What is a Home Server and why would you need one?
Well, as the word suggests its a server that’s location is within the home! It provides services to other devices within the household by the internal home network and outside of the home via the internet.
Unlike a normal PC, Home Servers are normally left running 24/7 (although they can be set to sleep at certain times for power saving).
Home Servers can have a range of duties which include the following:-
1. File Server or NAS (network attached storage). A central storage location for all devices to be able to access shared files. Users’ files are centrally and securely stored, with flexible permissions applied to them.
As well as being able to be accessed within the home they can be accessed from anywhere in the world via remote access. Like the idea of dropbox, but don’t like the price. Or you just don’t trust a third party keeping your data secure. Well, run it yourself! With software like Owncloud or Nextcloud , you can do just that. With clients available for ios, android, windows, mac and linux you can do just this.
2. Media Server. Most modern households have large collections of photos, music and video. So with a home server, all your other devices can access this media without having to store it locally on the device. The most common media server is a server running Plex or Emby.
These programmes are similar in the fact they both take a centralised media management approach. They both run a piece of client software to play the content. As well as being able to serve the media in the home running a Plex or Emby server can stream your media to you when you are away from home also. Running a DLNA server is another common media server practice. This will allow any device that supports DLNA such as some TVs, games consoles and other devices to access media content.
3. Download Server. The server downloads your content, as it is on 24/7 (or most the time anyway). It can download files via Torrent or Usenet.
You can be on another device and click on a torrent or nzb file and the server will download the file. Software can be installed which automatically downloads files with little or no user intervention, such as couch potatoe and sickbeard.
4.Video Game Server. You will need to have a server with a gaming capable graphics card in it to do this. Many people may say they wouldn’t put a gaming card in a server, but only have one in their gaming rig. However, some people will use their gaming rig as a server as well. Or you may use the excellent unRAID software to run your server. Allowing you to run multiple systems on one box with no or little performance.
Anyway using steam stream or the excellent Nvidia game stream, you can play your PC games in another room. For example on a raspberry pi in your bedroom. (which will also run Kodi and act as a client for Plex or Emby too!)
5. Backup Server. Backup your connected pcs and laptops. Many are familiar with Windows Backup and the Apple Time Machine. However, others use CrashPlan and other custom backup software.
These are the main uses for home servers. Although there are many other not so common uses such as running a web server or a VPN server.