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How to Convert PC into a Server?

by Marcin Wieclaw
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In an age where technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, the concepts of How to Convert PC into a Server, how to turn pc into server, and even how to turn old pc into server have become increasingly relevant and timely. This comprehensive guide aims to serve as your all-in-one resource for understanding and implementing these transformations. Whether you’re a small business owner looking to optimize resources, a tech enthusiast wanting to experiment, or someone with an older machine seeking a sustainable repurpose, this guide offers a multitude of benefits for both personal and professional use.

The need for server capabilities has transcended beyond large corporations and has become essential even for smaller setups and individual users. Converting a PC into a server can open up a world of possibilities— from hosting your own website and managing a private cloud to running specialized applications and storing large volumes of data securely.

For those with older hardware, the idea to turn an old PC into a server is not only economically advantageous but also environmentally responsible, extending the life of your machine while reducing electronic waste.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deep into the technical aspects of these transformations. We’ll explore the hardware requirements, discuss the software configurations that will optimize your new server’s performance, and outline the security protocols essential for safeguarding your data and network.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools you need to successfully convert a PC into a server, regardless of its age or specifications.

What is a Server?

A server is a specialized system that can be either a computer or a software program. Its primary function is to provide various services to other computers or users, commonly known as clients. In essence, a server can be either a hardware device or a software-based solution that processes requests over a network and responds appropriately.

In technical terms, a server is often a dedicated computer system designed to handle requests for web documents, information access, or rerouting from clients over a network. It then responds to these requests in a manner that fulfills the client’s needs.

Servers play a crucial role in managing online and network-based resources. Their applications are diverse and include:

  • Controlling access to a network.
  • Sending or receiving emails.
  • Hosting a website.
  • Storing information for broader access.
  • Performing and managing calculations.

By understanding the multifaceted roles that servers play, you can better appreciate their importance in both personal and professional settings.

Types of Servers

Servers come in various forms, each designed to fulfill specific functions or needs. The most commonly used types include:

  • File Servers: For storing and managing files across a network.
  • Print Servers: To control and manage printers in a networked environment.
  • Application Servers: Designed to host and run specific applications.
  • DNS Servers: Responsible for translating domain names into IP addresses.
  • Mail Servers: Handle the sending, receiving, and storing of email.
  • Web Servers: Host websites and manage web-based interactions.
  • Database Servers: Store and manage large volumes of data.
  • Virtual Servers: Software-based servers that emulate hardware capabilities.
  • Proxy Servers: Act as intermediaries between clients and other servers.
  • Monitoring Servers: Keep track of performance and health metrics across a network.
  • Management Servers: Control and administer network resources and policies.
  • Real-Time Communication Servers: Enable real-time interactions like video conferencing.
  • FTP Servers: Manage file transfers over the File Transfer Protocol.
  • Open Source Servers: Free-to-use servers with publicly available source code.
  • List Servers: Manage mailing lists and distribute messages to multiple recipients.
  • Telnet Servers: Allow remote access to a server via the Telnet protocol.

Using TrueNAS Core (Old FreeNAS) to Convert Your Old PC into a Server

So you’re intrigued by the concept of How to Convert PC into a Server. One of the most straightforward methods is by using FreeNAS, a free software solution tailored for this purpose. This guide will walk you through the entire process, step-by-step.

How to Install TrueNAS Core: Quick Steps

  1. Download TrueNAS Core: Visit the official TrueNAS website to download the latest version of TrueNAS Core.
  2. Prepare Bootable USB: Use a USB drive with at least 1GB of storage. Transfer the downloaded TrueNAS Core file onto the USB drive.
  3. Insert USB and Boot: Insert the USB drive into the PC you’re converting into a server. Access the BIOS settings and set the USB drive as the primary boot device.
  4. Start Installation: Follow the on-screen prompts to initiate the installation process.
  5. Choose Installation Drive: Select the drive where you want to install TrueNAS Core. This will usually be your primary hard drive.
  6. Configure Network: After installation, you’ll be prompted to configure network settings. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your network.
  7. Access Web Interface: Once the installation is complete, you’ll be given an IP address. Use this IP address to access the TrueNAS Core web interface from another device.
  8. Complete Setup: Follow the web interface to complete your TrueNAS Core setup, including setting up storage pools, users, and services.

For a more detailed guide, you can refer to the official TrueNAS instructions here.

By following these quick steps, you can easily install TrueNAS Core and start utilizing your old PC as a robust and reliable server.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully set up your own TrueNAS Core-powered server! You can now customize this server according to the types of servers.

See other related article here: NAS from Old PC

Converting an Old PC into a Server Using Ubuntu

If you’re interested in How to Convert PC into a Server, another excellent option is Ubuntu Server Edition. This is a server-specific version of the popular Ubuntu OS.Converting an Old PC into a Server Using Ubuntu

Preparation and Installation Steps

How to Install Ubuntu Server: Quick Steps

  1. Download Ubuntu Server: Visit the official Ubuntu website and download the latest version of Ubuntu Server.
  2. Create Bootable USB: Use a USB drive with at least 2GB of storage and make it bootable with the downloaded Ubuntu Server ISO file.
  3. Insert USB and Boot: Plug the USB drive into the PC you’re converting into a server. Access the BIOS settings and set the USB drive as the primary boot device.
  4. Select Language and Keyboard: Upon booting, you’ll be prompted to select the installation language and keyboard layout.
  5. Start Installation: Choose the “Install Ubuntu” option to initiate the installation process.
  6. Network Configuration: Follow the on-screen prompts to configure your network settings.
  7. Disk Setup: Choose the disk where you want to install Ubuntu Server. You’ll be given options for partitioning.
  8. User Setup: Create a user account and set a strong password.
  9. Package Selection: Choose any additional software packages you want to install, such as a LAMP server or mail server.
  10. Complete Installation: Follow the remaining on-screen instructions to complete the installation. The system will reboot once the installation is done.

