to stream media. You can watch movies from your personal library on your Smart TV, mobile phone, or PC with a home media server. You may also stream music from your home media server in addition to movies.
There are a variety of options for setting up your own home media server, but the following are the most popular:
It’s quite easy to get started with your Home Media Server. Install the programme of your choosing and populate it with your movie collection. Plex has made it very simple to stream media; they offer apps for almost every device on the market, including Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and so on.
Central Backup Solution
It’s critical to back up your files on a regular basis. Hard drives can fail, information can be erased by accident, and ransomware can encrypt all of your data. They are all frequent occurrences that can occur to anyone.
It is possible to reinstall software, but it is not possible to retake family or holiday photos. As a result, it’s critical that you back up your computer on a regular or monthly basis.
Making backups should not be a time-consuming process. It’s easy to forget about it, and you’ll always notice if something goes wrong if you haven’t taken a recent backup.
You can automate the backup of your PCs if you have a home server. You may rest certain that your data is safely backed up on a regular basis in this manner. There are a variety of options available, but here are a few decent ones:
Home Automation Platform
I enjoy designing smart homes and have written extensively on the subject, including this collection of smart home ideas. You’ll need a central location to handle your smart home gadgets if you want to establish a smart home.
You may invest in a dedicated smart home hub, such as a Homey, which could provide some benefits. However, if you have access to a server, you can set up your own Home Automation Platform.
Home Assistant, for example, is a good option. It’s fully documented and can be installed on pretty much any platform you choose to utilize. You might also look at the following home automation options:
Home Security System
We have home security in addition to home automation. These days, network cameras are really inexpensive and provide excellent recording quality. They’re ideal for securing your home and keeping an eye on your driveway, for example.
Now, because I am a big admirer of Ubiquiti, I have a whole Unifi Protect system, which you can read about here. However, there are a few alternative options accessible for your home server. Blue Iris is one among them, and it’s a fantastic product (still want to incorporate it into my network as well).
Blue Iris supports both motion and audio triggering and can be readily expanded with add-ons such as license plate recognition.
To protect your online identity, you should use a unique and strong password for each account you have. Using a password manager is the only method to do this.
When you have a home server, it’s fairly simple to set up your own password manager and make it accessible to all members of your family.
Bitwarden is an open-source password manager that you can use a Docker container to install on your own server at home. The whole installation tutorial may be found here.
Hosting your own website
You can also host your own blog or website on your server. Hosting isn’t particularly expensive these days, but if you have a tiny website and want to learn more about how a web server works, you can easily manage it from your own house.
Keep in mind that a good internet connection is required. In order to host a website, your internet connection’s upload speed is crucial.
Nginx in a Docker container or Xampp, for example, are excellent starting points.
Run your own Home Gaming Server
Online games are popular, and some of them let you set up your own gaming server. The game server will function better and be more stable if it is run on your home server. It also gives you the option of customizing the gameplay.
When you’re hosting your own game, your internet connection upload speed is crucial. Check to see if you have enough bandwidth.
Having your own server is a fantastic method to expand your IT knowledge. A homelab server allows you to test new programmes, learn how to create virtual machines, and operate Windows or Linux servers without fear of losing data.
To easily deploy servers and construct a small network to play with, you can use a hypervisor like Vmware or HyperV.
Building a Home Server
When it comes to building your own home server, you have a few options. On eBay, you could find an ancient enterprise-grade server, such as this HP DL360. These servers frequently feature sufficient RAM, high computing power, and support RAID setups.
The disadvantage of these servers is that they generate a lot of noise and consume a lot of power. Replace the fans with quieter models, such as this from Noctua.
These devices, however, are overrated for most home server settings. However, an old laptop or desktop computer is a terrific place to start.
If you want to create your own home server, there are a few things you need think about:
- Storage capacity is required.
- Consumption of energy
- Options for mounting (rack or not)
Low Power Home Server
I’ve compiled a parts list for you to build your own low-power home server. It should use roughly 10 watts while idle and around 20 watts when running a couple of servers. Hard drives need the most energy, thus the more you add, the more energy you’ll use.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-9100|
|Extenal PSU||LEDwholesalers 12V 20A 240W AC/DC Power|
|Case||Fractal Design Core 1000 USB|
|SSD||Intel 660p NVMe|
|HDD||Seagate BarraCuda 2TB|
A home server doesn’t require a lot of processing power; an Intel G5400 will suffice in most circumstances. However, the I3 is not much more expensive, has lower power consumption, and provides that little bit of more in case you need it.
The ARCTIC Alpine 12 Passive is a fantastic cooler for Intel’s I3 processor.
Choosing the appropriate motherboard can significantly reduce your server’s power consumption. The Fujitsu motherboard is extremely energy efficient, thanks to the fact that it disables functionality it doesn’t use.
The disadvantage of this motherboard is that it is difficult to come by and is fairly pricey. There are two types available on the market: the D364x-B line has six SATA connectors while the -H line has four.
The ASRock B360M-HDV is another decent motherboard option.
If you’re solely utilizing Docker images, you won’t require much memory. In those circumstances, 8GB would be more than plenty.
Try to limit yourself to just one memory module, as each additional module increases memory use.
The picoPSUs are excellent power supplies for constructing a low-power home server. The 160 watt version is offered, but the 90 watt version should suffice with the I3-9100.
With the picoPSU, you’ll need to utilize an external power adapter, which is indicated above.
Storage Disks and Solid State Drives
SSDs are ideal for use as a boot disc and for storing and installing servers and programmes. The NVMe SSD consumes somewhat more energy than standard SSDs, but it allows us to use the four SATA slots for storage.
The Intel and Samsung SSDs use the least amount of electricity. I have a 500GB version advertised, which should be sufficient to run your servers.
We use standard spindle discs for storage. The benefit of 2.5-inch hard drives is that they consume significantly less power than 3.5-inch counterparts.
There are a handful of alternatives on the market if you don’t want to build a home server from the ground up. The Intel NUC, for example, is a terrific compact but powerful system to begin with.
A Raspberry Pi 4 is also a good place to start. These are quite inexpensive and make excellent little devices for running small programmes or services.
A Synology NAS is another popular option for a home server. Although they are primarily NAS (network-attached storage) devices, they are also excellent platforms for running your home server. Synology has a large community with many fascinating and useful apps that you can easily install on your Synology.
Check to see if the model you’re considering buying can run Docker images. The DS220+, for example, is a solid entry-level Synology device.
When it comes to pre-built servers, there is always a trade-off; they may consume more power or have insufficient expansion space. However, if you don’t want to develop your own server, these are excellent alternatives.
Having a home server is a fantastic way to expand your home network and learn new IT skills. You’ll probably find that after you have a server, you’ll realise that you have more uses for it than you anticipated.
If you’re going to use the server for central storage, make sure you back up your data properly and on a regular basis.