Okay basically, I want to know some details about how much it would cost to buy a web server for what I want to do.

The site we're making is going to accept uploads from users. A LOT of uploads. How much is this really going to cost in server space? Videos, Pictures, Audio, everything. And how easy/expensive is it to increase server space/speed to handle all of these concurrent uploads happening.

I really have no idea where to start with this, haven't been a webmaster before =/

  • You may want to try serverfault.com as I suspect there are more experts in this topic there.
    – John Conde
    Oct 22, 2010 at 18:29
  • For reference: this was cross posted. serverfault.com/questions/193956/server-space-server-cost Oct 22, 2010 at 18:35
  • Looks like they closed that question so this one should remain active.
    – John Conde
    Oct 22, 2010 at 19:55
  • @John - I'm not so sure. If you look at Chopper's comment, there's a reason it was closed there, and the reason applies here too. Oct 22, 2010 at 21:39
  • I think if chopper's comments were left either here or there and the question asker updated their question appropriately it would be acceptable. No?
    – John Conde
    Oct 22, 2010 at 22:41

3 Answers 3


You might want to start by looking at Amazon S3 as an option for your data storage rather than storing it on your own servers.

There are many hosting companies that say they offer "unlimited storage", but if you start filling up a server with terabytes of data, I can pretty much guarantee they are going to shut you down.


You need estimates of how much space this LOT of uploads will take, and how quickly it will grow, and whether you are willing to do it yourself or pay more to have it made.

Doing it yourself will get you in the region of:

  • A case with lots of disk bays
  • Server innards
  • Cheap server class SAS disks

Maybe £1,200-£2,000 for 4-6Tbs of RAID5 storage with all server class hardware, but not ever so performant.

To buy similar kit from HP/Dell/etc. add several hundreds at least, probably more.

If you need seriously more disk space then you'll need to break out into the land of smaller physical disks to fit more in one server, physically bigger servers which cost more to host, or external disk arrays and disk shelves, and that's going to add thousands for the devices and disks to fill them.

Also if you're doing LOTS of uploads, does that mean lots of people? Lots of members? Large databases which need fast disk subsystems and lots of memory?

How easy it is to upgrade depends on how you've designed it. The basic answers are:

  • Really easy if the upgrade fits in your server and you don't mind shutting it off while you do it.
  • Not so easy if you have to do it while the site is live.
  • Really hard if the system is designed for one server, and it's now full.
  • Pretty Easy if the system is designed for multiple servers and you can just add another. It's hard to get it to this state in the first place, though.

It's going to cost you as much again for an internet connection which can handle "LOTS" of concurrent video and photo uploads.

Depending on what you mean by a LOT, of course. We had a phonecall asking us to quote for hosting a site which would be as big as YouTube, once. In 2006 YouTube used about 45Tb of storage (http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2006/09/01/youtube-data-storage-stats-revealed/) and was projecting 95Tb by January 2007.

If that's the kind of scale you're thinking of ... the storage will be possible, but the management of that amount of content wont be easy.

A Dell MD3000i is low end enterprise storage, and with two expansion shelves, can hit 45Tb and that's in the $10-20,000 range.


If you are serious, you need to spec it out first, make some predictions on how many concurrent uploads, how much video, how many pictures, what you need to do with it. What else is involved in the site. Otherwise you'll end up with a system which wont stand a chance of doing what you want.



The pricing of this would need to factor in your storage and bandwidth, in addition you will also need to determine if its mission critical; what happens if it goes down.

Storage should be redundant if you don't want downtime and most likely external storage, a SAN device. You will need enough disks to have the capacity and you will also need the right volume to match performance, RAID10 will be your best choice in this hardware configuration.

You will also need redundancy on your Servers whom will access the storage, since it would be the required approach in having redundancy across the board and performance scalability.

Bandwidth will be pressuring the project so if you are running this in house at a location will you have enough on site to provide what will be needed to receive all of the uploads. Will there be a peak hour in the daytime or 24x7 and will it degrade performance on other network related items utilizing the same circuits.

Power is another factor, if your operating multiple servers, storage and circuits, the power is very consuming expensive and might require an added level of redundancy or at least an APC unit capable of surviving for an alloted amount of time.

There are other approaches towards this including software replication. Are you looking to host it or colo at a datacenter? I can make additional recommendations if you need.

Best, Nick

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