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Planning on building home server - updated. not sure which hardware would be fine.

post #1 of 13
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Intro

Hey guys, thanks for taking a peek here! I'm probably going to make this a pretty big thread, hope I can keep it small for now... But yeah, anyways, I'm a student in computer sciences at my university and I never really wondered/thought about networking and servers and everything around those subjects. I will eventually get lessons about this subject, but I noticed that having a home server brings lots of benefits even for my studies (programming workspaces being accessible from anywhere while maintaining the data on one spot, not several computers) and for minecraft (LOL'd). But while I'm planning on making a home server build, I really want to dig into more knowledge about networking since that certainly would come in handy when having a server. I'm sorry for the long intro, if people complain about too much text, then I will start hiding stuff using the spoiler option.

Reasons for a home server

  • Studies: good maintainable source of data, always comes in handy!
  • OS's: to mess around with (out of pure interest) and use for other virtual stuff
  • Personal: the usual data everyone has on their computer: movies, music, cracks and other downloads/documents.
  • Minecraft (yeah I was actually being serious): well...no comment :3
  • Building rigs is fun, doesn't matter what kind of build. Randomly spending money on the other hand is...less interesting tongue.gif.

If you think that these reasons aren't really worth the work/cost of a server, feel free to say so smile.gif. Personally I think it might be worth it AFTER I know a few more things...

Also the current place where my rig and such will be (soon enough I hope) will be cabled connections only (I find wireless a disgrace for rigs, not for mobile stuff though-duuh)

The actual questions

I'll just start off with a few questions, but please include them above your answer (if possible). Use spoilers if you must ;p.
I also know that I could learn a lot from reading on wiki etc, but I've tried...and the huge heaps of text just tend to bore me A LOT biggrin.gif. I've already had my share of fat-book-reading/learning while being a student this year ;p

edit: - These questions don't really need more answers, though you're always welcome with more info than posted in previous comments!
  • IP: I know the internet protocol is a very basic thing to know, but I wondered how each device gets one assigned that does not equal another on the webz. I do get the fact that for example IPv4 van generate up to 2³² = 4,294,967,296 addresses, but the thing that interests me is how it is automatically taken care of that there aren't duplicates flying around. Also, how does that work in combination with a switch? I heard it resets/reassigns IP addresses, which makes them even more random than before tongue.gif. It would be good to keep my server's IP at one IP only, since I'll need to be able to access it from elsewhere.
  • Power consumption: Can I actually build a silent + performant server that runs 24/7, or is it advised to sometimes shut it down (I know, silly question, but I don't know a correct answer. It would be even more silly to not know an answer, right?)
  • Tasks: for the reasons/tasks I posted up here, how much do you think my server would need in TB's? I'm using +2TB right for normal data right now.
  • Security: is it easy to keep my server safe from attacks of any kind? Do I need any extra protection? Will such protection decrease data flow notably?
  • switch vs router? I know the difference, but which one is most pleasing when handling both PC's/server/ps3 (last one: again, LOL)
  • Is it very possible to access a home server from outdoors? Or will I need to configure some settings so certain devices can access my network at home? Does it bring any security risks?

This will be it for now, thanks in advance!
Edited by Ollii - 9/21/12 at 1:22pm
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post #2 of 13
Of course those are all reasons to build a server! However, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to answer everything...

For what you're doing, I'd probably suggest just getting a good sandy/ivy Pentium-grade chip and running your server with that. Handles my Minecraft server fine (<10 people), while file hosting for my house and a few other tasks as well. Naturally it isn't that silent, run the CPU and 140mm fan at 50% though, and its noticeable only in the dead of night. It also runs really close to 24/7. Idling it draws maybe 30 Watts, and that is with 3 hard drives.
Go ahead and get a little more power if you want to be running VMs on it though, my Pentium is a little slow for that.

Now, the default OS you might want to use....depends totally on you. Being a student, I could get a second Win7 license for cheap at the time, but I've used Ubuntu as well. Though Linux comes with more work, it is a LOT more satisfying to get things done in, and is quite a bit better for server applications anyway, or at least the customization. Also, I know from personal experience that Linux-based OS's are much better at running for long periods of time. With Windows 7, I've got to restart after about a month because things get weird otherwise.


