Alright, relax, this is the last post of the day. I was a little pent up, what can I tell you? This post is on the idea of ecologically friendly technology (where most consumer technology isn't). I used to have two servers here at home- one for Exchange (mail, calendaring, contacts, and the like) and the other was a simple Linux system for filer server usage with SaMBa. This only changed with the death of the Linux system hardware, and I replaced it with a small appliance that was essentially a hard drive in a box with an Ethernet jack. Well, it works, but it's damned slow, and cannot be used for any other/additional purpose. I really liked how much less power it used though, and this got me on my current track. I wanted another Linux box, but didn't like the idea of paying for another ~300+ Watt power supply that runs 24/7.
Here's the thinking- in most areas the utility companies charge about $.09 per kiloWatt hour. A kiloWatt is 1000 Watts of power, and an hour is an hour. Run a 100 Watt light bulb for 10 hours and that'll suck up one kiloWatt. You'll pay $.09. With me so far? Great. Computers have power supplies that tell you the maximum Wattage load. A 650 Watt power supply seldom draws 650 Watts- it may draw 300-400 depending on things like how many hard drives or whatever other components get their power from it, and even then the needs of these components can vary. Unless you have metering equipment, you probably won't know for sure exactly how many Watts your computer uses. I'm confident that my server that runs Exchange is sucking down 300 Watts easily, and this means that every 24 hours it's consuming 7.2 kiloWatt hours of energy (300 X 24 hours = 7200 / 1000). That means that I pay almost $.70 per day in electricity for that server. Starting to see where I'm going with this? And this is just the server- not the monitors and printers and such. I'm not looking to eco-friendly here at this point.
In general I try to be as low power as possible around the house- the television isn't on very often, and the other systems in the house are in low power mode when not in use. All the screens are LCD, and the lightbulbs here are (almost) all compact fluorescent. Why bother? Read this. So into this scene I want to add another 24/7 system. Dang. I really don't want another >300 Watt nasty, and was having a hell of a time finding a low-power (and low noise) solution, but I finally succeeded. I bought a second hand Dell laptop. (Dell? Laptop?) Yes, that's right. A laptop. A 3GHz system with enough RAM to handle whatever I throw at it, and I don't have to worry about a backup battery or monitor. This pedestrian lappy has a max draw of 180 Watts, and I've not measured it, but when the screen is off (I usually access it remotely) I'm sure it's considerably less. Next, I added a USB hard drive. Mine is a no-name "Happy Lucky Kung Fu" sort of brand that is lean on specifications, and these things can vary, but I'd expect to spin one drive should only require 30 to 40 Watts, and if in standby mode, maybe 20 Watts.
By my reckoning, this arrangement is drawing at or under 200 Watts and gets me back to my Linux-happy-place. The performance is good (particularly compared to the Ethernet-drive-in-a-box appliance, which is good for about 60-70 Watts) and it is so much more useful- I setup MRTG on it too, so I can get a sense of my Internet bandwidth usage and file transfer needs from system to system.