Rackmount server in home people so often brag about on the Internet is a very loud and impractical way to run network services from home, unless you have separate room for it.
But be careful of cooling, if you want to run it with the lid closed.
Also, if you want to run RAID mirroring, a used ThinkPad might only have one 2.5" drive bay, and no M.2. But if it has an UltraBay of some kind, you can buy a SATA adapter.
(Personally, the last 24/7 data (not compute) server I built for home, I considered a ThinkPad, and I also previously had IBM 1U and beige box Linux servers, but decided to go with a mini-ITX Atom board designed for fanless use, and set up RAID with fairly cool-running and homogeneous drives. It worked very well, and silently. There was one drive failure (possibly because I stacked them in a bracket in a small ITX case rather found a way to space them out for better cooling), but it kept running for years more after I replaced the drive, and eventually I sold it.)
For a home server, you usually need backups i dependent of mirroring but not the availability optimization and associated operational complexity of raid-1.
The Fractal Design Node 304 box is awesome. It's quiet, can host 6-7 disks although it doesn't have hotswap design. In practice opening the box and switching disks is not that common problem and the design makes the HDDs quieter than hotswap bays.
I definitely wouldn't have my rackmount server in my bedroom, but instead I have it in a separate office/study room.
If you get decent fans (like Noctua) it's definitely not that loud, though the main problem is it's hard to find a cheap power supply that has decent (or replaceable) fans for a 2U rack. You can replace the fans on PSUs by cutting wires and soldering but that's always felt like a bad idea to me.
I wouldn't use rackmount cases at home though, they are not designed for low noise at all and fans are not the only problem. Noise from a bunch of vibrating HDDs is not as easily fixable as from fans, not in a rackmount case.
And you can use an RPi to switch on a "real" server in case you need it.
So I have been looking at other options, like the Nano Pi m4 and the RockPro64, both of which have SATA expansion options. However, to get everything I'll need, it'll cost $100+ and only be a short term solution anyway.
So, I've decided to just get another stick of RAM for my old desktop (runs 4GB right now) and just eat the extra memory usage.
Using it for routing with DNS block list, media file server and off site backup.
One thing I can recommend after decades of fiddling around with home servers: If you don't need it for the high availability, don't use raid 1. Raid is not a backup. Use another drive, preferably larger, and run something like dirvish or Borg once a day or however often you see fit in your case.
It's fitted with 4 x 4TB WD Reds, a stock AMD Ryzen 2600 cooler, Corsair RM850x PSU and the cheapest graphics card I could find with a HDMI out, the graphic card has a small fan. I also have a HBA card I modded adding a small Noctua fan as they are passively cooled and designed to go in rack mount cases where they have high airflow passing over them so get to hot in a desktop.
The case has rubber mountings for the hard drives and sound reducing material on the side panels.
I built it to be quiet but didn't go massively out my way or spend massively to make it quieter i.e. I choose a good case but have stock case fans, stock cpu cooler and choose a PSU where the fan only spins up under load which I'll never hit.
It's not to hard to build something that for all intent and purposes is silent as long as you don't pimp it out with the latest fastest graphic cards, have it maxed out 24/7, or go small.
Meanwhile, the low-end atom box attached to the TV has extra fans on it And constantly makes noise. My excuse is that I built it about 8 years ago.
Disks suspended with cables?
Box filled with sound absorption materials?
Whatever it takes.
Or if that cost ~= cost of SSDs, just buy SSDs.
Me? I have a 12 TB SAS disk connected to the system with an easy to turn off switch so I power it up only when I need to backup something. Others times it stays unmounted and powered off.
My whole digital footprint is only a TB....
Right now the PSU fan is the loudest thing in my rack, but I think I'm going to cut and solder a much quieter fan in place.
I still haven't found anything with a comparably convenient form factor and the remote management is pretty useful too. Can still saturate my 1G LAN, more or less, with Samba. Other than the power draw, which I'm sure would improve with a more modern CPU, I haven't really felt the need to upgrade.
It’s cronned to reboot every night which from experience keeps performance ticking over. It cost me £25 on ebay. I bought another recently just for parts really.
I get a buzz making the most out of old and inexpensive gear.
