Initially, servers in their current form first appeared in the late 80s as data warehouses.
Since then, the rapid cybernetics automation in recent times has produced more powerful, faster, and versatile servers to replace the former clunky, slow, and inefficient dull servers.
The advent of the lustrous modern servers came a myriad of cool things to do with a home server in the comfort of your home.
If you are wondering what you can do with your home server, this article outlines some of the cool things you can do with a home server.
What is a home server?
A home server is a computer system that provides various services within a home network environment. It is located in a residential setting and is used to host and manage files, media, and other resources within the home.
A home server can be a dedicated piece of hardware or an old computer that has been repurposed to function as a server. It typically runs server software that enables it to provide services such as file sharing, media streaming, remote access, backup and storage, and more.
Setting up a home server requires some technical expertise, but there are many resources available online to help users get started, and there are also pre-built home server solutions available for purchase.
Cool Things to Do with a Home Server
1. Streaming Media
Streaming media via electronic devices like a home server is one of the cool things you can use your home server for. Once you install streaming software, you can stream your movie, music, or TV show’s library.
Similarly, you can also configure your server to enable streaming over the internet into your remote device such as an iPhone. However, you should secure your server against unauthorized random intrusion.
2. Online Gaming
Running your exclusive gaming server can be a mind-blowing experience.
Big-time games like Apex Legends, Runescape, and Counter-Strike are some of the modern smashes when deciding to install your home gaming server.
Online gaming attracts both young and old since it brings the satisfaction of realism that sharpens the focus of an individual by maintaining an active mind throughout the entire gaming session.
3. Running a Test Server
Whether you are an IT whizz or a beginner wondering how to avert risk from your main server while installing new software, you might consider using your home server as an ideal test server for trying out any new application or software.
This will give you a clean interface and avoid possible peril that comes with installing new operating systems.
4. Compiling Smart Devices
A home server can be an ideal manager of countless smart devices stoked with your compiled data.
The stored information may be collected from countless business transactions or by monitoring sensors such as Closed Circuit Cameras which can then be channeled to your home server.
Thereafter, you can retrieve and analyze your data anytime you like.
5. Setting Own Home firewall On Your Server
Many home firewalls from internet service providers that come integrated into routers and modems are critically vulnerable to effortless attacks by hackers or backdoor spying from your ISP.
Unfortunately, top-tier superior firewalls are costly and difficult to find.
However, if you own a home server, you can create an all-powerful, premium open-source firewall and sharpen your craft. For example, you can use your server to run a virtual firewall to cover your home using Pfsense or OPNsense open-source software.
6. Use Your Home Server To Learn
Most times when you learn and don’t realize it, learning new stuff doesn’t have to be technical. If you are a novice, hanging around your home server can be fun.
However, you may not even know when you are grasping something new but every time you come across a podcast, a documentary on Netflix, or watch a video/movie on YouTube, you have probably learned.
Similarly, for a tinkerer, sticking around your home server may help you absorb significant technical expertise.
7. Run Some Robotics
If you are interested in robotics, you may find it exciting to experiment with your home automation devices.
A rough idea to get started would be to create a simple relay circuit by wiring up your serial port and using that power to light a lamp or something else, then use the Secured Shell Protocol to turn the light on and off.
From there, you can imagine all the possibilities and crazy ideas.
8. Hosting Your DNS
Hosting your virtual private DNS on your home server has many advantages such as protection against forced advertising, matchless control level, and high-speed connectivity.
The only drawback would be that if you have millions of site visitors per month, in this case, you will need a huge disk space to accommodate the massive impressions.
However, you may use a home server as your cloud workstation for hosting your encryption information, contact codes, or sensitive links.
9. Set Up a Bitcoin Node
If you are a devoted Bitcoin miner and concerned about your privacy and trading security, it is important to set up your Bitcoin node.
This way you can fast-track your trading to determine the amount of Bitcoins present and how they are spent.
Similarly, you may also use your node to confirm Bitcoin earnings and verify whether you receive the funds at your end. This process will also help to validate your network as a legitimate Bitcoin path.
10. Run a Private Chat Server
Your privacy is a key priority when it comes to sensitive information. Having end-to-end audited encryption of your metadata will protect your chats from sniffers.
Fortunately, you can run a well-tested messaging protocol from your home server free from third-party meddling, you will only need to install a messaging service software like Jabber/XMPP and you are ready to go!
11. Create a SecureDrop
Operating a dead mailbox anonymously can be fun, SecureDrop allows you to accept sources and communicate with your contacts incognito.
You can access the software free from the cloud and convert your home server into a SecureDrop where anybody can drop the information to you unidentified. This is useful if you are a journalist who is in constant need of details.
SecureDrop software is safe to use and having it installed on your server ensures privacy and ease of access.
12. Set a Data storage
Personal data can be a huge threat when it falls into the hands of unauthorized people.
Storing your data in your server’s hard drive allows you to share the information with anyone you want and restrict access to only devices within your local area network.
This can be convenient when you want to share data with close people since the files will be readily available unlike retrieving them from Dropbox.
The transfer speed of large files within your home network will also be improved.
How to build a home server
Building a home server requires some expertise, and you can choose to purchase a pre-built system or build a server from scratch. If it is your first time building a home server, follow these steps to get started.
Choose your hardware
You can either build a server from scratch or repurpose an older computer. Make sure the computer has a fast processor, plenty of RAM, and enough storage space to meet your needs. You may also consider purchasing a dedicated server chassis or case to house the server components.
Choose your server software
Choose an operating system and server software that will provide the services you want to offer. Popular options include Windows Server, Linux distributions like Ubuntu or Debian, and NAS operating systems like FreeNAS or OpenMediaVault.
Install the server software
Once you’ve chosen your server software, you’ll need to install it on your server. This process will vary depending on the software you’ve chosen, but most will provide step-by-step instructions for installation.
Configure your server
Once your server software is installed, you’ll need to configure it to provide the services you want to offer. For example, if you want to set up file sharing, you’ll need to configure file-sharing settings on your server software.
Set up remote access
If you want to access your server from outside your home network, you’ll need to set up remote access. This typically involves configuring your router to forward traffic to your server and setting up a dynamic DNS service to give your server a domain name.
Test and secure your server
Once your server is set up, test it to ensure that it’s providing the services you want. You should also take steps to secure your server, such as setting up user accounts with strong passwords and configuring firewalls and other security measures.
How much does it cost to build a home server?
The cost of building a home server varies depending on the components and software you choose. Here are some of the costs you may incur when building a home server:
The cost of hardware can vary depending on the components you choose, such as the processor, RAM, storage, and other accessories like a server chassis or case. Building a server from scratch can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Operating system and server software
Depending on the software you choose, you may need to purchase an operating system license or server software license. Some server software options, like open-source Linux distributions, are free but may require additional paid add-ons for certain features.
Additional software and services
Depending on the services you want to offer on your home server, you may need to purchase additional software or services, such as a domain name, SSL certificate, or other add-ons to extend functionality.
Overall, the cost of building a home server can range from under $1,000 to several thousand dollars, depending on the components and software you choose. If you decide to repurpose an older computer as a server, you can drastically reduce your cost to several hundred dollars.