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What is a Home Server?

Bryon Turcotte
Bryon Turcotte

A home server is a computer workstation or device that provides a number of services to multiple personal computers and peripherals within a household or residence. This configuration most often consists of a personal computer or server workstation equipped with high-speed, large-capacity internal or external hard drives. The home server communicates with other computers in the household via the home network and is a valuable tool for a family, which requires specific services on each workstation throughout the residence.

When a household has a single printer, the home server may provide shared printing services to multiple computer users on the network. Once the server has been made accessible on the network and can be seen by the each connected workstation, the available printer can first be configured with the server through a direct connection. Through the printing properties or preferences on the server, shared printer access can be enabled allowing all network users to send jobs to that printer.

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive.

Media files including digital photos, movies, and music can also be stored and shared using the home server as the central distributor. Depending on the platform or media type, numerous media players are available that can view or play photo slide shows, watch digitally formatted home movies, or listen to the family collection of digital music. After each media player is configured to access to the shared media libraries on the home server, the networked user can view, play or copy the file onto their workstation.

Because of its storage capacity and accessibility, the home server is often used as the primary archive and back up for all household files created by each individual user. In addition to media files, documents, e-mail, and other important digital information can be stored and organized on this server. With all these possibilities considered, the home server can truly be the hub of all the household information and digital property.

With additional storage space, backup software can be installed and configured to make scheduled copies of the archived files to avoid data loss or corruption. Backups can be scheduled to run nightly to insure all files are current and accurately matched to the original archive. Most importantly, a surge protector including an uninterrupted power supply should be included to avoid hardware damage or file corruptions during a power surge, electrical storm, or power outage. The home server can prove to be the most important tool used in the computer user's household.

Discussion Comments


Beyond using a home server for providing an entire household with digital media files, you can also use it as a means of retriving files from a remote location.

I like to use my home server as a place to store files that I can access from anywhere on the internet. If I finish an essay for school, I simply save it on my home server and if my copy I bring to school is damaged, I simply call up my server on the internet and retrieve another copy of the file.

Home automation is another area that home servers can help with. Computers can now be programmed to turn on and off lights by timers or even by request through e-mail.

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    • An external hard drive.
      An external hard drive.