What is a Home Server?
By Nick Anderson 6 minutes
Did you know that you can turn your computer into a server? It will allow you to do some cool things with your computer, like streaming videos and music remotely through the internet. You can also use it to host websites if you want to start a personal blog. We’ll answer the important questions, starting with what is a home server, and the multiple ways you can utilize it. So, here’s everything you can do with a home server.
Definition of a Server
The internet is made up of two types of entities: clients and servers. The clients are users who are browsing the web and visiting websites. The servers are the machines on which those websites are hosted. Servers are just computers that have been purposed to function in a certain way, such as hosting a website. In essence, every server on the internet is a computer but not every computer is a server.
A server stores all the essential software and files to function. In the case of hosting a website, the server stores all the data related to it and display the web pages to visitors.
What Can You Do with a Home Server?
Contrary to what you might think, it does not take much to set up a home server. It takes a couple of minutes of using software to configure your computer to become a web server.
It doesn’t have to be a beefy computer that costs a couple of thousand dollars, but an old and relatively slower computer can also be set up as a server. It depends on what you plan to build on the home server and how many visitors you expect. Something as simple as a media server that lets you access photos, videos, music, other files from anywhere in the world does not require much processing power. You can even set up a server on Raspberry Pi.
Host a Website
Many hosting providers on the internet charge a monthly fee and give you access to a server that you can use to host a website or do something else. But you can do the same with a computer at home.
One of the most common uses of a home server is self-hosting a website. It cuts down the hosting fees that you would otherwise pay to a provider.
Create Your Own VPN
You can create a Virtual Private Network that will be exclusively for you. If you have a computer configured as a VPN server and you travel somewhere, you still connect to the VPN server remotely and use services that would be restricted. It could be a service or a banking application that does not recognize foreign IP addresses.
But this approach does not give you flexibility. You will be restricted to just one IP address and one geographic location. With FastestVPN, you get access to 600+ VPN servers that are available in 50+ locations worldwide.
Create a Media Server
Nowadays, it is common to see multiple computers and smartphones in a single household. Your own computer is likely to have multiple storage devices that contain a ton of photos and videos. It is problematic enough to amalgamate media from every device in the house in one place, but what if someone wanted to access a particular file?
Setting up a server that anyone in your family can access allows everyone to share the files or even upload themselves for the rest to access. The server can also act as a backup in case you lose data on your primary device.
Using a server to stream the files alleviates the burden from your own device because all the processing is being done on the server. Playing a video file is not a compute-intensive task for modern computers, but it’s useful when using a laptop or smartphone with limited battery life. Softwares such as Plex make it easier to set up a media server.
Set up a Gaming Server
Video games are more mainstream than ever, and online multiplayer gaming is a huge part of that popularity. Some games allow gamers to host their own servers that other gamers can join and play with each other. Games such as Counter-Strike are an example of games that allow custom servers to be set up.
Having your own gaming server gives you the freedom to set the rules. You can keep things interesting by shuffling the rules of the server, such as game modes or even hosting tournaments.
What Are the Downsides of a Home Server?
It doesn’t take much to get a home server up and running. Softwares like Plex, Kodi, and FreeNAS exist that make the process easy. And it doesn’t take much hardware power to set up a home server. An old computer with two cores at 1.0GHz and 1GB RAM is enough to handle your data streaming needs.
However, the glaring downside is the cost of electricity of running the home server 24/7. Even when computers can be kept turned on for weeks without any issue, they do consume electricity. And depending on where you live in the world, the cost of electricity will be a mounting expense on monthly utility expenses. So, while a home server gives you the freedom to do things you want to do with the hardware you might already own, third-party hosting ends up cheaper when you do the math. You can get shared hosting for as low as $10 for 25GB of SSD space, which is adequate for storing photos and videos, but not so much for movies.
The second concern to consider is hardware degradation. While running a computer 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is completely fine, it will accelerate hardware degradation. All hardware degrade over time with use.
Regardless of the downsides, setting up a home server is a fun experiment, to say the least. It is your private repository of data that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. And unlike saving data in the cloud on services such as Google Drive and OneDrive, only you have access and rights to modify the data. You do not have to worry about data breaches.