Earning money by hosting data processing servers

Hello. I am a 24 year old from Romania, currently a student in IT school. Despite my age, I don’t have a job yet for several reasons… primarily anxiety disorders and most tasks being more than I can handle. I’ve still been looking to earn money from my limited computer skills for a while. A few weeks ago I thought about something that I could do easily: Running a server farm for any service which pays for such. I heard of super-computing in the past, and even ran a voluntary server. I know about such servers being used in research, render farms, and I assume the practice exists for other tasks too such as large scale code compilers.

In essence, this is what I’m looking for: I register an username on the website of the service and add my Paypal or bank account to it. I then download their application, configure it to login to my user, then leave it running in the background. The program can use the machine to process and upload data. Based on the work it did in a day / week / month, the service adds the amount of money it sees fit to my account. Sadly I don’t suspect anything this simple exists yet, but it’s what I’m generally hoping for. There are only a few things I care about specifically:

  • I don’t want a gun pointed to my head about the server’s uptime. 99% of the time it would be up 24/7, but there are cases of power or internet failures and I might not immediately detect if the machine or program freezes. In essence: If it goes down for a week, don’t pay a penny for that week, but also don’t send emails saying “if it’s not up in a day you’re fired” (in this case banned from the service).

  • The service must not rely on my machine permanently storing data. I want to make a server for processing, not hosting. It can of course unload and cache anything within the drive’s space limit… just not rely on the files being there forever, or hold me responsible if everything on the drive is lost for some reason.

  • The service must be able to send money either to my debit card (bank BCR from Romania) or Paypal account. The first is preferred, since I don’t trust PP that much.

  • The application must run natively on Linux. I no longer have Windows or plan to get it again.

If those requirements are met, the software is free to fully use the machine’s resources (100% CPU / RAM / drive space) and do whatever it wants through them. It can also use all the bandwidth it needs, although I might limit the server’s connection in the router to avoid it slowing down my desktop. I’m not looking to make a fortune from this, and any payment is ok… although I’d prefer a service that offers at least 100$ a month. I’m willing to buy expensive server parts for this, and if all goes well I might gradually build more servers.

What I’d like to know first of all is what services or companies pay anyone for offering data processing servers. Second, what hardware should I get for such a machine, and what should I focus on most (CPU, memory, video card, drive space)? Also, which Linux distribution is best for the job?

On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:06:02 +0000, MirceaKitsune wrote:

> What I’d like to know first of all is what services or companies pay
> anyone for offering data processing servers.

This isn’t anything I’ve ever really heard of, especially with no Service
Level Agreement - usually when people are using resources like this, they
expect (and pay for) guaranteed availability.

At least not as a paid-for service. Certainly there are distributed
processing projects like Seti@Home, Folding@Home, etc - but those aren’t
paid for projects.

Probably part of the reason is that if your system starts processing a
job, it’s expected by the client that the job finish what it starts
within a specified time period. It’s rare that people would have data
processing jobs that can be done “whenever they finish”, whether that
amount of time is days, weeks, or months.


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at http://tinyurl.com/openSUSE-T-C

Can’t say I heard about such a paid service either, but I still thought one might exist. Someone mentioned something in the past though, about a website which lets you run a process in the background and pays you for it. I didn’t look into the details at the time, but it’s part of what made me think about this.

It is true that the service would want full availability. I was thinking about structures like whatever@home, where a task is sent to your machine and it can finish whenever it finishes. But if the service is paid for, one can’t risk sending work they might need urgently and getting nothing because I forgot to turn the machine on. Obviously my aim would be to run it 24/7, but I wouldn’t have professional equipment and support. So for instance, if I have to go away from home for more than a week, I might shut it down or not be there to repair any breakage. I wouldn’t want to cause people troubles due to that.

The reason I’m a bit hopeful is that there are a lot of tasks something like this could be used for, and I’d be surprised if no one’s ever done it. Stuff like protein folding and research is the first that comes to mind. I’ve also been a user of Blender 3D for a while, and I know they have paid render farms which occasionally run on voluntary servers. I imagined such could also be used for code compiling, for enormous applications that would take long to build on one corporation’s machines. Encryption could be another domain, since from what I know there are super-secure encryption systems which take a lot of processing power to handle. If not, a stranger’s server could at least be used to relay streams… such as making websites or video feeds from one country faster in another via server mirroring. I even imagined some games (like MMORPG’s) could allow users to offer for hosting them a server, though this would be least likely. Of course many of those assumptions might be incorrect, they’re just ideas I initially thought about.

So far, someone mentioned there might be a way to contribute paid servers for cloud services, although I didn’t look into it yet. They also mentioned something called bitcoin mining, which I didn’t research either and will look up later.

Good luck to you…I wish I could do the same! Working in big pharma is really starting to bore me to death!

I looked more into this and asked in several places. For anyone interested in the same thing, I thought I’d post an update. Also wanted to ask one more thing after that.

It seems that super computing and renting processing power isn’t as common as I thought, and there aren’t any reliable ways of doing this. I did however find two similar approaches, although in my case neither work:

The first and most common is bitcoin mining. I initially had some hopes with that, but sadly it’s not a task for the average user. Mining takes a huge amount of processing power, and requires special hardware to work at expected performance. Even if you get said hardware, it consumes so much electricity that it outweighs your power bill. Still glad I learned about bitcoin during this search however… it’s a really amazing idea and I hope it will go far.

The second option is a system that’s being developed precisely for this purpose, called Digital Generation ( DigitalGeneration | A Smarter Way to use your PC ). Their idea is exactly what I was looking for. Unless it’s a complete scam (which I doubt) it might be the first service which pays internet users for renting resources. The reason it doesn’t help me is that it doesn’t seem to have a Linux version and doesn’t support PayPal yet. When both issues are fixed I’ll try it out.

As for the question I mentioned: Considering I could handle the obligation of permanent uptime, and would buy a hard drive about 2TB. What services can I run a server for to get money? Web hosting and file hosting are the most common options, but I’m looking for something more unique. Are there other programs and services which pay people to host and maintain servers for them? Once again I’m not looking to get rich… but at least 1$ a day would be something.

On Tue, 01 Oct 2013 21:26:02 +0000, MirceaKitsune wrote:

> Are there other programs and services which pay people to host and
> maintain servers for them?

Not that I’ve heard of. Consider as well that you’d be competing with
the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and Verizon (and really anyone with a
public “compute cloud”) - and while the pricing plans tend to be complex,
from what I’ve seen, the pricing structures seem to be fairly reasonable/
competitive. Since they can buy hardware in bulk, their costs are lower
than yours would be.


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at http://tinyurl.com/openSUSE-T-C