There’s a wide rang of server options for running professional grade services, such as hosting your own website out of your own home or small office. Although what people often forget is that high end, reliable servers are incredibly noisy. These machines are designed to run in collocation facilities where noise levels don’t really matter. They are compact and contain large numbers of high RPM fans targeted at performance and not comfort. Having an HP DL 580 in the same room as you can feel like there’s a constant vacuum running. Not something you want to listen to on a regular basis.
However there are a number of options to get around the noise problem and still have a highly reliable machine for a relatively low cost.
The first solution is to build your own server using an HAF (high air flow) system case. Collocation space is expensive and standard server cases typically have tiny fans. The smaller the fan, the higher the RPM required to move a certain volume of air. In your home or small office, space isn’t as much of an issue so you won’t mind using a large HAF case with a number of huge 200 mm or larger fans. Large fans mean high air flow at a very low RPM. This equals a very quiet server. In fact, the HAF server I have sitting next to my desk is so quiet that the power light on the front is the only real indication of it running.
The other option, especially if building your own server is not for you, is to buy a server designed for populated office use. The best one by far that I’ve ever worked with is the HP ML350.
This server is a powerful machine with redundant power supplies and a wide range of built-in features. When powered on it does makes some initial noise while it tests the fans but eventually spins down and runs at a barely noticeable hum. What’s wonderful about this solution is that not only are these servers are easy to come by used, but they contain incredibly high end components and can easily be virtualized. My ML 350 runs both IIS7 on a Windows server and WordPress on a Ubuntu Apache virtual machine.