Monday, April 25, 2011

Why setup a home server? My 4 Good Reasons... and Maybe Yours?

Finding a "place" for your home server
 may prove difficult...
In the near future I want to write an article or two on how to build a LOW cost powerhouse home server. But before I do that, someone is going to ask, "Why a home server?" (Or why a server at all for that matter?) The answer to this question could go in a LOT of different directions so I figure I will just give you the reasons why I have a server set up at our house. Other can share their own reasons in the comments if they feel so inclined...


Here we go, my Top Four Good Reasons:

1. For School - this probably won't apply to too many of you but I personally am an IT student. I am learning all about this stuff, and by virtue of that it helps if I have at least some of the stuff I am learning about.

2. For Fun - this item will probably catch a wider swathe of my audience. If you came here to hack your WDTV, you probably would have a lot of fun playing with a server. Granted, another piece of technology to...
suck away your time isn't exactly a marriage & family builder. (unless you are the rare and very lucky individual that is a part of a family of nerds...) But, it is an excellent go-to project when you have nothing better to do or you are trying to procrastinate from something you should be doing...

3. For Central Storage - If you live in my household, there is a lot of writing going on all the time. We both write but my wife is the grammar nazi. I operate off of a desktop computer and she operates off of a laptop. Sometimes I want her to review something I have written before it is finalized. I have also been on the job hunt and I have had her look my resume over about five times. If we had to use a USB drive to share those word documents that would be a lot of back and forth and I strive for laziness efficiency. I keep my resume and other word documents on the server. She has access to them to review/edit and I have immediate access when she is done. But all of that is kind of boring. (I am elaborating a bit on this point because central storage really is THE point of a home server.) You might not have guessed it, but we have a WDTV. Guess where all of our music and videos reside... the server. The WDTV has access to the server and everything runs pretty smoothly. Bittorrent also runs on the server, a much better place for it than our local machines... The laptop can be in the kitchen or the bedroom or the living room and my wife has access to our entire music and video library.



4. For Gaming - Yep, that's right, gaming! I am one of those lucky souls who has a wife that likes to geek it up on occasion. However, gaming on a laptop isn't much fun. Our rather lackluster bank account is a common theme in my writing and I am always trying to do things on the cheap without sacrificing too much on the quality. With that being said, Windows Server 2008 R2 is more or less Windows 7 with a bunch of extra features. My server has a pretty nice processor in it and even though it is using integrated graphics they are still far superior to that of my wife's HP laptop (which gets so hot it warps wood and melts plastic if you try to game on it). Our budget could never justify an extra desktop computer but the server (which was in part mostly bought for school...) Serves its dual purpose well and games like Titan Quest run pretty smooth.

So there you have it, my four reasons for having a home server. Now I would like to hear back from you! Do you have a home server? If so, what operating system are you running? What do you use it for and how do you justify it's existence to the rest of the family? :)

Cheers!

Just to whet your appetite a bit, I plan on putting together a decent media server for under $400 in components running Windows Server. I will show you how to get a free and legal copy Server 2008 R2 (with a few caveats) and discuss setting up multiple virtual machines using Hyper-V. I also plan on going through a few other fun items like how to host your own publicly accessible web-server. (as long as your ISP doesn't catch on and block it!) Stay tuned!

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