How to Set Up a Home Server in Four Easy Steps
A server is essentially an enormously powerful computer that answers requests of hundreds of thousands of clients – other devices, scattered across the country. Well, not quite. Nearly every computer can be a server regardless of its size and capacity. You can even make one of your own at home!
Why would you need one, though, especially with services like Dropbox? Some people prefer to store their own data on a server they physically own rather than trust a cloud service. There are actually bunches of reasons why people choose to have a personal server, and maybe you will want too, after considering these things:
- Host all your files
- Have a back-up storage
- Download and manage torrents
- Personal media server
- Server for gaming
- Server to host websites
As you can see, creating a personal server can be a great way to save money and ensure safety for your files. Let’s compare the prices – 1 TB of storage on Dropbox costs $99.99 for a yearly subscription, while you can get a 1 TB hard drive for as low as $45. Considering the average lifespan of three years, this decreases the annual price down to $15.
As for the torrent part, we are not advocating cyberpiracy. We also want to remind you that you are responsible for the files you download and distribute. However, we are not saying that everything on torrents is piracy content. And having a separate server for that kind of things can ensure great protection for you.
Having a server for all your media-files is just very convenient if you are willing to spend a little time to set it up. Now to the setting process!
Set Up Your Home Server Easily
- Find or get a basic inexpensive computer with a simple graphics processor. You don’t need an expensive one unless you plan to play resource-consuming games and stream them. Even a single-board computer like Raspberry Pi will be more than enough for most of the tasks you are likely to perform on the server.
- Connect your computer to a display and a keyboard so it’s easier to work with during the installation process.
- Install Ubuntu, enable ssh and open one port on the default firewall. Here are some recommendations on the process. Also, remember to keep your server behind a physical firewall like a router for safety. If you want some ports to be accessible to everyone, you can specifically forward them.
- Now you can connect to your personal server from any device, which is in the same network.
How to Install Ubuntu
Don’t worry, even if it’s your first time working with this system. The installation process is super-easy, and we are going to walk you through it.
- Prepare your soon-to-be server by connecting a mouse and a keyboard, desktop, and Ethernet cable.
- Create a bootable USB stick with Ubuntu on it. If you are looking for a tutorial for that, here you go.
- Insert the USB stick and start the computer.
- Enter the BIOS settings before it fully boots.
- Choose to boot from the USB and install Ubuntu on your DIY server.
- To enable shh to run the following commands:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install ssh
sudo ufw allow 22
- You no longer need the monitors and the control, and you can switch to your PC or laptop.
- To find the server, go to your router settings and check the list of connected devices.
- To log into the server, you can use the ssh ubuntu @192.168.0.1 command. Don’t forget to replace the “ubuntu” with your username, and the address with that of your server.
- Now add your PC or laptop’s ssh key to the server, then disable the connection with login and password for maximum security.
Some Fun Things to Do with Your Server
If you are not afraid to play with the command line, there’s a lot of fun things you can do with your newly established home server. Here is a couple of suggestion to try out on a boring rainy night.
Your Very Own Tor .Onion Service
Join the ranks of privacy vigilantes and help other people keep their communication and browsing safe, while you also ensure safer conditions for yourself. Tor is awesome partly because everyone can contribute to the safe and anonymous network by hosting your own .onion service. Tor allows doing so without revealing your IP address, so you are also safe.
The computing power and the bandwidth you will need to have depends on two factors – how many websites you are going to host, and how popular they will be. Now all you need is code for the website you are going to host, a web server, and Tor software.
Bitcoin Nodes for Everybody
Whether you are a Bitcoin enthusiast or just want to contribute to the development of a future society with decentralized financial structure, running your Bitcoin node is also a great thing to do. To do this, you’ll need more computing power than an .onion service requires, and definitely more storage space.
With the total size of all blockchain headers and transactions reaching 217 GB and predictions that it will grow by 40 – 80 GB per year, you will need a lot of space. However, if that’s not a problem for you and you have tons of free hard drives lying around, you definitely should try this. Whether you are considering investing in Bitcoin and want to make sure it really works, or just want to push society forward, setting up your Bitcoin node is a good way to start.
While a home server is not a necessity, it can be a fun addition to your security tools if you like playing with tech things. In the end, it can also contribute to a free and decentralized Internet in the future. And, considering the latest scandals around data leaks and cyber surveillance, it’s a huge contribution.