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Buying a full server is both expensive to buy and to maintain. As NAS devices became popular they give us the chance to have servers that are easy to acquire and cheap to maintain especially when it comes to power consumption.

It is also an overkill to get a full server for a personal or low-traffic website so if someone would like to host their own sites but not in a professional level or without a hosting plan (LAN only usage or home automation) then a NAS could be a good solution between a server rack in the closet and a service given by a hosting company, especially that a NAS is designed to be power efficient, easy to maintain, silent, to be run 24/7, not to mention the support for RAID.

What are some cheap NAS devices that would make a good webserver that can serve a maximum of a few hundred visitors a day and provide the freedom of a regular server but in a smaller scale. Something that let you install different technologies used in web developement (not just PHP and MySQL). Possibly give SSH access and has an operating system that is (in term of possibilities) the closest to a "normal" server OS like Debian or CentOS.

Low cost means it is cheaper than a desktop PC used by the average, everyday user in First World countries.

  • Can you expressed low cost in some currency (other than PCs :) )? – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 9 '15 at 21:55
  • Are you willing to make your own? Re-purpose an older computer etc. Would save you a fair bit. – Red Shift Sep 10 '15 at 4:19
  • Would a Raspberry Pi which runs on USB power (i.e. max 5W) be an option? You get a full Linux machine (or if brave a Windows 10 embedded machine) and it is dead quiet. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Oct 17 '15 at 14:58
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I already offered a NAS recommendation as a response to this question, and I'd maintain the same recommendation for your situation.

QNAP and other commercial NAS devices are just small Linux machines with custom operating systems to make configuration and management consumer friendly. By default, QNAP devices are set up as web servers. The administration and configuration can all be handled through the device's web UI. The low cost models (such as the TS-231) would be quickly be bogged down by a high traffic dynamically served website, but for something simple the performance should be suitable.

The stipulation is that you may not get the latest and greatest server software available as an easy to install package. For example, here's what "apps" I can currently install listed under "Developer Tools":

QNAP App Center

Note the versions for these services are behind the current stable branch. If you absolutely need the latest, you might have success installing it manually via SSH. If you desire something a little less DIY, there are also easy installation options provided for many popular CMSs.

QNAP App Center

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I am using a Raspberry Pi for this purpose (not really web hosting, but I used it just for testing, and it works fine). It's a pretty good solution, because you can make more out of it than just a NAS with web server if you want.

For your purpose I would recommend the Raspberry Pi 2 since it has better performance and probably should handle your amount of users easily.

Also keep in mind, that your website's performance is affected by your connection speed (up and download), and you need some basic Linux skills for setting it up.

There are also other barebones systems that could be good, but I don't have experience with them.

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  • The new Raspberry Pi 2 which is substantially faster and larger than the previous model can also run Windows 10 embedded. I have not tried it. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Oct 17 '15 at 14:59
  • But how do they handle as NAS? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 4 '16 at 13:03

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