5 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Server

servers intro   5 Reasons Why You Should 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

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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 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

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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 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.

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 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.

Conclusion

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!

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29 Comments -

Vicente Obregon

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

Guillermo Angeris

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

Onegeek

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) 

Chris Hoffman

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

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.

Anonymous

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

complete bullshit

Anonymous

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

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

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.  :-(  

Jack Cola

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 Рmuch more than  if you need a simple web server.

But for other things, it might be worthwhile.

Danny Stieben

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.

Anonymous

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

AdrianMaftei

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

Nagendra kumar Gummapu

Nice share thanks

Ty

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

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.

Anonymous

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

Anonymous

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

Gerry

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).

drhacksaw

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

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.

Danny Stieben

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.

WindyCityParrot

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

Jdbapat

Good blog indeed

Scott Summers

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

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: http://www.makeuseof.com/pages/download-new-life-bring-old-pc-to-life-with-ubuntu-pdf

I hope that helped!

Toan Nguyen

Money

sona

I using phone as server too!!