Why would you use a home server?
If you, like most Americans, already spend an almost more than reasonable amount of money on home tech, it can be hard to dignify purchasing a server to go along with everything you already own. Regardless, there are tons of people who are passionate about their servers and home networking setup.
Why is that though? Well, there are a few instances where servers make life easier: managing and hosting data.
Automatically back up data to home server
Yes, you can use a NAS or external hard drive to back up your data, but many servers also come with multiple, redundant storage compartments. When your server is connected to a router, you can directly and wirelessly transfer data back and forth between your devices and the server.
A NAS is great for backing up information, but is much less powerful than a server. For instance, a wider variety of applications will work with your server’s operating system compared to your NAS operating system. Servers also usually have better performing hardware than a NAS’s. So ultimately, if you’re looking for power and storage, a server is better than a NAS.
A cool thing that they both are able to do is constantly backup data from all devices. By installing a program like PhotoSync on your phone and server, any picture you take can automatically be backed up to your server when connected to your WiFi. Additionally, you can set your server as a backup location for any computer plugged into your network, and make sure everything backs up while you sleep.
Access any data from anywhere in your house
As long as your server or NAS has high throughput, you will be able to access anything from programs to music on any of your devices. CPU Modder was even able to stream game data from a NAS over WiFi with negligible stuttering.
WiFi is the slowest way to pull data from your network, but it will easily be able to handle streaming audio, video and music. So, if you’re the type of person who likes to re-watch home videos, it will be very easy to open your phone, access the server and stream a video.
The high throughput of modern servers comes in handy if you are a content creator or gamer. If you edit 8k videos, dumping them all onto an editing server will allow you to store loads of data in one location and edit off of it. Gaming data doesn’t take up as much bandwidth as some 8k raw files, but it definitely benefits from higher throughput.
Self-host a website with your home server
Let’s say you are starting a blog but don’t want to pay for a hosting service or simply value being able to have full control over the site. A server will allow you to host a website with up to a certain amount of traffic.
Self-hosting a website usually costs more than paying for a hosting service. This is because your server will be needing to run 24/7 to make sure the site is always available. The cost of electricity when running a small blog is generally higher than what you would pay for someone else to host it.
So realistically, a majority of people hosting a site on only one server are likely either enthusiasts, or trying to avoid dealing with hosting services ToS.
Host online gaming servers at home
Judging by search queries, Minecraft players are really interested in hosting their own servers. This is because when you host your own server, the owners of the game can’t regulate what happens.
World of Warcraft has tons of private servers designed by individuals who want to make leveling faster, have infinite money and play for free. While it is against the game’s ToS to play on a private server, there isn’t much of a way to enforce it.
Linus Tech Tips recently built an overkill Minecraft server which will give you a good idea of the components needed to be self-hosted. Essentially, just scale down what they were trying to achieve and it may provide good insight into your own needs.
Home servers are a great way to learn about IT
If you are interested in learning more about computers or networking, exploring everything that your server is capable of doing is a great way to learn. It doesn’t need to cost very much either – there is a widely accessible market for used servers on Facebook Marketplace and elsewhere.
Most of the use cases in this article are relatively advanced (compared to casual computing) and might even look good on an IT resume. If you can say that in your free time, you maintain your own Minecraft server or self-host a website it might help show that you really love IT.
If you’ve decided to setup a server at home, you’ll be keen to know what are the best racks for it. Check out our top server racks for the home and office.