How much does a typical home server cost?

Server

Have you tried to use peer-to-peer networking on four or more PCs?

If you found your network vulnerable to viruses, attacks, and lost data, then you're not alone. Peer-to-peer networking is fine for a few home computers. But if you link more than three devices or you're running a small business, then you might need to take a more significant step to protect your PCs. You may also want to consider setting up your own server if you have a significant need for cloud storage or if you run your own gamer server software.

Let’s explore what self hosting is, how much it costs to set up, and what factors to consider when choosing between buying or leasing a home server rack. In this article, we explore how much servers for home use cost and what the process looks like to get your servers running.

What is a home server?

Plugging in wires to harddrive

In just a few hours you can set up and use an old machine as a Windows server in your home network. Home servers are greatly beneficial as they come with increased space for media storage and can improve your network connection between other devices on your network.

The different kinds of personal servers can be classified as towers, racks, or blades. A server rack is a piece of hardware that holds many servers.

Many people use a home server to manage, store, share, and handle personal data 24/7/365, providing them with direct access to other computers and media streaming devices on the network. This type of setup offers better reliability, a central backup solution, higher levels of security, and simpler sharing of media files.

But what are the actual costs of setting up a home server? While it might sound like a daunting, expensive, and complicated task, running a personal server does not require you to have extensive tech knowledge, nor does it require as much money as you may expect.

How much does a typical home server cost? Keep reading to learn what costs you need to consider when building a home media server.

How Much Does a Typical Home Server Cost?

Man with a pen writing

A server on a local network can use a significant amount of power, so keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to set one up. There are several sustainable options for home servers available on the market, but these hardware options may require a considerable upfront investment.

Initial Costs

Expect to spend between $2,000-$15,000 on your home network unless you re-build or salvage an older machine or old hardware. If you choose to buy new hardware, it's crucial to choose durable equipment because your server runs every hour of the day. Home server computers can be purchased out of the box or built from an old laptop, hard drives, GPUs and power supplies.

The trade-off of purchasing newer technology is that it will provide you with better processing power and extra features that help to make sharing entertainment content, making backups, online gaming, web hosting, and home automation a lot easier and streamlined.

You may want to consider building your server from scratch by purchasing individual parts separately and trying to get a deal each time. The price of home server software and hardware will depend on your individual expectations and requirements.

Invest In A Good Quality Server

Running a machine under heavy load for long periods of time strains the components available at a consumer level. By investing in a good quality server, you prolong the life of your network and save money because you don't need to replace parts as frequently. Hardware costs are also tied to the number of people expected to use the home server as well as the kind of work the home server may be required to conduct (i.e. web proxy, VPN server, hosting service, web server, Linux servers).

Functionalities

Home servers expected to run basic functions such as file sharing, printing or cloud storage using NAS devices do not require a high-end processor. On the other hand, if you want to use a home server to handle advanced data processing and tasks like video storage, database serving, and conferencing among others, you will likely need additional computing power and should budget for a high-end processor. These are all functionalities that could be adjusted after the basic homer server rack setup.

Other Home Server Costs

Hardware isn't your only cost consideration. You'll also see your home energy use rise as you power and cool your server all day.

The total cost of your server depends on your cost per kilowatt of energy. Check with your energy provider to see how much you pay before considering the hardware. Remember that your hardware also plays a role in the functionality of your home server.

Consider buying a measurement device, like a Kill-a-Watt, to measure the actual power consumption of your server. Multiply the number of watts by the days in your billing period by the cost per kW to see how much your server costs:

·   kW x 30 days x $0.00 per kW = energy costs

·   Energy-efficient hardware systems minimize added costs, but they tend to require more upfront investment.

·   Don't forget to consider the costs of maintaining your server. IT maintenance plans may run monthly or annually and are necessary to prevent downtime in the event of a server issue. It is also important to think about the costs associated with a reliable internet connection.


Operating systems

You also need to get an operating system that will serve your needs the best. Some of the operating systems to consider for your home servers include freeNAS, Amahi, Unraid, Ubuntu, and Linux among others. Before settling on the operating system your home server uses, it is imperative to carefully analyze your needs. In terms of versatility, Ubuntu would be a great choice as an operating system for your home server.

