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make your own serverYou’ve probably heard at some point that servers aren’t only for those that have a lot of money. In fact, anyone who has a spare box sitting around somewhere in their house can have their very own server, slaving away at whatever whims you may have. Although it sounds very cool, it does take some effort and a little know-how to get it all set up.

So, before you get all sad and throw that spare box in the dump, here are five reasons why you should take the effort into making your own server.

1. You Control Your Data

If you’re an avid user of the Web, you probably have all kinds of information spread out over multiple servers and websites. For example, chances are you use Dropbox. Although it’s extremely convenient, your files are ultimately stored on their servers, so that means they control your data. You can protect yourself through different methods of encryption, but the storage location stays the same. You can change that by setting up your own server to hold your data. That way, what’s yours stays yours, and it will stay that way as long as you run your own server. With good security, other prying eyes won’t be able to see what you’re storing on your own server, so privacy is included.

2. You Build Your Own Services

make your own server
With your own server, you can do whatever you want with it. Run an email server to handle all your email (although saying goodbye to Gmail would probably be the hardest thing known to a geek), a proxy, FTP server, and many other combinations. You could even run your own version of Dropbox Sparkleshare - A Great Open Source Alternative To Dropbox [Linux & Mac] Sparkleshare - A Great Open Source Alternative To Dropbox [Linux & Mac] There's been quite a few problems that have risen about Dropbox in recent months that is making some people feel uncomfortable about using it and are seeking refuge by means of an alternative. There are... Read More with enough help, or create your very own services that you may be in need of. The possibilities are endless, and you get to choose.

3. No Surprises

Since you’re in control (this is pretty much the main idea), there won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be any surprises when it comes to your server. Aside from the small possibility of hardware failure, nothing in terms of the services that your server offers should suddenly change without you doing anything. While third party services may change the way their services or products work, yours won’t. You configure it to exactly how you want it, and then it stays that way until you change it again to meet your needs.

4. Have Fun With Your Server

make your own server
In the spirit of control and adding whatever you please, why not install some game servers in the meantime? There are so many different games such as Minecraft and Urban Terror Urban Terror: A Hollywood-Style First Person Shooter Urban Terror: A Hollywood-Style First Person Shooter We all know that there is no shortage of first person shooters, so we have to make our choice of which ones we want to play. We've been accustomed to the fact that most first... Read More that have software for servers that you can run to host your very own games. These games can have their own rules and customizations, making it even more fun for you and all your friends. Again, the possibilities are endless, and you can run as many different game servers as your RAM will hold and your CPU can handle.

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5. It’s Pretty Inexpensive

The costs of running a server are actually pretty insignificant, especially when you don’t need it at all times of the day. Your server will more than likely need to be connected to the Internet, but unless your regular Internet connection has major limitations that can’t let you successfully run your server on that connection, you can use the Internet connection that you’re using for your desktop or laptop right now. You can also get a free DNS name from a few different places like DynDNS Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Read More if you don’t have a lot of needs for your server so that you can connect to your server without having to remember an IP address that might change occasionally.

The software should be free in most cases, and the operating system will more than likely be Linux (it’s recommended, anyways), so no costs will appear there. In the end, it’s really just the cost of electricity, which can be managed if say the server doesn’t have to be on while you’re asleep.


Running your own server brings many advantages that could make your life a lot easier and less stressful. After all the work in getting it set up, you can pride yourself in the fact that you have your very own server that you can do whatever you want with. In the end, it should be well worth it, with a spare box well used. If not, you can always check out this MakeUseOf guide to giving that old box new life.

Do you have your own server? What have you done with it so far? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

  1. rafsan
    September 29, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    i have a web server (http,cpanel ) wit domain & accessing over the internet . but i want to know does have any chance to earn money adding in google adsence ??

  2. unkie sam
    June 16, 2016 at 3:02 am

    the NSA controls everyones data.

  3. 123
    May 7, 2016 at 2:43 pm


  4. Caleb Beckham
    December 10, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I have a large windows 7 server that consist of a web server, a multi minecraft server, a irc server, a irc web client and a live stream and you will not believe how much it costs to host it with a IP or a 0 dollar dns domain. its actually costs 0.00$ for the files but not the hardware that's the truth its been a part of my life for the past 2 and a half years and I'm proud of it. there is proof of it on my channel on youtube. look me up im Gamemaker888 and Gamemaker222.

    • shutup
      February 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      nobody cares

      • Caleb Beckham
        February 9, 2016 at 6:15 am

        I'm sure loads will care when united states is on its last legs. people need these free services now. otherwise if we start to sell them, then we are screwed. I hope that was enough to tell you that you are wrong.

