If you are not familiar with self-hosted, you might be wondering why you should really care.
My friends at https://techieleadership.com and I created a podcast episodes just about self-hosted.
The first episode is discussing the pros and cons about self-hosted and why you should consider it.
You can find it here - https://techieleadership.com/bonus-2-why-you-should-self-host-with-nedjalko-milenkov/.
This article will be work in progress, so make sure you come back and check it from time to time.
Also the revision at the beginning of each article will tell you if there has been an update.
Here are the main topics that we will discuss:
- What is self-hosted
- How you can do it
- Is it expensive
- What you can self host
- Why you should self host
What is self-hosted
Self-hosted is a journey. It's a way of thinking and much more.
Have you ever wondered what will happen if Gmail or Dropbox stops working for some reason? Self-hosted provides alternatives to the current SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions that you can install and host on your own server or even on the cloud. You are your own boss and administrator and most importantly, you are the owner of your data.
For every major service such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Google Sheets, Office 365, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and others, there is an open source alternative or a paid alternative that you can host on your own.
This site is for the people who are interested to explore these alternatives.
Don't get me wrong, I use and like SaaS services paid and free ones. However some services either don't offer the flexibility I need or are too expensive for the purpose I would use them. For these and other reasons, self-hosted comes in play. Also it's quite fun to host your own services :)
How you can do it
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to start the self-hosted journey, although any IT background will definitely help. My advice is to start small and if you like it to keep expanding.
I started with self-hosted file service to migrate from Dropbox as I had quite a few gigabytes of files for storage. I also make videos in my free time and they take a lot of storage as well. I quickly realised that Dropbox was not the answer for me as it gets quite expensive once you go above certain storage tier.
Several years after using my self-hosted file service, I decided to migrate my calendar and contacts. After a while I've decided to create a YouTube alternative service to host my videos and the rest is history.
Self hosted is like sex. You don't know what you are missing until you try it.
As software matures, so does the ease of installing and maintaining self-hosted solutions. Most of the services I use took me about a day to install and configure and once you know what you are doing, it can take you less then 30 minutes to deploy from scratch a new service.
For that reason I have 3 simple rules that I try to follow:
- The self-hosted solution has to be Open Source (I have only one exception and you can read about it in the upcoming artice on how to self host your mail server).
- The service needs to support Docker and be deployed via Docker Compose.
- The service needs to have an offline client or client that you can host on yout own. It should not be dependend on other 3rd party online services.
Following these 3 simple rules will ensure you have data consistency, you are not locked in some proprietary solution and easy maintenance.
If you follow this blog, you will find articles and how-tos on how to start self host your own services.
Is it expensive
The upfront cost is more than the paid services as you need to purchase all the hardware at the beginning. With paid services you pay every month and spread the cost throughout the year. However if you spread that cost for 2-3 years, you will find out that it will be cheaper than paying for the higher tiers of the SaaS services.
I will update this section with more detailed analysis of the cost later, so stay tuned :)
What you can self host
The simple answer is literally everything :)
You will be surprised (as I was) to find out that to every major SaaS and service you are using, there is a self-hosted alternative.
Here is a list of some services to get you an idea about this.
|Dropbox, Google Drive, Box||Seafile, ownCloud, Nextcloud|
|Google Docs, Sheets, Slides||OnlyOffice|
|Google Calendar, Contacts||Radicale, ownCloud, Nextcloud|
Why you should self host
There are a lot of reason to self host. I guess everyone will find a reason for themselves.
Self-hosted is being independent and not reliant on 3rd party services and business plans.
Self-hosted is a way to preserve your data for the next 30-40 years and be sure that it will be available as long as you support your server and hardware.
Self-hosted is a fun and practical way to learn new technologies, find how stuff works and be your DIY project for IT.