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Home Server

Home Server is the computing server located in the private residence, which provides services to the other devices inside or outside the household over a home network or the internet. The services may include file and printer serving, web serving (on the network or Internet) Media centre serving, account authentication, web caching, and backup services. Due to the low number of computers on the typical home network, a home server commonly does not requires significant computing power and can be implemented with a re-purposed, older or a plug computer. An uninterruptible power supply is sometimes used in the case of power outages which can corrupt the data.

Home Servers often run headless, and it can be administered remotely via the command shell, or graphically through the remote desktop system, which includes RDP, Webmin, VNC, Apple Remote Desktop, or many others.

Topic Discussed:

Home Server Uses
Home Server Hardware
Home Server Rack
Home Server Case
Home Server Setup
Home Server Software
Home Server Linux
Home Server OS

Home Server Uses

Home Server has a lot of uses, which decrease, internet speeds continue to increase, and NAS systems become a feature rich one, many people are now home server or NAS system, here are five top uses of the home server or NAS.

1. File Server: File Server can be used when you are trying to share a multi-gigabyte file over the internet, or just wants to access to your network storage drive while on the go, Setting up the file server is also one of the most common uses of the server or NAS. The File servers are typically set up using either FTP/SFTP (File Transfer Protocol/Secure File Transfer Protocol) or WebDAV (World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol.

2. Personal Cloud/Backup: Backups have become the vital as we furiously charge towards the digital era, however, something as common as the drive crash, which can quickly destroy years worth of data such as important documents, pictures, videos, and more. As a result, having the backup server with free software such as Bacula for example to backup every system or having something to back up essential documents is quickly becoming one of the most typical uses of servers and NAS systems.

In line with the backups is personal clouds which allow the real-time backing up of the files into the personal cloud, which can be hosted on the home server or NAS. By using the free software such as OwnCloud, this is the easy way to have continuously synced backup protection for essential files without having to pay the monthly fees for a paid cloud service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box.

3. Surveillance: With a surge in the popularity of IP cameras, setting up the DIY home security system is easier than ever and many camera manufacturers would prefer you to sign up for their cloud services, those who don’t want to pay for the cloud service or feel more comfortable with their surveillance footage on the personally owned system can prefer the home server or NAS to serve the double duty as the surveillance system server.

4. Media / Entertainment: Another common use of the home server or NAS is using the media as a server. As servers and NAS systems typically have a lot of onboard storage, this is the perfect place to store the movies, TV Shows, Music, etc., for watching on the client devices such as computers, tablets, TV sticks and others.

It is the most common media and entertainment systems to install on the server or NAS is Kodi or Plex. This two software will allow easy organization of files already on the server or NAS’s shared folders and automatically download information about the content such as album/movie covers, descriptions, etc.,

Home Server Build | Home Server Hardware

  • Building a home server is the best choice for sharing the data between your devices more securely and efficiently. It is one of the flexible alternatives to share the data between devices. By building your home server, you can get the real server-grade equipment for the acceptable price tag. You can also control the software side So that you can install the reliable and modern file systems like ZFS or BTRFS. If you need the special services like virtual machines, print services, complex right management, nothing bests the full-blown server at home. Before we find some hardware, we must have the list of requirements, which are given below:
    • Ther server must support ECC memory, which is for instance necessary for ZFS.
    • The Server should use as little power as possible when it is idle.
    • Disk storage must be mirrored for at least two hard drives.
    • It must support the gigabit ethernet.
  • With these requirements, we can start building our Home Server. First, we need the mainboard with the ECC memory support. This rules out nearly all the consumer hardware and we are left with a few AMD Opterons, Server Atoms, and Intel Xeon. As we want to go lower power, the passively cooled Atom mainboard with ECC seems to fit the bill pretty well.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • The other thing we need is a memory, buy some ECC memory sticks which you could afford. The ECC memory can correct various errors.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • Then for storage, we need at least two identical hard-disk drives. The capacity of the drive is entirely depended on your usage patterns. Here we recommend “RED Drives,” the significant difference between such drives when compared to the normal drives it that their firmware will report errors “right away” so the RAID controller can solve them, instead of trying extra-hard to read the data. Also, they are more resistant to vibrations.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • The drives need to go into standby mode overnight, which won’t happen if the OS needs to install the updates. The simple possible solution is to use the low-power and super-reliable disk drive for the operating system. For that, you can choose the SSD, which are great for the value, as it uses very low-power and there no writes on the drive except for the OS and the drive will be on the read-only mode for rest of its life. It also doesn’t need a lot of storage so that a small SSD will be enough.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • Finally, we need a case and the power supply unit. The claim must be with the good ventilation and air filters. Air Filters are critical. Otherwise, you are a server will accumulate huge amounts of dust in no time. It should also be big enough to allow some air circulation.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • There is one final component of the power which can be added to make the server more reliable. To maintain the server without any voltage fluctuations and to get the utmost reliability, you should add the UPS to the server, an uninterruptible power supply.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

