5+ Best Home Server Software for Windows and Linux
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about technology ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. He’s a PC enthusiast and he… read more
- Sharing files among users when you have a network of computers in the same place can take a lot of time.
- In case you need to transfer a great number of files often between users, a home network will change your life.
- You should consider a home server for your devices to improve workflows and stream any type of file.
- We compiled a list of some of the best home servers in the market to help you choose one, so keep reading.
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If you have a network of computers in your home, with files, and folders that are shared amongst all users, then you know how sharing these individually from one computer to another can be tedious and time-consuming.
This is why you need a home server – a computer that has a hard drive, is connected to the internet, runs 24/7, and acts as your physical file storage system.
A home server thus allows each computer in your home network to access shared files and folders easily, and at any time.
Like any other computer, a home server needs software to operate, and in this article, we describe some of the best home server software you can buy to get you started.
What is the best home server software?
Windows Server 2019
- Robust media streaming capability
- Image-based back up of every computer daily
- It’s easy to manage your server
- You can restore single files or your entire PC
- Full remote support on your desktop
- Upgrades are not simple
This server software by Microsoft makes accessing your files and media from any computer in your home, whether you’re there or away.
Designed for homes and home-based businesses with multiple computers, this software helps you protect, organize, and connect all your media files in a central location.
With Windows Server 2019, you can also increase your storage capacity owing to its 64-bit functionality, which means you can add external hard drives, or install add-ins to fully utilize your home network.
Therefore, this Windows server solution guarantees proof quality regarding files management, also coming packed with a lifetime license for the user.
Amahi Home Server
This home server software is designed for small spaces such as your home or small business.
Amahi is powerful, simple, and lets you stream and share your media files to all your devices, and screens. You can also manage all your storage needs including entertainment content or other important files.
One of the advantages of Amahi is it comes with one of the largest app stores, through which you can extend your server to do anything you so wish with one click.
More so, such a great solution provides total software support for your devices by offering a server connection for all your hardware devices.
You can therefore organize all your data between home devices to create common storage for family use, or maybe regarding essential business needs.
If you prefer creating or building your home server from a simplified context, then Amahi is your best bet.
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Available in over 20 languages
- Has a large media app and web app store
- It is a pre-built operating system
- You have to buy some plugins
- Only supports PCs with a 64-bit processor
⇒ Sign up for Amahi home server software
Ubuntu home server software
Ubuntu Server Edition is one of the top home server software worldwide and provides support for all your remote backup, file serving and media streaming needs.
It is known for its ease of use, an automated installation that makes it easier to install its components, rather than doing it yourself manually, and comes with a host of applications to integrate your home server with your home network.
Through the Ubuntu Advantage service program, customers get their problems resolved fast and have direct access to Ubuntu experts through their world-class support system.
You can access Ubuntu Server using various ways, such as virtual machine installation, manual server installation, or automated server provisioning.
Thus if you require reliable server support for your home devices this open-source server provider. It will surely help any user to manage file batches with ease.
- World-class support
- Ease of use
- Deploys anywhere
- Speed and simplicity
- Agile and secure
⇒ Get Ubuntu Server Edition
FreeNAS home server software
This home server software is an operating system that creates a centralized portal for easy access to your files and data.
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FreeNAS can be installed on any hardware platform and is used with ZFS – a highly flexible, enterprise-ready open source file system that eliminates most of the shortfalls of legacy file systems.
Some of the salient features of FreeNAS home server software include:
- File sharing: FreeNAS offers file sharing support such as SMB/CIFS (for Windows), NFS, AFP, FTP, iSCSI, WebDAV, among others.
- Data protection: Together with ZFS, which is designed for data integrity, and offers single parity blocks that repair corrupt data, FreeNAS provides protection for your data so you can rest easy knowing your files are secure.
- Encryption: With FreeNAS, you can create passwords for extra protection against loss or theft.
- Snapshots and Replication feature: With FreeNAS, you can also get snapshots of the whole file system, and see them anytime. Snapshots help you access your files just as they were at the time the snapshot was taken, plus previous snapshots can be accessed or duplicated to recover the data from file systems – just like local backups.
