Home servers can take many guises, and an old or long forgotten PC lying around can be just as useful as buying a purpose built one from new. However they all need to follow a set of basic requirements that make the experience better for the user, with more coming into play dependant on what the server is going to be used for, these are explained more detail in the role sections.

ReliabilityReliability is by far the most important, therefore if that old machine didn't have any problems when it was in use it may be a good candidate for a home server. The goal of all this is to have a PC tucked away somewhere almost forgotten but always there when needed, so constant restarts and if it is headless (no keyboard / mouse / monitor connected) dragging it to a monitor to fault find can get frustrating.


Computer FanQuiet operation is essential for smaller homes without the luxury of placing it far away like a garage or shed. From personal experience placing a server close to where you sleep is not advised as the temptation to switch it off becomes very strong. In a quest for quietness desktop machines from PC vendors rather than home built are a better choice as they tend achieve cooling with less fans.


Power MeterCost of power consumption can really add up over a year, so using an old gaming PC with power hungry graphics cards may not be the best choice even if it gives better processing power. To give perspective Inline power meters are a great way to see how much it is using when idle and under load. Newer power monitors even display operating cost in real time.


Graphics CardComponents or what's inside the PC can greatly differ, and each role the server is assigned affects what is in greatest demand by the system. What is common in all servers are the need for networking, wireless can be used but a wired connection is much preferred due to its reliability. Keep everything to the bare basics, then add to the machine as a role requires it.