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i am paying about 55 USD for a VPS every month that makes it about
660 USD a year. For the current traffic, it's good enought but, my
question is, wouldn't i be better off, if i would buy for example,
a server and plug it to the ISP myself?
For example a Mac mini or a MacPro ?

Where is the downside of such an example?
Let's asume i buy something bigger & better with more ram then the
mac mini.
Is that still a lose-lose situation?
What can go wrong?

It's ok if you just specify the mandatory things to watch for such a
setup.

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What no one asked was who would be using the server? Are you the only "customer" or are you selling services to other folk? The valid answers are completely different in each case! –  dunxd Jun 10 '11 at 11:24

5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I host my own servers at home and have had no significant failures so far. I would recommend that you build it yourself, as it is often the most cost effective method, if you would like you can get a Intel Xeon E3110, I have been using this for about a year and a half and so far it has performed spectacularly, I would choose a decent hard drive, like the WD velociraptor, ad also very importantly a stable power supply.

With regards to the operating system, I personally like Debian for its simplicity and user friendliness, although any UNIX based system would be fine. I would also recommend that you install some sort of web management system such as webmin / virtualmin as well as SSH console access.

And finally for running the server, I would recommend, if you can setting it up in a server room in your house, this can be in the fuse / telecom / alarm / other equipment room or bedroom as there is often direct access to power and a telephone line there. I would certainly NOT recommend placing it in a "public area" such as the living room (unless you know that people there will not touch / pull out cables) as I have had bad experiences with people playing with my servers! .

If in your area there is a chance of electrical failure, Please get a UPS, In my house, even though outages are a rare occurrence, there have been incidents where an old toaster shorted the sockets circuit and turned off the server. If you would like to change your electrical architecture, split the main incoming power into two separate distribution boards, with different circuit breakers for "critical" server equipment such as modems, routers, servers and computers.

If you use your home computers on the same routers maker sure that the server is on the DMZ and you have a proper firewall such as IPtables and have it configured properly, there are some very good tutorials out there and also some good books such as Linux IPtables. If QOS is possible, make server traffic more important or vice versa depending on the situation.

Hope that helps, RayQuang

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Hello RayQuand and thanks for your brilliant answer. How much money did you spend on this hardware? Are there any performance issues compared to "normal" VPS or Dedicated Servers? What about the Internet connection? How many users do you have and what do you serve? Thanks :) –  Herr K Dec 23 '10 at 14:46
    
Hi, I spent about $615 on my server with a 500W PSU and 4GB ram. To this day I have not experienced any severe performance issues except for the first time when i used it and found that the hard drive was faulty, luckily I Quickly returned it for RMA and got a perfect one. I would say that hosting your own server would be much more powerful than a VPS as it is not a VM but running with all the resources of the physical hardware. I also use my server as a home router and that provides more features than a stock router. Thanks , RayQuang :) –  RayQuang Dec 24 '10 at 15:01
    
Six months on from your answer Ray would be good to hear what your experience has been. Also, would be intersting to know who your customers are - are you the customer? –  dunxd Jun 10 '11 at 11:23
    
Hello :) Yes i would be totally interested too! –  Herr K Dec 18 '11 at 21:00
    
@rayquang how is your server going? :) We are interested! –  Herr K Apr 17 '13 at 13:26

There may be benefits for you, but almost none for your customers.

Maybe you can make it cost less, depending on your requirements, but I think that is the only possible benefit and it is questionable. Actually - there is a benefit that isn't insignficant - you will learn a lot by setting up and maintaining your own server, but your customers suffer from all the mistakes and trial and error.

Downsides for you are:

  • you have a noisy server sitting somewhere at your premises that you need to care for. If it breaks down, you have to buy a new one, or pay maintenance contracts. If you want redundancy to keep your server up during maintenance then you need to buy more than one server. You need to figure out how to do all those maintenance tasks yourself.
  • you have a connection that you now may need to be redundant
  • you may require redundant power supply
  • you have to cover insurance for all this
  • you have to worry about all this, perhaps instead of other things.

