This is an adaptation of How to Assemble a PC originally posted at Extreme Tech Support. It is always a good idea to have a server at home to test out new versions of software or hacks to the software that you use to run your community. By testing on a dev server you don’t sacrifice your live site. Once you have tested everything and are satisfied there will be no problems when you upgrade you can easily transfer the files from the home server to the live server. You don’t need top of the line hardware for your test server. In fact you can use an old PC instead of building a new one. Of course if you choose to use an old PC you have lying around you’ll want to make sure you use the newest versions of server software and tools.
First thing you need to do is buy the hardware. No need to spend a lot of money. You should easily be able to build a home server for less than $500. The first thing you’ll need is a motherboard. You should buy a motherboard that has integrated graphics. Most motherboards will have this. For a server you don’t need the latest and greatest video adapter. You can get a cheap motherboard with integrated graphics for less than $100. Here is one example of a MSI socket 775 motherboard for under $100. It has everything you need and supports the newest Pentium 4 LGA775 processors that are 64BIT enabled. There are many other options for cheaper than that if you want to run an older Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP processor. Just make sure it has integrated graphics and intergrated network.
All you need now is a hard drive, floppy and cdrw. It is always a good idea to have a floppy in a home server to flash the bios or save small files. You don’t need one of you are going to build a server and send it off to a colo. A cdrw is a good idea so that you can make a hard copy backup of you site files and database. Once you have the server built and running you can read Backing Up Your Data With cwRsync and sync2nas to have a live copy of your site running at home. You can then back that up to CD with a burner installed.
Any size hard drive will do. They are relatively cheap. here is a 120 Gig for less than $100. Other than those items you’ll need memory. Any amount is fine, but, I would suggest 1 Gig or more.
Now you have the hardware so lets put it all together.