How to plan and host a Mastodon instance

Posted on November 1, 2020 by koyu

As you might have heard I host my own Mastodon instance with a few other people. You might plan to host your own as well and in most cases create a single-user instance. Maybe you are not okay with the server you’re currently on or you want to get into the dirty bits of hosting and maintaining a Mastodon instance. In this guide you will find recommendations on how to host your own Mastodon instance and what issues you might encounter while running it.

Resource consumption

So before we start I’ll tell you what koyu.space consumes

So that might sound a lot, but that’s because we host user data of 2.1k people which are quite a lot. Your single-user instance might be happy with 2-4GB of RAM and 20GB for the DB and OS plus a CDN.

Hosting providers

masto.host

masto.host is a very friendly and easy way to start your new Mastodon instance. Just sign up and it works. Hugo is a nice guy and fixed a lot of issues I encountered when I was having my instance over there. The only downside is that you don’t get into the fun stuff on actually hosting and maintaining a Mastodon instance, but it’s a good thing if you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re still not ready to play with the big guns. You can get a Mastodon instance up and running in 24 hours and servers start at six bucks a month. You can choose a subdomain or bring in your own. If you plan to modify Mastodon and want to run it then you can’t do it here for security reasons.

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is the next host I can recommend for people who want to tinker with a Linux system and want to set up everything by themselves. They also have been successful if I had any issues. The only problem is that it might get expensive over time. Otherwise their servers run stable and fast as well which is pretty much needed for Mastodon.

Setup and Help

If you use Masto.host your Mastodon instance is already set up. It’s fully-managed hosting after all meaning you get a Mastodon instance without lifting a finger. On DigitalOcean on the other hand you have two options where one has been proven the most successful. First the DigitalOcean Markteplace already has an image with Mastodon preinstalled, but most of the time it’s a very outdated version and I am not even sure if it works correctly once set up. The other option is to install it manually. You can follow the instructions over on docs.joinmastodon.org which are very detailed and explain the topic very well. If you plan to have users and want them to receive e-mails you also have to get an SMTP server from somwhere. I was pretty happy with mailbox.org which want 2,50 Euro a month so they can continue to offer their services while being privacy-friendly. Also a good thing about their service is that I was able to pay with my debit card over PayPal, because I don’t own a credit card, but they also offer more payment options one of which is the anonymous Paysafecard.

So these are my recommendations on how to get started on hosting your own Mastodon instance. I hope I could open up your eyes a little bit and if you need a little help you can reach me on IRC at irc.koyu.space or via e-mail on me@koyu.space. Thanks for reading!