Now, security and networking:

A router will do just fine. They are mostly just smart switches anyway (reallly basic way of saying it) but other than needing additional ports, you should just use the router instead of a switch. Also makes port-forwarding a little less complicated/secure for other devices.

While someone else may come into this thread and suggest good security, I am a little more relaxed about it I suppose. I have the general AV and Windows Firewall, plus most the ports blocked on my router anyway. Worked for me for years now, still going strong.

And YES! You can absolutely access files from outside! Just depends on which method you want to use, depending on what files you want to access and how much security you want. Like I said, Linux-based servers are much better for this, and easier sometimes too, and mostly alot more free/features. FTP server, WebDav, etc. Or even just VNC/Teamviewer.

And if you do go with Ubuntu or something, look into Webmin. Its a must-have wink.gif

Hope this helps. As far as how the entire internet knows its not using the same IP...yeah, no idea. Databases sounds fancy enough.
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadman View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Of course those are all reasons to build a server! However, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to answer everything...

-- no problem, everything helps and I just read your comment and I'm 100% sure that it will help!

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For what you're doing, I'd probably suggest just getting a good sandy/ivy Pentium-grade chip and running your server with that. Handles my Minecraft server fine (<10 people), while file hosting for my house and a few other tasks as well. Naturally it isn't that silent, run the CPU and 140mm fan at 50% though, and its noticeable only in the dead of night. It also runs really close to 24/7. Idling it draws maybe 30 Watts, and that is with 3 hard drives.

-- wait what? 30W? That seems ridiculously low to me, but I like that though biggrin.gif I was thinking about getting such a CPU since Sandy bridge has made me a very happy man on this planet ;p Ivy is optional because it might cost too much.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Now, the default OS you might want to use....depends totally on you. Being a student, I could get a second Win7 license for cheap at the time, but I've used Ubuntu as well. Though Linux comes with more work, it is a LOT more satisfying to get things done in, and is quite a bit better for server applications anyway, or at least the customization. Also, I know from personal experience that Linux-based OS's are much better at running for long periods of time. With Windows 7, I've got to restart after about a month because things get weird otherwise.

I would prefer something familiar to linux, especially Ubuntu. I've heard far too many monstrous stories about Windows Server to get myself to try it... ;p. Not sure what unRAID really is, but lots of people seem to be very satisfied about it, so I guess that would also be an option.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Now, security and networking:
A router will do just fine. They are mostly just smart switches anyway (reallly basic way of saying it) but other than needing additional ports, you should just use the router instead of a switch. Also makes port-forwarding a little less complicated/secure for other devices.
While someone else may come into this thread and suggest good security, I am a little more relaxed about it I suppose. I have the general AV and Windows Firewall, plus most the ports blocked on my router anyway. Worked for me for years now, still going strong.

alright that's great! The only thing I won't need from the router is wireless, but I guess I could turn that off. And great, cheap security, mwahaha! Not sure yet whether I should get a switch or router, but I've got enough time to think about that later.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
And YES! You can absolutely access files from outside! Just depends on which method you want to use, depending on what files you want to access and how much security you want. Like I said, Linux-based servers are much better for this, and easier sometimes too, and mostly alot more free/features. FTP server, WebDav, etc. Or even just VNC/Teamviewer.
And if you do go with Ubuntu or something, look into Webmin. Its a must-have wink.gif
Hope this helps. As far as how the entire internet knows its not using the same IP...yeah, no idea. Databases sounds fancy enough.

