ASUS EeePC server review – a few months on

In late October last year I successfully got my ASUS EeePC running as a web server for this blog. (Read more about it here.) A few things have happened – including the power going out in our apartment – which prompted an update on how well it’s working for me.

(I’m a strong believer that the best reviews are those that look at long-term durability under real world situations. Usually this is a problem because technology moves so fast, but I think these computers will be around for a while yet.)

Battery as a UPS
I planned to use the battery as an uninterruptible power supply. If I ever needed to remove the power cable I’d just put the battery back in (it draws less power when it’s out) and feel confident that it won’t turn off for at least a few minutes. I’ve had to do this a number of times and it works perfectly!

Ethernet versus wi-fi
I don’t trust wireless connections as much as I do ethernet ones so I chose to physically remove the wireless card. This was perhaps a mistake. We rearranged our bedrooms and rather than be encumbered by multiple ethernet cables running across doorways I decided it was time to put the wireless card back in and see how reliably it worked. Not only is it reliable and responsible for less cable clutter; I no longer have to worry about downtime when temporarily removing the ethernet cable which I had to do occasionally. I don’t know how much additional power the wireless card is drawing, but I think it’s justified. (I’m now even tempted to set my desktop PC up with a wireless card and move into the twenty-first century!)

ADSL downtime
We have a problem with either the phone connection going to our apartment or our modem. This problem results in our modem getting disconnected occasionally and having to re-establish a connection. If it was regular I’d think it was the modem, but we have bad days where it just can’t connect for a few hours at a time and long stretches where we may have no issues for weeks at a time. My suspicion is that it has something to do with wet weather.

Anyway, the point is, if you’re hosting content of any kind and absolutely need it to be reliable, it’s best to get a professional company to look after it. If you strongly prefer to have it hosted locally, just make sure you have a reliable connection. For me this isn’t too much of an issue – this is more of a hobby project and I have hardly any readers.

Last night, as previously mentioned, we lost power to our apartment. This lasted for more than four hours. Though rare, this revealed one important flaw in the ASUS EeePC that I hadn’t previously noticed: there is no BIOS option to turn back on when receiving power (common to desktop computers). This makes perfect sense; it’s a laptop that is not intended as a server, so this would not be seen as a useful feature.

What this means is that any time the power goes out – even temporarily, if you remove the battery to reduce power consumption like I to – you need to wait until power comes back to manually turn the computer on again. (I was asleep when power returned, so my blog was down for about twelve hours!)

(There’s actually a hack people have used to trick it into triggering ‘Wake-on-LAN’ actions when regaining power, but this requires the computer going into standby mode – read: having the battery in, which is a deal-breaker for me.)

This is a great server setup, though it does have a few limitations. If you have a reliable ADSL connection and you’re not too worried about losing power, I highly recommend it. But if you need a bit more reliability you may need to sacrifice the convenience of the attached monitor and trackpad, the lower power consumption, and much of the associated street cred, for a more traditional PC with the common ‘wake on power’ BIOS option.


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