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Making the Most of My Time: Maintaining My Home Server

Following Sunday's post, I am continuing to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today's post will look at how much time I spent maintaining a personal web server.

What do I maintain?

My personal web server acts as a private version of Dropbox, Google reader and Spotify. It can also host a calendar, to-do list, contacts list and several other services.

Why do I do it?

Initially, I was just being cheap. I wanted some of the online services but didn't want to pay for it. Other reasons have included having control of my own data and systems, or having the option to reprogram things so that they work the way I want them to.

At this stage, it is useful as a training tool. I effectively force myself to keep up to date with server maintenance and security best practices. But is it worth it? Or would I be better just using the services offered by the tech giants.

How much does it cost?

In the past, I have always used an old computer, usually a laptop after the battery life has deteriorated to the point of becoming useless as a laptop. So financially, it has cost very little. Though last month, I bought a new raspberry pi and external hard disk to act as a new server.

It terms of time, I currently feel like it is taking up far too much time. I suspect that I may be getting the worst of both worlds. I am spending far more time on it than if I were to just pay for the services, but I am not doing it enough to really learn about server maintenance and development.

I am definitely learning while I am working on it, but I am also aware of how much I don't know.

Do I actually enjoy it

Sometimes. When I get it working, it can feel great. But I don't like feeling stupid when I can't fix a problem, especially when I suspect that the answer would be obvious to someone who was actually competent.

Perhaps if I just relied on other companies to provide a service I would not be as aware of my lack of knowledge and therefore be happier. Ignorance is bliss.

Any other considerations

Reliability is probably the main concern here. The more I rely on my own services the bigger problem I have when something goes wrong. And when something does go wrong I have no one else to blame. I need to fix it no matter what else is going on in my life at the time.

Final thoughts

I do like learning about server administration and web development. I do like that I am in control of my data, that it isn't being shared with unknown 3rd parties. I do like that it doesn't cost much when compared with subscription services.

But the reliability aspects are what worries me. I don't want to be completely reliant on my server to the point that I am incapable of carrying out my day to day activities if it fails.

I am happy to continue as I am for now, but I will keep re-evaluating the alternative options.

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