  • Probably you won’t need anything more, It also gives you with much more flexibility in your configuration with this setup, and it’s all server-grade hardware except for the case and the power-supply, with the long warranty times.
Home Server Build

Home Server Build

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Home Server Rack

Home Server Rack Before getting the server rack, it’s good to first understand its essential characteristics. Server racks are measured regarding rack units, Usually written as “RU” or simply “U.” One rack unit equals 1.75 inches (44.45mm) in high, with the compliant equipment measured in the multiples of “U.”  Network switches are generally 1U to 2U, and servers can range from 1U to 4U, and blade servers can be anywhere from 5U to 10U or more.

Consider, to the width and depth of server rack, which is generally accepted to be the 19 inches for former and 600mm to 1000mm for the latter. Some server racks come with the adjustable rear brackets, though most rack mount servers come with an adjustable mounting kit that can be used as long as there’s sufficient depth for the server. You can set the rack based on your server capacity. You can also buy some ready-made racks based on your requirements.

Home Server Case

The primary thing to consider while buying the Home Server case is to find the right size for your needs, and it should have the room for all your hardware and USB devices. But some of the cases offer much, much more spacious innards, muffled sound, lower temperatures, extensive water-cooling support, and fancy schmancy tempered glass panels or RGB lighting are just the tip of the iceberg.

Things to consider while buying the Server Case

  • Should consider the size of the case while buying one, It should have enough or more than enough rooms for your hardware. You can upgrade your hardware whenever you wish if you have some extra space.
  • The durability of the case is essential So that the case should be more prominent to vibrations and other things. The harder cases are a better one to consider buying.
  • The case should have the proper air filters for the ventilation So that you can prevent your computer from overheating and can make them cooler and faster to operate.

Home Server Setup

Home Server lets you access all your necessary files, photos, music, and more from all the computers in your home, from the home central server. Windows Home Server (WHS) is meant for your family needs or the use of a house or a small office. It allows you to centralize the essential documents and digital media files on one box and provides you with easy access from other machines on the network. It also has the ability to backup ten computers and restores them if needed. It acts as the media server, backup solution, document management, data recovery and lets you access what you need from anywhere there is the web connection. Using the personalized website address, it enables you to securely download and upload the data files.

Windows Home Server Installation

The installation is very straight-forward and easy to do. Boot from the WHS installation disc and kick off the install wizard.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 1: Select your region and the keyboard settings.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 2: Now choose the drives, which are in the machine. In this case, there is only one. But if you have more than one drives, make sure they are listed. If you wish to add the additional drives at the later time.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 3: Then select the New Installation and accept the Microsoft EULA.

