Investing in a Home Server
Setting up a traditional home server is another option to get network storage and cloud features.
Microsoft provides Windows Home Server (WHS), an operating system that can be purchased preloaded on a server or separately and installed onto a PC or server. It can act as a backup device for up to 10 PCs on the network, provide remote access, media streaming, and more. The biggest benefit is that it works with the native backup and previous version features of the Windows platforms. However, WHS requires at least $100 for the operating system and a decent PC to install on, or $350+ for a pre-built server. While you get a ton of great features with this setup, you’re definitely paying for it.
There is a free and open source alternative to WHS, called Amahi Home Server. It offers similar features plus a few more, such as a VPN server, shared calendar, and Outlook synchronization and sharing. Even more features are available via add-ons from their App Store. Though the main edition of Amahi requires a dedicated PC, the system requirements compared to WHS are a bit relaxed: a 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of disk space.
There’s also Amahi Plug Edition which you can install on Plug Computers. Because Plug Computers are headless, there are a few more steps than with the installation of a normal Amahi Home Server. Most of the same features are supported, but some add-ons don’t work—see the app list for more details. If the apps and features look appealing, consider buying a bare Plug Computer or use a preloaded one (such as TonidoPlug or PogoPlug).