A home server is a computer that couples multiple computing devices together. This allows them to work in-sync and saves their data in one place. Unlike a web server, it takes data requests from a limited number of users, and thus, it doesn't need a huge configuration. It can be used for many different purposes from inside or outside the house.
You can make it your media center, printer sharing server, data sharing server, and you can even host a website. The following paragraphs will acquaint you with a general idea related to setting it up. After everything is in place, you'll be able to access files from any of the computers, and you can store and backup files in a common location.
Things You'll Need
First of all, you will need a computer, which will be made the server. You can use an older one for this purpose. This is because it is going to take requests only from a few computers, and the requested tasks will also not be very heavy. Other requirements are that of a broadband connection and a network router with Ethernet cable wiring.
Memory and Storage
The tasks that a home computer will be undertaking are small. Thus, you will not need a huge hard drive and RAM. A system with 1.5 GB RAM and 1.5 GHz processor should suffice. But, the hard drive of your home server is going to be working more than any other computer in the network, so it might crash. Thus, you should use a backup hard drive instead.
The method that uses Ethernet card and cables is preferred as it supports a reliable and high-speed connection with minimal configuration requirement. The Ethernet card is a network interface card, which facilitates the interaction between computers. But, you will have to check if it is compatible with the operating system you are going to use.
Connection and Router
Any connection will be fine unless you are planning to stream videos to hundreds of users. The speed of the connection is not very important. Connect the server and the computers to be served to the router using the Ethernet method. You can use a wireless or an old router for the connection; its speed does not depend on it.
There are innumerable open source and paid operating systems for home servers. The Windows Home Server is the best option among the paid ones, while the Linux one is best among the open source options. There are many other free options available, which are dedicated for this purpose. Some of these are FreeNAS, Apache, Debian, etc.
Herewith are some tips to ensure its proper setup and usage. First, do not place it near open window, as the sun and dust can harm it to a considerable extent. Give proper attention to the cooling of this computer by buying a good quality cooling fan, and keep it clean.
Also, you will need a little more than just basic knowledge of computer networking to undertake this task, but once done, it will be easier to perform this task comparatively.