Original boxes or ones specifically made for shipping servers with rigid foam need to be used. A bunch of bubble wrap will likely result in damage. There is no cheap way. If you're shipping a few, it's whoever has the best rate, be it FedEx or UPS. If it's a lot, shop around for a freight quote.
I guess, I was looking for a cheap source of boxes / rigid foam (cheapest I've found so far is about $50 a shipping box (box + foam, where the server floats in the box, and was wondering if there was an alternative to ups/fedex, but sounds like not. ok, so would cost me $160ish to ship a server from arizona to DC based n what I'm seeing right now. I guess companies that send things out a lot, get significantly better rates.
That's better than what I've been using. Have been paying ~$85 per box (including shipping from CA to AZ). Shipping cross-country for something that size is ~$50-60 per box. FedEx and UPS do provide better discounts when you hit large volumes, but even then, the discount only goes so far.
its one or 2, but its an extended family member doing me a favor, so dont want to put too much on them, wanted to simply say I'll ship you the needed stuff, buy the label and pickup will happen. Increases cost, but cest la vie. dont want to waste too much of their time.