Building My Home Server

I'm Kev and I'm a Cyber Security professional from the UK. I started this blog so that I could share my thoughts on the things that interest me. That's usually technology, Linux, open source, and motorbikes.

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  1. Hey Kev, I’m an Apple fan boy so my stuff is all in iCloud but at the same time I like to have photos in multiple places so I have Dropbox installed on my phone and my pc and that backs up all my photos as well. NextCloud is likely cheaper but I have a ton of storage I’m not paying for on DB so it works for me.

  2. PhotoSync (from the Apple application store for iOS) has worked well for me – it will push photos from your phone to your chosen server (using sFTP, webdav, …).

    1. I tried PhotoSync and it is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the recommendation, David.

  3. Hi, Kev. I’m a recent reader, I found your series on de-googling very interesting, and I’ve been following you for a couple of months.

    Regarding my server setup:

    On top of the needs you mentioned, I also wanted to experiment with self-hosting. Right now I’m running Dropbox, Drive, Mega, Syncthing, LuckyBackup and Transmission, and I’m planning to test self-hosted services like a website, Nextcloud, etc.

    At first, I looked into low-power devices, like the Rapsberry Pi, because I wanted to have a very small server and leave it always on. But I soon realized that installing applications is more complicated than on a x86 computer. Some were just not available for ARM. And the multimedia performance would be very limited.

    In the end, I bought a NUC. They are very small, very quiet (passively cooled) and x86 based (so you can install whatever desktop OS you prefer). They’re basically tiny PCs, and the one I got cost me 160€ with a 1 Tb hard disk and 4 Gb of RAM. It’s attached under the table so you can’t even see it. The only thing you hear, usually in the night, is the hard disk spinning.

    I installed Ubuntu Mate, like you. It seemed lightweight, stable and easy to use enough.

    The NUC is connected to an external monitor that is shared with my laptop, and I just switch the input directly from the monitor if needed. An external USB mouse and keyboard complete the setup. Sometimes I don’t even use any peripherals and just connect to the server via Teamviewer (I haven’t managed to configure a free alternative for that, yet). That’s especially useful when I’m away and suddendly need a file that isn’t uploaded to the cloud.

    Most of my files are in the 1 Tb HDD, which is mounted in my laptop via Ethernet/WiFI LAN. For backups I have a couple external hard disks. I just connect them via USB and sync them using LuckyBackup. Then I hide the backup disk in another room, or sometimes even in a different building (so fire or theft may not take all my files at the same time). I only do weekly backups, but that’s fine: my most active projects are synced to cloud services and my other devices, and the local backup only takes care of long-term storage.

    So you could say my setup is a smaller and less powerful version of yours, but with a very similar use case.

    PS: As I do use Android, I can use Syncthing for my photos. Whenever I enter a WiFi at home or at work, pictures start being copied to the server. It works great! Too bad there isn’t an iOS version.

    1. Yeah, very similar use case here. Thanks to another comment on this post, I’ve found an app called PhotoSync. I have configured it to auto backup my photos to my server via FTP whenever I’m connected to my home WiFi. Works brilliantly.

  4. Interestingly you didn’t go for a NAS-type OS like openmediavault, freenas etc.
    As regards photos, I don’t know if tools using libgphoto2, like rapid photo downloader, work with iphones? That would get your photo problem sorted, but I don’t have iOS devices, can’t tell…

    1. Yeah, I decided from early on that I would go for a “normal” OS, so I had more flexibility and wasn’t limited by plugins etc. when using a product such as FreeNAS.

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