How do you deal with the asymmetrical upload/download speeds of most home connections?
My solution was to use a VPS that was doing other stuff to also act as a nginx proxy to the internal machine on a non-blocked port. So it's now host2.domain.tld:443/80 (vps/nginx) -> host1.domain.tld:10080 (wan/host1.domain.tld) -> 80 (lan).
In college, we had dynamically assigned, but publicly accessible addresses, so I used a dynamic DNS service to tie the domain name to my computer. I used freedns.afraid.org (mentioned by someone else), though other options exist and many routers integrate with a couple services out of the box (often dyndns.org). You can check if this will work by finding out your public IP (type "what's my IP" in a web search) and checking if that corresponds to the IP on your router (should be the WAN IP). If it is, you're probably set, but you'll need to check to see if your ISP blocks any ports. To check, just set up something on your computer and mess with the port forwarding settings on your router to point to it, and then test accessing it from outside your network (easiest is to start a webserver and try to access it from your phone while running in data).
If you can access services on your computer but your ISP blocks ports you want to use, call them and ask if those blocks can get removed. If not, you can get it to work by doing a reverse proxy using a VPS (good providers are Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode) to point to the ports your ISP does allow.
If you can't access your computer at all, you have two options:
1. Ask your ISP if they offer static IPs (mine does for ~$5/month)
2. Set up a tunnel from your computer to your VPS (SSH tunnels, VPN, etc)
Most ISPs either offer static IPs or give you a dynamic (changing), but publicly facing IP, so you probably won't need a VPS at all and just need to figure out the dynamic DNS thing.
As for assymetric upload/download, it's really not an issue, sending lots of data one way will just be slower than the other way. There just isn't much you can do about it.
In The Netherlands (a very tiny country though) Xs4all is one of the very few ISPs allowing home users to change the A/AAAA/PTR/MX records of their hostname/IP address (for both their DSL and FTTH offerings). You can get a subdomain or use your own domain, with reverse DNS. They've been doing that since forever. You can also get shell access. They're also a bit more expensive than the competition though.
Running your own server has one disadvantage (though it has gotten smaller these days): electricity costs and impact. I'm getting solar and Raspberry Pis and such are pretty marginal though. I suppose you should compare it with AWS and the like?
If you'd prefer a paid option that uses your own domain, then some providers like Digital Ocean expose DNS settings via API. Here's a google search to get you started: https://www.google.com/search?q=dynamic+dns+host+for+digital...
The main thing use to be the dynamic IP assignation, which can be solved using some services like no-ip or using Cloudflare API to update a DNS periodically.
>asymmetrical upload/download speeds of most home connections?
If it's something fibre like then it's probably enough for casual hosting
I have set up Google Cloud DNS which is updated every 15 minutes to my current external IP. This ends up costing $0.15/mo.
It gets hot in the attic in summer, but I've had no failures thus far (no hardware errors from overheating, no drives died). Dust filters on the fans need cleaning off every year or so.
I'm due to upgrade it, 4G ceiling is starting to get tight when using more recent software.
If you need more cores, the Xeon D is another great alternative but costs a lot more.
The first thing that comes to mind is dust build-up, but that happens anyway in standard PC chassis also.
Second is that heat goes up, which meens "forward" in the rack. So I assume blowing upwards/forwards is smarter than blowing down/back, as you're pissing against the wind instead of with it. Other than this second principle, I can't figure out anything else to worry about....?
If vertically mounted with the rack "front" at the top, the forced airflow down will be in the opposite direction of convention airflow up. Fans may have to spin faster/louder to achieve the same level of cooling.
If the front fans are reversed, the fan airflow will be aligned with convection, but will immediately exhaust from the front instead of being aimed squarely at heatsink fins. The intake vents at the back of the chassis will provide sources of air, but are likely not uniformly distributed (compared to the fans) across the width of the chassis.
For a home server that is mostly idle, there may not be much difference, but the safest path is to run some stress tests with different cooling configurations.
Edit: some chassis have back-to-front airflows, http://thenetworksherpa.com/airflow-is-important/
Need fresh ones due to GPU so the old one is perfectly fine for server duty still. Stick a couple USB3 docks on there & good to go
But...now I'm unsure what to do with the old old one...