Then it is just totally awesome that I might build one hehe. It was quite logical that you could get access to it, but I never encountered someone with a server actually having such functionality (I don't know why I haven't yet...), so it made me curious tongue.gif. No problem about the IP, let's blame the wiki page for being such a huge baclk text on white way-too-much-info page.. x) else I would've read that

Thanks for your reply! It helped a lot actually, gave me some new ideas/food for thought and it did raise some new questions..:
  • I've been looking around for 'pentium-grade' i-series chips and I can't really find much info about them, I actually thought most of them were 'Core' chips, or 'Xeon' perhaps and thought Pentium would only point towards the old chips from +10 years ago.. What's the benefit about the 'pentium' chips vs the 'core' chips?
  • what is port-forwarding exactly? I might just look that up on wiki/google later, feel free to answer this or not. I once played a bit with our router at home and I noticed a menu for port-forwarding, which didn't look very interesting to me tongue.gif, first thought: open up a port so someone can use that to gain access? lol
  • talking about hard drives: I never really liked too low speeds on HDD's since they actually really have an impact on your system's performance (bigger than you'd expect). But I also don't want a over 9000% power consumption rig sitting here 24/7 and wasting my money o:, so for the first time in my life I might actually consider the green drives from WD. Any opinions about these ?
  • when setting up such a small home network, are there any "DON'TS" that require my attention?

Edited by Ollii - 7/16/12 at 5:08am
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post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollii View Post

Intro
  • IP: I know the internet protocol is a very basic thing to know, but I wondered how each device gets one assigned that does not equal another on the webz. I do get the fact that for example IPv4 van generate up to 2³² = 4,294,967,296 addresses, but the thing that interests me is how it is automatically taken care of that there aren't duplicates flying around. Also, how does that work in combination with a switch? I heard it resets/reassigns IP addresses, which makes them even more random than before tongue.gif. It would be good to keep my server's IP at one IP only, since I'll need to be able to access it from elsewhere.

Most home environments utilize a router which applies a layer of Port Address Translation with regards to the WAN (Internet) interface. This means that all of your LAN clients share the same external IP, and the router keeps track of which client creates connections based on the origination port. This introduces a forwarding issue as you have asked about below.
Quote:
[*] Power consumption: Can I actually build a silent + performant server that runs 24/7, or is it advised to sometimes shut it down (I know, silly question, but I don't know a correct answer. It would be even more silly to not know an answer, right?)

Sure. You don't have to shut it down (in fact the goal is generally to keep it going as long as possible). The hardware selection will be your noise/power consumption determination.
Quote:
[*] Tasks: for the reasons/tasks I posted up here, how much do you think my server would need in TB's? I'm using +2TB right for normal data right now.

Depends on how much crap you want to store. A server running a couple particular tasks only needs a couple GiB of data, but if you are using a file server environment it's generally a budgetary decision.
Quote:
[*] Security: is it easy to keep my server safe from attacks of any kind? Do I need any extra protection? Will such protection decrease data flow notably?

Out of the box should be sufficient. Due to SPI firewall and layer of Port Address Translation, your box is not directly visible to the interwebz. I'd probably make sure the OS has all of the latest security patches before forwarding any services to the WAN.
Quote:
[*] switch vs router? I know the difference, but which one is most pleasing when handling both PC's/server/ps3 (last one: again, LOL)

You'd want a router. Most ISPs will only allocate a singular WAN IP address to subscribers. Simply using a switch would mean that one device at a time would acquire this IP as well as there being no LAN environment.
Quote:
[*] Is it very possible to access a home server from outdoors? Or will I need to configure some settings so certain devices can access my network at home? Does it bring any security risks?

Sure. The best bet is forwarding SSH to your server from a non-standard port on the router. Any directly accessible services from the internet carry a risk of exploitation, however the following will reduce your chances exponentially:
  • Lock the root account
  • Use a decent password strength
  • Verify all services running and establish a baseline for services provided
  • Using a non-standard WAN facing port will dodge the vast majority of automated exploitation scans/bots.
Quote:
  • I've been looking around for 'pentium-grade' i-series chips and I can't really find much info about them, I actually thought most of them were 'Core' chips, or 'Xeon' perhaps and thought Pentium would only point towards the old chips from +10 years ago.. What's the benefit about the 'pentium' chips vs the 'core' chips?

