Mastodon Costs

I started running both and Mastodon instances back in November 2022. The ds106 server has about 40 active users, whereas the Reclaim Rocks server is pretty much Reclaim Hosting‘s own server, and we have 3 or 4 users tops. I saw Tom Watson was asking other Mastodon admins what it costs to run a server, so I thought it was a good occasion to take a look and see what our monthly costs are for Turns out Tom is looking for information on servers with thousands of users, which is not the case here, so really this breakdown is limited to smaller servers like ours which will probably work for 40-100 active users pretty easily, much beyond that I’m not sure.

Another reason to post this is to alleviate some of D’Arcy Norman‘s concerns around the costs of running the ds106 Mastodon server 🙂 As of now it’s running comfortably on Reclaim Cloud and is entirely covered by Reclaim Hosting, and we’re happy to do it for as long as we remain a viable company. But in the event that changes, I think the costs would be pretty manageable for 30-40 people at well under $2 per month. Anyway, here are the costs over the last 5 months for a 4GB containerized server and a dedicated IP address:

Monthly costs for server

The only thing missing here is the media, which is offloaded to Digital Ocean Spaces at $5 per month for up to 250GB. Although, as a result of doing this analysis, I discovered I let the bucket get up to a 1 terabyte given the cron job to remove cached media was broken. Running regular cleanup tasks will save you significantly on storage space, and offloading to an S3 compatible storage solution is a must. So, if you take the above sampling, that averages out to $51.26 per month, and another $5 for S3 storage a month, you end up with $56.26 per month to run a small Mastodon server on Reclaim Cloud. Given there are 40 active users, that would be $1.60 per person, per month, and much of this assumes that someone is interested in taking on admin tasks—which right now I’m happy to do—but there is definitely a human cost there long-term. Which reminds me, make sure you run your Mastodon in a Docker container to make updates as easy as possible, moving our Mastodon from a VPS to a Docker container was the best thing we did for making things quite easy on the management side.

Anyway, I hope this helps anyone who is trying to figure out these details, but I’m not sure how well these numbers scale, but I would love to hear about how folks at the hcommons manage their community of thousands on Mastodon.

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5 Responses to Mastodon Costs

  1. Grant says:

    Have you caught wind of the “fediverse effect” conversations over the last few weeks?

    This project emerged to help mitigate it

    • Reverend says:

      That is interesting, unintentional DDoS by federation, definitely an issue for the bigger sites with tons of followers, I wonder what the sweet spot is scale wide in terms of not having this happen. I like the proxy solution, but it also suggests that Mastodon was not designed with mass scale in mind, which is interesting in and of itself.

  2. Yeah, but that’s $50/month in US dollars! That’s like a month’s wages up here! 🙂 (not quite, but it still adds up)

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