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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Hosting your own servers at home/office

After reading the "Majorly screwed by webhost..." post (http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.340202.31) I've been thinking about other options. 

Does anyone out there host their server from their home?  Yes, a backup generator is probably out of the question so power outages are a concern (although in my area, power hasn't gone out once in the four years I've lived here).  Seems like business bandwidth is the biggest concern (in US I assume I could get DSL and Cable so I've got some redundancy).  Does that mean cost is the major reason not to host at home? 

In my particular case, being down for a day or two a year isn't something I look forward to, but would have very little business impact since I sell shrink-wrap software.
Doug Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
What if you go on vacation for 2 weeks and your server goes down on day 2? Make sure to have someone with instructions that is able to go to your house to restart and troubleshoot the server! Or what if someone breaks into your house?

I would go with a colo setup. Putting your server in a dedicated space is not that expensive anymore, and you can get all the bandwidth you need, as well as 24/7 smart hands.
Jean Moniatte Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
+1 for colo of your server. I have one server colo'd at http://www.rackmounted.com/ and I just ordered on of their budget dedicated servers for the hosted HelpSpot trials I'm setting up. $64/month is insanely cheap for all the peace of mind. No other losers on your server crashing it all the time, no power issues, no bandwidth issues, no line issues and they'll even help you if you mess the server up. I've been with them for years and they always do a great job with service.
Ian L Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
I have a box under my desk that serves as part of our company infrastructure in an effort to keep costs down.

Leaving bandwidth and power aside, that still leaves hardware failures and network redundancy.  If you don't mind playing Mr FixIt occasionally and have a connection that is stable enough for your needs, then I would say give it a try.  Of course, make sure you are comfortable fixing whatever problem comes along, because it will be up to you :).

Oh, and don't leave your box too close to your feet... else you might accidentally kick the power button, and that is not very productive :|.

Daniel Ostermeier Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
Yes, there are risks in having it at home.  There are similar risks in trusting a company to take care of things (they go out of business, they screw you like in the original post, they are hit by a hurricane, a DDoS is launched against them, technical screw up, etc).  I guess I'm trying to guess which risks are more likely to happen (I'm guessing both sides are very low, so maybe I'm worrying about nothing).
Doug Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
I don't think it's even close. The risks at home are way way way higher. You knock your soda over into the server, the cat chews on the wires, fires, theft, too hot in the summer, etc etc. Sure hosting companies occasionally have issues as well, but a home computer will always be at much greater risk.
Ian L Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
..and lastly, your business DSL provider can screw you over just like any webhost can.  They can just cut you off anytime  for any reason (like say, getting DDoS's).
Almost H. Anonymous Send private email
Monday, May 08, 2006
For Ian.  The rackmounted company looks interesting.  Did they tack on a bunch of fees?  For example $25 for 15 minutes?  Other than that, I do like the prices.
Bot Berlin Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Meaning.  They won't drop kick your server and then charge $100 for them to set it up again.  I can't find any experiences on rackmounted.
Bot Berlin Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
A couple of other negatives to consider...

Most home connections are throttled going out from the home, so even though download speeds are fast, your upload (i.e., serving a site) will be significantly slower.

Also, more than likely, if you are using a standard dsl/cable account for business purposes but not paying for a business-class account, odds are that you are violating your TOS.  Probably not a huge concern, but a fact nonetheless.

We use a home-managed machine to host our test environment for the convenience of being able to mess with it easily, but all our production stuff is hosted by an ISP.
Brian Moeskau Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Oh yeah, and we've had the power go out and/or the dsl line go down several times in the past 6 months or so.  If that was our production app running there, we would have looked like rank amateurs many times over by now.
Brian Moeskau Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I run my server at home. Haven't had any major problems.

I actually host three domains under IIS - at this point in time, it isn't a major concern if the PC crashes. Its automatically ser to reboot. Power outages are another thing entirely of course - I don't have a UPS. In memory though, it's only happened once in the last four months, so I'm happy with that.

And it only costs me the amount I pay my ISP. TOS issues aren't a concern with my host - I *can* run a server.

I have:
Windows 2000 Advanced Server - OS
IIS 5.0 - Web Server
hMailServer - Mail Server
Wildfire - Jabber Server

and it hasn't fallen over for ages, but I guess I've been *really* lucky!
Brad Thomas Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Since my ISV is in its early days (like less than a month old) the main project control server (Trac + Subversion) is being hosted at home at the moment.

I'm using an old Compaq M700 laptop running Suse Linux, which is great - 576Mb is plenty of memory, it only consumes about 20W of power, sits in a bookshelf above the cable router, and comes with its own built-in UPS (aka laptop battery).

At some point in the future, I'll probably move it to a VPS somewhere @ $30/month, but right now the laptop is a great solution.
Darren Hague Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
No Bot no hidden fees. Also if you pay a year up front like I do you get a 10% discount. I just ordered the dedicated server but I assume the support will be just as good as my colo'd server and they've never nickel and dimed me with that.
Ian L Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Nice.  I may ago from the $50 a month for dsl/dedicated ip for the dedicated server.  Everything you said is correct.

I had a lightning storm hit, I was home and didnt notice the server was down for a day or two.  Things like that are just a pain.
Bot Berlin Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I've had 2 main problems with the 2 system hosted on 'home' cable networks:

  1. power. It will go out, your UPS will die. Or the ISP's power will also be out so your backup generator doesn't help you.

  2. Reliability. I've had the connection fail for a total of maybe 8 hours (non-power related outages) in the last year.

Remember Pournelle's law of Critical Need. It will keel over just as it is most needed (It just happened to me agian about 2 hours ago -- 30 minute outage just as a remote user needed to grab an important power point presentation).
cp Send private email
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I've run my own servers in my own office.

I'd never do it again.

It's a pain in the neck if the server crashes at midnight, and you need to go in to check it out.

There were power outages, even when I'd never had one before.

Hardware failures, and then you find don't have the part, etc., etc.

And don't underestimate the amount of time (which is the most valuable thing you're giving up) that gets eaten up in fixing little problems with the server, backing up, securing the server from hackers, etc.
S. Tanna
Tuesday, May 09, 2006

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