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Networking The Almighty Buck Hardware Linux

Home Server Or VPS? One Family's Math 380

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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  • Free Hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:05AM (#42871301)

    The problem with his analysis is that he assumes the hardware is free. Also, not many people pay a marginal rate of $0.066/kW-hr for electricity.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Does it take into account the son that wants to run a Minecraft server? That puts some serious load on a system, to the point that it not only burns electricity as if it were bitcoins, but may prevent other things from running smoothly unless you're adept enough at administration to set up nice/ionice/ulimit and perhaps even quotas and cgroups.

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        I think the PC is going to be dedicated only to Minecraft, since he was upgrading the RAM just enough to run the Minecraft server and nothing else.
    • Re:Free Hardware (Score:4, Informative)

      by dec3 ( 89926 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:18AM (#42871443)

      Price of electricity clearly depends upon where you live. I recently moved to Ohio (from California) and find that $0.0649/kW-hr is a pretty normal price (depending upon who you selected as an energy provider and when you locked in your rate, etc., etc.)

      I know from a California point of view, 0.066/kW-hr might seem really cheap, but California has its own problems when it comes to power.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Germany here. We have around 0.25 EUR / kW-hr. That's about 0.34 USD.

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          That's because Germany went retarded with renewables and put a hilarious surcharge on all private customers to pay for it. You're paying about twice to thrice the cost of electricity compared to most of the European countries that have sane power generation policies.

          • Comment removed based on user account deletion
          • by Anonymous Coward

            This is incorrect.

            The balance of payments for electricity generation in Germany has been positive.

            They have sold their renewable increased peak time generation capacity to nuclear-hobbled France and bought less and cheaper night time electricity from France.

            Their net payments are an influx of billions a year from France.

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

      by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:38AM (#42871673)
      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!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Your requirements are not representative of others' requirements. A desktop price point of $50 has never, ever, ever bought hardware reasonable to run resource-intensive, modern processes, relative to the time said hardware was offered at said price. You can usually get by with running a previous-generation OS and similarly-aged business applications, but there's a reason that hardware is being offered at bargain-basement prices, and you're going to be sorely disappointed if you thunk down $50 expecting to

      • Re:Free Hardware (Score:4, Interesting)

        by asdf7890 ( 1518587 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:05PM (#42872679)
        With old hardware you need to adjust the maths a little with regard to the cost of power consumption. Newer processors and power supplies are much better at consuming less power when idle, and that is before accounting for physical components (processor and PSU fans for instance) getting less efficient with age and use. Also any extra waste heat generated is going to cost you in an air conditioned environment (and even if you are in a cold climate, that waste heat is hardly an efficient method of addressing that).
      • Re:Free Hardware (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:45PM (#42873131) Journal

        There's a time and place for everything. For most techie types, you can do fantastic amounts of real work with free hardware. I have a number of such embedded servers working for me, junkers from the back closet and past upgrades.

        I still have a 500 Mhz Pentium III running 24x7 as a network monitor! 10 years of continuous, 24x7 service and it is still chugging along, currently running a 32 bit CentOS 6 distro. It burns less than 20 watts!

        On the other hand, there's a time when money isn't much of an object. We have 4 32-core database servers with 128 GB of ECC RAM in each in our primary compute cluster. In absolute cost, they were not the slightest bit cheap despite being "white box" servers, but relative to the amount of work they perform, it was money very well spent.

        When you have high processing loads, more powerful equipment allows you to do the same work with less administrative overhead since the number of units can be much smaller.

      • The whole premise is dumb. The only difference between home serving and a rack in a data center is the PIPE. Thats the only consideration worth talking about here.
    • But still, the comparison that comes to mind is renting or buying a modem. When you look at it that way, buying almost always makes sense. A little bit of expertise from my side suggests using a PSU that is just enough to power the home server. Of course, there's uptime and redundancy to consider as well.

    • A $2380 computer today is worth approximately $0 in ten years. Pretending for a moment that the depreciation is linear, you lose $238 per year for owning that computer.

      Not to mention bandwidth costs, maintenance (you gonna fend off all those Chinese hackers yourself?), air conditioning, lying awake at night wondering if your server's still running...

      Look, running a server is a fine hobby. But don't pretend you're running a business here. How many businesses do you know that do their own hosting?! If it
      • How many businesses do you know that do their own hosting?! If it was so cost-effective, they surely would be.

        In my experience, it's not necessarily cost (directly) that drives businesses to host in the cloud, but guaranteed up-time. If you can't be absolutely sure that your client's site/data/whatever isn't going to go down for whatever reason, you outsource that hosting to a provider that can.

        This isn't going to be the case hosting a private Minecraft server. Downtime isn't the end of the world or going to end up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of potential profit.

    • Also exempt from the cost analysis is the ISP fee for unlocking inbound port 80. I know my ISP blocks it unless you pay for a business account which is nearly $80 more a month. You could try to route around it with dyndns but it's not fun and I don't think a dyndns account is free anymore. That alone puts you over the VPS budget which is why I use VPS hosting.

      Been happy with
  • 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!

    • 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.
      • Why run a minecraft server if you're not going to let anyone else use it?

        • by razorh ( 853659 )
          I set up a minecraft server at home about a year ago for myself and my gf's son. The nice thing for me was that I could play in 1 perpetual world from both home and work. I wasn't really interested in hosting a server for the public but it was convenient for my purposes.
    • I have a half dozen servers and assorted other gear in a rack at home primarily because of bandwidth. With a home Internet connection, the download rate is pretty good but upload is atrocious. For anything that requires 2-way communication, the upload restriction is a killer. None of the local ISPs, including Frontier and TWC, offer any consumer-level packages with remotely good upload speeds no matter how fast download is.

      On the bright side, home servers don't draw a lot of power depending on the hardware.

      • by razorh ( 853659 )
        I bet it also doubles as a nice space heater? ;) One of the things people tend to forget about professional grade servers is that they put out a good amount of heat.
        • Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:4, Informative)

          by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:29PM (#42872275)

          It gets nice and toasty, even idling, but it's in the basement which stays cool year-round and keeps the fan noise where it won't bother anyone. The waste heat is pointed at the water heater a few feet away (only place the rack would fit), so hopefully it's saving me a few bucks by keeping that a little warmer.

          Anecdotally, don't trust whomever wired your building. Found out the hard way that one outlet in the basement is, for unknown reasons, on the same circuit as the entire second floor... including the master bathroom. Got my girlfriend a new hairdryer for Christmas and didn't have any UPS units then... you can see where this is going. On the bright side, it only fried the power supply of the backup server ($20 to replace). I spent the $50 to get a trio of 1500VA UPS off Craigslist and moved the whole thing to it's own circuit that it only shares with a few CFLs in the basement.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            Every house I've ever lived in had the most fucked up electric dependencies you can imagine, with outlets in totally different parts of the house sharing breakers. Of course I always found out the same way you did, having a hair dryer in one room grenade the power in another room.

            My current house was substantially rewired before I moved in and I suspect to keep drywall repair at a minimum, they wired stuff to whatever power was convenient.

            When we remodeled our house, I had the electrician upgrade our elec

    • Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jb11 ( 2683015 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:34AM (#42871629)
      Also keep in mind that many ISPs frown on running home servers. If the server gets popular it could be a problem for the provider.
      • ISP Terms of service (Score:4, Informative)

        by CptNerd ( 455084 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:14PM (#42872097) Homepage

        Someone needs to mod the parent up, this is important. Comcast's Internet service TOS states specifically that any server is a violation and they will cut you off if they find one, and pretty much any other non-business ISP will do the same. This is because they pay for packets going out of their network but get to charge for packets coming in, and so they throttle subscribers' outbound side while opening up the inbound side as much as technically possible.

        Putting a server on your computer on their network means that lots and lots of people will be pulling packets from your server onto the network, and the ISP will be paying for it, and they don't want to pay for it.

    • Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (Score:4, Informative)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:29PM (#42872281) Homepage Journal
      Minecraft is pretty bad in this regard too. Each player connected to a server needs about 1mbps if they don't want to stutter when running around the world. I run a Minecraft server from my house, but it only serves 4-6 people and I have a FiOS connection with 25mbps uplink.
  • Sure, you can replace a PS or HD for less than the annual savings, but what if something bigger than that goes out? 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.

    That said, I run my own home server, but it's not something I do to save money. I run my own server because it allows me to configure it exactly how I want it configured and I know exactly how it is managed.
    • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

      add in file sharing and the slower response of a VPS solution just takes it completely out of the running.

    • 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?

      • 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.

        Sure, but what is not clear is how much of the poster's time would be consumed by this. Is the son capable of managing this on his own (the abstract suggests the answer may be no)? 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.

      • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:41AM (#42871705)

        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?

        Also just because I make "skilled craftsman" type hourly rates (about as much per hour as a plumber) unlike a plumber I can only realistically get precisely 40 hrs per week. Not 39, not 41, but exactly 40 hrs at that rate.

        Yes hrs 1 thru 40 I get about plumber income per hour, but as soon as I hit that 41st hour at home, I would have to hunt for a job and in this economy blah blah and with the flexibility required for a second job, and only wanting to work precisely one hour not 20 every week etc, I think I'd be VERY lucky to cashier at quickie mart for $7.25/hr, if that is even possible.

        So unless you can actually do it, and you want to, don't assume the cost of a marginal extra hours labor is your regular pay rate. In other words the cost of an hours labor at $job during regular business hours is plumber-ish hourly rate, but at home after hours I cannot realistically earn more than a couple bucks per hour.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >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 DogDude ( 805747 )
      Sure, you can replace a PS or HD for less than the annual savings, but what if something bigger than that goes out?

      What's more expensive in modern computer than hard drives? I regularly get my PC's from thrift stores and throw hard drives in them. In my experience, the hard drives are the most expensive parts. Everything else is negligible.
    • You are also ignoring the value of your time

      There are people out there who can interchange time and money pretty freely. E.G. self employed tradesmen who have more clients wanting work than time to do that work and workers who work at a place that pays overtime and generally has it available.

      However I belive in most situations this is the exception not the rule. People have a certain ammount of free time and a certain ammount of money each month and can't easilly trade one for the other.

  • by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:11AM (#42871351) Homepage

    I think you can get a better deal. []

    For eg, I have a box from and I get a box comparable with the one in the article for £4.25/month.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Wow 512MB of RAM, he will be able to start Vanilla Minecraft and then not touch it for fear of OOM. Start looking at what a server with 8+GB costs.

  • by GrBear ( 63712 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:11AM (#42871353)

    The costs calculated are likely flawed, as is the performance. First off, the majority of ISP's forbid running any type of server (with a world facing connection) on a residential package service.

    Secondly, as one who used to run a Tekkit server for some friends on a co-located (i5-3550k/8GB RAM) Ubuntu server, Minecraft requires good upstream speed to host more than 3-4 connections. Even at 10Mbps upstream, having more than 5 people on started to lag everyone slightly.. the more users of course, the worse it got.

    It's one thing to run a intranet for XMBC, but whole different ballgame once you start have a world facing server.

    • You sir, are correct. Many ISP's block ports as well. You're probably going to get better/more reliable bandwidth at a data center anyways.
    • I ran a large minecraft server for a while. It was on an unmetered 10/10 for a while, worked fine with 100 people on it. The only problem I had was trying to get backups working correctly without kicking people off the server. In the end I just upgraded to a 100/100, since working on the server became a pain. I had to make sure when pulling large files off the server I didn't saturate the connection and lag out the connections for the players, which meant waiting a long time to trickle files off the mach

  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:12AM (#42871367)

    Not included the cost of the computer.
    Or the maintenance cost (parts and labor).
    Or connectivity cost.
    Or excess traffic costs (ISP love charging those when they can)

    These days, I don't even use VPN anymore. I only use self-managed dedicated servers. Ok, they are not gaming servers for my kid, but still one of them is just sitting there for me to play with.

