Web Services Versus Mac Server

Original Motivations

It seems like one of my favorite types of procrastination is saving small recurring amounts of money. Despite the fact that a single dinner out costs more than any one of the web services I pay for, I still enjoy spending hours at night trying to save 7 dollars a month. To that effect, I’ve moved my VPS from Linode to Prgmr to Digital Ocean chasing 3 to 4 dollars of monthly savings and spending hours in the process migrating servers. I’ve done the same with my online backup setups, going from Backblaze to Arq over Amazon S3 and back again. But then I realized that there is only but so much optimization in reducing spending on web services one at a time, and also realized that sometimes solving 4 problems is easier than solving one.


My list of services most likely looks pretty standard:

Cost  Services          Use               Server Replacement
----  --------          ---               ------------------
5     Digital Ocean     VPS               I now ssh into my iMac
5     BackBlaze         offsite backup    BTSync to mirror
1.7   iTunes Match      music             Plex from iMac

I spent 800 dollars for a 2011 iMac. This machine is actually slightly faster as per geekbench than my 2013 13" macbook pro. So it will take 3 years to pay off the iMac from savings in services. But, I ended up selling my 27 inch monitor back to my coworking space for 300 dollars, which means I will be able to pay off the iMac in 22 months instead.

If I tried slightly harder, I’m sure I could find replacement for Hulu Plus and instapaper speeding up the process even more, but with a 22 month pay off, in addition to other benefits, I’m more than satisfied.

Other Benefits

My desk is now much much cleaner.

I don’t have to take a bag to work. This is actually bigger than I thought. The feeling of walking to work untethered is pretty amazing after an entire life of backpacks and messenger bags.

Redundancy is a great benefit. I have a dead pixel on my macbook pro, and it’s not going to be an issue even if it needs to be sent away for a week since I’ve got an ipad and iMac to hold me over.

Depreciation Path

In addition to the one to two years of this machine being my main work machine, I’ve already thought out other areas it could be useful. When it’s too slow for Photoshop, I could put this computer in my bedroom and have it be my night time media center. Just put [Plex][plex] into full screen mode and call it a day. After the processor is so slow it can’t run whatever beyond 4k idiocy we’re watching in the future, I can turn the machine on in Target Display Mode and run it as an external monitor.