Best SSD VPS Hosting

Hard Disks In Servers: SSD VS. HDD

Most people know “Solid State Drives” from the consumer sector. While computer enthusiasts already installed the first solid state drives in their computers in 2008, the general public waited a few more years until the prices per gigabyte sank into affordable regions.

In the meantime, SSDs have become indispensable in the consumer sector. But what about servers and web hosts? Is the use of SSDs in servers worthwhile? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

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In some areas, SSDs have not yet completely replaced conventional hard disks (HDDs). Discounters and large consumer electronics stores rely on a high storage capacity instead of high performance, especially when it comes to the offers of inexpensive computers or notebooks. In a server environment, is a high storage capacity more important than a high data transfer rate of the hard disk? Do SSDs offer any advantages in a server?

Anyone who deals with the use of SSDs in servers inevitably asks themselves the following questions: Are server SSDs as durable as a conventional HDD? Are server SSDs more expensive than traditional HDDs? How much faster are server SSDs and is the higher speed of a server SSD worth compared to the normal HDD in a server environment?

Speed of Server SSDs

VPS with SSD

Conventional HDDs store data on rotating magnetic disks. Data is read and written via one or more movable read/write heads. If data is to be read or written, not only the read/write head must be in the correct position, but also wait until the memory sector of the rotating magnetic disk is under the read/write head.

Solid State Drives are purely electronic storage media and do not have any moving parts. Data is stored on a flash memory (NAND flash), which is also used in SD cards and USB sticks. A special Solid State Drive controller writes and reads the data. Also read this reddit post about performance test hard drives.

The real strength of SSDs lies in their performance because they do not have moving parts.

In the consumer sector, the data transfer rate is often looked at. Modern SATA SSDs often achieve a sequential performance of about 550 MB/s and thus work at the limit of SATA 6 Gb/s, while the fastest HDDs only reach 200 MB/s. In server operation, however, even 200 MB/s are often not necessary, as there are other limits for the data transfer rate.

However, SSD hard disks are convincing in terms of access times. These are considerably shorter than with HDDs, since with conventional hard disks the disk must first rotate and the head must mechanically move to the correct position. This is where a server SSD can score in contrast to the HDD. Since servers running several applications at the same time often have a large main memory to reduce the number of accesses to the hard disk, an Solid State Drive does not have to have a strong positive effect here.

However, it becomes exciting with I/O-intensive applications (input/output). Here several users work simultaneously on the server and access data. Classic hard disks offer between 50 and 100 IOPS (I/O operations per second) while SSDs with 10,000 IOPS offer a performance plus by a factor of 1,000. The Virtual Root Servers from Mittwald, for example, now all contain an SSD hard disk to ensure fast access times even when there is a large number of visitors.

SSDs in servers can be found in the environment of applications that have to access large amounts of data within a very short time, process them and then make them available again (for example databases such as MS-SQL, MySQL, Oracle, etc. or Exchange servers).

Longevity Of Sever SSDs

server maintenance dedicated serverThe reliability and thus also the durability of a server SSD depends on the flash memory used. Solid State Drives generally use three different memory types: SLC, MLC and TLC.

  • SLC (Single-Level Cell) stores only one bit (0 or 1) per memory cell. SLC flash offers high performance and good durability, but is expensive.
  • MLC (Multi-Level Cell) stores two bits (00, 01, 10 or 11) per memory cell and is much cheaper to produce than SLC. However, MLC cannot compete with SLC in terms of speed and durability.
  • TLC (Triple-Level Cell) stores three bits per memory cell and thus offers the highest data density. TLC is currently only used on selected SSDs from Samsung and SanDisk, but will be available from other manufacturers in the future.

In addition, it should be noted that the initial prejudices against SSDs are in the meantime due to the progressive development of manufacturers hardly or no longer given. The number of guaranteed read and write accesses has been significantly increased by the manufacturers of server SSDs, which is why server SSDs have almost the same lifetime as server HDDs. SSD manufacturers use several technologies at the same time to ensure a corresponding lifetime.

SanDisk X110 SSD Hard Disk Drive

Server SSDs have bad block management. A 256 GB server SSD has between 300 and 350 GB of memory, depending on the manufacturer. However, the logic of the SSD displays only 256 GB and leaves this buffer out. If an attempt to write to a block fails, it is marked as unusable and a reserve block from the buffer is activated.

In addition, the controller of the Solid State Drive provides a balanced description of the memory cells. This procedure, known as wear leveling, ensures, for example, that the Windows swap file (pagefile.sys) is not written to the same memory cell every time a save operation is performed, but is distributed over all writeable areas. This significantly delays the overload-related failure of individual cells (the failure occurs on average after about 10,000 complete write accesses).

Costs Of Server SSDs

Before purchasing a server SSD, the hosting company must check the costs. If, for example, a Samsung SM863 or Samsung PM863 is to be used in the server, the gigabyte of storage space costs between 50 and 60 cents (gross retail prices according to price comparison). Depending on the manufacturer and storage size, SAS HDDs quickly fall below the 10 cent mark and conventional 3.5 inch hard disks sometimes offer gigabytes for less than 3 cent. A server SSD is thus more than ten to twenty times as expensive to purchase.

What Are The Disadvantages?

SSD hard drives are so clearly superior to their predecessors that there are no technical disadvantages. As a result, SSD hard disks are a good deal more expensive – this can be interpreted as a disadvantage.

However, this argument is becoming less and less important. SSD hard disks have been on the market for so long that prices have fallen sharply. Samsung SSDs with 500 GB are already available for less than 200 Euro; if 240 GB is enough for you, you don’t even pay 80 Euro for it.

In terms of added value, SSD hard drives are clearly the better choice – also when choosing the right virtual server package. The price-performance ratio speaks for itself.

So this explains why VPS packages can’t be super cheap. You pay a little more for SSD, which is worth it if you depend on the higher performance for your web project.

SSD VPS Comparison

On this page you find our comparison of the best and most reliable web hosting providers and their SSD VPS packages. If you depend on high speed and top server performance for your online project, check out the providers in our comparison table. Find the most cheap SSD VPS hostings at a glance.

Images: SSD hard drive © lefflexus – Fotolia.com
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