- Web interface: FreeNAS has a user-friendly web interface that is simple, and makes complex administrative tasks easier to handle for just about anyone.
- Backup services: FreeNAS offers back up support services for Windows and other operating systems.
- Plugins: With FreeNAS, you get a myriad of plugins including support for Bit Torrent, Couchpotato, Gamez, and Plex, among others. However, you can also write and distribute plugins for whatever you want like media streaming or web applications – it’s limitless.
You can use FreeNAS home server software at home to protect, backup, and store all your data.
- User-friendly web interface that can be used by anyone
- It is free
- It is a pre-built operating system
- You can run it from a hard drive, optical disc, or even a flash drive
- Improves workflow
- Flexible system
- Uses little RAM requirement (96MB)
- No storage limits
⇒ Get FreeNAS
This software is a network-attached storage (NAS) solution based on the Debian Linux system.
This tool includes multiple system services and works as a plugin as well. You can perform certain services with this modular interface, such as SSH, SFTP, OR DAAP media servers.
The target of OpenMediaVault software implies small businesses or small home office firms that need to manage files smoothly and access files using network storage.
Furthermore, this service is running online so the users can use it freely for file sharing, email notifications, link aggregation, or volume management.
Hence, if you need reliable out-of-the-box software that will provide great help with media server needs, look no further than this.
⇒ Get OpenMediaVault
The next solution on our list is Rockstor, a personal server service that helps you store data and access them instantly.
This tool offers support for Linux servers and BTRFS in data management apart from other devices’ storage. So you can set up a private cloud server to manage or share your files without limitations.
Hence, it’s possible to benefit from safer files access because you can sort out lots of information with no need for multiple devices or extensive memory cards.
In addition, by choosing this option you will reduce costs for extra storage, scale-up privacy and performance and access your data anywhere you are at from mobile devices.
Such practical software is probably the ideal option in comparison with public cloud storage. That is because you can get stronger privacy, cost reduction, anti-theft protection, and many more.
Therefore, it’s no need to rely on other average programs when you hold a private cloud storage solution like this.
⇒ Get Rockstor
ClearOS home server software
This open-source platform integrates free open source technologies in order to deliver a simple, low-cost hybrid experience for your home network.
Free open source technologies mean you get to enjoy the ClearOS home server experience, but only pay for products and services you really need.
What makes ClearOS home server software special, is this element of integration, but it also provides a user-friendly, easy-to-use, and intuitive web-based graphical user interfaces for fast, easy setup and installation.
The built-in, growing online app store – Marketplace – delivers over 100 apps and services, so you get to enjoy a free collection of apps while paying for, downloading, and installing only the apps you really need.
- Available in over 80 languages
- Easy to set up, install and use
- Comes with a free downloadable version
- You only pay for apps you really need
- Growing online app store
⇒ Get ClearOS
This brings us to the end of our list. If you still haven’t decided which tools to install, read the description of each software again, and select the one that best suits your needs.
If you’ve used other home server software that you think we should add to our list, let us know in the comments below.
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Best Home Server Software With All Features
A home server may have been a hi-tech thing a few years ago, but at present, it is in high demand. Home servers are specialized software that makes tasks like sharing files, downloading files, and web surfing easier for multiple computers in a small place.
You can use it for your home or even for your start-up team. Besides that, home servers are a cost saver and also prevent unnecessary energy wastage. Choosing home servers often becomes tedious as people often get confused between a free version or an expensive version of a home server. Moreover, there are different requirements for a home server, and while choosing, one should consider all these factors.
Best Home Server (Software)
1. Plex Media Serve
Plex is a home server for Windows, Android, iOS and any other operating system as well. Due to its versatile nature, it is very popular among users.
The best part is that it allows you to design an organized library for your media files. Moreover, it is a user-friendly server with easy-to –installation procedure. Moreover, you can also manage multiple accounts and gain remote access to all your files with Plex.
- Organised and centralised library for storage of media files
- Remote access of files from different places
- File transfer from T.V. to computer, computer to computer and computer to T.V.
