My Home Server is Dying

My Old Macbook Pro Home Server is Ready for the Apple Tree in the Sky

Posted on:

I have a Mid 2014 Macbook Pro that since being retired as my main daily driver computer, has become my home server.


I originally set this computer up to run the Unifi Controller software for my Unifi Security Gateway. It then slowly grew to host all sorts of other services I run in my house. AdGuard Home, HomeBridge, Plex Media Server, Unbound... the list goes on. Over the weekend, I was fighting with getting some plug-in updates for Neovim to run when I realized I was having a network issue. DNS didn't seem to be working correctly, so I went to check out the "Macserver" in my closet and it had shut itself off. When I went to turn it back on, I noticed it had happened again. The battery has swelled so badly that it's bowing the chassis and preventing the trackpad from physically clicking. This has happened once before. I sent this same computer into Apple for a battery replacement back in 2020 and paid the low low cost of $234 to have the battery replaced. The Mac's software is supposed to attempt to prevent battery swelling by not fully charging the device if it is frequently used plugged in, but this doesn't appear to have worked. So, just a few years later, I find myself at a crossroads. Do I replace the battery again, I'm sure for at least another $234, on what is an otherwise fairly well working machine, or do I replace the old laptop with something better suited for the job?

Macserver is old. It stopped receiving new OS releases after Big Sur, in 2020. It doesn't have a lot of internal storage, only a 512GB SSD. This is fine for a personal laptop, but less so for a server that (among other things) is used for... storage. It runs Docker, but with some limitations that Docker's documentation states is due to MacOS itself.

I think it may be time to bite the bullet, retire my old beloved "Macserver" and upgrade to something more purpose built. Today I started looking at the HPE ProLiant ML30 Gen10. This (without storage) would cost me around $1000 and be able to run all of my home services, add some real storage power so that I can finally setup NextCloud, and have enough spare horsepower to run some Cisco VMs for a home lab. I haven't yet had much time to compare other hardware or map out a real design for this, but I think it's safe to say this will be my next big project. Hopefully, it will also give me a reason to write more posts about the process of putting it all together as well.

If you have any suggestions on hardware, OS, or just cool toys to run on a home server, send me an email or a mention on Mastodon.

Tagged with:

More posts: