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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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  • 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.
  • 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'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...

  • 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:53AM (#42871853)

    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).

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:25PM (#42872219)

    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 get a rig that will run Skyrim.

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

    by Phreakiture ( 547094 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:37PM (#42872363) Homepage

    As always, location is key. I pay $0.17/kWh where I am located. I know for a fact that one of my friends who lives on the other end of the state only pays around $0.065/kWh, and I have heard that folks to my south pay as much as $0.25/kWh, all inside the bounds of one state.

  • Re:Free Hardware (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:00PM (#42872635)

    FYI: The average electricity price in France, which is basically all nuclear, is about 20ct US per kWh, so roughly two thirds of the average electricity price in Germany, which is growing its renewable installations at an exponential rate and at times can already produce more electricity from renewables alone than it consumes. Germany already had significantly more expensive electricity than France before Germany decided to rid itself of nuclear power plants, so the increase in cost to the consumer isn't even the full difference. German consumers are also using energy more efficiently, so the total energy costs aren't higher than in other countries.

  • 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.

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.