- User-friendly interface with easy installation guide
- Mobile to cloud storage synchronisation
- Video streaming website for the home
- Allows pick-n-choose sharing
- Centralized cloud library
- Remote account management
- Parental control function available
- Supports all the operating devices
- Requires latest systems for devices
2. Amahi Home Server
Next, comes the Amahi Home server, also called Home Digital Assistance or HDA. Another popular home server allows you to store and share videos, music, and different media files among different devices inside your house.
Amahi allows you to store all data for backup to prevent data loss due to P. C. fault. Moreover, it also comes with many other features, including an under-friendly interface.
You can also use Amahi for browsing and managing different email accounts inside your home.
The best part is that Amahi is also great for small start-ups or small offices with a few employees.
- Available in 35 countries in nearly 20 different languages
- Provides backup for all the files in an organized manner
- Cross-device sharing of images, T.V. show videos, etc
- Offers simple VPN setup on demand
- Amahi has a diverse app and web store
- Emergency backup of data to prevent data loss from P.C.
- Comes with a large app and web store
- Offers pre-built O.S. for easy surfing
- Free of cost
- The minimum device requirement is a 64-bit processor
- Paid plug-ins are needed
3. Windows Home Server
If you are a devoted Windows User, you can try the Windows Home Server. It is an exclusive home server from Microsoft that allows you to establish connections between multiple P.C.s in your home.
It supports up to ten devices in the same location. You can use it for your home-based business or shop also. Windows Home server was launched in 2019. It allows you to store files and establish a robust connection channel between multiple computers inside a centralised library for documents.
If you have Windows Media Connect and love Windows server add-ins, you can definitely try using this Microsoft version.
- Centralised backup for files, images and videos
- Manageable server
- One-click restoration for all files in a P.C.
- Remote network support for desktop
- Daily backup
- Robust file sharing through windows Media Connect Server
- Easily manageable server with daily backup
- Easy restoration
- Ideal for home and office use
- Requires Windows Media Connect to stream videos
- Updates are time-consuming
FreeNAS, mainly known as a storage O.S., also works pretty well as a home server. It offers you local and remote backups, data storage systems and data storage in third-party systems.
With robust and open hardware, it is compatible with a wide range of systems, including Windows (CIFS/SMB), Unix(N.F.S.), Apple iOS( AFP). Hence, you can use it with multiple devices from companies like Dell, Apple, and H.P.
The best part is its strong encryption through Z.F.S. volumes. Moreover, FreeNAS offers multiple plug-ins that enhances its usability.
- Supports a wide network of devices and all leading O.S. versions
- Allows storage, sharing and streaming of media on the connected devices
- Local and remote backup
- A pre-built O.S. that supports any O.S. or device
- Users can use an Optical disc, flash drive or hard drive to run this home server.
- Only requires 96 M.B. of RAM
- It is a complicated server and not suitable for beginners
- The security features are basic
5. Ubuntu Server Edition
Ubuntu can be bliss for showing who a Linux O.S. device is. It often requires a complicated installation procedure, but the work is worth the result. But, it allows you to customise your Linux O.S. for better connectivity among the devices.
Besides that, the Ubuntu server offers fast-paced connections alongside features like file sharing channels, media streaming, remote data backup etc.
- Fast connectivity with deploy anywhere technology
- Allows you to customise the Linux O.S.
- Features like media sharing, file sharing, video streaming and remote data backup are available.
- Best consumer support
- Deploy anywhere technology
- Fast and simple server with better troubleshooting
- You need to get used to it and hence not suitable for beginners
- Manual setup is needed
Kodi Open Source Home Theatre Software
Kodi Open Source Home Theatre Software is another free of cost home server that you can try for your home devices. Previously known as X.B.M.C., it is well known globally for its channels and plug-ins with a dedicated team of volunteers and experts.
Kodi is more popular as an entertainment server but works well as a home server also. It is a cross-platform server supporting Windows, Linux. Ios, O.S.X. and even android O.S. Moreover, Kodi also comes with a 10-foot interface and remote control for T.V. devices.
