22.08.2021

What’s better for a dedicated server: HDD, SSD or NVMe?

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In this article, we will discuss drives. Or rather, we’ll try to make it easier to see what type of disk is best used in dedicated servers. Which technology is now held in high esteem, if it’s worth paying a premium for, and why one should opt for these new technologies.

What are HDD, SSD and NVMe?

These are types of storage devices, digital data storage technologies. Drives. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

HDD

The traditional version of the drive. They have already been around for 50 years, so everyone knows what they are. A few modifications notwithstanding, the basic principle of HDD operation has not changed throughout its long history.

Inside there is a spinning disk with a spindle from which the read head collects data. Because of their physical nature, these drives are slow. Access to data is carried out "physically" when the disk rotates to a certain area. It also makes hard drives a somewhat unreliable way to store data.

It is easy to damage an HDD drive, and the service life of the mechanical elements is shorter than that of its more modern counterparts (we'll talk about them later).

But it is an inexpensive way to build a huge file storage system. HDDs are significantly cheaper than the other formats, which is partly what keeps them in high demand in 2020.

SSD

Solid State Drives are a giant evolutionary step in the development of drives. Unlike standard HHD drives, they use NAND-Flash memory. Yes, like USB sticks.

There are no moving parts in drives like these, and this alone makes the disk more reliable. It guarantees a longer service life. Deterioration is much less, and the likelihood of data loss due to physical damage is much lower.

And the speed limit here is noticeably higher – an SSD is ten times faster than an HDD.

True, the SSD uses the same interface and the same protocol as its precursor, so it cannot be said unequivocally that the full potential of the technology has been achieved.

NVMe

Here we fine the cutting edge in data storage technology. To date, nothing faster than the NVMe has come to market. It is the same SSD, but instead of the SATA interface intended for old hard drives, the PCI-e interface is used instead.

Hence, it boasts an additional six-fold increase in its work speed. For comparison – an SSD overclocks to 500 MB/s, and an NVMe can easily handle 3500 MB/s.

A nice boost, one that takes the power of a dedicated server to a completely new level. For small projects, this would be a bit of a luxury, but still useful. Though for complex projects in the modern world, you really need this kind of hardware.

Comparison of HDD, SSD and NVMe

Here's a handy chart to compare the different types of drives by their main characteristics.

   

    HDD

  • Interface type: SATA-III

  • Average read/write speed: 100 MB/s

  • Throughput - operations per second: Up to 100

  • Average unit life: About 50,000 hours

  • Maximum single disk space: Up to 12 TB

  • Ability to reconnect a disk without powering down the system: Yes

  • Average cost of 500 GB of space: €30

  • S.M.A.R.T. Support: Yes

    SSD

  • Interface type: SATA-III

  • Average read/write speed: 500 MB/s

  • Throughput - operations per second: Up to 100000

  • Average unit life: About 1.5 mln. hours

  • Maximum single disk space: Up to 4 TB

  • Ability to reconnect a disk without powering down the system: Yes

  • Average cost of 500 GB of space: About €45

  • S.M.A.R.T. Support: Yes

    NVMe

  • Interface type: PCI-e Gen 3.0

  • Average read/write speed: 3500 MB/s

  • Throughput - operations per second: Up to 500000

  • Average unit life: About 1.5 mln. hours

  • Maximum single disk space: Up to 2 TB

  • Ability to reconnect a disk without powering down the system: No

  • Average cost of 500 GB of space: €90

  • S.M.A.R.T. Support: Yes

No surprises here. The more reliable and faster the drive is, the more expensive it is. A server needs the reliability and speed of a flash drive more than an ordinary computer (we mean any single device, whether it’s a home or office PC), and therefore, the view on cost increases should be slightly adjusted, looking not only to economize, but also at how effective the technology is.

What type of disks should I choose?

As you have already seen, an answer to the question of "Which is better?" has been found. It seems obvious to those who are familiar with the technology. But, it still remains to make a choice for yourself.

That is, we will focus on the goal of a particular buyer and, based on this, choose servers with the right data storage device, because without a description of the tasks assigned to the server, it isn’t possible to honestly answer the question of how best to manage your money in order to achieve the greatest efficiency.

For small sites

It's fair to assume that HDD performance is more than enough for a small landing page.

For something more substantial, you can buy a hybrid. This is when the software components that need high speeds are stored on the SSD, while the media remains on the HDD. This approach helps to save money, yet it doesn’t make the site slow.

And there is also the option to build a RAID 10 system. This will squeeze every ounce of speed out of a classic hard drive to the level of a good flash drive, albeit you’ll have to sacrifice the total amount of available space.

Losses in speed will affect server performance more noticeably, however.

For gaming servers and demanding projects

With the growth in requests, you need to change the configuration of your server. Losses in speed will hit your reputation hard if visitors stumble upon them, and those losses can be far worse than the cost of an SSD.

So an SSD is a must-have. And thankfully this kind of memory is now not as dear as it once was.

The increase in throughput, as we have already seen, is colossal. Conclusions are not difficult to draw.

For servers with a huge amount of data

If you need to handle a giant web application or resource that stores an extensive amount of data, then an NVMe should be seriously considered. Expensive, yes, but this is the future. An NVMe disk will reduce the time it takes to load pages and find data.

Even if you do not focus on specific values, the overall end-user impression of a product based on NVMe storage is far more positive.

For large-scale sites, this is the ability to continue to work quickly, despite a sky-high volume of data and an uncontrolled traffic flow.

Conclusions

It's simple: Do you have the money? Get the best – buy an NVMe. If your budget is limited, then we suggest taking an SSD.

No problem. We are here for you. Our experienced engineers can assemble for you a custom build for any job or budget.

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