HomeTechnologyNewsThis is why self-hosting a server is not a good idea

This is why self-hosting a server is not a good idea

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Setting up your own home server for media streaming, file storage, or other tasks gives you full control of your own data and can be a lot of fun. However, there are many reasons why you should not do it.

It’s no secret that big tech companies have bad privacy practices, especially when it comes to passing your data to government authorities without good reason. That has contributed to a rise in popularity of self-hosting, which typically involves setting up network-attached storage or an entire computer in your home and leaving it running all the time. Home servers offer many of the benefits of cloud storage or streaming media services, but without the privacy concerns that usually come with hosted platforms. You can use them to create your own cloud storage, set up a VPN, run a game server for friends and family, store code repositories for software projects, and much blackberries.

Self-hosted servers can be incredibly useful and can even be fun if you’re interested in networking or back-end systems. However, hosting your own server has a major drawback: you have to host your own server.

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Perhaps the biggest challenge of hosting your own server is keeping it running all the time. We’re all used to services like Google Drive, Netflix, and Gmail being accessible 24/7, 365 days a year, barring occasional outages that rarely last more than an hour or two. . That’s possible because tech companies employ fully dedicated staff to keep everything running, even if it means waking up in the middle of the night to fix a problem.

You probably won’t be running software for other companies on your home server, so the stakes aren’t as high, but it’s still something to think about. Does your house have occasional power outages? If so, you may need an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to give your server time to shut down and prevent data loss. A power loss also shuts down your overall internet server. If you’re away from home and need to access a file on your server, but a storm knocked out your internet connection at home, you’re pretty much stuck.

The servers themselves can also have issues that can be difficult to diagnose or fix, especially when you’re away from home. What happens if the operating system crashes when you’re away? The only way to reset it would be to have the server connected to a smart plug or other similar option. However, if the server is offline because a Windows update is being installed, a forced remote reboot could make the situation worse.

Your router and modem can also be potential points of failure that can be difficult to diagnose, especially if your Internet service provider does not offer static IP addresses. Finally, you should plan for data redundancy: an offsite backup solution is the only way to fully protect against drive failure. That adds more complexity and cost, but it may not be necessary for all tasks. For example, if you’re hosting a Minecraft game server for you and your friends, it’s probably enough to occasionally copy the world file to a cloud storage provider.

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Security is also a concern with anything connected to the Internet. Most operating systems can install critical security patches automatically, such as Ubuntu Linux (with the unattended update package) and Windows, but running a server has additional real-world security challenges.

Servers have IP addresses, which reveal where the server is located. If you have a home server, then the IP points to… your home. There are many, many reasons why you shouldn’t broadcast from where you live to the entire world. You don’t really have to worry about that if you’re just hosting services for yourself, but if you set up a web domain to point to the server for others (or even give the direct IP address to others), you could be setting yourself up for an invasion of privacy. In the real world.

You also have to worry about physical access to your server, especially its drives. If someone breaks into your home, they could also access the data on your server, especially if the drives aren’t encrypted. Data centers owned by Google, Microsoft, and other cloud providers have locks, cameras, biometric scanners, security guards, and even laser beams to guard against unauthorized access. Damn laser beams!

If you’re just using a simple local network drive that doesn’t interact with the outside world, or if you’re the only one with access to your home server (and you’re sure the IP and other data won’t fall into the wrong hands), you have much less to worry about. Still, physical security is a crucial factor to consider for all your electronic devices, especially servers.

What to consider instead

The risk and difficulty factor for home servers varies by hardware and software. Setting up your own server with a full-featured operating system, such as Windows or Linux, is usually the bulk of the work. However, the best NAS drives, like products from Synology and WD, are virtually plug-and-play—you don’t have to worry about keeping up with security updates or debugging a broken Windows update. However, remote access can still be tricky. Western Digital has had Many security issues with your NAS drives when connected to the outside internet, and power or internet outages at home can still leave you stranded without remote access to your data.

If you’re looking for reliable access to your files, any of the best cloud storage services could be the most ideal solution. Most of them cost a monthly subscription for more data storage, and you don’t have full control like you would with a home server. You have to decide for yourself if the investment of time, money and energy is a greater cost than total privacy. Syncthing could be another alternative, as it syncs files between your computers without requiring centralized cloud storage; As long as you have a working computer accessible with your files, you won’t lose anything.

Virtual private servers, or VPS, can be another alternative to self-hosting. VPS providers give you a remote virtual machine (usually running Linux) that you can use to host just about anything. Your data isn’t completely in your hands, but you don’t have to worry about losing connection due to power or internet outage. You can also freely give out the IP address to others without revealing where you live, making them much more ideal for web hosts and other similar use cases. A VPS can also often be more affordable than the cost of building and maintaining a home server. For example, DigitalOcean’s “Basic Droplet” VPS with 512MB RAM, 10GB SSD, and 500GB monthly data transfer is only $4 per month. Virtual private servers aren’t cheap for all use cases (running a Plex server from a VPS would be expensive), but they can be useful.

In the end, running a home server means being your own IT guy. It’s a great option to have, but it’s not for everyone.


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