Buying a low-budget server. What is important ? High traffic?


I need a server that can handle a lot of traffic for my iPhone app. I am just a student, so affording a server in the thousands is rather not an option. How can I handle that ? Can I rent servers ? How much are they usually ? Or should I buy one with low storage and upgrade as the app does better and better ?

Startup Costs Server

asked Jan 13 '12 at 03:48
130 points
  • yeah you can rent them. Please leave a note on where you live so one can post you some server host in your jurisdiction. (because if you e.G. live and work in europe renting a server in US can cause you more trouble than it solves.) – Angelo Neuschitzer 11 years ago
  • I live in Europe, Austria. – Martin 11 years ago

8 Answers


You might want to consider not buying or even renting a server. I'm in a similar position and I've gone with Amazon Web Services. My monthly bills are right around $50-$60/month. My code isn't tied to them, it can run on any Java EE 6 application server. So far I've been pretty happy.

(I've answered a similar question before and was downvoted. If you want to down vote me here, at least tell me why. Thanks!)

answered Jan 13 '12 at 05:25
Paul Cezanne
649 points
  • I don't know where you got donwvoted but please check the OP's location before assuming they live in the USA. In this case, the OP is Austrian - he might not be able to get AWS. – Dnbrv 11 years ago
  • No problem dnbrv, amazon is global. – Paul Cezanne 11 years ago
  • I'm using AWS in the free tier while I develop an application. I've paid like 34 cent so far because I left an EBS in storage. Look into AWS or any of the other cloud computing solutions. -- My strategy is to run on a free micro in an autoscale group. If there is a load, a second micro may be brought online to handle the load, which I will have to pay for. But 99% of the time, at this beta state that I am in, I am able to run on a free micro. – Mike Nereson 11 years ago
  • @PaulCezanne: Internet is global but AWS not so much. AWS is a Content Delivery Network with regional nodes that ensure quick data transfer. If OP's clients are in Europe and his software runs off US servers, he loses response time & is subject to some additional technological risks (aka cable damage). Besides that, there can be billing & contract issues because of banks & local jurisdictions. – Dnbrv 11 years ago
  • Africa and Australia seem to the be only regions left out. Cezanne 11 years ago
  • @dnbrv - you have a lot of misunderstandings. 1) Amazon Web Services encompass a LOT of different things such as S3, EC2, SES and Cloudfront - the CDN. AWS is not just CDN. 2) AWS have data centres throughout the globe. 3) Where YOU are is irrelevant for most apps (unless you have data retention/usage laws in your country) - its the location of your customers that matter. 4) With an iPhone app its unlikely that his customers are concentrated around a geographical location so this makes its moot anyway. – Ryan 11 years ago
  • +1 for AWS. Unrivalled hosting that keeps getting better, however it is worth pointing out you don't get a nice little Cpanel interface for managing your site like a lot of people are used too, so be prepared to dive into the command line. – Digital Sea 11 years ago
  • @Ryan: Thanks for the clarifications. I know that AWS is a general term for multiple cloud services but I didn't know that Amazon had data centers worldwide. However, an iPhone app without an English version will be used only by a small group of people. – Dnbrv 11 years ago
  • iPhone apps are super easy to localize. And there are fairly cheap services to do it. But for mine, just with friends, I have French, Spanish, German and Mandarin covered. – Paul Cezanne 11 years ago


The way your question is worded, it seems that you think that a web server is always a physical machine, much like the computer you probably posted this question on. The fact is, quite often, they're not.

A lot of companies, especially startups, as well as individuals, pick up virtual private servers. Virtual private servers are fully-functioning servers that the customer has full control over, but they share hardware with other virtual private server instances. If you've ever used VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels, you're already familiar with virtualization. Cloud solutions, such as AWS, are very similar.

Both of these solutions provide you with full control to what you want (as long as it's not illegal, of course), and provide you with the same experience that you would have if your server took up the whole machine.

One of the companies I work with uses Rackspace (they have a European sector now), and has a not-quite-bottom spec'd (768MB RAM, 30GB hard drive) server for about $70USD/month. For what you're doing, you can probably get away with their smallest server, or a step up, for a while, which runs around $10-$20USD/month (I do API/web support development for mobile apps, and we have about 8-10 apps running and active with some supporting a few thousand users each).

answered Jan 13 '12 at 10:24
149 points


You could also try Heroku. They offer free plans on shared servers. Then you can pay as you grow. It's where I deploy my prototypes and test sites.

answered Jan 17 '12 at 05:34
101 points


The most important things when renting servers is, SERVER MANAGEMENT.

I suppose you are new to this kind of things therefor i would recommend you to rent a MANAGED VPS server and NEVER rent an unmanaged server (especially if you have none linux knowledge).

I would go for something like Site5.

After that i would suggest RapidSwitch.

answered Jan 19 '12 at 04:05
Herr K
292 points


Depending on your traffic requirement and need to customize, you could get away with a shared server (Linux/PHP or Windows/ASP.NET). This will typically be under $10/month

If you need more control and need to "own" the entire server, I'd recommend Amazon Web Service's EC2. AWS EC2 allows you to fire up virtual machines in the cloud. There can be in the $40-$100+ range depending on what resources (CPU,memory,bandwidth etc) your Virtual Machines consume. Here, you'd own the virtual machine but you pay to rent the physical machine that runs your virtual machine.

answered Jan 19 '12 at 06:12
649 points


Renting a server is not expensive.
I would suggest you rent a vServer, they come as cheap as 5 EUR (although that won't do much good to you) and what you learn from setting up and maintaining one you can still use when upgrading.

I googled 'server mieten österreich' and came up with they have offers from 20 EUR up.

Myself I live in Germany and have my Servers at Strato, so thats not the big problem anyway.

If you are not able to administer your server yourself drop me a line, I know some people in Austria who will be willing to do that for you (and won't cost you a fortune if you want to do something commercially).

answered Jan 13 '12 at 06:08
Angelo Neuschitzer
141 points


I use for my new app. Works just fine.

answered Jan 13 '12 at 11:10
177 points


If you are using PHP as backend platform, you can try to start with They have a free plan which should help you the first time.

vServers might be a good choice, as already suggested.

I can confirm the already mentioned Strato are good.
So is
I have also heard is nice, but not tried them myself.

If you don't need a complete server I can recommend

It might be good to know how much traffic you are expecting and which backend technology you are using. EC2 has already been mentioned, but there is also Cloudbees, Rackspace and others.

answered Jan 13 '12 at 11:37
3,590 points

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