What is A Home Server?

Credit: Xmodulo

What is A Home Server

The term home server is widely used in computer language. This term refers to the server that is located in a private residence or a certain building which gives service to devices inside and outside of the house or building via the Internet or a home network. The services that a home server provides to devices inside and/or outside the house vary greatly from file and printer sharing; media center serving, web serving and caching back up services, account authentication and others.

Due to the fact that most home networks often have few computers connected to it, it is common that a home server does not require significant computing powers. Most of the time, users will reuse their old systems and home servers that have very low specifications like a 1GHz CPU and 256 MB of RAM will work just fine. However, large and fast hard drives can also be used for home file serving. All that is needed is a large and fast hard drive as well as a network interface card. There are people who choose to use the uninterruptible power supply, too. This is because the possibility of data being corrupted is increased during power outages.

The plug computer form factor is perhaps the most common type of home server available today. These are often small ARM-based devices that run Linux and have an integrated AC to DC power converter. Sometimes they come preloaded with different server applications, too. When it comes to operating systems, home servers run many of them. A person who prefers to build his own home server can choose whatever operating system he finds comfortable to work with, be it Microsoft Windows 7, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, or Solaris. Others prefer to use Plan 9 from Bell Labs, too.

Home servers can provide various services for its users. Some of the services that a home network can provide are: administration and configuration, centralized storage, media serving, remote access, web serving, web proxy, e-mail, bit torrent, gopher, home automation, security monitoring, family application, IRC and instant messaging, online gaming and third-party platforms.

When two or more computers are connected to the home server, there are certain advantages in the client-server topology which are far greater when compared to peer to peer topology. Individual users are given usernames and passwords which they can use to log in using any computer connected to the network. Every single computer that is connected to the network can also have access to all resources that are available although some files can be tagged as restricted, especially if there are children who have access to the computers connected in the network.

What Services Can a Home Server Give?

A server which can be found in private residences or in residential buildings that provides services to the devices inside or outside the area that are connected to a home network through the internet is called a home server. The most common type of commercial home server products is the plug computer form factor which is more often than not ARM-based running Linux and have integrated AC to DC power converter as well as various server application.

Home Servers can give its users a lot of services. Administration and configuration is perhaps the most common service that a home server can offer. Another one is centralized storage. Since most of the time, home servers function as network-attached storage, it provides the users the benefit of having files stored centrally and securely with flexible permissions applied as needed. Because of that, the files can easily be accessed from any device connected to the network, including printers. Home servers are also often used as a media server by serving multimedia content such as photos, music, and videos to other devices in the house or to the internet.

A windows home server can support media streaming to an Xbox 360 as well to other DLNA-based media receivers through a technology called Windows Media Connect. On the other hand, a Linux home server has free, open-source and functional software solutions that can be used for media serving. An example of this would be the LinuxMCE. An Apple Macintosh home server can serve media through different means including iTunes, PS3 Media Server, Twonky, Nullriver Media Link or Elgato EyeConnect.

Aside from being acting as a media server, a home server can also be used to provide remote access to devices in a home directly from the internet by using the remote desktop software. For some users who wish to share files easily and publicly to the internet or privately on a home network, running a web server is another service that a home server offers. Another home server function is as a web proxy. Home servers also run email servers that handle email for the domain name of the owner. There are certain advantages of doing this rather than signing up for an email elsewhere. One advantage is that a user is able to have a lot bigger mailboxes and maximum message size. Tighter security is another good feature since the user’s emails will not be residing on an off-site server.

These are just some of the major services that a home server can offer its user. Some other services include BitTorrent, Gopher, IRC and instant messaging and a lot more.

Disadvantages of a Dedicated Server

A dedicated server allows users to have their websites up without sharing the server with other users which means that the server resources are for their use alone. This kind of server is best for people who run websites that are resource intensive, receiving regular high traffic, storing a large number of files or those that host application or online games. The dedicated server that the user will be using will be configured and set up per user’s preference and will then be hosted at another site. Only the information that was inputted by the user can be stored on the dedicated server and a dedicated IP number and total control of the software and server access will be given to the user.

While most people and resources from the internet will tell you that a dedicated server is the most ideal of all, there are also some disadvantages to it just like other types of servers. In some instances, the disadvantages of a dedicated server will outweigh its advantages but most of the time the advantages of using a dedicated server will prevail. It is crucial for people to know both the advantages and disadvantages of a dedicated server, especially when considering to make use of it, to be able to come up with a smart and sound decision.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage that using dedicated server presents is the cost. There are a lot of hosting packages out that are free of charge or are inexpensive but these types are the ones that are shared with different users. Buying a dedicated server which is solely for your use can be very pricey since the expenses incurred are not divided into several users sharing the server. To put it simply, it can be explained as “since you are the only one using the server, you’ll be the only one paying for it as well.” A lot of companies that are in the start-up stage cannot afford to purchase dedicated servers for their websites.

Another disadvantage that the dedicated server presents is for those people who are not exactly techie. Most web hosts that offer dedicated server hosting provide less technical support to users using a dedicated server compared to users using shared servers. For a user to be able to use all the benefits that are available on a dedicated server, he must understand how to handle technical issues and must at least have basic knowledge of troubleshooting. Otherwise, a dedicated server would be too much to handle for him.