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Home Server Or VPS? One Family's Math

timothy posted about a year ago | from the your-bandwidth-may-vary dept.

Networking 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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Free Hardware (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Free Hardware (2)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#42871377)

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.

Re:Free Hardware (4, Informative)

dec3 (89926) | about a year ago | (#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:Free Hardware (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871671)

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

Re:Free Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871715)

It is likely much more than 0.0649/kW-hr when you include taxes and other fees on your bill. I am in Ohio and pay closer to twice that when everything is factored in.

Re:Free Hardware (1)

myth24601 (893486) | about a year ago | (#42871907)

Aren't most taxes and fees fixed for a residence? If so, then they shouldn't factor in since the residence pays the fixed fees/taxes anyway.

Re:Free Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871909)

In other words, Europeans are subsidizing energy for the rest of the world.

Re:Free Hardware (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#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:Free Hardware (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42872029)

On the other hand, not many systems use 150W, not even under load. His most likely doesn't either, if it is headless. Even entry level laptops are faster than his Athlon X2 dual core, and they use less than half as much electricity under load.

The real concern is this: on what side of your slow internet link are the users?

Uh.. bandwidth? (4, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about a year ago | (#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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871401)

only three comments and I already see people budgeting for the worst case hardware problems. Bandwidth may be a sticking point, but only after whatever you're doing becomes popular. If it never does, bandwidth is never a problem. Yes, as two of the three posters have already pointed out, hardware issues could eat up time and costs money, but usually not as much as a hosted solution, and I've had two hosted providers have upwards of 3+ days of downtime (dreamhost and there was one in LA whose name I forget) so the reliability wasn't as advertised.

Hosting from home works great until you become popular, then you start to migrate.

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871589)

When it comes to minecraft, it really doesn't take much.. it's a bit of a resource hog.

If you are into mods at all, this is even more so. A connection with 8mbps upstream will struggle to handle 5 concurrent users on a FTB or tekkit server.

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871687)

And we come down to Minecraft's weakness. Java. You're kinda stuck with the CPU power of the server along with the bandwidth limits of the ISP.

Considering that ISP's are all heading in the wrong direction. If the user is only playing the thing at home, then bandwidth isn't even a concern. On the other hand if he's playing with internet buddies and some, then the entire security and bandwidth come into question.

But VPS's are still overpriced, everyone looks at amazon and goes "oh we should be charging prices like that" when the truth of the matter is -so is everyone else- that's not competition, that's collusion.

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (1, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about a year ago | (#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:Uh.. bandwidth? (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#42871435)

If its use is all at home, then you get much better bandwidth by having the server at home.

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (1)

anyaristow (1448609) | about a year ago | (#42871845)

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

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42871887)

Maybe the family likes playing it?

When I was a kid, and we wore onions on our belts as was the style at the time, we had these things called LAN parties where people would bring their computers to one location and party and play video games into the early morning hours.

Re:Uh.. bandwidth? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42871599)

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. My entire rack draws about 1250W under normal load, but only the file server and terminal server stay on 24/7 (as well as the router, VoIP, modem, etc). Those devices account for about 400W. By my estimate, I pay about $240/yr or $20/mo in energy costs. My most expensive server, a dual dual-core Xeon with 16GB RAM, I picked up used for $200 and can expect it to last a minimum of 2 years, so let's round it up to another $10/mo. That's $30/mo to run a pretty beefy server for home use. Throw in some power saving options and it's competitive with what I've seen for hosting. If I had built a server with low power consumption in mind, I'm sure I could get something sufficient that draws under 100W for about $400.

Of course, energy costs vary widely by location and availability. If you're someplace with cheaper energy and you value network speed, I'd go with a home server. If you need to be able to connect to it from anywhere or energy costs are high, go with hosted.

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

jb11 (2683015) | about a year ago | (#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 Agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42872017)

Bandwidth and financial costs are not the only problems. As a residential customer, he probably has an agreement with an ISP that he will not host his own server. His Internet could be cut off over this.

Can you replace your whole system for that price? (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#42871305)

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.

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | about a year ago | (#42871403)

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

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (4, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year ago | (#42871493)

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?

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#42871681)

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.

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#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:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#42871767)

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.

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42871917)

Video cards, by a huge margin.

You can get a mutli TB drive for $100, a barely passible GPU costs that much.

Re:Can you replace your whole system for that pric (2)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year ago | (#42871815)

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.

servers can get loud (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871325)

in either case (VPS or home server), its implied that the person getting it is relatively poor or else not wanting to spend a lot. this means that they'd probably get a cheap LOUD (jet engine fans) server, which sucks at home. better to have the VPS. Plus that person might live in a flood zone due to their poorness as well, or perhaps in a ghetto. that aint a good spot choice in my book.

