I really want to set up a home server. We are get symmetrical gig fiber this week so that would be really nice for remote access etc. I really have no idea about hardware though. I would consider myself a beginner so I would want some simple. What does everyone run? Cost is also a major factor.
A server is basically a computer that’s always on.
What do you want to run on the server? What needs are you looking to fill?
Opinions may differ so take this with a grain of salt.
You mentioned remote access but that definitely doesn't require a server. Remote access using a server or something similar (as opposed to the remote PC or hub access services that exist today) also implies a level of security that is beyond beginner stage.
There are also lots and lots of kinds of servers. Windows servers, Linux servers... if you want something to play and learn perhaps Raspberry Pi would be a good place to start. The hardware is cheap and there are lots of people who use it. Otherwise if you tell us a bit more about your use cases I'm sure you'll get lots of advice.
Do you mean a storage device that would contain files/media you want to give folks access to?
If so, a Synology NAS is my preferred option. Super easy to set up and use.
Or a true "server?"
Agree with a NAS. So many uses. I happen to have a QNAP branded NAS but Synology is also great too. I am also able to run docker containers that I use for NodeRed, InfluxDB, MariaDB, HomeBridge, etc.
As others have mentioned, it really comes down to 1) your requirements and 2) your level of expertise. I personally am much, much more comfortable administrating a MS Windows system. Thus, I run an always-on Windows 10 "server" for my needs. On that system I run:
- Channel DVR (great OTA DVR)
- Plex Media Server
- File Server for the home network
- probably a few things that I have forgotten!
All of these could also easily be run on a Linux machine or some of the commercially available NAS boxes.
True...Synology (and QNAP AFAIK) offer a built-in VPN option, in addition to the other services that @ritchierich mentioned.
For storage you could also look at Drobo. Very good for both beginner and advanced users. Or Buffalo..
I have a drobo raid array... going on 5 years. I've replaced the power supply twice and 2 of the drives but it still works great!
It's not a buffalo, it's a bison, dammit!!
Sorry...that just always bugs me.
So the question remains, what is the OP looking to “serve” with this server?
Hardware recommendations kinda depend on the intended applications.
I mean I have several dell blade servers running 15 vm's (mix of vmware and hyperv) mostly for backing up clients VM's). I have a drobo 810 for house storage and a VM for running Plex, then run roku's on all our TV's... (Watchguard T35 Firewall)
I use a Synology Diskstation and it handles most of what I need. I would recommend, however that you setup a VPN on your network router and not on a backend computer or NAS for security reasons. Something like a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or DreamMachine.
I vote that we pack up @ogiewon in a box and ship him to the OP. That should take care of anything he needs...
I think you can forget Drobo. Everything is sold out, I think there is something afoot since they were bought out by StorCentric.
Mainly I would like something to keep some media central to devices. Also I'd really like something that I can tinker and grow with. I've messed with Pis a fair amount, maybe I'll go that route.
Didn't know that... My next choice would be Buffalo though. Have had good luck with their raid systems
Everyone else replying is a known expert so be warned. I am not.
I wanted a "server" and bought an old Dell R610 for $99. It was cheap and fun to play with but noisy and a whole new set of problems running Linux Server and pfSense firewall. I don't recommend that path.
Many people take an older PC from the storage closet and use it for a server. Linux Server OS is free. You might as well start learning Linux now if you don't already. This is a cost-effective option. The bottleneck will be your Ethernet card so you will need to invest in a new one that handles your gigabit-plus fiber connection. Then, if you want to "serve" media you can upgrade your SATA card and buy 4 or 5 multi-terrabyte drives. Then you can get bogged down in which RAID level you want or look at some of the other multi-drive software offerings. Then you can decide on your software like Plex, Blue Iris, etc. Hours of fun and escalating complexity, cost, and assorted gotcha's.
If by "server" you mean hosting lots of files and media then I side with the experts. Go with a Name brand NAS system. The initial price might seem a little high but it will work pretty much out of the box.
If you want a new hobby with a low initial investment put Linux Server on your last PC.
How do you store a foot?
I'm on the raspberry pi bandwagon. I have setup things like InfluxDB and Grafana on my first one, plus run a Conbee2 Zigbee stick on it as well. I have also used a raspberry pi to run a local DNS. In terms of your question about remote access, I have also installed Wireguard VPN to allow this, another pi my life tutorial.
As you can see, there is a mixture of applications and admin "stuff" here. I currently have two main rpi's, one intended atm for my Cobee2 and analytics (InfluxDB and Grafana) and one for admin like the DNS, Wireguard and backup routines, but I plan to get a third to move my Conbee2 into and to run anything in NodeRED I do in the future, allowing me to split the analytics from the automation related setup.