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Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 4: Now enter your Windows Homer Server Product Key.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 5: Now it’s the time to give your Home Server a name.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 6: Again verify the hard drives, which will be formatted.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 7: It’s going to ask you again to make sure that all the data will be deleted from the drives.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 8: Now begin the installation process. The amount of time it takes to complete will vary between the systems. Count on the entire process taking the minimum of one hour and even longer.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 9: There is nothing needed from you during the installation takes place. The System will reboot several-time, and you can see different screens displayed while the process completes.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 10: When you notice the following Welcome screen, you’re almost done.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 11: Type in a password and password hint for the server.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 12: Decide if you want to set up the automatic updates or not.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 13: Choose whether you want to join the Customer Experience Improvement Program or not.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 14: Choose if you want to turn on the automatic Windows Error Reporting.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Step 15: That’s all there is to it.  You don’t have to leave the keyboard, monitor, or mouse to the server. The only thing you need to be connected is an Ethernet Cable running to your router. You can administer the machine from any of the computers on the network after installing the Windows Home Server Connector on your other machines.

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Installation

Windows Home Server Console

To connect to the computers on your network to the server, you have to install the Windows Home Server Connector which is available as a separate download. You have to install WHS Connector to every available computer on your network in which you want to connect to the server. It connects your computers to the WHS, and allows for automatic nightly backups, monitors computer network health, and also allows you to remotely administer the server from your computer.

Step 1: You can also use the free program like the Virtual CloneDrive and mount the ISO and transfer the files to the flash drive.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 2: Before installing the connector on the XP, you need to install the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, and which will guide you through the process it needed.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 3: When you start the WHS Connector Setup, it will look for the Home Server.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 4: During the process, you have to enter the password, that you created for the Server.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 5: Choose whether you want your computer to wake up if it’s in sleep mode to back it up.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 6: When the configuration is complete, you can wake up the computer for backup between 12.00 and 6.00 AM. Also in this instance, We’re getting a message which one of the drives in the PC won’t be backed up. This is because it’s formatted as the FAT 32 volume and it will only backup drives formatted as NTFS.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 7: The Home Server Console icon sits in the system tray, and you can control some of its settings by right-clicking the icon.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 8: It will display your network health and shows the security warnings. In this, we can see one of the machines on the network as its firewall turned off.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 9: When you open the WHS Console, you are prompted to log into the server. There are few other features here to like having the password remembered, resetting the console, and password hint.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 10: Once you are signed in, you can configure and administer the server and its different functions.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

Step 11: Now the installation is complete, and we need to add all the latest updates from the Microsoft. Click on Start All Programs then Windows Updates. This also provides you with the latest server security updates and the Power Pack updates as well. The Power Pack updates add new features and provide fixes to known issues for the Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server Console

Windows Home Server Console

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Home Server Software

Homer Server Software is the server software, which turns your computer into a server in no time. You can turn any computer into a home server, which is running Windows. It allows you to control things in your home such as robots, cameras, etc., from the internet. There are plenty of Home Server Softwares available on the internet. We recommend using the Apache Home Server Software, which is very popular, free and an open source software.

Home Server Software

Home Server Software

By using this software you can make your computer into a server very quickly, It is recommended to read through the Apache HTTP server software documentation to learn about how to set it up securely.

  • It is advisable to install the software on an old computer, which you don’t use for anything other than as a server.
  • It is best to create the separate user account in the windows with limited system access and install this software on that account.

You can install this software on Linux too, which is more secure, but a little bit complicated) the best combination would be a puppy Linux and Xamp for the server software. Puppy Linux can be loaded off a usb jump drive or CD So that you don’t need to uninstall the Windows, and you can boot the computer with one of those.

Home Server Linux

Almost any desktop or laptop made in last ten years should suffice unless you are planning to run some intensive programs for many users (unlikely on a home network). The store is more likely to be an issue with the older systems, particularly if you want to store and share the Photos, Music, and Videos at home. If that is a concern, you may want to get the new hard drive. The freedom from worry about the most viruses is a significant advantage, and not spending the amount of upgrading Windows is a big plus too.