For those who are into multiplayer games, it would be worthwhile to consider Unraid. Choosing the software to use on your home servers provides more flexibility than selecting the hardware and operating system does. With software, you can easily change and reconfigure them any time you want different results. However, be wary of losses from paid software. Home server software that works best is that that serves multiple purposes and keeps all your data safe.

All in all, the price of setting your own home servers is reliant on many factors, including the complexity of the data being processed, how many people will access files on the computer, the type of server software you will run and what type of files will be available on the external hard drives.

Constant Upgrades

Computer harddrive

Some of the parts that can be slowly upgraded should one choose an old computer so as to save costs include the cooling system, storage, and RAM. Home servers will potentially save you a lot of resources in the long run so it is worthwhile to put it into consideration.

Conclusion

To recap, the main steps to be followed when setting up your server are, procuring the hardware, setting up an operating system that suits your needs, and then determining the kind of software that you need to provide access to the computer and the data it stores.

With the cost of server components skyrocketing globally at the time of writing this article, a new build will cost significantly more than it would have in 2019. Expect to spend between $2,000 and $15,000, depending on what you intend to do with your server computer. The total number of users that will store data or access media files on the server is also a factor worth considering as it has a direct impact on the cost.

Cloud Home Server Hosting

If you are looking for a cost-effective cloud platform, try our cloud server hosting. There are a few options to choose from that will provide you with full control and improve your server hosting experience. Our customer care is unmatched and you will receive all the guidance you need pre-purchase and post-purchase.

Consider Renting a Server

A server is a recurring investment, and for some businesses, renting or leasing a server makes more sense than managing your own.

By giving up some control of your servers, you eliminate the upfront costs and mitigate repair spending. Your service might also upgrade your server's hardware every five years, which benefits you at no additional cost.

You also have enhanced peace of mind since most of the work is in the hands of a third party. Your decision on whether to rent or lease a server should be based on the associated convenience vis-à-vis the amount you stand to save from either option.

Is Running Your Own Server Worth It?

How much do typical home servers cost? Expect to spend at least $5,000 upfront and then see increased monthly energy and maintenance bills over time. These costs may seem high, but if you run a home network and need reliable access to your files from more than one location or on mobiles devices, they often pay for themselves.

Setting up a personal home server is also a rich learning experience and you will certainly acquire new skills in the process as your local data hub slowly turns into a rack that accommodates your small business, family members, IoT devices and smart home needs.

Parting Shot

Want to take a leap? We can help you set up your custom dedicated server. Click on this link to find out what services we offer. There are many options and we are certain you will find one that best serves your needs.

Customer Support

Our customer support is always available to guide you on the options that exist and what would work best for you. Our dedicated servers for home use have different features and are priced depending on the varying functionalities.

Got more server questions? Explore more topics on our blog or contact us!


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  • Thanks for your informative discussion. Some follow-up questions:
    1. Have reliable server prices gone up or down from $1,000 since your 2017 article, and if so, by how much.
    2. I”m getting very frustrated with GoDaddy hosting my website because some important incoming and outgoing emails are sporadically delayed unpredictably and unreasonably; and I noticed that others have the same issue with no improvement. As the sole user of my computer, who deals with lawyers and other professionals, and who receives at least 70 emails per day and sends up to 15 per day, but often with pdfs of 2mb or more per email, can you guesstimate the range of what my monthly costs for a private server would range:
    (a) for electric and any other utilities?
    (b) for an I.T. guru who I know and trust to install a private server for me and to check on it and tweak it if necessary?
    (c) for other potential maintenance and tweaking costs the first year of ownership of my private server?
    (d) or am I better off renting a private server rather than purchasing one, and if so, what would be a reasonable range of what I should expect to pay:
    (i) monthly and (ii) for any upfront costs.
    Thanks again, and I look forward to your response at your convenience.
    Ken

    • HI Ken!

      Thanks for your comments. We went through some modern server pricing examples in 2019 in our article at: https://blog.servermania.com/choosing-a-small-business-server/ which may be useful for you.

      In general, there is no significant decrease in server purchase pricing and a mid-tier server with sufficient redundancy mechanisms is still in the $1000+ range.

      As for your other questions, the article I quoted above may be useful for you as we do a more thorough breakdown of renting vs. owning a server. Obviously, as a server provider, we wholeheartedly see the value in a rented server for most applications. But I encourage you to book a consultation with us and we can go over the full range of options with you: https://www.servermania.com/free-consultation.htm

      Let me know if you have any other questions!