Do you frequently find yourself running out of cloud storage space? Has your personal computer slowed to a crawl recently? Maybe the pandemic forced you to switch to remote work and your computing power just isn't enough. Well, a home server could be an excellent solution to any or all of these problems.
Running a server at home may sound like an expensive and complicated undertaking reserved for those with extensive technical knowledge. However, setting up a home network server is relatively cheap and requires only basic tech knowledge. Plus, setting up a home server can also be a fun learning experience.
A home server is a computer that functions in a home network. It can be a simple personal computer with a big hard drive, sufficient memory, and a network connection. In most cases, home servers serve as media storage, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let's take a look at how you can use it, the benefits of a home server, and how to set it up.
A home server can have tons of uses, and it can be incredibly convenient for those who now have to work from home because of the pandemic. It can be used for storing and managing data, gaming, taking the load off your personal computer, web hosting, and even home automation (more on that later).
It can also have more advanced uses. With a home server, you can run a Tor node or your own email and chat server, or even create a home VPN server. However, some of these may require more technical know-how. For now, let's take a look at some of the more popular uses.
So, what can you do with a home server? Here's a more in-depth look at why having a server at home is a good idea.
Think about all the different media, like photos, movies, or music, stored on each of your devices: your laptop, tablet, and phone. Now take into account your entire family's devices and media — keeping track of and managing all those files can be a bit of a hassle.
Then there's the size of those files. For example, a movie can take up a few gigabytes, and any cinephile will agree that the space on your computer runs out pretty fast.
A home media server is an excellent way to free up storage and have all those media files in one place. Instead of keeping your entire household's files scattered across different devices, setting up a home server lets you save that data in one centralized location. Since the server is connected to your home network, anyone in your family can access and play the media in real time from their own devices.
Playing media does take up a significant amount of your computer's processing power. So, let's say you want to do some work on your laptop and play a movie in the background. In this case, a home server can take care of playing the film so you can smoothly multitask without the risk of your personal computer crashing.
Backing up your data is essential. One click on a malicious link or simply a clumsy move with a cup of coffee next to your laptop, and all that precious information is gone.
A home backup server can be an excellent solution for keeping your information safe. While there are other good options like cloud storage, a home server is ideal if you're looking for a more customizable solution.
Thinking of starting a blog? If you want complete control over the website's management, or you're not keen on paying for a hosting service, a home server can do the job. While it won't handle millions of users, your old computer can perform about the same as a hosting service up to a certain amount of traffic.
Just like with website hosting, you can set up a home server proxy. A proxy functions as a gateway between your device and the internet. There's plenty of software and online tutorials that will take you through setting up, configuring, and opening the right ports for your proxy.
However, keep in mind that a personal home server proxy won't give you the same privacy and security as a VPN.
A home automation server is the perfect centralized platform to manage your smart home from. You can manage heating, lighting, or IoT home appliances from a centralized server to optimize energy saving, or you can use it as a control panel for all your home security systems.
Some online multiplayer games offer dedicated server software so the players can host games on their own home servers. This enables you to play multiplayer games with improved performance and stability. Not to mention you will have the opportunity to customize your gameplay however you want.
Install a VPN on your home server. This can be compatible with most other home server applications, however may require extra configurations to function properly. But, if you’re up for it, it will add extra features and security to your home server. By rerouting your server's traffic through a VPN server, you'll be able to secure it from snoopers.
Additionally, you can opt for a dedicated IP. Services like NordVPN offer this feature. With it, you can have a secure dedicated IP address and whitelist it. This way, only those with a specific IP will be able to connect to the server.
A home server setup doesn't have to be wildly expensive. It's cheaper than getting a brand new computer since it doesn't require a desktop, a mouse, or a keyboard. Depending on what you need it for, you can use an old computer you abandoned before opting for new tech — in this case, it's entirely free.
You can also build it from scratch, hunting for cheaper parts individually. All in all, depending on how powerful you want it to be and whether or not you have an old computer to re-modify, it can range from a few bucks to a few hundred.
The complexity of the home server setup depends on what you're going to use it for. Each of the above server functions may require different configurations and even different hardware. However, that doesn't mean your home server has to be limited to one use only. Whatever you decide, to set up your server, follow these main steps:
Setting up a home server is convenient, relatively cheap, and a great learning experience. With little to no investment and some research, you can turn your home into a data hub for your friends or family.
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