Home Server Linux

Home Server Linux

  • As awesome as Linux is for the desktop use, Linux truly shines as the server. While providing the web-based services is one of those server things Linux does well, Linux can do a lot more than host blog about the family outings.
  • Choosing the specific Linux distribution for your home server can be daunting in itself since there are so many strains to choose from. Most of the time, I roll with Ubuntu and recommend the first-time users do the same. Ubuntu Server is easy to administer, well documented, and has the pretty low learning curves.
  • The next main thing you have to worry about is the programs you wish to run on the server. There is a huge amount of free and open-source software you can host yourself.
  • There is a huge amount of free and open-source software you can host yourself, but finding it can be tricky. Luckily, the GitHub user named Edward D maintains a list of self-hosted software, in which you can run on the Linux server. It has everything from the blog software to CRM.
  • Indeed, the sovereign is the good starting point for the users, who are looking to be digitally self-reliant. With a couple of commands, the sovereign will install the email server, a VPN service, a CalDAV and CardDAV server, nightly backups, ownCloud, to name the few.
  • Once you have the idea of what you want to host on your server, the next step is choosing the right hardware.

Home Server OS

Home Server can be started using the different operating systems, such as Windows 10 Pro, Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2, FreeNAS, Ubuntu 16.04 desktop, Ubuntu 16.04 server.

Windows 10 Pro:

Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro

Pros:

  • Very easy to set up.
  • It can run any of the programs you want, including Plex, Handbrake, and Blue Iris (DVR)
  • It can run any paid anti-malware & anti-virus programs.
  • Could quickly turn into the standard PC for sale if you don’t need the server services.
  • Easy to step a backup solution.

Cons:

  • Least secure one.
  • Frequent updates which require reboots.
  • Redundancy via Intel-RAID and software RAID.
  • Uses the old NTFS file system.

Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2:

Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2

Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2

Pros:

  • easy to set up.
  • Can run any of programs I want, Handbrake, including Plex, and Blue Iris(DVR)
  • Plenty of other server services available if I so choose.
  • Easy to set up a backup solution.
  • Moderately secured if you set up correctly.

Cons:

  • Redundancy via Intel-RAID and software RAID.
  • Uses the old NTFS file system.
  • No free anti-virus is available.
  • Still not as secured as other non-Windows OS’s.

FreeNAS:

FreeNAS

FreeNAS

Pros:

  • Can use mirrored USB-3.0 Flash drives as the mirrored OS drive, which opens up the SATA ports.
  • Uses the ZFS, which is the modern server file system.
  • ZFS allows parity-based redundancy through software without the significant performance impact, which is highly efficient on the number of HDD’s used.
  • Allows for an Apple-only NAS option.
  • Very secure.

Cons:

  • Initial installation is easy to set up, but the advanced options like backups are much harder to set up.
  • No DVR options available and not sure if it can run Handbrake.
  • Insufficient expansion options as far as server services.
  • Plex server will be the harder to setup and won’t run as well as on Windows.
  • Memory hog, but hopefully 32GB of non-ECC RAM will be enough.

Ubuntu 16.04 desktop

Ubuntu 16.04 desktop

Ubuntu 16.04 desktop

Pros:

  • It supports ZFS on non-boot drives, so it has all the advantages of ZFS.
  • Can run most of the applications you need, but would have to find a different DVR solution as Blue Iris is Windows only.
  • Fairly secure.

Cons:

  • Advanced options like setting up the backups would be complicated due to being new in Linux.
  • Not a server OS, so would have to learn ways to tweak it to harden it more like a server.

Ubuntu 16.04 server

Ubuntu 16.04 server

Ubuntu 16.04 server

Pros:

  • Supports ZFS on the non-boot drives, so it has all the advantages of ZFS.
  • It Can run most of the applications you need but would have to find some different DVR solution as Blue Iris is Windows only.
  • Highly secure.

Cons:

  • Very hard to setup as the server uses CLI.
  • Would have to get a GUI desktop loaded onto the server if you don’t know the Linux CLI.
  • Advanced options like setting up backups will be complicated if you are a newb in Linux.

Thank you for reading this post.

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