Current Config

My lab environment is a bit spread out at the moment; the “home” part of home lab depends quite heavily on several site-to-site VPN connections.

I have hardware in my own house, at my parent’s house a few hours away, and in a colocation facility out of state.


Always-on server

I wanted a small, quiet, power-sipping server for services that need to be available 24x7, and I scored a great deal on an open-box/refurb Dell OptiPlex 3060 Micro last year.

I previously used my HP Z620 workstation as a server, however the power consumption/heat/noise was a bit much for my small studio. For the services that I need to run 24x7, the OptiPlex micro fits the bill perfectly.


  • Dell OptiPlex 3060 Micro
  • Intel i3-8100T
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD


  • Ubuntu 20.04 Server
  • Docker
    • Reverse Proxy
    • Home Assistant

Sometimes-on server

My “sometimes-on” server is a Z620 that I purchased on Amazon from Stallion Technology.. I can vouch for their customer service; my first Z620 had a motherboard fail after a month, and they replaced it quickly and with minimal fuss. I’ve had the replacement machine for about two years now, and I’ve had no further issues.

The Z620 itself is a well built (and heavy) workstation. Everything is modular and no tools are needed - even removing the motherboard. It’s a pretty powerful machine, and less hassle than rack server for my small lab.


  • HP Z620
  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680
  • RX570 graphics
  • 96GB RAM
  • 512 TB SSD
  • 32GB flash drive (for ESXI)
  • 10Gb NIC


  • ESXI/macOS Mojave/Windows 10


Overkill, but I don’t regret purchasing it for one second.

  • MacBook Pro 2019 16”
  • macOS Big Sur
  • 2.3ghz Intel i9
  • 64GB RAM
  • Radeon 5500M
  • 1TB storage


I originally had a home built NAS using the Z620, however I decided to move all my storage to a dedicated device for more flexibility and better reliability. This was a splurge, but worth every penny. Synology has great hardware, simple yet powerful software, and is ultra reliable.

I use Active Backup for Business to automatically back up both my home and colo servers. My parents have a cheaper two-bay version at their house a few hours away; each NAS replicates certain files/folders over site-to-site VPN. My NAS additionally backs up to Backblaze B2.



  • File shares
  • Time Machine
  • PiHole (via Docker)
  • TFTP server for Netboot/PXE
  • Download Station
  • Active Backup for Business



  • PfSense (cheap fanless PC with Atom E3845, 4GB RAM, 64GB mSATA SSD)
  • Ubiquiti UniFi Switch - 8 port 60w POE
  • Ubiquiti nanoHD

PFSense services

  • IPSec site-to-site VPN tunnels (parent’s house & cloud server)
  • IPSec remote access VPN
  • Internal DNS/DHCP
  • Various VLANs

Lab Colo

For $24/month, I have my own mini server in a colocation facility (and I own the hardware). After looking at the numbers, this was incredibly inexpensive for the performance compared to a VPS with similar specs from DigitalOcean, etc.


  • Dell OptiPlex 7070 Micro
  • i5-8600T 3.7GHz
  • 32GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD


  • ESXI
  • PFSense firewall/router
    • Site-to-site & remote access VPN
  • 3CX PBX for IP Phones
  • Ubuntu Server 20.04 (Docker)
    • Reverse Proxy
    • Wiki
    • Gitlab
    • Zabbix
    • Huggin
    • UniFi Controller
    • UNMS Server
    • …etc

Parent’s House


My parents built a new house a few years ago, so we were able to get every room wired for ethernet and have all the drops ran to a central area. New electrical was ran to their existing outbuildings, and the builders buried about 200 feet of dedicated so we could run some network drops.

  • Ubiquiti NanoBeams (x2)
    • Their house is somewhat remote; the only option available was DSL (or satellite). The phone company wanted close to $10K in order to run a new line a few thousand feet across the property, but was willing to run 150 feet of phone line for free. You can guess which option they picked.
    • Their DSL modem lives outside in a weatherproof box, with the NanoBeam attached to a pole. There’s another NanoBeam on the side of the house to receive the signal.
  • Netgear LB2120 LTE Modem (secondary ISP)
    • The DSL service itself seems to have hours-long outages once or twice a month. Given the remoteness of the property, their age, etc, having a failover Internet option to keep their home phone and alarm system online is worth the small monthly cost.
    • This also functions as “out of band” access to their internal network if needed.
  • Sophos XG (same hardware as mine)
  • Buffalo 24 port POE switch
  • Ubiquiti ToughSwitch 8-PRO (outbuilding)
  • Various Ubiquiti APs to cover house, outbuilding, and yard.
  • Synology NAS (Time Machine server - 2x 3TB drives that are mirrored)

NVR/IP Camera System

This computer is a few years old, but no issues so far. 8 cameras are about the max that this processor can handle without dropping frames. The NVR/IP cameras are isolated on their own VLAN.

  • HP ProLiant ML10v2 (i3-4150, 8GB RAM, 10TB mirrored drives)
  • Windows Server
  • Milestone XProtect Essential+
  • 8x HikVision IP cameras
  • Raspberry Pi running displaycameras to power a small monitor displaying the live feeds.