Home servers can be a scary thought at first. And rightfully so, with cloud server storages becoming cheaper day by day, investing time and resources into creating your personal home server may seem quite redundant. However, it is one of the most interesting ways of putting your hardware to good use and develop some technical skills as well.
Running A Server At Home; What Is A Home Server?
A home server refers to a computing server that is used to provide computing services to an individual, home or organization from a local residence. Thus, instead of waiting for official third-party servers, you can use your server to use a host of services that come bundled with the home server at a much higher speed and a much lesser cost.
Why Have A Home Server?
The question arises, why have a home server? What can I do with a server at home?
There are many benefits of a home server. You can configure your server for any requirement, and the server shall provide the service to you and the computers and devices connected to the server. You can configure your server as a media play station, printer service, web serving, backup services and much more. Let us take a look at some of the possibilities that may open when you install a home server.
1. Create a dedicated gaming server
If you are a gamer, you must have heard of all the advantages that come with running a game from the remote server. A properly configured dedicated server is much more stable than a remote server or the game client as well. This means that you can expect superior bandwidth availability and less latency and ping.
Not only that, when and if something goes wrong with your gaming machine, but the other gamers connected to your server can also continue while you reboot your computer. You also get support for customizing your gameplay, remote management, voice chatting, and so much more.
Many popular games have support for running the game off of a dedicated server. In fact, more than half the top 10 most played games on Steam have this support built-in. You can play games like Minecraft, CS: GO, Call of Duty, etc.
2. Keep regular backups
The importance of backups cannot be emphasized enough. Having backups of your important data can come in handy when you lose the active copy of the file, or worse, damage your system. Home servers are extremely helpful in such scenarios, allowing them to create automatic and manual backups regularly.
Home servers often work as NAS (network-attached storage), where all the files are stored centrally and securely, accessible by everyone connected to the server. Using remote access, these files can also be accessed via the internet.
3. Media Serving
One of the most popular uses of a home server is to stream local multimedia content like music and videos. This eliminates the need for saving the same files on each device storage. Using standard sharing protocols like Universal Plug and Play and DLNA protocol, users in a home can access the centrally stored media from any room.
Windows has built-in support for DLNA streaming, so setting up a home server for media streaming should not be a hassle. You can also set up home servers using other third-party programs like LinuxMCE, SlimServer, etc. You can also create a Macintosh server, to access media content remotely or locally according to your wish.
4. Home automation
With the increasing popularity of smart homes, domotics or home automation is a new topic of interest. Many IoT devices like alarm systems, entertainment systems, thermostat controls, lighting controls, etc. require a gateway to functioning.
These gateways are usually operated over a home server. Since home servers run all day, they are extremely important for home automation. With a little technical knowledge, you can configure your own home server for automating your home appliances.
5. Third-party platforms
While not so popular among casual users, some developers use a home server for developing third-party platforms. Windows has native support for this, as the Windows Home Server itself provides an SDK for collaboration across multiple PCs on a floor or home.
While it is not limited to just these mentioned above, these services are the most used cases of a home server. A home server can be configured for much more stuff, including web server for remote access, email hosting, web proxy, peer to peer transfer, etc.
Benefits Of A Home Server
You must be wondering by now, why invest in a home server when you can invest in cloud servers offering great benefits. Well, for that, let’s take a look at Google’s terms of service, which says the following:
“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through Google Drive, you give Google a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.”
What this means is that the cloud servers can utilize your data to their benefit, like sharing your search results and other data for targeted advertisements. This is common across multiple cloud storage services, so you are effectively sharing your data whether you like it or not.
When you create and use your server, you are the sole moderator of the data. Only you can control how the data is distributed and used, eliminating the worry about data leaks or privacy concerns.
One of the benefits of a home server is that it can be created using any old computer parts. Yes, if you have an old computer lying around, or old components that you are upgrading in your PC, you can use these old parts to create a home server for your personal use.
Home servers can run off of a Raspberry pi, showing the cost-effectiveness of this setup. Repurposing a computer that you already own is a great way of not only reducing the cost but the environmental impact as well.
How To Set Up A Home Server?
One of the downsides of a home server is that it can be pretty difficult to set up. You will require to search online the specific instructions that you require for creating a home server for a specific purpose. However, these instructions are fairly easy to find on GitHub and other communities, and fairly easy to follow.
If you follow closely, you can create a home server in almost no time.
So there you have it. This was a small introduction to home servers and the benefits of a local server compared to cloud storage. If you want to discuss further, comment below your queries and suggestions.