You can use it to stream and play media files, including videos, audio etc. Moreover, you can also share the media files from your local storage among the connected devices. So if you do not need a lot of advanced features, Kodi can be your best pick.
- Kodi instantly convert your device into a digital set-top box
- Allows cross-platform connection for streaming files from local storage and internet
- Comes with an Intuitive U. I. for easy browsing
- Ideal for simple home use
- Available at free of cost
- Allows you better customisation
- Thousands of plug-ins and add-ons are available
- Kodi app and server requires a learning curve due to its complicated instructions
- The base app is basic
- Some add-ons have questionable legal status
Madsonic is another media server that is ideal for home use. It offers all the needed services for home devices. In addition, it supports most variations like MacOS, Windows, O.S.X., UNIX variants and comes with a robust Java framework.
Madsonic also has a user interface that allows you to customise the server for your liking.
It even works with low bandwidth and allows you to stream the music too. You can also use its local jukebox if you want.
- Madsonic supports different media formats like MP3, A. A.C., O.G.G., and MP4 and allows you to edit and tag pairing on these files with its Jaudiotagger.
- You can import and export a playlist through media sharing.
- It comes with SHOUTcast protocol which displays the present file information with different metadata.
- You can stream music and files from your phone or any connected device through apps.
- It also allows media sharing on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
- It comes with integrated web services through Last.fm.
- Easy to use
- Seamless audio and video streaming
- Integrated web service
- May not serve your purpose of file sharing(docx or pdf files)
- Service is often basic and sluggish
8. Emby Media Server
Emby Media Server allows you to establish a home server network with different devices for seamless content sharing. It also allows you to completely control the contents of your website through the server channel. Moreover, you can also use their website builder section to design a unique website for your purpose.
Hence, if you own a small business, home business, or startup, you can also use Emby Media Server.
It also allows you to stream videos in formats like MPG, MP3, WMV etc., through your mobile or laptop.
- Emby Media Server allows you to stream Live T.V. from your P.C., laptop or mobile. In addition, you can stream through your DVR or local library of files.
- It allows you to manage your media files through remote access.
- You Can build a website for personal and professional usage
- There are many apps that you can use through Emby. The apps also allow you offline access to your files.
- It comes with a supportive and robust D.L.N.A. network that offers better sharing through cross-platforms.
- Mobile sync and cloud sync are available
- Parental control available
- Ideal for both home and professional use
- Automatic detection of D. L.N.A. servers
- The price of Emby Media Server is on the higher side
XigmaNAS started as an open-source Network Attached Storage for small businesses. It is also a great home server due to its compact features and small size.
If you are looking for a simple and compact server that does not consume a lot of storage- go for it. You can easily install XigmaNAS through a USB flash drive hard disk or even an S.S.D. Card to your device. Moreover, you can also use live CD or Love USB for bootable devices as per your preference.
Its user-friendly interface is intuitive and comes with S.M.A.R.T. monitoring features. The best part is their disk encryption system for effective data security.
- ARM-based remote server with a fully functional web interface
- Disk encryption with cryptographic accelerators
- It offers effective device partition and storage partition through MBR and G. P.T.
- Offers a wireless connection for sharing of different files
- It also monitors the network and participating devices with its smartmontools technology
- Offers better accessibility for file sharing with its remote server and web interface
- Data encryption
- SMART encryption
- Requires the user to learn the complicated instructions
10. Universal Media Server
Universal Media Server is also another open-source home media server. If you intend to use a home server for light or basic usage, you can check this pit.
It supports all the major IONS, including OS X, Windows, Linux and Android. In addition, this UPnP media server can help you in sharing files easily among the D.L.A.N. devices.
- Supports a wide range of devices, including PS3, PS4, Microsoft Xbox One, Amazon Firestick T.V. etc.
- It offers online storage of media from multiple devices
- With U. M.S., you can stream media files and audio files from your local storage and online and internet. The steaming comes with dynamic metadata and live subtitles (for videos).