Depends on the series. The 'Pentium' branding has typically offered a lesser amount of CPU cache.
Quote:
[*] what is port-forwarding exactly? I might just look that up on wiki/google later, feel free to answer this or not. I once played a bit with our router at home and I noticed a menu for port-forwarding, which didn't look very interesting to me tongue.gif, first thought: open up a port so someone can use that to gain access? lol

Kind of an outline of above with Port Address Translation (PAT). As all of your clients are sharing a single external WAN IP address, the router has absolutely no idea where to send new inbound connections unless you specify which ports and LAN PC you want to listen on. After which, the router will forward any incoming connections to that particular port to the LAN computer you have listed.
Quote:
[*] talking about hard drives: I never really liked too low speeds on HDD's since they actually really have an impact on your system's performance (bigger than you'd expect). But I also don't want a over 9000% power consumption rig sitting here 24/7 and wasting my money o:, so for the first time in my life I might actually consider the green drives from WD. Any opinions about these ?

Green are alright but I wouldn't put them in any sort of RAID array. The transfer rates should be close to saturating gigabit speed most of the time.
Quote:
[*] when setting up such a small home network, are there any "DON'TS" that require my attention?

Same for any network really, in a consumer-grade environment you'd simply want to do the basics of securing WLAN with WPA2. Aside from that there really aren't any specifics you need to accomplish.
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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beers View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Most home environments utilize a router which applies a layer of Port Address Translation with regards to the WAN (Internet) interface. This means that all of your LAN clients share the same external IP, and the router keeps track of which client creates connections based on the origination port. This introduces a forwarding issue as you have asked about below.
'...'
Sure. You don't have to shut it down (in fact the goal is generally to keep it going as long as possible). The hardware selection will be your noise/power consumption determination.

Good to hear, since I might be placing it in my bedroom (got 2 LAN cables there right now, they've been placed there a few days ago)

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Depends on how much crap you want to store. A server running a couple particular tasks only needs a couple GiB of data, but if you are using a file server environment it's generally a budgetary decision.
'...'
Out of the box should be sufficient. Due to SPI firewall and layer of Port Address Translation, your box is not directly visible to the interwebz. I'd probably make sure the OS has all of the latest security patches before forwarding any services to the WAN.

Saves up some money then. I've always used Norton antivirus (and I'm happy with it as it is now). But not everything you said here was clear to me redface.gif

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
You'd want a router. Most ISPs will only allocate a singular WAN IP address to subscribers. Simply using a switch would mean that one device at a time would acquire this IP as well as there being no LAN environment.
'...'
Sure. The best bet is forwarding SSH to your server from a non-standard port on the router. Any directly accessible services from the internet carry a risk of exploitation, however the following will reduce your chances exponentially:
  • Lock the root account
  • Use a decent password strength
  • Verify all services running and establish a baseline for services provided
  • Using a non-standard WAN facing port will dodge the vast majority of automated exploitation scans/bots.

sounds pretty straight forward, though tI have a question about this part down here also.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Depends on the series. The 'Pentium' branding has typically offered a lesser amount of CPU cache.
'...'
Kind of an outline of above with Port Address Translation (PAT). As all of your clients are sharing a single external WAN IP address, the router has absolutely no idea where to send new inbound connections unless you specify which ports and LAN PC you want to listen on. After which, the router will forward any incoming connections to that particular port to the LAN computer you have listed.
'...'
Green are alright but I wouldn't put them in any sort of RAID array. The transfer rates should be close to saturating gigabit speed most of the time.
'...'
Same for any network really, in a consumer-grade environment you'd simply want to do the basics of securing WLAN with WPA2. Aside from that there really aren't any specifics you need to accomplish.

What kind of cpu would you suggest then? And if I'm understanding this the right way, you can just manually add devices to your router's ports to make them part of the network?
Hard drives are still expensive right now, so I might have to wait some time longer...

