Over the past 18 years (more than half my life), I’ve been running my own server. From hand-me-down hardware to the latest full server purchase, a proper tower server. This last purchase was a little over 3 years ago, a couple of weeks before my daughter was born. The idea was to set it up and then run it for 3 years and see what to do next. I had big ambitions with this server, running a whole bunch of server software for various things. 3 years ago this seemed like a good plan, but a couple of months ago I started worrying, now what? Will I spend lots of money and buy something proper again, knowing I had underutilized the one I had. I ran a bunch of stuff on it, but every couple of days some security issue would come along and I’d have to go over everything. The maintenance of the server was becoming quite an issue. All sorts of custom software with custom issues. So then early February one of the drives gave a read error, in itself something to worry about, but not necessarily catastrophic. While it was a relatively innocent read error, extensive searching showed that there indeed had been one single bad block. Again, nothing catastrophic, but it didn’t exactly calm me down. So I had to come up with a plan. I considered to choice to be between buying a new server or renting a smaller VPS somewhere. The latter would mean giving up my freedom to host all sorts of interesting things on my own. The former would mean spending a significant amount of money. As this server was part of my identity, however peculiar it may sound, I had a bit of a breakdown. But really, why a breakdown? I wondered what actually the issue was, since there was nothing particularly problematic going on.

I used to download loads of stuff, knowing it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I just didn’t have the money to actually go out and buy stuff. About a decade ago I switched to console gaming and went to crawl through budget bins and second hand games online to get my gaming fix. I stopped downloading games. Then a couple of years ago, I got a Netflix account, I stopped downloading movies. A couple of weeks before the drive error, I decided to give up my own music library and switch to Spotify, I stopped downloading music. The week of the drive error I chose to get a Dropbox account (in case of a drive error…) for my data. I was already quite far in a transition, though this was something that I didn’t embraced wholeheartedly.

Unlike other IT professionals, I’ve been severely conservative to make use of online services; something that over the past year or 2 changed radically. But this was just a sign of changing times. Ever more shops I used to visit went out of business for various reasons, mostly citing the competition of the online market. Times were changing, quite radically. I myself was also changing, a 3 year old daughter is a handful, she doesn’t make it easy to ‘just go program for a while’ on a Sunday afternoon. My wife objected more and more to me taking whole days or evenings to do all sorts of security updates. The services I hosted on my own were always an issue, really, who am I to better maintain a bunch of stuff than say Google? There was always the itch to scratch and something to do with my keyboard. In the end, I’m not a software developer anymore, I don’t live to program.

The costs and the time spent pushed me to ‘give up’ my server and ‘give in’ to various online services. So far, a couple of weeks in, I’m happy with the move. What surprised me most was that I was much more relaxed, I didn’t worry about the server, and as a person, I’m happier.