Basically, you get a lot more than processing and connectivity from your VPS than you might think. If you are trying to cut your costs, shop around and make sure you aren't over specifying for your needs.

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You've had the obvious pointed out to you. A good host has redundant connections, hardware, power, etc. to keep your site available. You're paying for your site to be up, online, available to customers, despite hardware failure (depending on how you have your agreement arranged with them).

A home system typically wouldn't have redundant power, multiple Internet connections and/or service agreements with an upstream provider and equipment providers (dead Cisco router? Working again within hours.) Rare is the home user with the networking knowledge for setting up or reconfiguring that equipment. UPS/generator. Etc.

But every time someone points out that these are what you're paying for, you counter with a "what if I just...isn't it cheaper to..."

Honestly, if you HAVE the equipment, money, connections, and knowledge, then YES it's cheaper, because these are the things YOU'RE PAYING FOR. It's "cheaper" to change your own oil in your car...and do all other maintenance...because you pay the mechanic to do the labor for you, because they have the skills and resources you don't necessarily have.

You need to measure what you have available, your skills, your experience, and your hardware budget against what you're using the server for and the affect on customers and see if that hosting cost is worth what you'd put into it. That's your answer.

You're not even mentioning what your server is for, who's accessing it, how much traffic it sees, information like that. If this is your personal website that gets ten hits a day, stick it on your home link. If it's a site that when it goes down you have a small revolt on your hands at work and coworkers with torches at the door, you should probably rethink your priorities on saving money. It's impossible to really measure the value of the site and hosting to you from the information you posted.

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:) Thank you for your honest answer. I was thinking about gapping the initial launch of a website or better say, all website's that would start small. But with a VPS i think, i'm covered much better. For example, comapnies like facefook run their own servers, when is the point you would say, i should switch or begin switching to my own server? –  Herr K Dec 22 '10 at 13:23
    
When you have a business case otherwise. If your site goes down and it takes four hours for you or anyone else to notice, it doesn't matter. If you can lose thousands of dollars a minute when your site goes down you need to pay for redundancy and availability. Only you can evaluate the value of your business and compare it to the expenses to make your needs happen. –  Bart Silverstrim Dec 22 '10 at 13:26

Performance, that is why you should use a good VPS provider over something like a mac mini. Disk throughput is going to be utterly terrible on a mini. So any and all server requests that hit the platters are going to suffer. Too many concurrent requests will quickly result in disk bound limitations. Not even mentioning RAM with ECC, faster processors, dual power supplies, etc.

If you want to own the hardware you can purchase a used server and find a colocation facility near you. However, this will likely cost more than $55 a month.

Stick with VPS, who are you using? I use Linode and have a 512MB instance at $20 a month. There may be cheaper offerings than your current host.

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I see but, let's asume i bought a MacPro server or something like it for say, 3000 USD. I would have pretty much ram, an solid state disk or something equal and wouldnt it serve me for say, 3-4 years? –  Herr K Dec 22 '10 at 11:56
    
If there's a hardware problem, with CoLo you probably have to go there and fix it yourself. You may have to manage your own backups, recovery testing etc too. –  RedGrittyBrick Dec 22 '10 at 14:08

Where is the downside of such an example?

Except the obvious? Like * Unrelaible power supply * Unreliable internet connection * Bad speed * Unreliable hardware

What is your internet connection? Most likely it is async - bad bandwidth upward to the niternet, good down. Matches normal user patterns. Bad: servers need high outgoing bandwidth.

You will save, performance will suffer. Depends what you can get away with.

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Isn't it afordable, to buy a connection with a good uplink? Really don't know what the usual business is but, in the end, isn't it cheaper to run the server on your own? –  Herr K Dec 22 '10 at 11:55
    
It is, but at the end you pay more than for a place in a data center. Economy of scale etc. YOu need diesel generator, UPS, multiple outgoing lninks to come close to the same quality. –  TomTom Dec 22 '10 at 15:25

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