A Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up a Personal Server

In the age of cloud-based computing, there’s a huge push to move from a server to the cloud. That works for some, but if the cloud's not the answer for you, building your own server could be. A personal server allows you to have access and control over your data from anywhere you have internet access. Setting up a server is easy and is often cheaper than the alternatives. Not to mention when the server goes down, you don’t have to wait on someone else to fix it. Use this guide to get you on your way.

The Stuff:

To get started you will need some hardware. The odds are good that you have some of this already.

  • A computer
  • Network connection (the better the connection the more functional the server)
  • Monitor and keyboard
  • Router with CAT5 cable
  • CD/DVD drive (this is optional depending on the server’s purpose)

The Platform:

Knowing which operating system is the best for you will take some digging. This article from htpcbeginner.com helps you break down the different OSs so you can chose the one that fits best.

Remote Access:

Once the OS is installed you’ll need to set up remote access. The typical set up path is System / Preferences / Remote Desktop. From there you'll want to allow the following:

  • Other users to view desktop
  • Other users to control desktop
  • Require user to enter password

Clearly these steps and the verbiage can differ depending on the system you’re using, so you’ll want to find the exact path for your system.


It’s safe to assume that being able to download and upload files is something you’ll want to do. That said, you’ll need to choose the system you want to use to accomplish this. There are some free options that you can download, but they might not give you the functionality you want. There’s a ton of resources on the internet to help you decide what’s best for you. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll need to configure the users. This allows you to set up the administrator and give permissions to any users you may have. Configure the FTP, activate the system and set up HTTP support and you are good to go. The specifics to accomplish this depends upon the system you’ve chosen.

Forward the Ports:

Without going into a lot of drawn out detail, you’ll need forward the ports on the router so the internet can communicate directly with your server instead of going through the router. While this works for your home PC, it doesn’t work for running your server. The way to go about forwarding the ports varies by router brand so you may need to check out the instruction manual or look it up online.
Follow these tips, and your server will be good to go! Whatever your reason is for setting up your Microsoft server, you are now ready to control your own data, host data for others and maybe even have a sweet gaming server to pass the time!


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