Tobias Watzl

Programmer, photographer, engineer.

Why I operate my own private server

In this post I quickly describe my motivation why I run my own server at home instead of paying for a hosted service.

Tobias Watzl

4-Minute Read

This article is part of my series on my personal server setup. In this post I want to quickly explain the motivation why I am doing all the work for hosting my own infrastructure instead of just paying for a service provider.

The Motivation for Nextcloud

First of all I want to talk why you would want to host your own cloud instance in the first place instead of just paying a fee to Amazon, Google or any other tech company offering commercial cloud services.


The initial motivation for looking for my own cloud solution came from the fact that I was doing an exchange semester in Finland. As you might now by now from other blog articles photography is a hobby of mine and thus I need to store many photos taken with DSLR cameras. When going abroad for half a year this sums up to quite a substantial amount of data. However when travelling it is not really feasable to take your PC with you and storage space on my laptop is quite limited.

A cloud solution would elegantly solve this problem, as I could take as many photos as I want, upload them to the server and only have the ones I want to work with on my laptop. Additionally I could also use this to finally get my whole photo collection together in one single place and clean up all the mess that has accumulated over the years from having many devices, incomplete backups etc.

However commercial cloud solutions have a big drawback. They cost money. Not a lot of money, but they cost money every month. And this can be a problem. Right now I am in a financially good situation, but this might not always be the case. With a selfhosted server I can simply turn it off, pull the plug, store it for a couple of years and then start it up again and continue where I left off. If I do not use it no costs will incur to me. With a commercial cloud service all my data would be gone unless I paid every month.


And paying I would. At first glance it might not seem like it, but hosting myself is actually cheaper in the long run. Currently I have about 4TB stored in my cloud. At Hetzner a 5 TB Nextcloud would cost me 25 Euros monthly[1], at Google Drive the smallest available size covering my needs would be the 10TB variant costing 99 Euros a month[2]. GSuite is aimed more at companies, but would require me to pay for 6 users so I get unlimited storage, which would mean 72 Dollars a month[3] (no Euro price was stated). Dropbox and Onedrive don’t even have a suitable plan and Backblaze is meant primarily for backup [4,5,6].

Additionally most of the services are located in the US which is not really appealing to me.

Furthermore cloud service providers can at any point in time simply decide to turn off the service and thus force you to migrate several terabytes of data or use the fact that you are locked in and increase the prices to high levels.

If you sum up the monthly fees you will quickly realize that for a selfhosted cloud you have a high initial payment, but it will pay off in the long run.

Positive Side Effects

With the server setup I not just have my own cloud, but I can also quickly host other services, experiment with different things without having to pay additionally. Another benefit of course is that I learn much about containerization, devops and server management. Much more than I ever learned about it at university, where containerization or DevOps aren’t even scratched.


I decided to host my own server. So far I am very happy with the decision. I had to invest some time initially, but once the setup runs smooth it’s very cool to use. Furthermore I could learn a lot and I am independent of any monthly payments or any cloud providers. Additionally the speed for data synchronization is just amazing.


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

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