Everything You Need to Know About Self-Hosted Active Collab

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Considering self-hosting Active Collab? Here’s everything there is to know, in one place.

What is self-hosting

Self-hosting is when you download some software, install it on your own server, and access it from the URL and the server that you own.

There are desktop apps, mobile apps, web apps, and hybrid apps:

  • Desktop app is installed on a computer and only the person using the computer can access it. Same with mobile apps. You don’t need internet connection to use a desktop app. Examples: Photoshop, MS Office.
  • Web apps can be accessed by anyone through an internet browser, without having to install anything. All you need are URL and login info. Although you don’t need to install anything, some computer (in this case, a server) still has to run the app, manage data, and serve it to you. Web apps don’t work without internet connection.
  • Hybrid apps work the same as web apps, except you can also use them as a desktop and/or mobile app (if the company developed them). Hybrid apps can display the same information across devices because some server manages all the data. Most hybrid apps don’t work without internet connection or they have an offline mode that limits what you can do. Most apps you use today are hybrid apps. Examples: Gmail, Facebook, Active Collab.

Active Collab is primarily a web-app but you can also use it as a desktop app and a mobile app. But, because Active Collab is primarily a web-app, it needs a server to run it.

When you use cloud, Active Collab is run from our servers and we take care of maintenance and hosting fees. When you choose to self-host Active Collab, you pay a one-time license fee and get Active Collab source code that you then install on your own server and take care of maintenance and hosting fees.

How self-hosting works

Once you pay a one-time license fee, you get a link to download Active Collab’s source code. Then, you take that code and upload it to a server that you own (usually, people rent a server from an internet service provider).

When Active Collab is uploaded to a server, you go through a quick installation process which checks if the server fulfills all the requirements and install Active Collab. Once installed, you can start inviting people and using Active Collab as usual.

What you need to be able to self-host

To access Active Collab, you’ll need domain name and URL; if you want, you can make Active Collab accessible only from your local network, in which case you don’t need ISP and domain name, only a computer that will act as the server.

To be able to self-host you need:

  • A server that fullfills standard system requriments, or more depending on how much people use Active Collab and how many files you have. The more people use it, the more powerful server has to be.
  • Domain name and ISP. You can also choose to use it on local network only, but that’s rarer.
  • Someone who will take care of installation and maintenance, which you can do yourself if you have some basic system admin knowledge.

What makes self-hosting different from using cloud

  • When there are updates, you have to install them manually (or auto-updates makes it easy so you only need to press one button).
  • Speed and access to Active Collab depends on configuration and stability of your servers
  • DDoS, SQL injections, and other security exploits depend on the configuration of your server
  • You can tweak source code, although we strongly advise against that because it can break upgrading process
  • Backups are your responsibility in case you lose data
  • You’re responsible for paying hosting and domain fees, plus IT staff
  • You have direct access to the SQL table in case you want to make changes without having to go through the user interface
  • You own all the data so only you can vouch for 100% privacy
  • Number of team members and storage is virtually unlimited, as long as your server(s) can handle it.

Self-hosting vs cloud

Self-hosted version has the same features as the cloud version (although cloud users gets a bit faster than the self-hosted ones).

Can’t decide between cloud and self-hosted? Here’s a detailed self-hosting vs cloud breakdown here.

Why companies decide to self-host

Self-hosting depends entirely on your needs. Usually, bigger companies decide to use the self-hosted version because it will cost them less because they have the infrastructure, or they have a very strict privacy policy. But, we also have a lot of smaller companies who decide to use the self-hosted version.

Why bigger companies choose self-hosted:

  • They have a lot of people they need to invite into Active Collab (more than 30)
  • Active Collab costs them less as time goes on
  • They already manage servers and have dedicated IT staff
  • They have a very strict privacy policy that prohibits them from using cloud software

Why smaller companies (agencies and studios) choose self-hosted:

  • They want to “own” the tool
  • Although they pay more at the beginning, it’s basically free after several years
  • Professional curiosity as developers get to see the source code

Who shouldn’t self-host

Most non-IT companies choose the cloud because they don’t want to think about servers and maintenance. They just want to use Active Collab without all the overhead.

Also, if you’re new to Active Collab, you might be reluctant to make a big investment and buy the license. Cloud is then perfect because you pay as you go. If at any time you decide Active Collab isn’t the right fit, you can cancel.

Before you decide on self-hosting, you need to ask yourself:

  • Can you react to system failure in minutes?
  • Can you spot a system break?
  • Can you remove exploits from your system?
  • Can you recompile the kernel if you can’t remove exploits?
  • Can you configure the system for optimal performance?
  • Are you willing to pay for UPS, backup storage, and a backup internet provider?

Economics of self-hosting

A self-hosted license costs just $999, which isn’t that much if you consider how much money it takes to develop an app like Active Collab (or the fact that most companies that develop project management tool don’t offer self-hosting option).

The more team members you have, the more value you’ll get out of your self-hosted license. For example, a company with a team of more than 60 people would pay once for a $999 for self-hosted and use it indefinitely; whereas, if it used cloud, it would have to pay $299 every month.

Cloud vs Self-Hosted pricing
Your team sizeUp to 56-1516-3031-60More than 60
Cloud pricing per month$25$49$99$199$299
Self-hosted one-time fee$999
After how much time you'll recoup the investment40 months21 months11 months6 months4 months

Although self-hosted Active Collab can cost less as time passes, you also have to take into the account maintenance fees:

  • Domain name: $15/year
  • Dedicated server: $99-$199 per month
  • IT admin: $100-$400 per month (for 1 hour of work per week)
  • Renewal license (optional): $699/year

If you already have any of those, self-hosting will cost you less than using the cloud. If, on the other hand, you don’t have the infrastructure already in place, cloud will cost you less.

Getting started with self-hosting

  • Once you decide self-hosted is the right option, you can head to our store, enter your details, and buy the license. Then, the option to download Active Collab will become available at my.activecollab.com/license. As a special treat, we also let you download previous versions of Active Collab (2, 3, and 4).

  • To install Active Collab, consult our installion guide from our help for. If you want us to install Active Collab for you, be sure to check the “Have Support Team Install Active Collab for Me” option in our store before you buy Active Collab.

  • To get started with Active Collab, check out our quick video tutorials. Advanced users should download project management guides and subscribe to our newsletter.

  • If you have any question, you can always contact our support at support@activecollab.com.

FAQ

What’s the difference between cloud and self-hosting?

Cloud and self-hosted versions have the same features. The only differences are the pricing and who takes care of maintenance: you or us.

What is included with my license purchase?

You get Active Collab source code that you install on your server. You also get a 1 year of support and upgrades for free. You can optionally renew the license to keep receiving updates and support.

Can I try Active Collab for free?

Yes! You can create a free Active Collab account on our cloud and then decide if you want to purchase the self-hosted version (they have the same features).

What happens if I am not satisfied with my purchase?

Don’t worry, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee for self-hosted licenses.

What does a new license cost?

Active Collab self-hosted license costs $999. It’s a one-time fee.

How much is it to renew my Active Collab license?

It costs $699 per year to extend the license after the initail year.

On how many computers can I install Active Collab?

You can install Active Collab on one server, plus one more for backup purposes.

How long can I use the self-hosted Active Collab?

Forever! Once you’ve paid, you can use Active Collab until the end of time.

For more information, check out our pricing page.