A Linux VPS (Virtual Private Server) can be beneficial for various things you might want to do, such as hosting your own website, a game server, and much more. If you’re interested, you can even do all of this locally on one of your computers that you have sitting around at home. We’ll show you how to set up your own server, and why a hosted VPS may still be a better choice.
VPS vs. Private Server
First of all, if you make your own server at home, it’s no longer considered a “VPS”. VPS stands for virtual private server, and your own server at home isn’t running on virtual machines that help portion up the system’s physical resources. At home, you’ll be using your computer’s physical resources directly, hence it’s just your own private server, but not a virtual private server. You can set up stuff on your server that can create multiple virtual private servers on your one physical server, but if you’re going to be the only one using the server, bothering with all of that is just a big waste of time.
Setting up a Private Server at Home
To set up your own server, you’ll need:
- a computer
- an Internet connection that allows all ports to be used (the most commonly blocked one is port 80, needed by web servers)
- an installation media with your favorite Linux distribution (or Ubuntu Server if you’re unsure)
For the time being, you’ll also need a monitor and keyboard attached to the computer. Once everything is set up, you can just connect to it via SSH (Secure Shell) which eliminates the need for a monitor and keyboard to be permanently attached to the computer. So, the steps you need to complete are as follows:
- Prepare your computer for a clean wipe
- Download your distribution’s ISO image
- Create an installation media with it
- Install the distribution
- Install whatever you want: the LAMP stack for websites, a game server for your favorite game, or whatever else you need your server for.
Each application has its own configuration instructions, which is far too much to go over in this article. Going through the documentation of whatever software you’re planning to install will be your best bet.
Considerations For Your Private Server
To ensure that requests from the outside get routed correctly through your home network, you’ll need to reserve an IP address for your server on the router and set up port forwarding of needed ports to that IP address. You’ll also want a dynamic DNS client on your server, which can update the DNS records for your domain name whenever your IP address to the outside world (not your local IP address) changes—a common occurrence for residential Internet service.
Congrats, you have your own private server! The concept of making your own server really isn’t that difficult—it’s just configuring everything thereafter that might take some effort. But you’ll have to deal with the configuration issue whether you have a private server or a hosted VPS.
Why a VPS May be Better
Having a private server at home lets you keep your data in your possession and can give you certain amounts of added flexibility as you also have access to the hardware, unlike in a VPS. But there are still plenty of advantages that come from having a VPS instead of a private server at home.
For example, the Internet connection to the VPS is most likely much better (think 1 Gbps or more) than the connection to your home. Not only is it faster, but there won’t be any ports blocked so you can run any services you’d like on your VPS. It’ll also be more reliable, as some people’s home Internet connections come to a halt once there’s a lot of people using the Internet.
With a VPS, you also don’t have to worry about hardware failures. If something in your private server at home breaks, you’ll probably be out of service (and some money) until you can replace the part. In a VPS, you won’t have to pay for the new hardware and you won’t experience any (or at least not much) downtime due to it.
Finally, the other issue is that there are a lot of costs that add up when using your own private server at home. There’s the electrical costs (that is directly used and that is due to the heat that the computer generates), Internet costs, hardware costs, and potentially more. You can get a VPS for as low as $5 per month (or sometimes even cheaper) which will end up costing you less. Sure, you won’t have as many system resources at hand with a VPS that costs so little, but you often don’t need that many resources anyway.
All Private Servers Are Useful
Once everything is set up, a private server (whether virtual or not) can let you do things that you’ve never been able to do before. Not everyone needs a private server, but if you’ve been curious about one, go get one or set one up! It won’t take long before you realize just how much you can do with one, and then you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.
Do you use a VPS or private server at home? Which one do you have (or prefer), and what’s your favorite thing that you run on it? Let us know in the comments!
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