This article provides you with the best and most popular applications by categories that you can self-host on your Raspberry Pi device.
Instead of renting services from a cloud provider, for example, self-hosting involves installing, running, and maintaining the hardware locally and administering the software application. The main advantage is that the user has complete control over their data.
Nowadays, self-hosting web-facing services and applications is a popular hobby among open-source software enthusiasts. Raspberry Pi is one of the best platforms to accomplish this. But, before we go any further, let us address an important question.
Why Should You Use a Raspberry Pi for Self-Hosting?
Before we get to this article’s point, let’s look at Raspberry Pi’s main advantages as a self-hosting platform.
Size matters. Finding a space in your home for a server or PC that you don’t trip over every day or that suits the interior design isn’t the most practical or easy thing to accomplish.
With a size as small as a cigarette box, Raspberry Pi can virtually be placed anywhere and stay completely invisible.
The harsh, monotonous noise of rotating fans is something that not everyone is willing to tolerate as an inevitable part of their everyday lives, especially while sleeping.
The Raspberry Pi’s fanless design ensures complete silence, to the point where you may forget the device is in your home performing its functions.
Many people do not consider how continuously using a computer in their house impacts their monthly electricity bills. However, you’d be surprised how much this “hobby” costs you yearly if you use a PC for a server that consumes roughly 400-500 watts 24/7.
On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi has a negligible impact on your electricity bills due to its sub-3 watt consumption.
Your data, your rules. For example, many users are cautious when storing or providing personal information on various cloud providers.
With Raspberry Pi and the services you self-host, you can be sure that all data is entirely under your control and that you are the only one who has access to it and decides how to handle it.
Best Raspberry Pi Self-Hosted Applications
Of course, the Raspberry Pi is commonly used as an “almost” full-fledged desktop replacement. However, apart from this, we have listed ten categories where it shines as a server for self-hosting your apps.
1. Media Server
Unsurprisingly, Raspberry Pi’s role as a home media server took first place. The convenience of always having a centralized media hub at your fingertips from which to manage and enjoy all of your digital video and music content is possibly Raspberry Pi’s most widespread use.
This role will undoubtedly give the necessary entertainment for your family gatherings. The software choices here are many, with Plex, Jellyfin, Emby, and Kodi being our recommendations.
2. File Sync Server
As previously said, your data, your rules. Raspberry Pi can provide the assurance you need if you’re worried about privacy and aren’t ready to give your data to one of the numerous cloud providers.
Services that provide centralized storage and data synchronization between all of your devices, such as Dropbox, are top-rated these days. However, with self-hosted services like Nextcloud, Seafile, ownCloud, or Syncthing, you can get the same, if not more, functionality you would typically have to pay for.
Furthermore, you will be assured that you are the only person who has access to this data and makes decisions about managing it.
3. Virtualization Platform
Suppose you’re a software developer or want to test different services quickly and easily. In that case, you know that containers are a sacred term in the tech industry today – almost any service you can imagine may be containerized for rapid deployment and portability.
Raspberry Pi can be an excellent addition to your development approach as a full-featured server on which to install Docker, Podman, Portainer, or other containerization or container management tools. From then, the possibilities for what services to deploy on it are limitless.
4. Ads Blocker
Ads on the Internet are a necessary evil we all have to deal with daily. Unfortunately, while it is a way for larger businesses to promote their products, displaying these ads is crucial to the existence of many little projects.
However, many users choose to disable ads to avoid the annoyance of viewing content interspersed with them. The most popular solution is to install an ad-blocker in the browser.
However, with the help of the Raspberry Pi, you can achieve a far more significant, network-wide effect that will block ads from appearing on any devices in your home or corporate network. Pi-hole and AdGuard are two leading software solutions that can help you with this. So, whether or not you want to view ads is entirely up to you.
5. Image Hub
Digital content, particularly images, has become an essential part of our daily life. Anyone with a modern cell phone in their pocket is likely to have gigabytes, if not many more.
Unfortunately, storing pictures in Google Photos or Apple’s iCloud costs money when certain limits are exceeded. Furthermore, if your account is blocked for whatever reason, you may be unable to access and retrieve your valuable content.
Therefore, keeping this stuff in home storage is a good idea. And, with the Raspberry Pi and software such as Immich or PhotoPrism, automatically transferring them there and organizing your photo collection is easier than ever.
6. Home Automation
Home automation is something that more and more people are looking toward these days. You may use it to digitize practically every part of your home. From what song your house greets you with when you open the door to checking while you’re at work if the garage door is not left open.
Using software like Home Assistant, your Raspberry Pi device can quickly become a centralized hub controlling and monitoring all automation in your home.
7. Security Center
You may confidently put the security of your home network in the hands of the Raspberry Pi, which shines in its role as a barrier blocking unauthorized access. In other words, the Raspberry Pi is an excellent choice for a centralized place to control your incoming and outgoing traffic. In addition, there are numerous software options available.
The device will not let you down if you install OpenWRT or manually set up your firewall using UFW. Of course, with the help of Raspberry Pi, you can increase your Internet security by installing a VPN service, such as WireGuard or OpenVPN.
8. News Aggregator
Consuming digital content has become an essential part of our daily life. We are swamped with information of all types. Many of us even start our days by visiting dozens of websites to read the latest news on topics that interest us.
Regarding following popular blogs or websites, you usually have various options for receiving notifications when they publish new articles or content to their sites.
However, using a news aggregator as a centralized hub to follow your favorite media provides significant ease and saves time.
Raspberry Pi is a fantastic option to establish a central hub for everything crucial that you subscribe to and follow. Install software like FreshRSS, Miniflux, or TT-RSS, and you’ll get the big picture on all the information you care about in seconds.
9. Password Manager
Using passwords for all services we use is an integral part of our first day on the Internet. However, as time passes, we use more and more services, which means we have more and more passwords to remember.
Of course, centralized password managers like 1Password or LastPass provide the ease of securely and safely keeping all of our passwords in one place. So, we don’t have to remember them and can get to them quickly this way.
However, the question of whether they are willing to give their most sensitive information to a cloud provider arises for many users. And again, Raspberry Pi is here, ready to help.
Installing a self-hosted password manager like Bitwarden or its free alternative Vaultwarden on it assures that you are the sole owner of your most sensitive information and that it is entirely under your control.
10. Gaming Console
Last but not least, why not use Raspberry Pi to have some fun recalling our childhood games? Despite having fewer overall hardware capabilities than modern full-featured computers, the Raspberry Pi is perfectly capable of serving as a vintage game console.
So, install RetroPie or RetroArch on it, and you’ll be smiling back at the games you spent endless sleepless nights playing once upon a time.
As you can see, the possibilities for your Raspberry Pi device are nearly unlimited. But, of course, we’ve only looked at a few of the best and most popular self-hosted Raspberry Pi apps here.
But if you want to dig even deeper into the variety of self-hosted apps, this is one of the most comprehensive lists you will find.
We’re confident you have something to add to our list, and we’d appreciate it if you could do so in the comments box below. So, what is your favorite app for your Raspberry Pi device?