- You can also use it for secure and safe browsing on the internet
- Free-to-use home server with regular updates and enhanced features
- Dynamic metadata and subtitles available during the streaming of audio files
- You can use it in the case of both wired and wireless networks
- The server often fails to stream contents outside of the network
- The configuration and installation is complicated
- Its web interface requires third party add-ons
Openmediavault is another network attached to storage for home use. You can also use it for your small start-up. This N.S.A. is designed on the frameworks of Debian Linux.
It works as a media server and comes with multiple plug-ins for secured connection among the connected devices.
- You can install Openmediavault with hard drives, USB flash drives. And SSD as per your preference.
- Its installation is simple and allows you to customise some experience also.
- The Linux based home server also offers web-based administration with Debian package management. You can schedule tasks, jobs for others and allow them to view their tasks on the home server
- It offers IPv6 support with link aggregation for a seamless network.
- Like many other N.A.S., Openmedivault also comes with A.M.A.R.T. encryption, watchdog security and proactive system state monitoring features
- You can stream multiple video content with dynamic metadata from your local storage
- It also comes with different plug-ins and an exclusive antivirus system for better security
- Offers good hardware supports
- The plug-ins are helpful
- Easy to manage and install
- Does not offer high-level N. A.S. features
- The customisation features are basic
OSMC is another media player cum home server that is available free of cost. It offers basic features that are ideal for home and personal usage. ‘It is based on Linux. But, it comes with its exclusive interface for those who do not like Linux.
If you like a basic server, it can serve all the purposes very well.
- Its user interface is intuitive and simple for home usage. Hence, you can manage it well without any complication
- S.M.C. also comes with different sharing protocols, including cross-platform sharing facilities. With this server, you can also stream media files on different devices like Vero, Apple T.V. and raspberry Tv.
- Intuitive U.I. design
- Free for use
- Easy installation and management
- Supports a wide range of devices for media sharing ad streaming
- Does not offer advanced features like data storage, remote access
- The updates are not that much interesting, and regular
OpenFLIXR Media Server
OpenFLIXR Media Server is a windows 10 open-source media server. It is a great option for those who do not want to install a separate home server on their device. It is a fully automated media server with a robust framework and multiple features. Moreover, it comes with many tools that you can use.
- It comes with many tools like Headphones. SickChill or CouthPotato for easy downloading and streaming of media. You can also use the Plex media server for streaming and displaying the downloaded content.
- Since it is a virtual media server, it does not consume any space in your device and often works with limited data bandwidth.
- You can use the server to create an exclusive user account and log in to your console or S.S.H. for updates.
- It offers easy strumming of contents with automatic subtitles in your preferred language.
- Does not require any physical storage
- Easy to manage
- Comes with multiple tools for downloading and streaming content
- Subtitle feature
- Available free of cost
- No remote access
- The server is not much intuitive
Serviio is another free of cost home server. Its Java framework makes it compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac devices. You can use it for home streaming, content sharing, and many more.
Moreover, you can also purchase the Pro version at $25 to get all the advanced features. In addition, its Pro version comes with a special Serviio Media server.
- Allows you to stream content like media files, audio files with dynamic metadata
- Its pro version interface supports voice commands and Alexa
- You can also share media among all the connected devices.
- Easy to use
- Offers streaming of multiple media files among its connected devices
- The full features are available only in the Pro version
With PlayOn, you can choose a cloud-based server or a desktop-based server as per your preference. It is a payable server. The cloud version comes at $39.99, while the desktop version requires a lifetime purchase of $39.99.
- You can use the Cloud or desktop-based server as per your preference.
- Comes with a special interface to stream media files from home T.V. or the desktop.
- Offers live recording facilities from HBO, Amazon Prime Video or The C.W.
- Cloud version available
- Easy streaming of media files from T.V. or desktop
- Downloads come with lifetime validity
- Allows you to record live Tv and skip commercials
- The full-fledged version is only available after purchase
ClearOS is great when you need a simple and intuitive home server that can support selected applications of your device. It can also serve small remote teams, I.T. offices, or startup teams.
- It comes with preloaded MidSize Business servers without any additional charges.
- T is available in nearly 80 languages.
