Servers, rent vs. buy

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 10:05 PM | comments: 0

I planned to have the sites on a new server by last Christmas. It still hasn't happened. Making a baby has pushed it down the priority list even further, despite the fact that I fear it's destined to fail, as I mentioned before. Today I had another kink in the thinking. We were talking about the architecture of StackOverflow (mostly that it's remarkably light considering that it does 37 million page views a month), and there was an article that made the observation that buying a server is often cheaper in the long run than renting one. Crap, one more thing to consider.

The sites lived on a co-located server that I built back in 2000 for about a year. Then they lived on the same box for two more years at my house on a T-1, which by the way would be totally inadequate now since it's only 1.5 mbits, and the sites routinely require more. These were expensive arrangements.

In today's world, the server I'd really like to get, from any of the decent companies providing such services, would cost about $200 per month. Consider that the box the sites are sitting on now has cost about $8,000 since it was born, and I doubt very much that was mostly paying for bandwidth. Going forward, there are deals to be had, but as soon as you want more RAM, the monthly cost is more than buying the RAM outright, and that feels dirty. Ditto for extra hard drives. They lure you in with cheap base machines, then stick you for the good stuff.

I've been looking around at co-location, with the idea that I could probably buy a sweet server for under a grand, and keep it for years. Then it's just a matter of the space in some rack. So far, the one quote I got was $129/month, which seems a little high for a 1U server that isn't sucking much bandwidth (relatively speaking).

So once again, I'm not sure what I'll do, but I've never had a computer run this long continuously without a hard drive failure. And I know it's just some generic white box in some room in Dallas, probably with cheap parts. It's begging to be retired.

I'm not sure how I got so cheap, but I just don't want to spend more on a box, regardless of the long or short term accounting. Maybe the right way to approach it is that four extra CoasterBuzz Club memberships a month pays for the upgrade. But then, that's 48 a year, and that seems more daunting.

Gotta make a move soon.


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