Re:servers can get loud (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year ago | (#42871899)

they'd probably get a cheap LOUD (jet engine fans) server,

From the article it's pretty clear this is a repurposed desktop so probablly neither super-quiet or "jet engine loud".

As long as it's not in a room where someone sleeps I doubt noise will be a problem.

AWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871337)

Might I suggest Amazon Web Services? You can get a micro instance for free for a year, and I can't imagine a minecraft server needing a whole lot of resources.

Re:AWS (1)

Predius (560344) | about a year ago | (#42871513)

Actually a minecraft server is a bit of a pig. Vanilla can be squeezed into 512MB of RAM but it won't be happy. Enable Bukkit and you'll want more than 2GB to keep it from dying due to running out of RAM.

Re:AWS (1)

Floyd-ATC (2619991) | about a year ago | (#42872011)

In fact you can take those figures and multiply them by atleast 4 if you want more than just a handful of concurrent players and no lag.

Well, yes, if you pay over-the-odds for VPS (3, Informative)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#42871351)

I think you can get a better deal.

http://www.lowendbox.com/ [lowendbox.com]

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

Re:Well, yes, if you pay over-the-odds for VPS (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42871941)

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.

Server on residential internet service (4, Informative)

GrBear (63712) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Server on residential internet service (1)

BigDaveyL (1548821) | about a year ago | (#42871627)

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.

Re:Server on residential internet service (1)

PhrstBrn (751463) | about a year ago | (#42871645)

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 machine.

If you're careful and don't need that bandwidth for anything other than your Minecraft server, and have a way to do administrate it on an out of band connection, 10/10 is more than plenty.

Ignoring so many costs... (2)

morcego (260031) | about a year ago | (#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.

Homer server hardware doesn't cost anything though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871529)

I'll agree with you on everything else, but hardware doesn't cost anything, and hasn't for a couple decades. At least not in my world.

I just stop by any corporate office park or hospital on the way home from work and pull a few machines out of their dumpsters. A PC with a fried HD that was state of the art two years ago, a SATA disk array with a burnt mobo and a half dozen good terabyte drives in it, frankenloaded into an old tower chassis... boot up your favorite linux distro and you've got a server that lasts 5 to 15 years (in my experience). Cost: a few hours time.

Re:Homer server hardware doesn't cost anything tho (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42871743)

I agree on hardware costs. The most I've paid for a server is $200 and that's for dual dual-core Xeons, 16GB RAM, 6 SCSI drives on a RAID card, redundant PSUs and all very clean. Most of my stuff was free or dirt cheap off Craigslist. Memory is the only thing that may need to be upgraded on most servers and that can be pretty cheap - especially if you're using desktop hardware.

Minecraft as a service? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year ago | (#42871369)

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

Re:Minecraft as a service? (2)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#42871465)

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!

Re:Minecraft as a service? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year ago | (#42871521)

but I think of servers more in terms of ftpd or httpd.

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

do you owe this guy some personal favour? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871373)

Because I don't think this article made anyone wiser. I mean, doing a couple of multiplications and divisions is not a big deal.

TCO fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871393)

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

Bandwidth? Do bits just appear at the NIC via some temporal quantum process (for free!)?

Domain name (most hosting and a few VPS will include the first domain name).

Is he even allowed via TOS to put a server on a home connection? How much extra is a dedicated IP? How smart is the ISP lackey that pick up the phone when there is a routing error?

If this guys only goal was to post a worthless article... bravo! IF it were to do a cost comparison of home vs VPS hosting.. well, F A I L.

Re:TCO fail (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#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:TCO fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871639)

Is he even allowed via TOS to put a server on a home connection? How much extra is a dedicated IP? How smart is the ISP lackey that pick up the phone when there is a routing error?

There's the million dollar question... er, questions. I ran a small (5-10 user) forum on a server on my home account for several years, until my ISP figured it out. They cut off my service and wouldn't turn it back on until I promised to quit running a server on their network.

Of course, there's also the matter of the massively crippled upload speed if he's on practically anything other than a fiber connection. How responsive is your home-grown Minecraft server going to be once it's got a few people milling around on it? For that matter, will your Internet connection be useful for anything else at the same time?

Re:TCO fail (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year ago | (#42872031)

Bandwidth? Do bits just appear at the NIC via some temporal quantum process (for free!)?

No but most home connections aren't metered and most vps packages come with a fair chunk of bandwidth. So this is an issue in the feasibility side but unlikely to be part of the financial calculations.

Domain name (most hosting and a few VPS will include the first domain name).

Most vps services don't and even if they did IMO only idiots buy their domain name from the same people they buy their hosting from.

Is he even allowed via TOS to put a server on a home connection? How much extra is a dedicated IP?

Depends where he lives, round here servers are not usually banned and most customers get a public IP. The IP isn't static but that is something you can live with.