  5. J.E. McFarland III
    July 4, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Those of you who mentioned web servers for serving up websites - that's maybe the easiest of all. (Aside from an IRC server - which can be fun.)
    I ran my first IRC server on a 14400 kbps connection on a Packard Hell 75mhz pentium.
    When it comes to non-binary servers - servers which do not serve large files - you can use almost any machine that can connect to the Internet.
    I have a 300Mbps downstream / 20Mbps upstream connection. I could host a web server and sell/give away slots for people who don't want to serve large files or loads of files like pics, movies, etc...
    I currently bought a small desktop Dell Inspiron to host an HTPC so I could dump cable once and for all. It now serves two HD TVs, 2 phones, 2 laptops, and an Ipad anywhere I am.
    An HTPC (Home Theater PC) serves up films, TV shows, and music. I have thousands of each type on two external drives and it works extremely well. I can watch whatever I want to in one room, wife in another, and son down the street listening to music at the same time.
    Thanks to torrent sites - I am well stocked and up-to-date with all of the media.

    Total cost: just under 1K one time price, $100 a month for the Internet speed, and $30 a year for the HTPC service (PLEX) that comes with free software.

    - J.E. McFarland III

    • Will Culver
      August 4, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Hi, Packard Hell, I remember those!, at any rate what OS are you running on your Inspiron? I cut the cord with cable a few years ago too and now have about the same speeds you do (per last year). Tried a couple of crappy HomeWorx PVR boxes, on my third one now and I had just switched to Ubuntu on a little ASUS box, but I think MOBO is fried so I am back to looking at HTPC options, a plethora of them out there, but your setup sounds pretty straightforward. Just wondering if you can share more details about setup? Thanks, Will

    • J.E. McFarland III
      August 8, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Anyone who would like more details on how I've been running webservers, private trackers, PLEX on a HTPC - tell me a forum where I can do it.

      My posts are not being allowed here when I try to give details ....

  6. Bran
    May 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I have a huge online dating site in which I desperately need my own server(s). What is the cheapest, but most reliable, way to go?

    • anthony
      March 16, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Rent servers for so many reasons. esp. when it comes to running a business like that i suggest that you use OVH and looking at maybe there private cloud with 2 duel data centers or dedc. server that would run you about anywhere from 120$- 200$ month (depending on setup), need to know more about the traffic but with a data center you could face no barriers on growth and handle problems with ease. you do not want to run that from home. contact me if you want more help. at myiq170(a)gmail(dot)com

      good luck

  7. Anonymous
    March 24, 2015 at 7:10 am


  8. William scott
    March 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I'm thinking of starting my own server but I don't have the resources to do it.
    What do you think would be a great use for a server. for e.g. minecraft servers ect. for profit or community?

  9. Alex Eagle (ubuntu forums username is the same)
    January 30, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Hey, what about hosting your own website on a server? I hear you can turn any old laptop into a server, correct? Well one of my friends want's to make various websites for different uses and can't afford a fee to someone like GoDaddy for one site, let alone five (or however many it is). And this friend has a few old laptops lying around...

    So I was wondering, could he load the HTML onto a server and make the server's data publicly available over WiFi? Sort of like the document sharing thing on Windows, but the docs would be on a server.

    Also, what's the difference between Canonical's: Juju, LXD, MAAS and Landscape? From their website (, I can't figure out what they do. Their respective pages are written as if you're automatically someone who's "in the know".

    Thanks Danny. :-)

    • tmtvl
      December 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Juju allows you to quickly set up underlying software infrastructure ("services") for deployment on networks.
      MAAS allows you to manage the hardware of a bunch of servers with ease.
      LXD is basically comparable to VirtualBox.

      And now people in the know are going to chew me out for oversimplifying, but I hope it's of some help for anyone who reads this.

  10. sona
    February 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I using phone as server too!!

  11. Toan Nguyen
    February 6, 2012 at 11:13 am


  12. Scott Summers
    February 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    So let's say a reader is sold and wants to make his own server. So where's a link to a guide to do exactly that?

    • Danny Stieben
      February 10, 2012 at 2:33 am

      Hi Scott,

      There are so many different things that you could possibly do with your server, there isn't really a single guide that tells you what and how to do it. The only common task would be to install the operating system, and from you go down your individual path. Google will be most helpful in this case. Just keep search queries to the necessary keywords, like "ubuntu server windows shares".
      MakeUseOf does offer a guide that includes a few tips that you might like (although the guide as a whole is more geared towards desktops). You can find it here:

      I hope that helped!

  13. Jdbapat
    February 4, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Good blog indeed

  14. WindyCityParrot
    February 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Having had our business burn down in 2005 - 1 year after moving our website to a hosted application - I'd say having your data in-house can harm you as much as hurt you.