Thanks for the great reply there! Made lots of stuff clear smile.gif +r,
some remaining questions:
  • forwarding SSH from a non-standard port on the router -> I have no idea what this should point out lol
  • Due to SPI firewall and layer of Port Address Translation, your box is not directly visible to the interwebz -> SPI firewall? And I'm guessing the PAT is just the management of your port addresses.

    thanks again! I'm sorry for the late reply, but I've been busy lately tongue.gif
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post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollii View Post

Thanks for the great reply there! Made lots of stuff clear smile.gif +r,
some remaining questions:
  • forwarding SSH from a non-standard port on the router -> I have no idea what this should point out lol
  • Due to SPI firewall and layer of Port Address Translation, your box is not directly visible to the interwebz -> SPI firewall? And I'm guessing the PAT is just the management of your port addresses.
    thanks again! I'm sorry for the late reply, but I've been busy lately tongue.gif

High five.
To touch on your points:

[*]Through PAT you can actually specify ports other than the defaults that will map to the default service ports on the LAN. For instance, you can have an out-of-the-box SSH configuration for your server on TCP 22, but specify your router to listen for connections on TCP 50000 on the Internet interface (which will forward to your server's TCP 22). Leaving services exposed to the WAN on default service ports introduces a high level of automated exploitation/brute-force attempts.
[*]Stateful Packet Inspection. This essentially means that the router will look at the protocol acknowledgments and session states to verify a valid session had been established. This prevents spoofed packets from being accepted as legitimate traffic.
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post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beers View Post

High five.
To touch on your points:
[*]Through PAT you can actually specify ports other than the defaults that will map to the default service ports on the LAN. For instance, you can have an out-of-the-box SSH configuration for your server on TCP 22, but specify your router to listen for connections on TCP 50000 on the Internet interface (which will forward to your server's TCP 22). Leaving services exposed to the WAN on default service ports introduces a high level of automated exploitation/brute-force attempts.
[*]Stateful Packet Inspection. This essentially means that the router will look at the protocol acknowledgments and session states to verify a valid session had been established. This prevents spoofed packets from being accepted as legitimate traffic.

owk, kewl. I think I got it ! biggrin.gif what I basically should do is to not keep the out-of-the-box configuration settings, but forward my own choice of port to a certain local port of my server.
Would you mind to subscribe to my thread (if you haven't yet)? I might come up with more questions about this while configuring my small home network and creating another thread for a question that might just as well be posted here wouldn't be that great. I'd like to keep all the info I received in this thread tongue.gif

but yeah I'm grateful for the current replies, it's a very interesting subject to be honest. There's so much to learn when just looking around about servers and networking, pretty mad :d
Edited by Ollii - 7/17/12 at 5:09am
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post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollii View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by beers View Post

High five.
To touch on your points:
[*]Through PAT you can actually specify ports other than the defaults that will map to the default service ports on the LAN. For instance, you can have an out-of-the-box SSH configuration for your server on TCP 22, but specify your router to listen for connections on TCP 50000 on the Internet interface (which will forward to your server's TCP 22). Leaving services exposed to the WAN on default service ports introduces a high level of automated exploitation/brute-force attempts.
[*]Stateful Packet Inspection. This essentially means that the router will look at the protocol acknowledgments and session states to verify a valid session had been established. This prevents spoofed packets from being accepted as legitimate traffic.

owk, kewl. I think I got it ! biggrin.gif what I basically should do is to not keep the out-of-the-box configuration settings, but forward my own choice of port to a certain local port of my server.
Would you mind to subscribe to my thread (if you haven't yet)? I might come up with more questions about this while configuring my small home network and creating another thread for a question that might just as well be posted here wouldn't be that great. I'd like to keep all the info I received in this thread tongue.gif

but yeah I'm grateful for the current replies, it's a very interesting subject to be honest. There's so much to learn when just looking around about servers and networking, pretty mad :d
I'm subscribed, just had work and other stuff, wasn't able to answer you. Thankfully beers came in and answered everything a little more clearly then I might have tongue.gif
I do my best though. I'll check in later
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadman View Post

I'm subscribed, just had work and other stuff, wasn't able to answer you. Thankfully beers came in and answered everything a little more clearly then I might have tongue.gif
I do my best though. I'll check in later

Both answers are valuable imo tongue.gif and great haha ;D, now I've only got to decide which hardware I'll be using smile.gif
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post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I honestly can't figure out what I should look for when building a server... Could anyone give me some starting advice? Just so i know what kidn of stuff is recommend for that isn't recommended for pc's
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Overclock.net › Forums › Software, Programming and Coding › Networking & Security › Planning on building home server - updated. not sure which hardware would be fine.