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What should you be looking for when building/configuring/buying a home server and/or NAS device? A home server unlike a web or production server does not necessarily have to be the most powerful machine. In fact, to keep costs down you may want to consider using an old machine that you have lying around – I used a Pentium 4 (2Ghz) with 1GB of RAM for a while until the motherboard died. One thing that I think is important when running a home server is to put a large hard drive inside (or multiple smaller drives) the machine. For most people home servers are generally used for some kind of file management server and/or local development.

What is the best operating system to use on a home server? For me, I always run a Linux distribution on all my servers – typically I recommend Debian with only the “base system” installed.  By base system I mean you are not installing a desktop enviornment so you will have to use SSH and/or a web administrative control panel such as Webmin to manage it.  Of course, if you are uncomfortable with that you can always install a desktop enviornment, however, it is a security risk – especially if the box is available outside of your local network.

Additionally, if you are looking to just setup a simple way to share files across your network you may want to look into a NAS (Network Attached/Access Storage) device.  I love Buffalo’s NAS devices.  I use a Buffalo LinkStation (500GB) model – I love it.  I do have one minor issue with it though, that being, the web based configuration is a bit slow.  However, this is a minor issue as once you configure it you really do not need to touch it again.

Do you have a home server?  What do you use it for?  Leave a comment!


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