SSD’s (Solid State Drives) are an alternative to hard disks. Instead of copying and writing information via spinning disks, SSD’s read and write the data simultaneously with no moving parts, making the browsing experience significantly faster due to the reduced loading time.
Whereas a hard drive stores all of the data on platters, (a sequence of spinning magnetic disks) and then has the read/write heads on an actuator arm attached which then positions them over the correct area of the drive to get the information it needs, working almost in the same way as a record player. The need for the drive heads to align over a specific area of the disk in order to get the information, and with the disks constantly spinning, can cause a wait time before data can be accessed which is increased further if the drive needs to read from multiple locations in order to open a program or load a file.
On the other hand, SSD’s or Solid State Drives use flash memory instead of motors and read/write heads and the information is stored in microchips. This not only means that they retain information even when the power is off but because they don’t have to move the heads around and wait for the platter to be in the right position before it can be read, access time can be up to 50 times faster than hard drives.
As sites such as blogs and eCommerce stores grow in popularity and traffic, they become more database heavy in their inputs and outputs as they get more and more simultaneous requests. This can slow down the recall of information from the database when using traditional ‘spinning media’ disk drives, the kind that HDD’s use as the physicality of spinning hard disks and the mechanical head limits the information that can be requested at any one time. By using SSD’s instead, the drive can obtain information much quicker and therefore load and perform much better for the user.
So far so good? However, in 2012 when SSD’s were hyped to be the next big thing in computing one of the biggest email providers, MailChimp fitted the majority of their servers with SSD’s. Unbeknown at this point, the SSD’s that were being used in the servers were found to have a life of 5000 hours, at which point they crashed and all data was lost. The intensity of what the SSD’s were being used for and the lifetime of the SSD’s caused a complete failure. MailChimp were lucky in that only 788 users of their 1.2 million user base actually lost their campaigns and all of their data, however this is still considered to be a disaster in terms of customer and recovery reassurance.
On the one hand, we want to always stay ahead of the curve with the technology we can provide for our customers, ensuring they get the most out of their hosting but without jeopardising the quality by using products that haven’t been extensively tested. This does bring up an important point; whether you’re using HDD’s or SSD’s, it’s essential to ensure you have a backup plan in place because unfortunately, as with all technology, the drive can fail and your data can be lost.
HDD’s are still relevant and definitely win when being compared in regards to price, capacity and availability however, SSD’s work best when speed, form factor, noise or fragmentation are priority. This is why we’ve made the decision to offer both options; in our entry level packages, we offered HDD’s which allow for plenty space while keeping prices down. The idea being that most of our customers that are on the entry level packages are most concerned with the space they can get for the price. With our Premium packages we’ve began using SSD’s which means although there is a price increase, anything running on them should be loading much faster for your users.
As SSD’s have developed and become more common, prices have inevitably decreased and as such, we recently made the decision to upgrade all new entry and premium packages to SSD drives.
If you’re unsure which hosting package would work best for your business, get in touch with us and we can guide you on which option would be most appropriate.