9 Year Homelab history in pictures

Since 2012 I have been interested in servers and networking, and started running them at home. Here is a history of changes over the years

I don't have full explanations of everything, but ill try to mention things as I go.

You will have to excuse the poor image quality of some of these!

If you want to see what I currently do, you can view the the following two posts. I am adding more as I go

What Virtual Machines Am I Running?
What Docker Containers Am I Running?


This is the only one I have from 2012, this was a Fractal Define Mini, running a Q6600 in Windows 7 Pro. I had single drives with data on them, no pooling or any kind of RAID (Or backups...)


In 2013 I moved, and also got more equipment. Originally it was just the HP N40L Microserver running Windows Server 2012 Essentials + StableBit Drivepool, but I then added the HP 6200 Desktop as an ESXi host. I Had a Ubiquiti ERL3 and a crappy D-Link managed switch. I had no UPS, which was fun when the power went out...

I decided it needed to be cleaned up, and add a UPS. I put it on a shelf in the closet, the downside being that it got a lot hotter than I expected..

I guess my cable management was okay for the time

At this time I also had an original UniFi AP


In 2014 I really started to step it up. I got a better switch, another UPS and built a dedicated ESXi server with a real server board. At this point the Microserver is still the fileserver with Stablebit Drivepool

Cable management has gotten much better

The inside of the ESXi box looks a little sparse... Maybe I should have gotten a smaller case. But I had dreams of filling all the bays and making a nice virtual NAS

This was my first time experiencing IPMI, it was awesome.


At the start of 2015 I decided I really needed to start rack mounting everything. I swapped the board from the Fractal case into a really nice IStarUSA 2u case (Which I regret selling) and I bought a Rackable SE3016

Don't worry, the Microserver is still there doing its thing...

Finally I ditched the Microserver, and added a second ESXi host. I P2V'd Server 2012 Essentials into a VM so I didn't have to touch the configuration

During this time I did also move off of 2012 Essentials, and I moved to a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard VM running stablebit drivepool. The second UPS and network gear remains untouched on the top shelf out of view

Then I really stepped things up and built myself an IKEA Rast Rack (Far Superior to the LACK rack in my opinion) Here is everything moved over into the rack. You can also see I ditched the second UPS and moved to the single UPS

And in the closet

I also upgraded to the UniFi AP Pro around this time, and added some ventilation to my closet door

I also ended up getting a 1u rackmount for my EdgeRouter. It died around a week after getting the mount though...

If you look carefully, you can see that I have added a LOT more drives to my Rackable SE3016. I enable duplication in DrivePool which uses double the amount of drives


After messing around with the ERL for months and going through flash drive after flash drive (What they boot from) I decided it was time to move on.

I removed the ERL and switched to a virtualized pfSense firewall on my second ESXi host

And then I finally ditched the Rackable SE3016 and replaced it with a much nicer Lenovo SA120 (Which again, I regret selling. I got it brand new with Prime shipping for $199)

As you can see, still rocking that same UPS...

I cleaned up the rack a little, and finally got an ever better switch with PoE which means I didn't need a ton of PoE injectors thrown behind the rack. I got an SG300-28P, and this was the point where I finally started learning about VLAN's and such

While those 2u iStarUSA cases looked nice, the airflow was not. I bought a 1u Supermicro chassis from someone on /r/homelab and made that my main ESXi host. Temperatures got MUCH better.

I then decided to remove the second ESXi host, and turn it into a dedicated pfSense box. I bought a second Supermicro 1u chassis from the same guy

Sadly, this made my rack look very empty...

Here is a closeup of the two systems


Already in 2017... Looking through these made me realize how much I switched things around and probably wasted a ton of money

Right around the new year, I finally got a rack mount UPS

Which made the rack look even more boring...

Now I decided it was finally time to get a real NAS, and quit using Stablebit Drivepool. It was nice while it lasted, but I think I just outgrew it

I made the terrible mistake of buying a Synology DS1817 (Non +). The performance sucked, and I was stuck on EXT4 since it had no BTRFS support.

It stayed on top of the rack for a while until I figured out a way to mount it (A shelf, the only way...)

Finally I got it mounted in the rack. Taking up 4u of space it did make it look less sparse at least

To be honest, the rack is looking pretty good at this point.

And the DS1817 didn't last long, I took a massive loss and sold it and bought a DS1817+. In this time you can see I also sold the Lenovo SA120, and I have the new NAS in place and migrating data

Finally have the new NAS in place in the rack, and added a PDU so I could stop using crappy consumer power strips

At this point I also added a colocated server to my setup (See my other blog post about this, as I go into great detail)


Which is already over as of typing this. wow.

The first thing I did was discover the Monoprice Slimrun cat6a cable. They are awesome

As you can see, I am also starting to max out my 28 Port switch

I then got hold of a 3.2TB Micron 9100 PRO NVMe SSD, which I couldn't fit in my ESXi host since it was 1u, and I was using that single PCIe slot for a NIC

So, I had to switch my ESXi host BACK to a 2u system

I then re-organized my rack and added a Ripe Atlas Probe

At this point I decided I needed a new switch. And if I needed a new switch, I would get 10G too

I upgraded my DS1817+ and ESXi host to both have Mellanox ConnectX-2 Cards, and got a Dell X1052P. This switch has PoE+ support, and 4 x SFP+ ports as well as being very quiet

There is pretty much no CLI, and the WebUI is terrible. But I guess it does the job...

At this point I was starting to see the limits of the very small rack. The switch goes wayyyy out the back

But it looks nice from the front at least. As you can see, moving to a switch with 10G AND more ports was a mistake, because I could now get rid of all my quad port LACP setups, which got rid of a bunch of connections. Now it just looks empty

Since the switch was so large, and almost everything was sticking ou the back, I decided to get a Startech 25u 4 post rack. This would FINALLY let me use real rails, and purchase a full depth server

Funny story, I didn't fit in the closet... I had to take it completely apart, and reassemble it in the closet to get it in there. Whoops.

I got everything in there, which yet again made it look empty

Being able to use sliding rails is great

Now that I have a full depth rack, I can finally purchase full-depth servers. I got myself a nice 2u Supermicro system with dual E5-2680 V2's and 256GB of RAM, but no rails...

Until they arrived, it just lived on the UPS

Eventually the rails came in and I got it mounted properly

Then, I added a second UPS so I had more runtime, and could utilize the redundant PSU's

I also got a new chassis for my pfSense build

So here is the rack as it currently stands

You can just see the printer and dock at the top

I also ditched my UniFi AP and replaced it with a Ruckus R510 (See my other blog post)

After this, I finally bought a home, so I could really go crazy with anything I wanted. I went through a few small incremental changes, but this is when I got settled in just after moving in. I also got Gigabit fiber

Then I added a garage rack with 10G Fiber (I made a post about this)

Ignore the temporary cables!

And my rack in the house got some updates too. Mainly more ethernet drops to the house and a tape library and a dedicated Blue Iris server

You can see below I got a Watchdog Temp Probe

I also added a LOT of power, and some power inlets to use my UPS to power devices around the house (Check the other post for this)