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Networking The Almighty Buck Hardware Linux

Home Server Or VPS? One Family's Math 380

Posted by timothy
from the your-bandwidth-may-vary dept.
toygeek writes "Which is cheaper: Running a server from home, or renting a VPS (Virtual Private Server)? We're trying to pinch pennies where we can, and my son Derrick suggested upgrading an extra PC we have and running his Minecraft server at home. Would it save enough money to be worth it? I wanted to share the results of my analysis with my Slashdot brethren." The upshot in this case? "Overall it is VERY cost effective for us to run the home server."
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Home Server Or VPS? One Family's Math

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  • Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:05AM (#42871303)

    The word doesn’t even appear in the article... yet it’s probably the biggest consideration when looking at a server, be it local, shared/vps, or dedicated.

    Hardware and even power are cheap by comparison. It’s definitely gonna be the limiting factor of what you can do with a home server (especially a decently sized minecraft server or one that uses a lot of mods..). If you can get a home fibre connection you might be ok, but reading the article, this guy is probably on dialup.. so good luck with that!

  • Only Minecraft? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by balsy2001 (941953) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:15AM (#42871409)
    If it is only for minecraft? If so, and you are trying to pinch pennies, have the kid stop playing minecraft and get a job.
  • Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:17AM (#42871435)
    If its use is all at home, then you get much better bandwidth by having the server at home.
  • Uh... backups? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:21AM (#42871477)
    Most of the VPS servers I've seen have some manner of backup included in the price. I didn't see any cost included in the home server for backups. Or a UPS, for that matter.
  • Lifecycle costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unixluv (696623) <unixluv&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:21AM (#42871483)

    The comparison isn't quite valid. You are looking at short term costs, but you neglect the long term costs. A business will factor in things like what it will cost to replace the VPS every 3 years. If your system isn't up to snuff in a year or two, have you put enough aside to replace it? Lets say a new system will cost you $450. That means you need to add $150 per year to factor that in. As some others have said, you ignore the network costs. There is a cost (maybe to you it is intangible) for using your home network. You can say it doesn't cost, but the cost is not $0. Maybe 10% is a better number. Anyways, these are the kinds of things that commercial companies grapple with in the pricing models.

  • You are also ignoring the value of your time, as you would put a fair bit of time in to recovering from either of those losses.

    How does one value one's time, anyways? From reading the article it seems the poster's son is interested in stuff like this and likes running a Minecraft - server, so it would be a hobby for him and therefore any time spent on recovering from losses would still be within the limits of an educational hobby. Other people could use that time for e.g. watching the TV, but is that really any more a valuable way of spending one's time?

  • by thereitis (2355426) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:24AM (#42871531) Journal
    With a proper hosting company you should have better hardware redundancy than you would get with a home setup. More than one network link, for example, and redundant switching hardware. You'd also have staff monitoring network status and responding to DOS attacks. I'm not sure how you'd handle a DOS against a home server. Another thing is security - if you've got your tax returns and other personal documents accessible on your home network - the same one the minecraft server is running on - you may be putting those at risk to a security breach. So yeah, it's cheaper to run at home, but you're not getting all the extras that a VPS has, either. That said, starting with a server at home is a good test to see if you want to trade up to a more expensive, hosted setup later on (when you have a user base and cash donations start coming in).
  • Re:TCO fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:29AM (#42871559)

    I hope this guy is not anyone's CPA or handles and sort of financial analysis/projections at his work.

    The most likely indication that he is in financial management, is you figure out the aggregate total sum of his, PLUS all involved /.ers hourly rate, and the cost of debating this probably has at least 3 or 4 more zeros than the expense involved. Penny wise and pound foolish and all that.

    Everyone at work has had the experience of a two hour meeting with 15 devs at $100/hr to debate exactly how in painful detail the group will pay roughly $5/month for coffee, and whoever saves the most pennies (at a mere cost of $3000 labor) will get some kind of BS award on their annual review. Why if we save 30 cents a year, at a cost of $3000 we'll be rollin in the profits by 1st quarter 12013... of course a real NPV calc based on real rates would make it pretty hard to ever profit off an annual return of 30 cents on a 3000 dollar investment...

    The only thing the dude needs to do is:
    1) Is it possible? Yes, obviously
    2) Is its cost in line for a hobby expense? Yes, its cheaper than golf or watching cable TV or pretty much anything other than watching paint dry. Heck, even then you'd have to buy paint and paint ain't cheap.
    3) Is it fun? Well, its probably more fun to host at home, than pay an intermediary to do it for you. Much like its a hell of a lot more fun to cook than order delivery.

    So yeah .. just do it.

  • Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:36AM (#42871643)

    Sure, but this article was all about budgeting, and bandwidth wasn't even mentioned. To use a car-ish analogy, it would be like debating between a car and a truck without considering the different in fuel usage..

    Not saying what he wants to do is impractical, but "will my home ISP connection provide me enough pipe to do what I need to do" would be top of my list of stuff to think about... way before how much electricity will the thing use.

  • Re:Free Hardware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:38AM (#42871673) Homepage
    Computer hardware is just about free. My home server was either a giveaway from a friend or a $10 box from a thrift store.Don't remember. Brand new 3 TB drives are only $160 right now.

    Anybody paying any serious money for computer equipment in this day and age is just throwing away money. I run my house and my medium sized business all on thrift store or refurbished computers. I've never paid more than $50 for a desktop, $300 for a blade server (a nice Dell one with redundant power, redundant Ethernet, hardware RAID, and all of that good stuff), or $400 for a laptop (currently, running an i5 with a 17" screen and a TB HD). Buying new computer hardware is a much worse investment than buying even a new car.

    With that being said, to people who buy new computer equipment: THANK YOU!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:42AM (#42871727)

    >You are also ignoring the value of your time

    Whenever I see that argument put forward, I can't help but think how lame it is since by that logic we should not do anything ourselves. We should not shop for our own food, clean our clothes or home, put gas in the card, or god forbid wash the darn thing.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:55AM (#42871881)

    Having an 800W PSU in your server does not mean that the server draws 800W. Mine doesn't draw anywhere near that much. Admittedly, my server isn't doing minecraft or any game server, but it is running FTP/HTTP, and e-mail, and using server-side heuristic analysis on spam rather than RBL's, so the load on it is non-zero.

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:36PM (#42872361) Homepage

    With all of the peering agreements they have set up, they really don't pay either direction most of the time. They fake a shortage of resources to keep costs high.

    With most ISP's, that term is in there only as a reason to terminate you when they want to. They don't usually port scan or actively try to find servers.

  • Re:Free Hardware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:00PM (#42872631)

    They said "compared to most of the European countries that have sane power generation policies." Britain does not have sane power generation policies, and will probably be joining the third world in a couple of years when they have to start shutting down old power stations without having built any new ones to replace them.

  • by Bengie (1121981) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:54PM (#42874033)

    If the dad has to put time into this then you need to estimate what his time is worth - in particular the opportunity cost of him not being available to do other fatherly stuff.

    If he's doing much of his work with his son, then he's getting a good return on time spent.

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