5 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Server

Dan Price Updated 02-04-2019

Have you ever thought about a setting up a home server?


Sure, it’s not necessarily the most straightforward process in the world (depending on the type of equipment you’re using), but it’s a fun way to put your old hardware to use or to further develop your computing skills.

And besides, if you create your own server, there are some cool things you can do with it. If you’re thinking about building a personal server of any kind, keep reading to learn more about the benefits.

1. Make a Server, Control Your Data

We know what you’re thinking—why have a home server if you can just use a service like Google Drive or Dropbox?

The most critical difference between home servers and third-party cloud services is the control of data.

Contrary to some beliefs, Google Drive et al. do not own the data which you upload to the cloud. The companies do, however, retain a license to reproduce, modify, and create derivative works from your files.

Here’s the relevant snippet from Google Drive’s Terms of Service:

You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through Google Drive, you give Google a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.

The cloud providers can also share your data with domain administrators, legal entities, and with affiliates. Once again, you’ll find disclaimer to that effect in the companies’ privacy policies.

If you create your own server, you will still be able to enjoy the benefits of on-the-go file storage, without needing to worry about your privacy and security.

2. Setting Up a Home Server Is Inexpensive

This is slightly subjective.

If you were so inclined, you could go and spend several thousand dollars on market-leading equipment to make your own server. And after the upfront costs, the ongoing electricity costs for all the units and cooling equipment would be significant.

In reality, anyone can make a home server using nothing more than an old laptop or a cheap piece of kit like a Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Motherboard Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Motherboard Buy Now On Amazon $44.89

Of course, the trade-off when using old or cheap equipment is performance. Companies like Google and Microsoft host their cloud services on servers that can handle billions of queries every day.

Your 10-year-old laptop can’t come close to that level of performance. If you only want to be able to access a few files remotely, it might suffice. But if you want your personal web server to act as a central hub for your whole family or small business, you might find that you still need to invest in dedicated hardware.

If you’re wondering which Mac makes the best server Which Mac Makes the Best Server? Thinking about using a Mac for your server? Find out which Mac model makes the best server based on several important categories. Read More , take a look at our helpful guide.

3. Create a Dedicated Gaming Server

Did you know that half of the top 10 most popular games on Steam let you run the game on your own dedicated server? In truth, gaming is probably one of the best things you can do with a server at home.

Using a dedicated gaming server has a few benefits over rented servers or playing on other users’ servers:

  • You can control and customize all aspects of gameplay.
  • You are in control of game updates rather than waiting for another person/business to install the latest version.
  • Increased stability and reduced risk to other players in the event that your gaming machine needs to reboot in the middle of playing.

Some popular games that you can run on your own server include Minecraft, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress, and Call of Duty.

4. Keep Data Backups on a Home Server

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of making backups of your data. If your computer’s hardware were to die or it were involved in an accident, you don’t want to lose access to many years’ worth of data.

In an ideal world, you should have one offsite and one onsite backup. Your offsite backup will typically either be a cloud storage provider or a specialist third-party online backup provider The 7 Best Online Backup Services to Keep Your Data Safe Want to keep regular backups of your data? The best option is to store them online, using one of these online backup services. Read More . For an onsite backup, many people use external hard drives, USB drives, or NAS drives.

It’s possible to argue, however, that a running personal server is better than all those options. Compared to the most similar alternative—NAS drives—home servers are more customizable and (if you already have old hardware you can use) cheaper.

On the downside, it is more complicated to make a server than it is to set up a NAS drive. Depending on the size of your server, it could also use more electricity.

Note: We’ve written about the warning signs that your hard drive is about to die if you would like to learn more.

5. Make a Home Media Server

Another reason to create a home server is to act as a central hub for all your media.

We live in the streaming age—most people consume media through services like Spotify and Netflix—but many people still have extensive collections of locally-saved music and videos.

If you want to be able to access all your local media on any device in your house, a server is one of the best solutions. To make the process even easier, you can use a service like Plex, Kodi, or Emby Forget Plex and Kodi, Try Emby Instead We have previously spent much time discussing Plex and Kodi, and will continue to do so in the future. But, there is a third option in the form of Emby. Read More to manage your media and control playback.

Plex and Emby will even let you access your content on your server when your away from home with just a few simple clicks. Setting up Kodi for the same purpose is possible, but significantly more complicated to achieve.

Make Your Own Server

Setting up a home server is fun, cheap, and offers a host of benefits. Of course, there are many more advantages than the five we have discussed in this article, so make sure you leave your opinions and reasons in the comments section below.

And if you’re curious about other ways you can put your old hardware to good use, check out our articles on how to re-use your old hardware like a pro How to Re-Use Your Old Hardware Like a Pro Have a lot of old tech cluttering up your home? Find out exactly what to do with it in this tech recycling guide! Read More and how to up-cycle your old devices with a Raspberry Pi 10 Awesome Ways to Upcycle Old Devices With a Raspberry Pi Looking for a new way to use your Raspberry Pi? Here are several ways you can use a Raspberry Pi to upcycle old devices. Read More .

Explore more about: Media Server, Web Server.

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  1. fashionbeauty
    November 12, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    This web site is really a walk-via for the entire information you wished about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll positively uncover it.

  2. Edward Lyles
    January 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks, good information!

  3. Corey
    February 5, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I built a Linux web server using LAMP. It runs great. Also have emails running on it as well. FTP works good. Never had a problem. Except for the occasional Hacking attempts from Chinese IP addresses. Nothing has got through so far.

    Page Speed is good. Faster and ranks higher on Google Better than the Web Host I am using as a back up. In case my machine goes down. I configured it for multiple websites running and uses SSL HTTPS as well. No problem configuring.

    Only thing is I don't have any A/C where I live and in summer it gets very hot inside the office. It can be a bit worrying. Since its a web server it has to be on 24/7. The only thing with that you have to worry about power outages etc. But considering everything it is a lot less hassle and stress using a paid service provider. unless you need high speed VPS for high traffic you're good.

  4. John
    November 21, 2016 at 12:34 am

    If you are using it as a mail server wouldn't it have to be on all the time? If its off and someone sends you an email won't it bounce back to the sender? Its not as if its going to keep attempting to send it for hours and hours, right?

    And as for power consumption, how about a small SSD drive with a Pico power supply (95% efficiency apparently) with a minimal power drawing mb/CPU combo. Shouldn't need hardly any ram and the CPU could be very low powered, right? The monitor would be off all the time and no video card would need to be used when not being directly accessed by the keyboard. Maybe it could get down to 20-30 watts.

  5. 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 ??

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

    the NSA controls everyones data.

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


  8. 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.

  9. Anonymous
    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

    • Anonymous
      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 ....

  10. 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

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


  12. 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?

  13. 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.

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

    I using phone as server too!!

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


  16. 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!

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

    Good blog indeed

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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).

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

    Nice share thanks

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

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

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.  :-(  

  30. 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.

  31. 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) 

  32. 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.

  33. 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.