Reusing an Old PC as a Server (Part 2)

Putting Your New Server to Work

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Goal: Use the server that you set up in the previous article to perform helpful tasks such as backing up computers on your network, storing media files in a central location, share one printer with every computers computer in the house.

In the previous article you learned you to set up the VNC software to remote control your server from another computer. Now that you have your basic server up and running, here are some of the fun things that we’re going to learn how to do:

  • Share files between computers
  • Run backups of the computers on your network
  • Function as a print server so that all of your computers can share one computer
  • Operate as a dedicated BitTorrent server to download and upload files
  • Configure a Professional Testing Server for Web Development
  • And a few other ideas

Share Files Between Computers

The first thing that you need to do after your server is up and running is to allow your other computer(s) to “share” access to the server’s hard drive. This is very easy in Windows. Open Windows Explorer and click on the My Computer link in the pane down the left side of the screen. This will display all of the drives on the computer in the pane on the right side of the screen.

share-drive

Click on the drive that you want to share and drag it into the Shared Documents folder in the pane on the left.

Now that the drive is shared, you can map to that drive from your primary computer. This is slightly more involved, but don’t worry you can handle it.

The video further down the page has complete instructions.

Run Backup

Once you have the drive shared on the server an you have mapped to it from the desktop, you are set to start working on a fool proof backup plan.

You will need software to perform the backup process on your computer. I have been using the Freeware version of SyncBack by 2BrightSparks.com. It is really easy to set up and it works very well. See the video below for instructions. If anyone knows of a better/easier free backup software, leave it in the comments or contact me via email.

  1. Download the backup software
  2. Install the backup software
  3. Set up your backup “profile” (This is where you select what files that you want to back up and where you want to save them.)
  4. Run the backup (If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can schedule it to run automatically.)

Again, this whole process only takes a few minutes and very little effort. Of course there are full instructions in the video below. Come on, would I leave you hangin’ like that?

Print Server

Another nice thing that you can do with your new server is take a printer and share it with all of the computers in your house. sharePrinter2

Say you have two or three computers, but only one printer.

Well with this process, you attach the printer to the server and share it out. Then, you map to it on all of your other computers and you can all share in perfect harmony. No need to have multiple printers, all of those cartridges and all of that wasted space.

You know the routine, see the video for instructions.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Putting Your Server to Use

And now, about that video I’ve been promising. View the video to see how to set up Drive Sharing, Back Up Software, and Printer Sharing.

Make Yourself a Dedicated BitTorrent Server

Let’s say you like to download TV shows, or other files using BitTorrent. Well, those files can be big, and it can tie up some of your computers resources. Fear not, pawn that work off on your handy-dandy new server.

You can use your new friend as a dedicated Bit Torrent server to automatically download all of your favorite TV shows using these step-by-step instructions.

BitTorrent is not just good for downloading files, but if you have large files that you need to upload, say for a website or podcast, having a dedicated BitTorrent server comes in very handy.

Testing Server

If you do any web design, development, or programming, you know you need a testing server to work on your projects. Instead of setting up a server on your primary machine, you can offload this work to your new server. This can also save resources on your primary work station.

Set up a full featured testing server for web development using these step-by-step instructions.

Further Reading

Want to host your website yourself instead of paying a hosting provider, Read this article.

Want more in depth information? Amazon.com has dozens of books on building your own server. I’ll bet there’s some fun stuff there.

Do you want a state of the art media server. Let this guy show you how.

Review

Now that you have all of those ideas, what are you waiting for? Get to work on building your own IT infrastructure.

Try a few of the projects that we covered such as:

  • Share files between computers
  • Run backups of the computers on your network
  • Function as a print server so that all of your computers can share one computer
  • Operate as a dedicated BitTorrent server to download and upload files
  • Configure a Professional Testing Server for Web Development
  • And a few other ideas

Other Cool Server Tutorials

These articles have even more with your home server:

What Would You Use Your Server For?

Well those are some of the things that I use my server for. I’m sure with a little time and creativity, you can come up with a world of other great uses for your own personal server.

I’m dying to hear what your suggestions are. Please leave any good ideas in the comments.

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13 responses on “Reusing an Old PC as a Server (Part 2)

  1. Kurt

    will you have an Adobe print file for this page uploaded too? Also do you recommend Syncback for a disk backup solution? I am having a problem copying my wife’s (MS2000)pc for work with system and startup files intact from the 10GB drive onto another installed slave 30GB drive. if your network connection isn’t going through a router first what do you recomend for a firewall? Do you have a similar solution for a Linux distro setup? thanks

  2. maleosbo

    i have a wi-fi connection for my laptop, an old computer, and a printer that doesn’t work wirelessly.

    These instructions will allow me to hook my printer to my old computer (using it as a server), connect that old computer to my wireless router, and will be able to printer wirelessly, on premise?

  3. Martin

    I would be using my old pc as a server for media/file sharing as well as using it to connect my printer like maleosbo would. What I also want to do is use it as a Half-Life Dedicated Server so I can run my own Counter-Strike 1.6 Server where I can be admin and all. Perfect for playing mix (clan vs clan). Could you make a tutorial on that? File sharing, network connected printer and Dedicated Half-Life Server?

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