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Building a Digital Haven (home server)

As part of my “Prism break” initiative, I’ve started working on a personal (family) server — a safe haven in the wild digital world.

Target and usage

  • near-silent box you turn on and forget about
  • low energy consumption
  • large disk space
  • above-average data storage reliability, probably via RAID 1
  • web server (for email client, “cloud” storage interface, …, Friendica, etc.)
  • IM server (Jabber)


Ideal setup: specialized low-energy no-fans computer.
Problem: hard to come by the appropriate parts, expensive, weak hardware.

My current plan: choose from what is available on the regular PC market, focus on power consumption, size and minimize unnecessary components / features.
Reason: consumer electronics are pretty cheap, standardized, easy to obtain. The bill for electricity will not outweigh the cost of a more energy efficient hardware.

— W-I-P —


Must have:

  • several SATA ports — for several disks
  • RAID 1 support
  • basic integrated graphics card (just for the setup phase, will not be actually used later on)

Should have:

  • USB 3.0 — for external disks
  • eSATA — for external disks

Selected type: AMD, FM2 socket. Supports the latest Trinity processors. These should have some usable power-saving capabilities.

Example: ASUS F2A85-M LE


Should have:

  • power-saving options — large portions of time it’s not going to be used
  • multiple cores — will have to serve multiple requests at a time

Selected type: based on the selected motherboard.

Example: AMD Athlon X4 740


Size “table”:

  • 2 GB — bare minimum
  • 4 GB — sufficient for most work
  • 8 GB — sufficient for most work with a nice reserve and smooth operation
  • 16 GB — virtualization becomes a usable possibility
  • 32 GB — … Hello? Anyone there? … *sound of echo*

Basic memory sticks seem to be the best — no fancy coolers needed, that can only mean energy wasted.

Example: Kingston 8GB 1333MHz

Power supply

Should have:

  • less than 400 W — should be a low-energy device, so no need for anything stronger
  • large fan (if any) — large means less RPMs means less noise
  • surge-protection etc.

Example: Seasonic G Series 360W

Hard drives


  • 1 system disk
  • 2 data disks in RAID 1

Data disks should be separate from the OS disk. It would be best if the data disks could be simply unplugged and used freely on their own if the server broke down.

Energy efficiency is a question here: shared OS+Data disk would be a one-disk-less solution, meaning less devices to power. On the other hand, if the data is not needed, the disks may be powered down and only one device would then run.

Should have:

  • generally
    • low energy consumption (lower RPMs, etc.)
  • system disk
    • 32+ GB of space
    • fast
    • used for the OS and installed applications
  • data disk
    • 1+ TB of space
    • mostly sequential access to larger files, not many changes, mostly read operations


System disk — 32 GB SSD?

Data disk — WD Green WD10EZRX 3.5″ 1TB

Other things

Electricity usage meter might come in handy. Example: BaseTech Cost Control 3000


Grand total: 11 500 CZK = 444 EUR = 584 USD

…it is arguable whether it is worth it. Time for a web-hosting solution!


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