A hard drive died in my TrueNAS server this week and I really, really did not want to spend money on that right now. This got me thinking about the cost of running your own server and self-hosting compared to just subscribing to streaming services.
I have had a server running in one form or another for more than 16 years. For the most part, I have been running FreeNAS now called TrueNAS. However, the OS is not the topic of this article.
My Server Is Old
My current server is way overdue for a replacement. The hardware is about 10 years old and most of the hard drives are just as old except for 4 harddisks that have died over the years. But is it worth it? What are my needs?
These days I only use my server for the following:
My current server is a custom build machine with the following configuration:
- Motherboard: ASRock C2750D4i
- 8 3TB harddrives of both WD Red and Seagate IronWolf
- 16 GB DDR 3 Ram
Self-hosting is fantastic but what does it cost when compared to just using the online services? This of cause depends on what you use your server for. But, just for fun let’s say you primarily use your server for video streaming with Plex or Jellyfin.
The price to build my server was about 13,000.00 kr. (1,956 $) about 10 years ago. However, I have in that time replaced 4 hard drives which is an additional 3,200.00 kr. (481 $) And then there is the power to run the server.
The server runs at about 60W when idle. The price for electricity as of June 2023 in Denmark is about 0.69 kr. (0.10 $) pr. kWh.
|1 hour||60/1000 kW x 1 hours x 0.69 kr/kWh||0.041 kr. (0.0062 $)|
|1 day||0.041 kr. x 24 hours||0.99 kr. (0.15 $)|
|1 year||0.99 kr. x 365 days||361 kr. (54 $)|
|10 years||361 kr. x 10 years||3610 kr. (540$)|
The power bill running the server for 10 years.
That brings the total price of owning and running my own server to about 17,000.00 kr. (2,558 $) give or take some. Mind you, that is before buying any movies and tv-series to put on the server.
The Price Of Movies
I typically add about 20 – 30 movies and tv-series a year to my collection.
A newly released Blu-ray movie costs about 150 kr. (22.5 $) for the HD version and about 250 kr. (37.6 $) for the 4k version. I usually get the HD Blu-ray version and mostly wait for the price to come down. So I would say I on average pay about 100 kr. (15 $) for a Blu-ray disk.
25 disks x 100 kr. = 2500 kr. x 10 years = 25,000.00 kr. (3.762,5 $)
WOW! 🤯 Please do not tell my wife!!
Compare that with a Netflix subscription.
|Month||79.00 kr. (11.89 $)|
|Year||948.00 kr. (142.68 $)|
|10 years||9,480.00 kr. (1,426.75 $)|
Netflix bill for 10 years based on today’s price
What NAS I Would Buy If I Was To Replace My Current One Right Now
If I had the money today I would get a Synology. I am getting old and I would absolutely prefer a turnkey solution over having to research for parts and build a custom server myself again. I would get a Synology that can handle Jellyfin in my case or Plex if that is what you use. The table below is what I would choose today. A four-bay NAS and 2 20TB hard disks. That is about what I would need to move my data to a new system with some room to spare. There are then 2 hard drive bays to expand later as needed.
This NAS should be a fair bit cheaper than my current server in power consumption. My current server has 8 3TB hard drives and this only has 2. But with about the same storage capacity.
|Synology DiskStation DS923+||1||5,567.00 kr. (837.84 $)|
|Seagate IronWolf Pro 20TB||2||7,520.00 kr. (1,131.77 $)|
|Total||—||13,087.00 kr. (1,969.61 $)|
Is it worth it?
Is it worth it…. No if all the server is used for is movies and tv-shows then from an economic standpoint it is absolutely not worth it. However, If you share your server with friends and family and they help fund it. Well, then it becomes more feasible.
There is of cause more to it than just money. While streaming services are cheaper than self-hosting right now.
- Streaming services can and have raised the price at any time
- The second you stop paying you have nothing.
- The movie and tv-show libraries of streaming services are constantly changing. Stof gets added and removed all the time. It is really annoying when you want to rewatch a movie and it is no longer there. This is especially difficult to explain to kids that the movie or tv-show they like to watch over and over is no longer there.
- When you buy a movie you own that copy and it will not disappear. Depending on your backup strategy for your server of course.
So, will I keep having a server? Yes, in some shape or form, I will. I need a Server for more than just media streaming. I am not the biggest fan of “The Cloud” so I prefer to handle my own syncing and I do not want my code on services like Github for them to use in their IA model or whatever. For that reason, I will absolutely, keep running my own server. But, will it have 10TB plus of movies and tv-shows when I have to buy a new server? I do not know.
It is mostly the kids that watch what is on the server. My wife and I rarely watch TV of any kind. My preferred entertainment form is primarily reading and the occasional youtube video. So, I will look at that when the time comes. For even though the server is old it still runs quite well and still works just fine for what I use it for. I will, however, most likely get a couple of 20TB hard drives at some point and retire the 8 3TB drives.