Turn an Old PC Into a Do-It-All Home Server for IoT


Getting Started with RouterOS

First, you should make sure you have all the required hardware. Although RouterOS can be installed on other platforms, we’re installing it on a regular (Intel/AMD 32-bit) PC. Though you can run RouterOS headless/remotely, you’ll need a keyboard, mouse, and monitor at least during the installation. After that you can use WinBox or the other remote admin utilities.

You’ll need to have some sort of storage device (IDE, SATA, USB, SD, etc.) dedicated to this setup. Before installing RouterOS it will automatically partition and format the disk, and it will make itself the default OS. RouterOS requires at least 64MB of space.

Of course, RouterOS supports many network adapters, including the new 10G Ethernet cards, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless cards, and 3G modems. You likely need at least two Ethernet cards: one to connect to the Internet and the other to connect to a switch to provide more ports for your computers.

Before you get started, download the remote GUI configuration tool, WinBox, to a different computer that can connect up to the RouterOS machine during the initial configuration. Of course, you also need to download the RouterOS ISO CD image and burn to a disc.


How to Install Plex as Your Media Server

Plex is probably the most popular media server pla

Plex is probably the most popular media server platform available. The basic version of Plex is free, it’s easy to installand set up, it works on older computers, and even has smartphone apps that let you access your files just about anywhere. In a nutshell, Plex will let you set up your old computer as a central media server from which you’ll stream content to your tablet, phone, set-top box, game console or television.


Another way you can convert your old PC into sever is by using Ubuntu server edition. It is the same Ubuntu that is the well-known PC based OS, the only difference is that this is the server OS version. One of the most popular versions is the Ubuntu Server Edition 8.04. You can download a CD image for it from this link. The only limitation is that you need to have it burned and installed via CD. Be sure to download the ‘Server Edition’ and burn the image in the CD as .iso. Steps for installation include:

  • Have your computer connected to internet at the time of installation as it will automatically detect and configure the network setting.
  • Have your computer booted at the time of starting it up (by pressing F12) and have the software booted from the CD.
  • After installation, you will come across the text-based interface. To make it GUI based, install Webmin.
  • After logging in with your credentials, input the following commands:

sudo apt-get install perl libnet-ssleay-perl openssl libauthen-pam-perl libpam-runtime libio-pty-perl libmd5-perl

sudo wget 

sudo dpkg -i b.

  • To make your server accessible from anywhere, open the router’s homepage. Log in the router and go to the tab that says ‘Port Forwarding’.
  • In the table type form, enter the application name, port-to-port forwarding, protocol, and your server’s IP.
  • Enter the following values:

HTTP 80 80 TCP serverIP FTP 21 21 TCP/UDP serverIP SSH 22 22 TCP serverIP

  • Save settings and enable these forwards.
  • If you want to get a free domain name instead of using your IP every time, there is a free domain site where you can get a name. You can access it from here.
  • The instructions are really easy to follow and you can be done in limited time.
  • Try accessing your server from another device, if you have done everything right, then you should be able to get to it.
  • To be able to access your server for upgrading or making changes, go to the server and enter the following commands:

sudo chown yourusername:www-data /var/www

sudo chmod 775 /var/www

  • On the system that you are using to access server, download and install a program called ‘WinSCP’. Enter domain name in the hostname for the server, and credentials in the name and password form.
  • And now you have access to see all the files in your server. Go to the var folder and enter the www folder, copy new website material in those folders to update your server or to further modify it.
  • To be able to remotely execute commands, use PuTTY which is an SSC client program.

Check this feature on Windows 10 to see if you can run a media server natively

  • First, head to the Control Panel.
  • Search media in the search box.
  • Next, select Network and Sharing Center. Then, head to Media streaming options.
  • Click Turn on media streaming.  
  • Next, select Media Streaming Options for Computers and Devices.
  • Click OK. This means you just applied the settings to your computer. Now, any device on your local network can access the media files in your computer’s media libraries.

However, this software may not be enough for you. Maybe you want to extend your homemade media server — or maybe your Mac or PC doesn’t have the pre-installed media server software capabilities, period. (This may be the case if your gadget is a lot older.) In that case, it’s time to look for some third-party media servers.


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Set up your home server

You already have the equipment clean inside and out, so now it’s time to configure it. A server can serve many different things, but the recommendation is that you configure it for a single purpose. In other words, if you want to use it as a domain controller, for example, don’t configure it at the same time as a Minecraft server , and of course don’t install unnecessary software like the Office package.

Taking into account that we are talking about an old PC, surely its performance is not too high, and therefore the fewer things you have installed and the fewer tasks we require, the better.

Using Windows 10 as a home server has a few perks.

Using Windows 10 as a home server has a few perks. First of all, you might have been eligible for the free upgrade. Even if you weren’t, Windows 10 is far cheaper than legal editions of Windows Server (especially if you buy an OEM version). Besides, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s vision for the future, for better or worse. The company has become less focused on consumer versions of Windows as a cash generator, so they aren’t trying to sell us the latest and greatest OS every three years anymore. What that does mean, though, is that Windows 10 is updated often and should be around for a long time. This is a win for the consumer.

Another benefit is using an operating system you’re already familiar with. You don’t have to learn complicated server software. Even WHS 2011, which was designed from the ground up to be an “easy-to-use-at-home” server, had a fairly steep learning curve. I had to learn about Server Manager, Remote Apps, and how to configure ports so I could access the Remote Web Access page. Windows 10 doesn’t come with any of that shiny server stuff.

