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.
The Amazon links below are affiliate links.
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 (Amazon)
- 256GB SSD
- Ubuntu 20.04 Server
- Nginx Reverse Proxy
- Home Assistant
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 quite 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.
- Synology DS1618+ (since replaced by the DS1621+)
- 4x 10TB WD Drives
- 10Gb NIC
- File shares
- Time Machine
- PiHole (via Docker)
- TFTP server for Netboot/PXE
- Download Station
- Active Backup for Business
- Protectli Vault 4 Port (Amazon)
- Ubiquiti UniFi Switch - 8 port 60w POE (Amazon)
- Ubiquiti nanoHD (Amazon)
- IPSec site-to-site VPN tunnels (parent’s house & cloud server)
- IPSec remote access VPN
- Internal DNS/DHCP
- Various VLANs
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
- PFSense firewall/router
- Site-to-site & remote access VPN
- 3CX PBX for IP Phones
- Ubuntu Server 20.04 (Docker)
- Reverse Proxy
- UniFi Controller
- UNMS Server
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 NanoStation Loco M5 (Amazon)
- 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 NanoStation attached to a pole. There’s another NanoStation on the side of the house to receive the signal.
- Netgear Nighthawk MR1100 LTE Modem (Amazon)
- 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 Protectli hardware as above) (Amazon)
- Buffalo 24 port POE switch (Amazon)
- Ubiquiti Edgeswitch 8 150W (Amazon)
- Ubiquiti UniFi APs:
- Synology NAS (Amazon)
- 2x 3TB WD Red Drives (Amazon)
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+
- HikVision IP cameras, including:
- Raspberry Pi running displaycameras to power a small monitor displaying the live feeds.