    The savings you get from "doing things yourself" can be very deceptive.

  • Maybe I should be telling you to get off my lawn, but I think of servers more in terms of ftpd or httpd.

    • sudo get -off -my -lawn

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      httpd? Back in my day, we had to finger to see if a user was present and hope talkd was enabled, or run the peril of UUCP bang paths to get a message to them. And we liked it that way!
    • but I think of servers more in terms of ftpd or httpd.

      Then you just haven't understood what the term really means.

  • What about hybrid? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:14AM (#42871397) Journal

    Do you really want all that traffic coming directly to you? The author points out home IPs can chance. Why get rid of the VPS storage and RAM and get one with cheap or unlimited bandwidth, then use a VPN to make your home server appear as if it is directly connected to the internet? This fixes the IP changing problem and does not give away your home address.

    • I didn't mention, because I thought it was obvious. That RAM CPU and storage then are then yours to control at vastly lower prices.

  • by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:15AM (#42871405)
    I actually had this exact question myself. For 1 year I owned a fairly decent and cheap VPS, it worked great and did everything I wanted and more. It was a great buy and I think in the end cost me something like $20 a month. I'm current running that same server at home on an old Core 2 Quad machine, The bandwidth in both cases is rather low so in the end it was cheaper for me to run the server from my bed room. However that being said, well you may get a cheaper solution you have to do a lot more work to get the same features, a VPS will come loaded with lots of great management tools and third party plugins which are very nice to have.

    In the end I would say run your own server, as long as you have a good amount of extra bandwidth a month in the order of a few GB's. If you want features and ease of administration then buy a VPS. It's a thin line and both sides have a lot going from them.
  • 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.
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      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.

      Or do more than minecraft. Home file server to start (try not to turn yourself into a world wide warez site... unless you really want to of course). Then stick some PCI video cap cards in, some mythtv backend software... Add a X10/insteon controller and misterhouse for home automation... Wire up cheap tiny speakers all thru the house and install some jukebox software for whole house audio...

  • If you have a closet for your networking equipment, and you have an older desktop PC that's fairly efficient, and you're going to be buying bandwidth already, having a server of your own is a really good idea.

    In addition, it can be a useful way to learn Linux and/or Windows Server admin skills.

    However, this assumes you have all of the above, and the time to maintain the thing. Who fixes it if it dies? Now everyone relies on it. Who will make sure it is going to stay up for them?

    If you work a guaranteed eight hours a day and no more, you might be able to fix it up when you get home or on the weekends. Sometimes however that's not an option.

    Thus while the server is cheaper, the time to administrate it may not be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:16AM (#42871429)

    I am very interested in some guy's analysis of his son's minecraft server and his almost $300 annual cost savings! Can we talk about coupon strategies now and whether a Costco membership is worth it?

  • I'd go with the VPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:19AM (#42871457)

    I rent several Xen-based 512mb Linux virtual servers to run some club websites, and a mail server. They cost me a total of $28.50 semi-annually each (or $5/mo monthly). They include 20GB of disk space, and a 1TB/month transfer. I also have an older Dell 1U server which I'm gonna be retiring soon, as it's sucking my electric bill down to ruin. I'm planning to sign up for another VPS and migrate the functions on the Dell box over. Of course, you have to weigh the cost of bandwidth to/from this VPS, ie: if you're on an ISP who cheats you with a absurdly low monthly cap. If you're not a big Linux fan, they also have Xen-based Windows offerings at slightly higher prices.. In case you're interested, google "virpus networks"... I don't own em, work for em, have stock in em, just a happy customer...

  • Here's a benchmark (Score:2, Informative)

    by kilodelta ( 843627 )
    Around here we pay 14 cents per kWH for electricity. A server draws about 800W so 800 * 24 = 19.2kWh per day. Times 30 days it's 576kWh which comes out to $80.64 per month just for electricity.