- You can accommodate its growing size according to the needs of your home or team
- Allows sharing and streaming of media files among the connected devices
- Allows you to play only for the selected apps
- Comes with preloaded mini servers
- Is user-friendly
- The apps require some more knowledge
- It may not always be suitable for home offices
Openfiler is file-based network-attached storage and block-based storage area networking software combined in one frame. In addition, it is a web-based server that offers faster installation in just fifteen minutes.
- Comes with N.F.S. and CIFS for easy cross-platform sharing of files
- You can use remote storage for storing your files. The storage is also expandable without any extra price.
As it has been said before, home servers come with a wide range of usability and purposes. Here are the top seventeen home server options, including free and paid ones. You can choose any of these as per your preference and personal usability.
With a home server, you can effectively establish a strong network among your home devices, including P.C.s, laptops, T.V.s, and even mobiles for easy media streaming, storage management and better device connection.
How to create a home file server from an old computer?
The «FreeNAS» operating system runs successfully on both «32-bit» and «64-bit» processors, but the «64-bit» architecture is the priority. According to the official documentation, system «FreeNAS» needs at least «8 GB» RAM ( «RAM» ) to ensure good stability with file system «ZFS» , which is mainly used to manage multiple data disks and provides superior performance comparable to «RAID controllers» . If the computer you are using has less available memory, then users should use the «UFS» file system, which has a minimum requirement of «2 GB» .
Software «FreeNAS» works better when users set it to «USB stick» or compact flash card, permanently connected directly to the computer. «FreeNAS» starts from the external media you are using, and the physical disks remain available for storage.
Go to the official website of the company, download «FreeNAS» , burn it to disk and use it in your computer. If desired, the image «USB» is available to users, which can also be used.
Download the «FreeNAS» installer to the computer you intend to use as your NAS and follow the step-by-step ordered step-by-step instructions of the installer wizard. If you wish to install the «FreeNAS» software on the « USB stick» or compact flash card, which is preferred and recommended as previously noted, insert the removable device into the appropriate port on your computer.
Select the option «Install / Upgrade» in the appropriate section of the installer and specify the required drive on which the subsequent installation of «FreeNAS» will be made. All connected disk media, including «USB drives» will be presented in this list.
The responsible installer will write operating system files «FreeNAS» to the selected drive. The installation process is complete — remove the installation device (CD or «USB storage» if this installation option is selected) and restart your computer.
When the computer boots for the first time, users will be presented with a console screen where they can configure the appropriate settings. You can perform the much-needed operation of selecting various configuration characteristics immediately, but it is better to postpone the setup procedure and do it in another way. Find «URL» at the bottom of the screen, on another computer, open your preferred web browser and navigate to the linked page to access the web GUI «FreeNAS» . (You can now completely disconnect the monitor from server «FreeNAS» as it is no longer needed.)
On the Welcome page «FreeNAS» , set the master access password that users will need to log into the web interface later on. Try to use a passphrase that is difficult to forget and recreated in accordance with the rules for setting passwords (do not use common types of passwords, simple combinations, or a common universal passphrase used to access all user applications).
Users can now use the web interface for personalized settings. The presented interface is completely identical to the option responsible for setting up the purchased specialized, fully equipped and ready for further use device «NAS» .
Basic System Parameters
One of the first steps users should probably take is to create a server array for storage. In the presented management interface page «FreeNAS» find in the ordered list of toolbars and click on the button «Storage» to open the corresponding storage settings panel. In the associated displayed section, select, for later creation, your preferred file system format from the available options «ZFS» and «UFS» . (Remember that you will need at least «8 GB» RAM for full functionality when deciding to use «ZFS» , or «2 GB» if «UFS» is used. Based on the internal hardware of the computing device available to users, select the correct option that meets the relevant requirements.)
Then, in the main toolbar, go to the sharing section and set the new volume to allow direct networking option. Different operating systems support different protocols, so the software “Freenas” allows you to configure the total folders in Windows ( “CIFS” ), UNIX / “Linux” ( NFS ) or “Apple” ( “ AFP» ).