Cheapest hosting for startups that want to save money

You and your team are building the SaaS product that will have the high impact on existing market or open a new one and you want to minimize the costs of the hosting in the beginning?

First option is to find some hosting provider and pay them about 5o$/month. Question is if you need professional hosting in the beginning (during development and customer discovery).

Second option is that you already have a good internet at your home. It is very usual nowadays that you have fibre optics with symmetrical download and upload speeds, i.e. 20Mbps in both directions or even 100Mbps. You are already paying for your internet so why not use it at full capacity?

You want also to save money for electric energy bill (or maybe not in the case if you are a bitcoin miner, but let’s suppose that you are not :-)).

Good choice would be to order some mini-pc (called also as nettop) and make it as your home/work server. Zotac ID-83 is a good choice because it has Intel Core i3 3120M 2.5 GHz Dual-Core processor with built in Intel HD4000 graphics, up to 16GB RAM, SATA HDD or SSD HDD. Total power consumption is only 29W (when idle) or 65W (under load). You can buy the used one for about 300$. Notice: I do not promote Zotac brand, just happen to work with them on one project (and I am satisfied). You can get any other mini-pc.

So, you are talking about saving the money and now I need to invest something in advance?

Ok, this is the initial investment, but this mini-pc can serve you also in other ways at your home – you can have it as media center PC also, it can be central sharing storage and file server for all your computers and devices at home and it can be also your working machine whenever you are outside your home. For example, you can have an iPad and then use Remote Desktop Connection app to connect to your Zotac mini-pc and work on the stuff you need to do urgently.

I am not talking here about the professional server with high redundancy and scalability, but for initial startup development and early customer discovery cycles (according to the lean startup methodology) this is just a perfect thing for you. You can even go with this powerful i7 processor version.

Install OS on your mini-pc

First you need to install your operating system (Linux, Windows). In the case of Windows you can go with cheap option and use Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8 Professional.

Setup Power Options

Option 1 (make it run always)

You want your server to operate always (not to go to sleep) so make it work always by setting the power options (this case is for Windows OS).

Go to the “Control Panel > Power Options”

power-options

Choose your plan and customize it by clicking on “Change plan settings”. Note: You will not see battery option because this is from a laptop settings.

power-options-2

Click now on “Change advanced power settings” and make your HDD work always and also other things to have maximum performance. If you feel comfortable you can also disable “Require password on wakeup”.

power-options-3

After this your PC will work always after you turn it on.

Option 2 (let it go to sleep mode)

According to a lot of articles (this is just one with solution) Windows 8 and 8.1 have problems with “Wake-on-LAN” from “Sleep” mode. They recommend to always put your PC to hibernation instead of sleep and to disable (uncheck) “Turn on fast startup” (do it under “Control Panel > Power Options > Choose what the power buttons to (on the left) > “Change settings that are currently unavailable”)

power-options

Check also your Ethernet adapter at “Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Properties > Change adapter settings (on the left) > double click on your Ethernet connection > Properties > Configure > Power management” and set parameters like this

ethernet

Set up Wake-on-LAN in your BIOS

Wake on LAN (WOL) can boot your system from a completely shutdown state and also it can wake up your system from sleep or hibernated state. f you’re working in Windows, you may need to tweak your BIOS settings. On booting sequence press the key (often “DEL”) to  go to BIOS settings and enable “Wake-on-LAN” in Your BIOS. Save everything and exit.

Set UP Wake-on-LAN in your OS

For Windows OS go to “Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center” and choose your Ethernet adapter. Note: in order to use WOL function your mini-pc must be connected with your network and Internet via Ethernet cable (you can not use WI-FI).

Click on “Configure” button

network-1

Find “Wake on Settings” or “Wake on Shutdown” (Windows 8) and choose “Magic Packet”. Click “OK” to save this.

network-2

Set static IP address for your mini-pc

In that way you will be sure what is his local IP address and it will be easier  to set everything on your home router.

Change this to “Use the following IP address” and “Use the following DNS server addresses” and type for example (regarding your local network)

IP address: 192.168.1.200

Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Default gateway: 192.168.1.0

Prefered and Alternate DNS: get this from your Internet provider

network-3

Set up your Firewall

You need to allow port 9 throw your Firewall settings. To do this go to “Control Panel > Windows Firewall > Advanced Settings (on the left) > Inbound rules > New Rule… (on the right)”

firewall-1

When you click on “New Rule…” choose “Port”

firewall-2

Now enter “9” as your WOL port (choose UDP for port type)

firewall-3

Name your Firewall rule and save everything (on next screen).

Set up you Router to enable Wake-on-LAN

You need to allow port “9” for you mini-pc on your router. This is usual under “Ports and forwarding” and enter the IP of your mini-pc and set “9” for both ports (external and internal)

router

Get a program to wake up your computer

For Windows OS get the free program here: http://magicpacket.free.fr/

After you start it you will get this:

magic-packet

MAC address is hardware address of your Ethernet network card. You can get it by typing in DOS prompt: ipconfig /all (just find the right one, not WI-FI adapter) or go to “Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Adapter Settings > choose your Ethernet adapter > double click with mouse on it > Details”. You will see it under “Physical Address”

mac-address

Other option (better) is to wake up you mini-pc from your router but you will need custom firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato and you will need to enable SSH access to your router so you can set it up from anywhere. For “Tomato” click on “Tools > WOL > enter your mini-pc MAC address and you are done”

wol-tomato

Happy and successful startup!

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