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SSD vs HDD in hosting

by on October 26, 2020

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HDDs and SDDs have been in the market for a considerable time now. Over the past decade, HDDs were the sole popular disk space platform but with the introduction of SDDs, the trend is now changing.  SDDs are taking over the hosting market faster, and with an increase in technology, they will soon be dominant in the market.

What is SSD hosting?

SSD stands for Solid State Drive. SSDs are renowned for the ‘speed’ and ‘reliability’ in the market. The reason for their higher speeds is because they have faster data access time. Servers using these drives, therefore, have faster speeds- as SSDs have faster data access time than other drives.

SSDs use a memory called “flash memory”. Flash memory is similar to RAM- but unlike RAM, the memory stores data even in an event where the computer powers off.  SSDs have a grid of electrical cells for sending and receiving data. The grids on SSDs are separated from each other to form “pages”. These pages clump together to form a cluster called “blocks”.

Unlike HDDs, which rely on moving parts, SSDs rely on electronics only that makes them faster and reliable. The way an SSD function is similar to a USB drive. SSDs also store their data in microchips- this explains their faster write/read speeds since microchips have no moving parts. The absence of moving parts in SSDs also makes them resistant to shaking which can cause data corruption or loss.

SSDs write data to empty pages within a block only. The data in SSDs cannot be overwritten and the disk only chooses the empty pages when writing new data.

In web hosting, a site’s visitors love pages that faster. Most modern websites have many resources that also need faster resource access. The medium on which you store your website’s files will determine the speed of your website-But the obvious point is SSDs are faster.  

SSDs speed measurement is different from that of HDD speed- since SSDs are manufactured for different uses. There are read-intensive and write-intensive HDDs whose performance is measured in IOPS.

  • Read-intensive SSD operates at approximately 4600-15500 IOPS
  • Write-intensive SSD operates at approximately 65000-75000 IOPS
Benefits of SDDs Benefits of SDDs
  • Faster access speeds – SSD drives are typically many times faster than hard disk drives. If you want a faster website, you should consider them. For instance, SSD drives are three times faster than HDD drives- choosing them, therefore, guarantees you of faster speeds for your hosted website. Besides every visitor wants pages that load faster; so if you can’t deliver speed expect fewer visitors to your site.
  • High-speed performance – SSDs perform faster than HDDs in data read/write. You can easily load large amounts of data into these drives- and they will still perform faster. This is in comparison to HDDs that have lower performance.
  • Reliable – SSDs have no moving parts- implying better performance than HDDs. Moving parts could easily wear out or tear hence affecting the performance of a hard drive- But for SSDs, their non-moving parts are more reliable.
  • Low power requirements – SSDs uses low power than standard HDDs- you will have to part with lower electricity bills, therefore- And for your laptop, you will get extended battery life.
  • Makes no noise – SSDs have no moving parts-, which consequently means no noise. This is in comparison to HDDs, which makes noise when reading/writing data from/to them.
  • Heat- SSDs generate less heat due to the nature of the flash memory. The absence of moving parts also infers less heat-, which helps to increase its lifespan.
  • Not affected by magnetism – SSDs are not affected by magnetism- their data cannot be erased by a strong magnet. This ensures that your data is safe at all times.
Cons Cons
  • Expensive – Though SSDs have many benefits; they are more expensive than most hard disks. For instance, a 500 GB SSD drive could cost you an excess of $200while a similar HDD drive will cost you $80.
  • They become slower over time – SSDs performance slows down as you continuously use them. This is because these drives save data to empty blocks only. As you continually use these spaces, it will reach a time when you must delete information on some blocks to create space for others. The process of deletion makes these disks slower.
  • Limited storage capacity – unlike HDDs, SSDs have limited higher capacities. Most laptops with SSDs have a limited space of only hundreds of SSD storage space. Although there are SSDs with higher storage spaces of up to 4TB, they are rare to find in the market- And expensive too.
  • Limited in the market – one major challenge with SSDs in the market is that they are considerably fewer- this is in comparison with HDDs- from laptop drives to external media storage, HDDs are always available. However, with the electronics market shifting to portable laptops and tablets- SSDs will soon dominate the drives market.

What is HDD?

HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive. HDD consists of metallic plates. A magnetic head writes data to these plates- And they are all inside an air-sealed casing.  There are read/write head flats found above the spinning platter whose function is to read or write data. The faster the spinning rate of the platter- the faster a hard disk performs.  Most server-based HDDs can spin at the rate of up to 15000 RPM.

One major benefit of HDD used in web hosting is that you can hold many data cheaply. The storage density also continues to grow for HDDs and are becoming cheaper as time goes by. Besides, you will enjoy using the free space.

In terms of size, the HDDs are slightly bigger. For laptop drives, you will find them having a 2.5” size while computer drives have a 3.5” size. A larger size hard disk can accommodate a large number of platters-, which translates to more storage space.

