Frugal IT: Cheap Home Server Setup
Do you have a lot of music, videos, and data that takes up a lot of disc space on your computer, and would like to figure out how to organize everything in one specific storage space, like a home server? Some people are file hoarders with gigabytes upon gigabytes of valuable media scattered around the household with no way to reach it without digging through piles of computer discs and CDs.
If you’re like millions of other users who like to download a lot of music, take digital photos, and play video games until the wee hours of the morning, a home server that connects your PCs and network devices to a single file server may be the perfect solution for you.
Put simply, a home server is a dedicated computer used for storing and sharing files. To set up a file server, there are a few hardware items you will need to get started. Most people don’t have these items lying around the house, so in most cases, it may be necessary to buy a few things. You can even connect a DVR to your home network, as well as connecting your printer.
Of course, you’ll need the file server itself before you can get started. You can buy a file server from any computer store that sells hardware components for anywhere between $100 and $500 (or more), depending on how much you want to spend. Or, you can use one of your old computers lying around the houseâ€”it’s your choice.
In addition, you’ll need a router or switch to connect your computer to the file server. You’ll also need a network cable for the server. The server itself is simply an extra computer with at least one hard drive. It’s also helpful to have an internal or external CD-ROM drive for extra storage space. You can also purchase a server online or from a computer hardware store. Microsoft offers a good selection of file servers that you can buy online or in a computer hardware store near you.
What Type of Home Server Software Will You Need?
Once you’ve gathered up all the hardware items you need, you can begin installing home server software on your dedicated file server. If you have difficulty setting up the hardware on your own, you may want to contact a friend, co-worker, or neighbor who has experience with computer hardware. You can also use your favorite web browser to find step-by-step instructions for setting up a simple home computer network.
As far as home server software is concerned, there are plenty of free products that you can choose from several different websites. Home server software is available at no charge for nearly any type of platform (e.g., Windows, Linux, UNIX) you use.
If you have some money to spend, Microsoft also has its own Windows Home Server (WHS) software, and you can buy server machines that already have WHS installed on them. You can also create your own, if desired. When you install the software on your own, you can configure the server to meet your needs.
A machine with a 1GHz Pentium III, 512MB of RAM, and an 80GB Hard Drive will work as the minimum requirements.
Since most people use Windows (or the majority, at least), you may want to consider a Windows-based software program like FreeNAS. The acronym, NAS stands for “network attached storage” software, and it works on Windows, Linux, and UNIX platforms. Most software programs that you download from the Internet are relatively easy to set up, but it helps to have some prior knowledge about computer network terminology such as IP addresses, hardware/software requirements, network addresses, and basic software installation instructions.
Installation and Setup
Once you have all the necessary software and hardware in place, you are ready to start setting it up. If you know a lot about installing software on computers, the setup process should be easy for you. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to find a buddy or co-worker with a lot of computer software knowledge that will install it for you.
To get started, you want to boot from the installation CD, and run the installation wizard.
If you choose a free NAS program from the Internet, you’ll need to download the program to your hard drive, double-click the icon, and follow the instructions on your screen.
The installation program will ask you a series of questions, and you can either accept the default answers for settings or create your own, if desired.
During the installation process, you can either accept the default settings or enter your own. For example, at some point during the installation, the wizard will prompt you to enter your own settings. Eventually, the installation wizard will ask you for your computer’s IP (Internet Protocol) address.
It’s best to find out your workstation’s IP address typically assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
At the end of the installation, you’ll be asked to enter and confirm a password for your new system. Be sure to enter a password you’ll remember later on. There are more steps involved for connecting computers on the network to your server, however, these steps are explained by clicking here.
Once you’ve set everything up, you’re ready to start sharing files, music, video games, photos, and all kinds of media from one computer, which is always a great advantage for you and your family.
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