    VPS can be had for $7 to $20 per month.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In what universe does a server draw 800 W? You mean a high-end server worthy of a cluster? A netbook will draw around 15 W, a notebook around 30 W, a desktop PC maybe 200 W or less (not including CD/DVD, fancy graphics card, more than a single HD or a monitor). You could even run Minecraft on a 5-6 W Raspberry Pi, and cut down your figures by a factor of 100 (80 cents/month).

    • 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 jandrese ( 485 )
      Holy crap, what kind of beast monster server are you running that draws 800W? Is this some quad graphics card CUDA compute array node?
      • Well, my initial was based on a 4U server with 8 drives. So yeah.

        But I have a 1U IBM eServer that draws 4.6A at 125VAC - so 575W. 575*24 = 13.8kWh a day. That means 30 days is 414kWh - $57.96 per month. That's for two drives and dual processors. It'd still be cheaper to put it in the cloud.
  • 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 ) <> 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.

    • If the short-term math makes sense, he can deploy the home server and then see what happens. When the replacement parts get expensive, you can always switch to the VPS at that point. The short-term spending is a $100 upgrade to save about $20/month. The only lifecycle question worth asking is "is the system likely to last 6 months?" If it does, you can bank the savings until the home server dies, and then figure out what to do.

      This sort of thinking is not an option is not available to business class ser

  • 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).
  • Seriously, Slashdot? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:25AM (#42871539) Homepage

    We have a blog post about how much electricity it costs to run a server at home and comparing-apples-to-oranges (nothing considered - or mostly just neatly glossed over - in terms of maintenance, uptime, hardware expense, noise, upstream connectivity, etc.). And for a games server (so the most vital of all possible servers).

    This is yet-another mark against the name of "news for nerds". A two-second calculation that any of us could make (and probably have a hundred times) with a $5 watt meter and an electricity bill, posing as an "article" for "nerds".

    I run a VPS. You know why? Because I can get it to do everything I do on my Linux servers at home, but it's sitting in a datacentre with ridiculous amounts of bandwidth available to it (I think I get 5Tb of traffic before anyone even asks questions, and upload/download at stupid speeds all day long) and is managed by someone else - starting at £10 a month, I've gone up to £30 a month for more RAM, more data allowance, and proper backups.

    I run dedicated servers for work - same reasons. Of course we could do it in-house, that's not the point. The point is that you only pay for an external server if you need external connectivity or management, and that's a question that doesn't have a "opinion" answer, so much as a binary yes/no answer about whether you should do it or not. You don't run email servers from your home ADSL and you don't download gigabytes of movies or whatever to your VPS only to then have to trickle-feed them back to your home PC anyway.

    And for most things you need, the cheapest of cheap VPS's with a decent host will be able to do everything you want. If you want to do specialist gaming servers, look at gaming server hosts. They are stupidly cheap. If you want to do high-bandwidth video streaming, look at proper dedicated servers with proper connectivity. If you want to let your kids play Minecraft together on a secure "internal" server, slap a VM on an old desktop in your spare room and have done with it.

    It's not a question. You either need an external managed host and the benefits of that, or you don't. Now if you were talking about a business with SLA-guaranteed leased lines and lots of bandwidth to spare, asking the same question (in-house vs external), it's closer to an opinion piece where getting some stats can help and even then there's no "right answer" that will cover everyone so much as a summing up of individual circumstances. But you're not.

    If you want a VPS to run your website, email, spam filtering, act as an external VPN, secure your SVN repositories, proxy downloads for you, and a million and one other jobs? Buy it, find out. If you're at the point of running servers, £10 a month is low enough to test it out (and the place I'm with offer a £1 trial month) and see if it helps you.

    But this "article"? You recovered yourself a few months ago after the crap videos and junk you foisted on us until your returned to normal - this is just another step down on the graph, as far as I'm concerned, and it's getting close to crossing the x-axis again.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      I run a movie server in my house. I stream DVD quality movies all day, every day. 5 TB is 1 1/2 movies if I'm lucky. And, I'm not going to rely on the Net for streaming DVD quality movies.