What about hybrid? (3, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year ago | (#42871397)

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.

Re:What about hybrid? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year ago | (#42871417)

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.

I've done both (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#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? (3, Insightful)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year ago | (#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:Only Minecraft? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42871611)

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're set up correctly, it can be great (2)

concealment (2447304) | about a year ago | (#42871411)

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.

This counts as news for nerds / stuff that matters (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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?

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871431)

I was thinking of doing something similar - but mainly to give my kids some experience. The biggest issue for me is security. Is it wise to start opening up a home network to the outside world? Where can I look to find out more about this?

Re:Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871749)

I'm running a home server for my kids and their friends. It's been a really fun experience - I recommend it. I run the sever inside a VirtualBox virtual machine with a minimal install of CentOS. Haven't had any trouble yet, but I'm not going to start publicizing the server IP address to the world, either.

I'd go with the VPS (3, Interesting)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about a year ago | (#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 (1, Informative)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#42871463)

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:Here's a benchmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871825)

A corporate server pulls 800 watts, a home pc running as a server pulls nothing close to that. I run a half-life/file server with a 250w supply and it is usually pulling less than 100w.

Re:Here's a benchmark (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871853)

In what universe does a server draw 800 W? You mean a high-end server worthy of a top500.org 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:Here's a benchmark (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Here's a benchmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871927)

it's all relative.. YOUR server may draw 800w.... our fileserver / printserver / dvr draws 75 watts and cost about 25c per day to leave on.


submitter.. find a decent game server host and pay them the $1.50-2.00 per slot to deal with everything. and **let the kid pay the bill** -- much easier to get a kid to contribute if they pay the whole bill from a third party instead of trying to get them to reimburse you some for electricity, server hardware, etc.

Uh... backups? (4, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Uh... backups? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871523)

grive (Google Drive for Linux) + cron

Re:Uh... backups? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year ago | (#42871953)

That's fine if you don't have a lot of data to back up... but if you do have a lot of data then it stops being a viable option.

Lifecycle costs (3, Insightful)

unixluv (696623) | about a year ago | (#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.

Your home server probably isn't fast enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871489)

Minecraft servers are crazy resource intensive, even with just 5-6 people logged in. The crappy single threaded program sometimes hiccups on my Xeon E5430, really wants about 1GB RAM to itself, and that's with no mods loaded and less than 10 people playing with medium visibility.

Frankly, your Athlon 4200+ probably isn't going to cut it, and you can't even upgrade it to something that will. There is no 939/AM2 CPU that will keep a minecraft server happy, and once you start looking at VPS which allow large amounts of RAM and CPU usage you might be looking at more than $325/yearly.

You should really be comparing the cost of a cheap new build vs. decent hosting, cause you are already looking at replacing motherboard, CPU, and memory for something fast enough to run a server for even 5 people, unless you want them all to be blinded by super short vision distance.

Home server = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871515)

OK. Minecraft needs 2GB RAM to run. A VPS will cost you £150 a year flat rate for that with unlimited bandwidth (not that you'd need it).

No brainer. Home server = electricity bills, hardware failures, maintenance, blah, blah, blah...

Not quite an accurate comparison (1)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year ago | (#42871517)

The comparison assumes that you already have a server on hand. An accurate comparison would be if you were starting from scratch with nothing on hand. Then you'd factor in the cost of the entire server (not just the pidly little 25 dollar upgrade). Also, the comparison assumes you only need one IP address. With a VPS, you typically can get extra IP addresses for no additional charge. I don't think Comcast or AT&T is going to give me any free extra IP's, or even sell you any for that matter. And lets not forget that servers need maintenance. Drives gotta get replaced probably at least once a year if you have any real kind of traffic on your site. Your VPS provider isn't going to slap hardware costs on top of your monthly bill.

Real comparison: Minecraft server VS going outside (1)

wesleyjconnor (1955870) | about a year ago | (#42871519)

This seems an awful lot of money to host a minecraft server, and this needs to be on 24/7?
I see giving your gaming computer a hardware boost as a better use of your money rather than running minecraftd on a standalone machine

DOS protection, Infra redundancy, Security (4, Insightful)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#42871531)

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? (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about a year ago | (#42871539)

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.

Re:Seriously, Slashdot? (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#42871893)

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.

Re:Seriously, Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42872009)

You have to work on your encoding parameters if a 1.5 DVD quality movies takes up 5TB of bandwidth. I could watch quite a bit of blur-ray movies with that bandwidth.

pinching pennies? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871551)

If your pinching pennies why don't you kick the kid off the games and make him get a job. If he is too young to get a job then find a coal mine and tell him it is real life minecraft, v0.5.

What about the ISP? (1)

MarioMax (907837) | about a year ago | (#42871561)

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.

