Thursday, April 15, 2004

Money for your idle CPU time

Lots of organizations are happy to make use of your computer's idle CPU cycles and network bandwidth. SETI@home and Grub are two good examples.

Now there is a company that is willing to pay you for your idle CPU time and network bandwidth, at a rate of $1 per hour. The company is called VirtualMDA. The catch is that this company will use your machine to send spam. I would imagine that ISPs will cut you off if you do this, or that anti-spam groups will blacklist your IP address.

Nonetheless, this seems like a first-of-breed application, and it will be interesting to see if any other company comes up with business models that pay users for their CPU time and bandwidth. At the rate of $1 per hour, you could buy a spare $500 machine and let it grind away 24 hours a day. You would recoup its cost in 21 days, and everything after that 21 day period would be profit. If you bought 10 machines, you would be making $7,200 per month after the first month, or $86,000 per year. Even if you purchased a dedicated DSL account for each one at $50 per month, you'd only be paying $500/month for those accounts and it would still be very lucrative.

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