      I think that your summary dismissal of the idea was a bit rash.
  • At least in my local neighborhood, most ISPs frown on running an internet server of any kind out of your house, even Minecraft servers. That is, unless you opt for a business internet account, which adds substantial cost to your internet service over a standard home account. That cost alone will easily eat into the savings you have from running the hardware out of your home instead of a VPS.

    Of course, most business internet accounts are also bandwidth unlocked, so there is that.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:29AM (#42871569) Homepage

    I can say VPS is clearly the biggest ripoff ever presented in hosting. The model revolves around oversubscription on a single server, in the hopes that not everyone on that server is using their resources constantly. in actuality ~80 or so guests constantly fight for resources, with the various resources sliders in the panel controlling the VPS meaning little or nothing at the vserver host level.

    VPS is also routinely used in outbound spam runs and DDoS attacks, meaning its notorious for packet loss. Best of all, the next wordpress/drupal/click-me-to-install-blog exploit to hit the streets will, almost guaranteed, turn the vserver into a paperweight as a nontrivial number of guests have the aformentioned app.

    on a system level, vserver routinely forgets what localhost is until its rebooted, and nice things like iptables are a bitter memory as they dont exist. My opinion: spend a dollar and upgrade to a dedicated server or just host a home server. its not that expensive and you have the added benefit of learning about servers :)

    • I have to say i've generally had a pretty good experiance with my bytemark vm. Performance was a bit shaky at first but it seems to have improved a lot over the years and iptables has always been available (the machine started out as UML TT, then moved to UML SKAS and is now on KVM, I think it may have been on XEN for a while too but I don't remember for sure).

      A dedicated server even from a cheap provider would cost nearly twice as much

  • FTA

    Things not taken into account: If our home power or internet goes down, so does our server. Also, home IP numbers are prone to change now and then.

    The former issue's severity can be weighed against the fact that if your home power or intenet goes down, you won't be able to use the service from home anyways. Plus, you can mitigate the issue of having to manually reboot the server should the power fail by either configuring the BIOS to do so, or investing in a UPS, which can keep it going for a few addit

  • I use my desktop to run a 24/7 Minecraft server from home. The bandwidth is sufficient for a few friends, which is all I would ever need. I bought hardware that idles at a low wattage, so the whole rig draws about 50 watts at idle, making it cost ~$55.00 per year, since it will be idle the vast majority of the time. Sure, sometimes I bring the server down for a while to do other stuff, but who cares? It's a Minecraft server for a couple of friends who hardly ever sign on anyhow, so uptime doesn't really mat

  • The family is supposedly pinching pennies, and yet they're worried about their kid's Minecraft server? Seriously?

  • No hardware costs
    No bandwidth costs
    No time costs
    No backups (data, PC, bandwidth)

  • Home server also operates as your NAS. Sorry, but a VPS will not serve my XBMC playback boxes HD video at 100Mbps. 1 HP microserver works fantastic as a 4TB NAS plus home server running everything else. it idles at 4Watts of power used.

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:14PM (#42872093) Homepage Journal
    I would have thought it obvious that the home server would be cheaper. The big question is performance. If you've got the upstream speed sufficent for the job, then cool! You win. If you have ADSL, then you lose (unless the application is particularly undemanding).
  • by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:23PM (#42872197) Homepage Journal

    I've run a server at home 24/7 for coming up on a decade. It does all our e-mail, runs a web server, runs a CCTV system and is a filtering proxy for the kids. For a long time it was one of only two Alien Arena master servers. And actually the uptime has been better than the shared hosting we used to have before we went for home serving. There is no additional cost when it comes to adding more web domains (running it as a virtual host), and it can be an ssh tunnelled proxy for when you're away from home.

    The downsides?

    If it goes down when you're on holiday, it stays down. You'd need someone to have keys to the house to go reset it.

    If the hardware fails, it's you that has to fix it. If you run any moderately successful sites from it then you start getting calls. This added pressure can be stressful.