Cheap VPS sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871567)

The VPS you listed on your findings is way overpriced. A basic VPS capable of Minecraft hosting is $7 / month or less. You can find even lower rates on special deals listing sites such as http://www.lowendbox.com/ and http://lowendstock.com/ . You can go as low as $15 / year.

Re:Cheap VPS sources (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42871789)


Minecraft is very CPU heavy. I doubt you can get even 8GB of ram for that much. A heavily used minecraft server would be happier with a lot more.

working for a hosting company (2)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#42871569)

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 :)

Re:working for a hosting company (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871799)

WTF are you talking about? "iptables are a bitter memory as they dont exist"

This is about KVM or Openvz type partitioning, not shared hosting.

A proper VPS operates just like a dedicated server, turn off root access and just ssh in with your keys. There's no difference. Need to reboot? Every VPS has a vendor control panel to do that.

Lastly, a vendor that stuffs a thousand $2/mo accounts on a single proc box will have problems. But a VPS for $30/mo from a reputable vendor will not be oversubscribed, and will take swift action if your neighbor saturates a CPU with a runaway script.

port blocking by IPS (1)

tvlinux (867035) | about a year ago | (#42871571)

Port blocking and bandwidth are the most important things. Most IPS block port 25 in and out and port 80 in. I can run a server with less than 1G memory for both email with postfix, spamassassin ang web server nginx. I have monitoring tools also running but they take so little resources that they don't count. The next level of issues are power backup, moving residence, backup storage,... VPS form me is better.

On the things "not taken into account" (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42871613)


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 additional hours. But finally, and perhaps most significantly, one should also try to keep this in perspective here... this is for running a game, and not something that evidently is supposed to be generating any revenue, so is the necessity for 100% uptime actually worth the cost of renting a VPS?

The issue of home IP numbers changing can be resolved through the use of dynamic DNS, which can map a static host name to a possibly changing IP address. The cost for such services is on the order of no more than a few cents a day (some such services are even free), and I would strongly recommend such a service for somebody who wants to reliably connect to their home computer from outside of their network

lowendbox.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871677)

honestly if you just want a VPS to run minecraft on, there's plenty of places that'll do it for less than $7/mo.

I recently looked at hosting Minecraft FTB Server (1)

Aerowin (1798844) | about a year ago | (#42871783)

I also have been looking at hosting a Minecraft server recently. I have been hosting a personal server for my friends and I for a while now and wanted to take it public. I was planning on self hosting until the price of bandwidth came up. For a 20-person server, it would cost me $60 more per month than I pay right now. And that's the max I can ever do in my area.

I looked at a hosted solution. No limits on storage space or bandwidth, only limits on amount of memory used. $20 a month. 1/3rd the cost, and room to grow.

I made the same choice (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about a year ago | (#42871821)

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 matter. The difference between me and TFA is that I'm not using a separate server, so for me the hardware and maintenance IS free -- I would have to invest in them regardless of whether I were running a Minecraft server.

Other Costs To Consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871831)

The hardware and software costs of a home server will probably save some money. But there is another cost associated with managing a server: support Who will be updating and maintaining this server? doing backups? fixing crashed at 2AM? These are on-going costs that should be considered.

However, if your son is looking for an educational experience by all means have him take care of the server with you footing the bill for hardware and power.

For just Minecraft? (1)

ScottSClark (2655413) | about a year ago | (#42871851)

If just for Minecraft, I've found it a lot less tedious to just rent a server space from one of those services like Kerplunc. $5/mo for a vanilla server up to 5 people concurrent (+$1 per person). They (and I assume others) tack on extras for Bukkit, FTB, etc, but my family really just prefers the virtual lego experience. Probably until they get older. Aside from cost, the other nice thing is if there's an issue, I just submit a ticket. I've already done my time for God and Country when it comes to building and administrating ;)

Article is a big fail. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42871965)

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.

own vs rent (1)

Corwyn_123 (828115) | about a year ago | (#42871981)

I used to have my domain hosted on a hosting site's VPS, It cost me monthly, but I also had far less control over my domain, e-mail, and anti-spam. I was also restricted on services I could run on my own domain.

I took an old computer, installed linux, moved my dns pointer home, now I have full control of the server and domain. If I need to deal with a hack, I can. I have complete control of how in coming spam is handled, and I can run any services I want, game services, chat, web apps, and no one else can dictate what I can do on my server.

It's saved me hunreds of dollars over the years. When I replace my desktop computer, the old desktop is recycled to be a server upgrade, since my desktop is always a better machine than my server.

I've been in IT for over 30 years, and this has taught me a lot. I've been able to turn the skills and knowledge I've gained to my job as well.

In the end, it's been a win win all the way around.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42871997)

Oh woe is us and our money problems! We need to solve the pressing issue of our son's Minecraft server!


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