With all that said, Windows 10 is not server software. It is not intended to be used as a server OS. It cannot natively do the things that servers can. But, with a little help from 3rd party software, it does a pretty good job. I highly recommend the Pro version of Windows 10.

After I decided to rebuild my home server, I was faced with the bitter reality that WHS 2011 was now an unsupported operating system. I didn’t want to spend countless hours learning Linux, and I wasn’t sure if Amahi would deliver for my needs. I’m one of the few people in my neck of the woods that actually likes Windows 10, but I wanted to keep the features of WHS 2011 that I actually used:

  • File server for my LAN
  • Remote access to my files
  • Media streaming (local and remote)
  • Automatic client backups

Also note, this article is written with the intent of using Windows 10 Pro as the OS of choice, not Windows 10 Home. With that said, let’s get started setting up Windows 10 as a home server!

Windows 10 as a File Server

This sounds pretty easy. We’ll just set up a HomeGroup, and uh, what’s that? HomeGroup has been discontinued as of the latest version of Windows (build 1803)? Well I wouldn’t have recommended HomeGroup anyway. In WHS 2011 we created users, then those users were assigned permissions that allowed access to our shared folders. This is pretty much what we’re going to do, we just won’t have the nice Dashboard interface that WHS 2011 gave us. We’ll do it manually.

First, create any users that you want to have access to the shared folders. For a home server, this will probably be just a handful of people. The larger your user group is, the more time you will spend managing file access. First, create your users- these can be either Microsoft accounts or local accounts.

As an office technology company, we specialize in

As an office technology company, we specialize in setting up technology like copiers, servers, networks, mailing equipment, video surveillence and such in our clients' businesses. But for many here who work to implement such technology in others' businesses, innovative use of technology is not just for the workplace, but for the comfort of home as well.

Take for example Robert Taylor who works in our IT department and, among other things, routinely sets up businesses with managed network and cloud-based services, back-up and disaster recovery systems and so on. But go to his house and you'll find him reclined in a chair on his back patio, watching movies or a favorite show on his iPad or maybe just chilling to some tunes. When those fall breezes turn too brisk, he'll wander into his room and watch the remainder of the movie on his HD flat screen.

How does he do that? No, not through Netflix, AmazonPrime, Hulu or whatever, but rather through a media server. He has a computer which hosts his movies, music library and all of his other media, and that he streams it to his device, be that laptop, desktop PC, tablet or phone. That connectivity is not limited to inside the walls of his house, but is also available from the comfort of a hotel room when he is back East on holiday. All he needs is web-access.

Though he is a techy, he says you don't have to be one to set up a similar system at your home.

Here are his instructions on how to do how to turn a computer into a home media-sharing machine:

o you have an old computer sitting around and don’t know what to do with it? How about building your own media-streaming server for your house (or wherever you are, with a little extra setup)?

Here is all you need:

  • An old computer (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better, 2 GB of RAM)
  • A network connection
  • Some version of Windows (for this guide)
  • Something on which to play your media after connecting to the server. Plex supports mobile devices, tablets, TVs, Mac’s and computers, but there is a small $5 fee for the mobile apps (But remember, you are supporting development with these purchases).

Let’s get our Plex Media Server set up.

Step 1 — Download and install. Let's download the Plex Media Server installer, which can be found at https://plex.tv/downloads. Just click the link under Plex Media Server that says "Computer." You will get a pop up screen. Make sure you have the Windows tabs selected then click download English. Once the download completes (It’s around 60MB and should take only a few minutes on most connections), go ahead and start the installer, then click install on the first menu (Hint: If you hit "Options," it asks you where you want to install. The default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\Plex\Plex Media Server) and hit "Launch" when it finishes.

Step 2 — Add Libraries. After you hit “Launch,“ a web browser will pop up to the media management page (which can be accessed by opening any browser on the machine that is running Plex. Navigate to and click “Agree” on the Plex Terms of Service. You will then receive a page to name your Plex server. Let’s just call it Home-MediaServer (the Friendly name field) and click “Next.” After that, it will want you to add libraries which will be where our media (movies, music, TV shows) will reside. Just click “Add Library” then choose the type of media that will be in the library (I’m going to choose movies for this example), then click “Next,” select “Add folder,” and select the folder where you store your movies. Then rinse and repeat for your other media types. Once you have added all your libraries, hit “Next” to continue. On the next page you can install channels that stream from online sources. Then hit “Next” and “Done.”

Step 3 — Connect your TV, tablet or computer. Link your Plex Media Server to your mobile, tablet, TV or computer by installing the Plex mobile app, Plex for TV or Plex Home Theater. Once this is installed, it should automatically detect, connect to and be able to stream media from your Plex Media server. If you sign up for a MyPlex account via https://plex.tv/users/sign_in and sign into it on your Plex media server and Plex playback devices, while making sure uPnP is enabled on your router (enabled by default on most home routers), your Plex playback devices should be able to find your Plex media server and stream from it even when you are not home, wherever you are.

Step 4 — Enjoy! Relax on your back porch on those pallet-turned-benches, a warm, buttered slice of pumpkin-bread in hand, and your favorite sci-fi playing on your tablet in the other.

Remember, Plex has lots of other features like using your Plex mobile app as a remote for your Plex app on your TV.

To learn more about this and other capabilities, be sure to browse the site at plex.tv and the user forums at https://forums.plex.tv/

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If you have a old or cheap computer laying around you should put it to work and create yourself a nice home media server. In this video we will be using Ubuntu server 20.04 and PLEX to easily stream media throughout your home and even when you’re out on the go. Once you have everything set-up you’re not just limited to media. You can use this to run Nextcloud or any other server applications.

With that said lets get started.

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