    You're solely responsible for keeping it secure, so you'll have to stay on top of that, and keep monitoring it for intrusion. Heaven forbid you accidentally set up an open mail relay. Your ISP would crucify you :)

    Most DSL is asymmetric which isn't ideal for servers, as most of the content is outbound. Plus it's easy to hit your maximum DSL monthly bandwidth allowance (vnstat is your friend!). If you don't think you have one, you may well discover in short order that actually, you do ;) Then you end up hunting around for deals that give greater bandwidth allowances. All more hassle!

    Then there is the leccy cost, so you'll need a nice lightweight server (and unplug everything from it that isn't a hard drive, CPU or memory). Really this is the least of your worries considering everything else above.

    All of that said, I wouldn't be without mine. It's far too useful.

  • VPS is great for hosting websites, off site backup, etc.

    Home server is great as a NAS, keeping all your movies, music in a central place. Fast large backups - eg save that entire video project.

    So maybe the answer is to have a home server which backs stuff up. Then at a slower rate it can back stuff up on the VPS.
    (Doesn't the pogoplug work something like this.)

  • I put together a two node cluster with a 5.x TB RAID-10 iSCSI SAN for something around $3000. The storage (QNAP TurboNAS 669) was the most expensive item. I went with MicroATX motherboards for size, but was limited to 32 GB RAM per board and a single Core-i5 quad core Ivy Bridge CPU. Boot is diskless via USB flash.

    I run VMware because I get NFR keys from work, but there are free virtualization systems available, even from VMware.

    The big picture advantage is that you get a lot of bang for your buck -- 64

  • by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:46PM (#42873151) Journal

    It's definetly not apples to apples, as there is no aquisition cost stated for the home server, just the upgrades that will make it serve its new life. Which is fine for him, but not good for anyone else trying to objectively figure out the same for their own circumstance.

    That said - I investigated the same, and ultimately wound up setting up a server at home as well. I actually invested money into it, buying a new Intel i7 machine, a pair of 2 TB hard drives to go along with the 1 TB driver it came with, and boosted the RAM to 16 GB. Yes, it was an investment, comparitively speaking. But for that investment, I've got:

    A Fileserver from Turnkey Linux, which I look at as a Dropbox replacement, except the space is essentially unlimited and the data resides on my own computer rather than on Amazon's; I can access it via the web or via an iPhone app, though.

    An SSH Gateway to the rest of my house. Currently, it runs CentOS, but will be creating an OpenBSD VM specifically for that purpose (yes, I know that Theo would disapprove, but it seems to me that all things being equal, if a VM is going to be used anyway, may as well go with the one that's likely more secure, even though it would seem from the dated conversations I've read, that he'd say the security of the system is shot for running in a VM).

    Several other instances that I can spin up as desired; a Windows 7 VM (by recyling the OEM original license that came with the machine, which I assume is legal), so I can access Quickbooks when needed from anywhere, a dedicated Centos Solr Server which is running for a test project, and several other dedicated VM's that I need from time to time..

    And lots of spare capacity to boot. I'd hate to see what my monthly charges would be for this many dedicated VM's from a cloud provider. And I definitely appreciate KVM's ability to compartmentalize processes, while sharing the underlying hardware. Much cheaper this way, I think, than having 7 or 8 VM's at Amazon, some always on, others turning on and off as needed. And far cheaper than dedicating a different machine to each task, both up front and in terms of recurring (electricity) charges.

    But basically - I'd think it would be expecting something for nothing to think that you could take a 24/7 computer and make your costs go down by putting it in the cloud. The provider has the same costs as you, maybe the negotiate cheaper rates for electricity, but after that, they then have to pay staff and turn a profit. That probably changes some once you're talking tens or hundreds of servers, and especially does once you're using them on demand rather than having your instances run 24/7. But for a single server, I don't think you'd find a cost savings going to the cloud if you look at it over the long run. The downside is you need to pay your fixed costs up front, rather than amortizing them across the life of your VM usage if you went to the cloud.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"