Ultimate Home Server Part 1 – Hardware

Many modern homes could benefit from having some sort of personal server to house files and run things like a media server, private cloud, IP CCTV or download server.

For a long time I would have suggested using a pre-built NAS system from the likes of Synology. I reviewed an awful lot of their devices on the old Tech Made Easy site and I still think they make some of the best NAS devices on the market.

In recent times though I’ve found a pre-built NAS to be too limited, both in terms of it’s hardware and the software packages available. The answer is to use a full desktop OS like Windows or Linux on standard PC hardware, and there a number of reasons you might like this approach:

  • Hardware can be upgraded in future and is user-serviceable if a part fails
  • Additional features such as TV tuner cards (more later) can be added
  • Device can be significantly more powerful than a pre-built NAS
  • Many more software packages available
  • Choice of packages for most roles
  • Build can be tailored completely to users requirement
  • Less reliance on 3rd party services

In this series of posts I’m going to give you an insight into one way you can set up and configure your own home server. That’s not to say you need to meticulously follow this guide. You may want to do things slightly differently and you may not want to use some of the features I describe at all. The point of this project is that it gives you an idea of what CAN be done rather than what you SHOULD do.

The rest of this post is going to discuss the hardware choices for your build. I offer advice on the types of considerations you should make for various parts and give suggestions on things to avoid. You don’t need to follow this build entirely (though links are provided if you did want to buy this specific hardware). You may even want to skip this part entirely if you already have an old PC to hand that you want to use.

Wherever you go from here, these are my thoughts and picks when it comes to hardware for a home server device.

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