Quiet, low-power home-server. Ideas?

I have a IP security camera on my home network that is supposed to start saving video when motion triggered. Problem is - it needs an application running on a network machine to provide this function. So I need a machine running constantly on the home network.

Any ideas on the best home server that will run this camera application as well as act as a small file server when needed? It could also be used for data backup.

The important thing is it would need to be very quiet and use as little power as possible. And cheap.

Maybe an old laptop could do the job. Not sure what type though. Or are there any devices that specifically run as cheap home network servers?

You’re really looking at one of the hardcore embedded systems, but they require a bit of know-how to set up. Otherwise one of the small form factor solutions that usually use a lot of solid-state tech for low power consumption and noise - like linutop or zonbu or fit-PC.

I must say, IME older laptops and desktops tend to be noisier than new ones (well, not your state-of-the-art giant casemodded gaming towers, but you know what I mean)

How cheap is cheap? the zonbu starts at $99, I think.
And is OS make-or-break? Because a lot of those small systems run Linux rather than Windows for size reasons alone.

I was thinking < $200US.

The application I have at the moment runs on Windows, but I should be able to get hold of a Linux application that has motion detection etc for video.

And thanks for the links mrDibble. Zonbu looks like a great solution. Though from a quick read of the site you provided, I am not sue how installing/uninstalling software works and it seems one has to subscribe to a monthly plan or $300 without plan.

Also from one of your links, this small fanless box looks promising.
The Linutop doesn’t look that flexible - software wise.

It would be good to read an article comparing these sorts of devices head-to-head. If there was a fanless, low-power (< 8w) box that could act as file server/media player/router/firewall that was flexible enough to install whatever software you wanted, it would be perfect. Oh, and if you could lock in the software installed to the RAM it would stop viruses. It wouldn’t need great graphics capabilities, since you would usually be accessing it remotely. And now that Google Apps provides online applications so that less software need be installed and remote file storage is available, I would have thought these machines would start becoming very popular.

A friend was trying to do something similar so he bought a used notebook computer from Ebay. It was one with a broken LCD screen but that didn’t matter for this application.