Posts Tagged ‘home server’

Instead of web applications, my take on it

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

In my previous post I wrote about web applications and what I don’t like about them. This post will focus on a solution which I deem better than these web applications.

Will this solution be as easy to use and operate as the web applications? No, it will not. My suggestion does not put its focus on ease of use, but control, and thus security, of the information.

So what, then, is this solution? Set up your own server at home. Let this server be the main hub in your network, available both from inside the network, and outside.

Before anyone starts howling about how hard this is, that ordinary users can’t manage this, look to Microsoft. They are rolling out a new product, the Windows Home Server. They don’t seem to think that running your own server at home is too difficult a task for home-users.

It might seem like I endorse them, of course I don’t. The think tank that is Microsoft have some really bright people on their staff. Their implementations, however, never seem to embody the visions fully.

But nevertheless it represents somewhat of a trend shift. Users are believed capable to run and thus administer, their own servers.

So, why then would this solution be any better than using web applications? There are certainly a few drawbacks:

  • You need a new computer (the server)
  • You have one more computer to administer (the server)
  • You need to keep your software up to date yourself (on the clients)
  • You need to handle backups yourself (of course, you should anyway)

If you take a look at the previous post, I point out a couple of problems with web applications, these problems, if you turn them around, are exactly the strengths of running your own server, you don’t have to worry where your data is, or who has access to it, you are a small unknown target probably not worth spending any time on attacking, you are not likely to throw yourself out of your own service etc.

Of course, if the server crashes, and you are on the opposite side of the world, you will have a problem, but not as big as you might think, the same is true if you arrive somewhere where there is no Internet connectivity. As you are not using web applications, you are pretty much bound to have a laptop, with essential applications on it, with you and thus it would be foolish not to have an updated copy of the information on the laptop as well. Problem solved. (This of course necessitates the use of whole-disk encryption on the laptop so that the information is safe there as well, should the laptop be stolen)

Ok, so I have covered some heavy duty topics for a home user, servers, administration, encryption. But really, security and control matters, so is this really too much to expect from users? Of course, if something is too hard, or too cumbersome, it won’t be used, it won’t catch on, but is this the case here? Is it too hard configuring a server? Setting up an encrypted file system? With Google, and answers only a click away? Or is the majority of the populous just insanely lazy?