    After the fire we simply download all the info on the 9 PC's we lost and moved onWe keep ALL our data personal  a complete backup of our websites and company data "in the clouds" for less than $15.00/mo.I have 14 PC's as they age hard drives die - the day you need them for something important. I keep a spare PC loaded with shipping software so if our shipping PC goes down I move over about 6 cables and loose less than 15 minutes of productivity -  Mail server? do you really want to manage a tsunami of spam?Having your own server is fine until you spill your Mountain Dew on it

  15. Danny Stieben
    January 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Wow, 12+ years old? Incredible use of Linux right there :)

    I'm surprised you're using PCLinuxOS as a server OS since that's not what it's known for. But apparently it's working well for you else you wouldn't be using it.

  16. drhacksaw
    January 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I run my own server for my kids sake.  Installed squid, did some scripting for shallalist updates, splunk to analyze proxy log trends, SSH access to the web, mail server to alert me of attempts to access "inappropriate" material, and other development opportunities (C++, Perl, PHP, etc.).

    • Danny Stieben
      January 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      That's quite a list! I don't have any kids for whom I need to filter the web (thank goodness I don't have any already). I use  SSH access for the internet a little less than I should.

  17. Gerry
    January 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    It is only cheaper if you don't value your own time, or if you consider it a hobby (in which case you don't count your own time).

  18. Anonymous
    January 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I use a MyBook Live NAS box as file and web server, also using dyndns...
    Pretty convenient

  19. Anonymous
    January 24, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I use it for LAMP, project management, Jabber server and CalDAV. Built with a leftover G5 Mac in the office.

  20. Ty
    January 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Do you build another server and ship it to China to your friends house for redundancy. The whole premise of this article is incorrect.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand what you're trying to say.

      As far as redundancy goes, it shouldn't really be necessary since it's a personal server. Plus most internet connections today are reliable enough to stay on.

  21. Nagendra kumar Gummapu
    January 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Nice share thanks

  22. AdrianMaftei
    January 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Recently I installed CentOS and I use it for development. It works very well.

  23. Anonymous
    January 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    No doubt about it dude, your own server is the only way to go!
    Total-Privacy dot US

  24. Jack Cola
    January 23, 2012 at 2:02 am

    One disadvantage of running your own server is the cost. Having a computer running 24*7, 365 days a year can cost quite a bit in electricity - much more than  if you need a simple web server.

    But for other things, it might be worthwhile.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      However, electricity is the vast majority of the cost. Like I mentioned in the article, it's helpful to turn off the server if you know you're the only user and don't need it at all times of the day.

  25. Anonymous
    January 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Here the UK broadband suppliers bar you from running you own server unless you have a commercial account (which are way more expensive than domestic accounts).  Whilst these are intended to stop bandwidth hogs running warez sites the policies tend to be written such that if you are running any system that accepts incoming connections from the internet then they kill your connection.

    • nzyme
      January 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      complete bullshit

      • Anonymous
        January 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm

        Having just gone through the process of getting broadband and checking out the terms and conditions (due to getting caught out by a 'fair use' clause in the past) I can assure you they all do have such clauses and do enact their penalties (with varying degrees of vigor).  If you think your's doesn't then you haven't read the small print.

        The price of domestic broadband is kept down by the fact that the company over sell their capacity because home users aren't, individually, a constant load.  They have peaks and troughs (even streaming video as it tends to cache a chunk then wait before getting the next chunk) so one user's peak is another user's trough.  If you're running a server (other than just for personal use) then you're likely to have traffic from many users hitting your one connection so you're producing more peaks and less troughs.

        • Danny Stieben
          January 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

          That's slightly depressing from a geek's point of view.

          American companies (most of them anyways) don't bar you in that fashion, but if they don't want you running servers, they'll start blocking ports for incoming connections. I know because my main internet connection has blocked port 80, so my server is running on a second internet connection where that company doesn't block ports.

        • Joe
          February 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

          I know that my service provider does indeed block incoming connections on known server ports (80, 21, 25, etc) unless you have a business account.  I used to run my own web server and DNS server, but the cost of being on a business account, even here in the US, was too expensive compared to just paying for a VPS.  :-(  

  26. Chris Hoffman
    January 22, 2012 at 3:31 am

    I'd caution against running your own email server. Getting off spam blacklists and ensuring you can actually email people from your two-bit server no one's ever heard of would be a full time job in and of itself.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      A little sad that's the case, but it can't be helped. Anyone can make one, but larger corporations/groups will probably actually benefit from them because they have more leverage to get off those spam lists.

  27. Onegeek
    January 22, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Using as a web server, ssh tunneling (for securely browsing web while on untrusted wifi network) and as a dropbox. headless system running debian. Uptime 140 days, power consumption 35W/h (laptop) 

  28. Guillermo Angeris
    January 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Mainly an SVN  for our Dev team's projects, but it's also a (secondary) private file server.

  29. Vicente Obregon
    January 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I use it for testing even for dev! Mostly LAMP in Ubuntu. And I use dyndns too.

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