How To Build a Server
Updated · May 10, 2022
So, you want to do away with your hosting provider. Building your own server is the only way out.
Simple - it comes with total control. You can host any applications without restrictions and also avoid hefty monthly fees. When you need more resources, simply upgrade the hardware.
And best of all – no more sharing a webserver with noisy neighbors.
In this article, I will show you how to build a server. You’ll need:
- Server equipment
- Broadband internet connection
- Networking hardware
- Operating system software
- Cooling system
- Monitoring tools
Roll up your sleeves, and let’s start.
What Is a Server?
A server is a device that communicates with other computers known as clients. It provides resources for powering services across a network. These include data processing and running applications.
The history of servers dates back to the 1980s. At that time, organizations used them to store information securely. In the 1990s, however, this technology became a vital part of the internet. It now powers websites, remote databases, cloud computing, and more.
So, here’s how to make a server:
How To Build a Server
Here are the steps you need to build a server.
Determine your needs
Determining your needs helps to save on cost and time.
Hosting personal files requires a cheap home server setup. You can use it to run simple websites and store files.
On the other hand, the stakes rise when it comes to tasking projects. For example, business sites require 24/7 uptime. Managing significant website traffic requires lots of resources, too. You don’t want your visitors to bounce off due to slow performance.
The same also applies to platforms that serve media-rich applications, like streaming and gaming. You’ll need a robust system to deliver interrupted services.
The hardware to consider when it comes to how to build a server are:
- CPU: The central processing unit (CPU) is a device that manages webserver tasks. For a simple setup consider getting a Celeron unit. It’s cheap and can flawlessly run lightweight projects. For tasking activities, you should go for Ryzen or Xeon processors. Despite being costly, they run complex applications effortlessly.
- Motherboard: Also known as the system board, it’s the server’s backbone. It provides the bridge for all the computer’s components to interact. Good options include HP, Dell, Asus, and ASRock.
- RAM: Random-access memory is a component that temporarily stores data for processing. You need DDR4 RAM for your server. It has multi-channels for faster handling of information.
- Hard Drive: This is a device for storing files on the system. You can make your own server using an SSD drive. It provides up to 20x better speeds than traditional hard disks.
- Cooling: A server generates heat while running applications. It can easily break down without proper cooling. To avoid that, you need a sizable fan.
- Chassis: A chassis is a metal casing for housing your server’s components. It has slots where you can fit everything into place. iStarUSA has a wide variety of affordable options. The other alternatives for your cheap server build are Supermicro, Athena, and Rosewill.
- Power Supply: Simple tasks require at least a 300 watts unit. For heavy applications, you’ll need 500 watts on the lower side.
- Graphics Card (Optional): Processors do have an integrated graphics driver. These are great for running most apps as well. Tasks such as gaming, streaming, and mining, however, require more power. Consider getting a dedicated graphics card when building your own web server.
- DVD Drive (Optional): Everything is easily downloadable from the internet nowadays. But you can use an optical drive to install a custom image. Likewise, it helps save backups on a DVD.
So, if you’re wondering how to create a server - get broadband equipment. First, get a networking card. Most are universal and blend perfectly with a majority of operating systems. Furthermore, they range from $20 to $50 apiece.
Get a category 6 (cat6) router and Ethernet cable. It gives you room to expand bandwidth requirements in the future. If that happens, all you’ll need is to upgrade your plan from your internet service provider. Reliable brands include D-Link, Startech, TP-Link, and others.
Next on how to make a server is choosing an operating system (OS). Open-source software options are the best. Apart from being free, they have a loyal following online. So, you can always ask the online communities for help.
Any Linux distribution is excellent for your webserver. That’s because all OSs under this platform come at no extra cost. There is only one challenge, though - developers can change strategy at any time.
Take IBM Red Hat’s CentOS 7 and CentOS 8, for example They were the most popular applications for powering servers. The company, however, will end support of them by 2024.
Enough with the sad part, though.
There are over 600 alternative OSs to build your own server. For example, CentOS’s direct competitors include RockyLinux and AlmaLinux. Others comprise Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, etc.
You can also try the premium options. For example, you can use Windows for running enterprise applications. It also offers seamless scalability for upgrading resources. Apart from that, it’s a good choice for working with teams.
MacOS is another option for creating a cheap home server build. It suits consumers that love using Apple’s products. You can use it as a controller for your Apple TV and iOS devices.
Put Everything Together
This is the most challenging part of how to build a server. First, you’ll need to gather all the components in one place. Thеn, have a look at the documentation, which manufacturers provide. Next, locate step-by-step instructions for assembling the parts.
Another alternative is to search the internet for guides. You can have a look at DIY videos on YouTube. Likewise, you can hire a technician to fix it.
Now you know how to create a server. Maintenance, however, is a different story.
Upkeep and Maintenance
You should treat custom-built home servers with care. They need maintenance or you risk running into problems. For example, apps might get sluggish or crash.
To make sure all goes smoothly, you need to:
- Update the software frequently
- Backup the webserver before making updates
- Check the hardware’s health status using monitoring tools
- Replace faulty parts when needed
- Use a custom rack to mount your server firmly
- Clean the hardware using compressed air
Okay, but how much will this cost?
How Much Does a Server Cost?
If you’re wondering how to make a server, the cost is probably your biggest concern.
As earlier said, it all depends on your needs. A simple setup averages around $600 to $900. For a robust configuration, it will set you back $1,000 or more.
Here’s the breakdown:
A Celeron CPU starts from $62. It’s a low-spec version of Intel’s processor lineup. You can opt for powerful alternatives that cost $300 and up. AMD’s Ryzen chips are the best for that price. They offer more cores for handling complex applications.
You can get a traditional hard disk if you’re working on a budget. A 4,000GB (4TB) drive goes for $104 only. That costs the same as a 500GB SSD. Though you get less storage, your custom server build will work faster.
When it comes to motherboards, go with the best that money can buy. As a rule of thumb, you should spend $250 or more. You’ll upgrade to newer components without worrying about compatibility.
Time is also an essential part of how to create a server. It can take you up to 72 hours to finish the setup. That ranges from $120 to $720 in terms of labor costs.
Alternatives of Building Your Own Server
Building servers is costly. Buying a ready-made machine is a better option if you’re on a budget.
Prices start from $350 from platforms such as Amazon. In comparison, that’s 60% less than a home-built version.
Vendors serve a considerable number of customers. They’re able to order devices in bulk from manufacturers. That way, they can bargain for lower prices. Such an advantage trickles down to you, the buyer.
But that’s not your only option.
You now know how to build a server, right? Why not convert an old computer?
It will save you money, as you don’t need to purchase hardware.
If you’re planning to build a home server, you can start now. You’ll enjoy superior control and unlimited resources. That’s something which you hardly get from hosting companies.
But the price is a bit steep.
Hardware is expensive. It takes hours to configure the system, too. So, hiring an expert might be your best bet. Still, you’ll dig deeper in your pockets to get it done.
Overall, you have all the tips on how to build a server. Other than being costly, it’s definitely worth a try.
How much does it cost to build a server?
Why would you build a server?
Can you build your own server?
- Hard Drive
- Power supply
- Graphics card (Optional)
- DVD Drive (Optional)
Daniel is a curious thinker that loves everything about tech. If he spots something interesting, rest assured that he’ll reverse-engineer it. Apart from being an internet addict, he loves building web servers from scratch. Well, it’s not his profession per se. But it’s a passion he picked up after a series of unfortunate events involving terrible hosts. He’s the “hosting guy”.
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