Thinking about my home server
On my home server I have, till now, Hubzilla and WordPress. Hubzilla is a good all-round piece of software that does various things, though not perfectly: it is an activity-hub connected social network, a place to store photo albums and files; a content management system for blogs, and a place where you can make static websites.
There are idealistic, practical and economic considerations regarding home hosting. On a practical level, the experience has been much smoother than I anticipated. The system has stayed up most of the time, despite occasional power cuts. There haven’t been so many issues at all. I’m using an old laptop for the purpose, connected to my modem-router. There are still one or two things I have to figure out, but that’s only because I’ve been lazy.
On an idealistic level, I love the idea of being in control of my own server.
Economically, it’s probably cheaper, after the small fee I pay for a permanent IP, and the electricity used, than hosting the site on a server. There were no hardware costs since I’m using an old laptop, which would otherwise just lie in the cupboard.
There is still a question whether the effort has been worth it. Regarding blogging and social networking, it depends a lot on the usage case. Although it is occasionally nice for me to see all the product of 20 years of writing together in one place, actually I could achieve the same by writing off line, on my computer, and then uploading it somewhere – anywhere – perhaps various places – not necessarily a personal website. That’s true because there are no commercial or reputational considerations involved. That would not be true for everyone.
Regarding social media, also there, there are few advantages to be found in hosting your own network. It is easier to become known and discover others by using a commercial network or a popular federated instance. If what you are posting is mainly short posts and links to your own writing, and the service is free, then there is no real need to host it at home.
What would make sense, perhaps, would be to host your own email system. That would be great, if it were not so technically challenging to host email, and if were not so difficult to self-host email without being blacklisted by the big companies who today host email.
It does not make sense to use a home server for a file server, because the main advantage of backing up your files in the cloud is that they are not being stored at home. If the house is burgled or burns down, it’s better that the files are stored elsewhere. It still makes sense to rent a cloud server for that; it is simply better that it isn’t at home. I pay a little money to Disroot in order to store my files on their server.
It would be a good idea to use a home server for storing a photo and video collection. Photos and video take up a lot of space, which is sometimes costly, so a good case can be made for creating a photo gallery on your own server. But that too could be hosted somewhere in the cloud.