For more detailed instructions, you can refer to the official Ubuntu tutorial here.

By following these quick steps, you can efficiently install Ubuntu Server and transform your old PC into a powerful server.

After installation, you’ll encounter a text-based interface. To switch to a GUI, install Webmin.


Installing Webmin

After logging in, execute the following commands:

sudo apt-get install perl libnet-ssleay-perl openssl libauthen-pam-perl libpam-runtime libio-pty-perl libmd5-perl
sudo wget http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/webadmin/webmin_1.430_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i webmin_1.430_all.deb

Port Forwarding for Remote Access

  1. Router Settings: Open your router’s homepage and navigate to the Port Forwarding tab.
  2. Port Configuration: Enter the following values:
    • HTTP 80 80 TCP serverIP
    • FTP 21 21 TCP/UDP serverIP
    • SSH 22 22 TCP serverIP
  3. Save and Enable: Save these settings and enable port forwarding.

Free Domain Name

If you prefer using a domain name instead of an IP address, you can get a free domain name from a free domain site.

Accessing Your Server

Test your server’s accessibility from another device. If everything is set up correctly, you should be able to access it.

Server Maintenance Commands

To modify or upgrade your server, use the following commands:

sudo chown yourusername:www-data /var/www
sudo chmod 775 /var/www

File Access and Management

  1. WinSCP: Download and install WinSCP on the system you’re using to access the server.
  2. File Management: Navigate to the var folder and then the www folder to update or modify your server.

Remote Command Execution

For remote command execution, use PuTTY, an SSH client program.

Converting old PC into Server
by inbuildapc

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What are the minimum hardware requirements for converting a PC into a server?

The minimum hardware requirements can vary depending on the server’s intended use. However, a general guideline would be at least a dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and sufficient hard drive space for your needs.

Is it necessary to have a dedicated graphics card in my server?

For most server tasks, a dedicated graphics card is not necessary. The built-in graphics on the motherboard should suffice for basic operations.

Can I use my old PC as a server and still use it as a regular computer?

Yes, it’s possible to set up your PC to dual-boot into either a server OS or a desktop OS. However, this is not recommended for high-demand server tasks as it can compromise performance and security.

How do I secure my new server?

Security measures can include setting up a firewall, regularly updating your software, and restricting access to the server both physically and digitally. It’s also crucial to set strong passwords and perhaps even implement two-factor authentication.

What is RAID and do I need it?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It’s a technology used to combine multiple hard drives into a single unit, referred to as an array, to improve performance and provide fault tolerance. While not strictly necessary, it’s highly recommended for servers storing critical data.

Do I need a static IP address for my server?

A static IP address is not mandatory but is highly recommended, especially if you plan to run web services from your server. Dynamic IPs can change, causing downtime and making it more difficult to access your server remotely.

What kind of maintenance will my server require?

Regular software updates, occasional hardware checks, and consistent monitoring for potential security threats are all part of ongoing server maintenance.

Can I host multiple services on my server?

Yes, a single server can host multiple services like a website, file storage, and email as long as it has the necessary resources (CPU, RAM, storage) to handle the load.

What’s the difference between Ubuntu Server Edition and FreeNAS?

Ubuntu Server Edition is a Linux-based operating system that is highly customizable and suitable for various server types. FreeNAS is specifically designed for Network Attached Storage (NAS) and is easier to set up but less versatile than Ubuntu.

Is converting my old PC into a server environmentally friendly?

Yes, repurposing your old PC as a server is an excellent way to extend its life and reduce electronic waste. However, older PCs may be less energy-efficient than modern server hardware, so consider this in your long-term planning.

Conclusion: Making the Most of Your Old PC

So there you have it—two highly effective and popular methods for transforming an old PC into a functional server. Whether you opt for the FreeNAS approach or decide to go with Ubuntu Server Edition, both routes offer a robust set of features and capabilities to meet your server needs.

Why Convert Your Old PC into a Server?

The benefits of converting your old PC into a server are manifold. Not only does it breathe new life into an otherwise dormant machine, but it also allows you to utilize it for a variety of practical applications. From hosting your own website and managing your personal media library to setting up a home automation system or even a VPN, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Sustainability and Cost-Efficiency

In an age where sustainability is becoming increasingly important, repurposing your old PC as a server is an eco-friendly alternative to recycling it or letting it collect dust. It’s also a cost-effective way to get more mileage out of your initial investment in the hardware.

Learning and Skill Development

Taking on a project like this can also be an excellent learning experience. You’ll gain valuable skills in server management, networking, and system administration—skills that can be beneficial in both personal and professional settings.

Final Thoughts

So before you consider recycling your old PC or relegating it to the attic, think about the potential it has as a server. It’s a win-win situation: you get to repurpose existing hardware, learn new skills, and gain a useful tool for a variety of applications.


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1 comment

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