Advantages of HDDs
  • They are affordable – one primary advantage of HDDs is that they are more affordable than SSDs. The price is calculated at dollars per one gigabyte. An SSD with similar storage space as an HDD could cost twice or thrice more than the HDD. Computers and laptops with SSDs are therefore more expensive than those using HDDs.
  • Higher storage capacity – hard disk drives have a wide variety of storage capacity options to choose from- whether you want a 500GB, 2 TB or even an 8TB hard disk, you will always find it. In fact, the base storage space for HDDs is 500GB while SSDs have 128GB base storage. You can, therefore, find an HDD with higher capacity than you would do for an SSD.
  • Easier to find on the market – there is a wide array of HDD drives in the market now- individuals who want to upgrade their hard disks or find an extra one for backing up their data can easily find an HDD.  This is in comparison to SSDs, which are fewer in the market. However, with the increase in devices using SSDs, we will expect the SSD to have the same availability in the future as HDDs now.
  • Has a longer lifespan – HDDs have higher longevity in terms of reading and write cycles, in comparison to SSDs. The flash memory of an SSD has a finite number of data rewrites only- unlike an HDD that can overwrite other data. As an SSD erases data on a block many times to create space for new ones, they will become useless.
Disadvantages of HDDs
  • They are slower – HDDs have different read and write speeds- depending on their rotations per minute (RPM). SSDs are faster than HDDs and if you find an SSD with the same storage space as an HDD, you will find that it is three or four times faster than the HDD.
  • Consumes much power  an HDD requires more power to rotate its metallic platter- And move the magnetic read head too. The implication of these needs is more power usage. SSDs have no moving parts hence require less power.  
  • Produces much noise – HDDs produce noise while in operations. The spinning of the metallic platters and movements of the magnetic read head creates some mechanical noises when the computer is using the hard disk. The result is vibrations, which becomes more evident during intense usage of the hard disk. SSDs have no movable parts; and consequently no noise when in operation.
  • Less durable  HDDs are more prone to data corruption, data loss or disk failure. These implications result from the movable mechanical parts that can receive damages because of shudder or drop of the disk.  These damages could result in an integrity failure or in worst cases- hard disk failure.

Summary of differences between SSD’s vs HDDs

No. Point SSD HDD
1. Capacity Notebook-size SSD drives have a maximum 1TB storage while desktop type SSDs have a maximum 4TB storage Notebook-size HDD drives have a maximum 2TB storage while desktop type HDDs have a maximum 10TB storage
2. Power draw/Battery life SSDs have less power draw of between 2-3watts that results in 30+ minutes battery boost. HDDs have more power draws of between 6-7 watts, which uses more battery power.
3. Cost For cost calculation, we will use estimations basing on a 1TB drive. SSDs cost roughly $0.20 per GB. For cost calculations, we will use estimations basing on a 1TB drive. HDDs cost roughly $0.03 per GB
4. OS boot time Average boot time of around 10-13 seconds Average boot time of around 30-40 seconds
5. Noise SSDs have no moving parts and consequently no noise HDDS moving parts could produce clicks and spinning sounds that can be heard when the disk is in operation.
6. Heat produced SSDs have less power draws and consequently produces less heat HDDs do not produce quantifiable heat, but compared to SSDs it produces more heat due to large power draws and moving parts.
7. Encryption Some SSD models support full disk encryption Some HDD models support full disk encryption
8. Magnetism effect SSDs are not affected by magnetism Strong magnets can erase data from an HDD
9. Vibrations SSDs produce no vibrations due to the absence of moving parts. HDDs can produce vibrations due to the platters’ spinning action.
10. Write speed SSDs have higher write speeds that are above 200MB/s. some cutting drive edges also have up to 550MB/s speeds. HDDs drive speed could range anywhere from 50-120MB/s.

HDD in web hosting

Over the last few years, HDD’s use in the hosting industry has been tremendous due to two reasons: they are affordable and have large scalability.  However, the trend is slowly changing as the popularity of SSDs keeps surging every day especially in dedicated hosting. After choosing a hosting service, your next task should understand the SSD and HDD storage and what each has to offer.


Which is faster?

When it comes to speed, SSDs always take the day. For instance, an SSSD with one 100 GB storage has three or four times faster speed than a hard disk of the same storage space.  Web hosting has high transaction volumes and disk access is more common. You will, therefore, need a faster drive to process these data requests especially when your site has higher loads. Using slower servers could result in slower webpage loading speeds, which will place your site at a disadvantage in competition.

Which has more space?

When it comes to larger space, HDDs always takes the day. HDDs provide relatively cheaper storage than SSDs. For that case, you will find that the price of a 10GB HDD will not be the same for an SSD with similar storage space. SSD hosting plans are therefore more expensive than HDD hosting plans.

The unlimited storage of SSD drives also keeps them out of shared hosting- Since shared hosting requires more disk space for the many uses.

Which is more reliable?

We do know that solid-state drives perform faster as they have no mechanical parts. Another reason, which increases their performance, is that they respond faster to requests than hard disks- An SSDs will, therefore, respond faster to many requests- up to 19 times faster than HDDs. The SSDs will highly unlikely be overloaded by these requests that help in maintaining the webpage load speeds.

Which has more uptime?

HDDs have mechanical parts that increase their risks of failure. When the hard disk failure occurs, your site will go down until you install a new drive on the server or restore data on the failed disk. In case you have no backups of your data, your site could lose more while also putting the online operations of your company at stake. For SSDs, it is different, as they have no mechanical parts. SSDs are therefore less susceptible to failure that makes it more reliable over HDDs.

Which one costs more?

Due to their fast write/read speeds, SSD hosting costs more than HDD hosting. The higher costs of SSD hosting comes from the expensive prices of the SSD drives- And the fact that the manufacturing companies use expensive resources to manufacture these drives. However, the differences between SDD and HDD hosting are not so enormous. But whatever the differences in speed- you should consider the reliability and speed more- especially if your company has higher traffic loads.

Bottom line

The bottom line is that both drives are beneficial to hosting- but it all depends on a site’s needs.

HDD hosting may be the right choice if you need:

  • The higher storage capacity of up to 10TB
  • You want to spend less money on hosting
  • Your site has less traffic
  • You don’t mind the speed of your website

SDD hosting is the best choice if you need:

  • Faster and more reliable site performance
  • Need less than the 10TB storage capacity

HDDs are still more popular in hosting- especially in shared hosting due to their cheaper price and large space. However, SSDs use in hosting –especially dedicated hosting is rising, as larger companies prefer them for handling their numerous data requests. That said both drives still have a say in the hosting market.

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