Currently I am leasing 2 servers for a total of $198 a month. Basically, I've got one set up as the web/everything else server, and the other is strictly the DB server. Specs are P4 2.6 (DB), 3.0 (web), both with 1 GB of memory and 2 80gb hard drives. The uplink is 100mbit.
The pair of servers runs several internet applications, mostly online browser-based games or internet chat based games. The load on the servers doesn't seem to be too bad, but it could also be because the servers keep going down at random. I've got all the usual error logging / slow query logging stuff going, and basically have eliminated every possibility I could think of except that the hardware is just bad.
But either way, even if I get the problems with these two servers resolved, I am not profiting from the operation. I get about $50 back from advertisements, and I'm trying to get more in user donations from sites that I run personally, but more are leaving each month because of the prominence of the links asking for them to donate, and thus I'm getting less advertising revenue
To try and remove the need for the donations (and maybe even the ads), I am currently looking into the option of building my own servers and hosting them at somebody's house with a good internet connection. Now, I know it's pretty much impossible for any single consumer-level internet connection to rival the reliability and speed of a datacenter-class connection, but I am getting THAT strapped for cash due to lack of profits. With that in mind, I have some money coming up soon which may provide me with some emergency purchasing funds. If I can get by without everything I don't need, I could save up enough for a server or two even while continuing to pay the existing server bills.
I would like to build ahead of what I need right now, for the possibility of expanding it and possibly profiting by leasing some space. But I'd also like bang for the buck, so that two poor guys like me and a friend who is pushing this idea onto me can get it within a reasonable amount of time. Possibly two of each: dual core Opteron, with 2-4 GB of memory, and a simple RAID 0+1 config perhaps with a pair of Raptor 150s.
I don't think I'd need to put all this into a rack case until I'm sure I can break even with two cases and the cost of colo. So right now I don't mind just putting it all in standard ATX fulltower cases.
So, my questions:
1) Is this a reasonable approach to saving money?
2) Is there something I'm missing in my thought process about moving from moderately expensive server leasing to a very expensive initial cost & far lower monthly fees?
3) What is a good combination of hardware that provides great performance for the money spent?
4) I'm pretty sure for workstation use, a dual core processor provides much of the same speed increase as two single-core processors, but what about for server use? or, Would a single socket, dual core system perform anywhere near a dual processor (each single core) system for these purposes?
The first thing I would do is analyze more closely what your sites are doing and which sites are using how much database time.
- How much bandwidth do you currently use?
- Is your database access added into your bandwidth usage?
- Will rearranging your databases and web servers speed things up?
- Are your current machines running IDE, SATA or SCSI?
Once you know if you can run things from home, buy a UPS or two first. Then see how things run on a few desktops. If you go all out and buy good server hardware, you will probably take several years to justify it at $200 a month.
Also move one domain at a time off your servers, and you will be able to see how well your home setup deals with things.
Bandwidth: averaging about 600-800kbits a second, totalling about 150-200 gigs per month
Database traffic isn't counted - they are hooked up via crossover cables
I don't see how rearranging things on the existing servers will speed anything up - they're pretty similar in specs
I think the current servers are running SATA. I'm sure it's not SCSI, but I can't remember how to tell the difference between IDE and SATA, and they're not available to ask right at the moment.
The thing is, MY home connection doesn't have much of an upload - 384kbits. But I have a friend a couple hours away who tested his out at 6mbit who would be willing to have the servers at his house. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether it's allowed in his ISP's TOS. I suppose it would be if he purchased one of their business class connections, but typically that is far more expensive than residential class.