My server / home network has gone through many iterations over the last 6 years. I had previously dabbled in self hosted applications before like private WoW server emulators, IRC servers, Apache, or Mumble/Ventrillo servers. But those were all just for fun and never lasted more than a month. It wasn't until I was introduced to Plex that I was bit by the home lab bug. It blew me away because Plex was everything I wanted companies to provide when you bought their dvds; the ability to watch your movies anywhere and on any device. Plex also kept everything on one platform.
My First Home Lab Setup
My first server was an Intel NUC running Linux Mint on an external Raid 1 array. It had 2x 4TB drives in it. Most of my applications at that time were hosted directly on the OS and my primary concern was just having something dedicated for streaming my ripped media that also had some kind of redundancy because I was paranoid of a drive failing with an always on system.
Second Home Lab Setup
Pictured above I was still using the Intel NUC from my first lab setup but there's some additional network equipment. My wife and I had moved in with another couple who were close friends and they agreed that anything tech was my domain. Giving me control of our network meant running Ethernet everywhere! We didn't have a crawl space under the house so we just had Ethernet stretched along the wall and alongside base boards with covers. All of the Ethernet paid off though especially with 4 heavy internet users and our tech devices. I had also imagined having all of my tech wall mounted with the wires intricately laid out. It seemed awesome in my minds eye but turned out to be the mess pictured above.
The box in the picture above leads me into my next home lab setup.
Third Home Lab Setup
My third home lab setup was a huge leap from my second and first. I received an old PC from work with 6 drive bays that would replace the Intel NUC as my media server. Just before receiving that PC we had also purchased a rack to get everything off the wall and better organized. I had been dabbling in containers already and when deciding an OS for the new server I decided to go with Unraid which was an amazing choice. Unraid made things super simple with my labs and exploded the amount of projects I wanted to work on.
Fourth Home Lab Setup
My fourth home lab setup, home sweet home. My wife and I moved into our own place with enough space that we each have our own office. The server was moved into my office along with my gaming PC. Again with moving into a new house I had to run ethernet everywhere. This time we were lucky and had both an attic and also a crawl space under the house. I didn't even have to drill holes because the house was so old that old ISP technicians had a bunch of holes all over the place from coax installations haha. I also upgraded our network with an Ubiquiti USG router and Ubiquiti Unifi WAPs. The plan is to eventually move to the Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro and Ubiquiti Switch. That way we can run Unifi cameras and have better control over our network security. For servers I still have the old Unraid server but I also have an additional PC given to me from work that runs Linux and is used to run all of my labs.