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Solid state drives have dropped in price and the performance benefits to desktop users are immediately obvious to anyone who owns one: your computer will fly. But does this translate into benefits to a website when utilising SSD hosting? Of course it does, and here’s why you should be looking at SSD hosting from your provider.

Check out SSD web hosting by Doteasy, starting at just $4.95 a month for the first year.

What are SSDs?

Solid State Disk drives use non-volatile memory to store information. Unlike regular volatile memory (RAM), this means that the data isn’t lost when power is disconnected. Traditional drives need to spin around their platters to locate data before it can be read or modified – SSDs don’t have this issue, so seek times (the time it takes to “find” your data on the drive) are up significantly faster.

ssd

In terms of raw I/O performance, testing by Dell showed MBPS (megabits per second) of transfer under heavy load to be 2x or greater compared to enterprise class spinning drives – a single SSD can achieve the same throughput or better than a 3-disk RAID 0 array.

Particularly important for dynamic data-driven websites and those with high concurrent traffic (such as Facebook, or Twitter) is the access time – the time is takes to first locate the data area before it can be read from or written to. With HDDs, this can vary from 15-20 milliseconds (Source: NotebookCheck), SSDs cut this down to as little as 0.2 milliseconds. Clearly, in a world where shaving milliseconds off the response time of a website is critical, SSDs offer an enormous advantage.

Web Hosting Performance

The benefits of faster data access for your server software should be obvious, but are of particular importance to modern data-driven sites that dynamically generate pages from hundreds of database queries.

Currently, many websites are created with open source web applications such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal due to their ease-of-use and flexibility to customize the way they look with thousands of free themes and plugins. When a visitor enters a dynamic website such as WordPress, the visit triggers database queries and content access at the same time. With traditional web hosting plans that use spinning hard disk drives, access is slow due to the mechanical movement of the HDDs. To be more specific, HDDs store information on rotating disks and an actuator arm that reads the information has to move in order to access the stored data — physical movement takes a sizeable amount of time (find out more about how spinning hard drives work How Does A Hard Drive Work? [Technology Explained] How Does A Hard Drive Work? [Technology Explained] Read More ). With solid state drives, data is read and written simultaneously. Therefore, the browsing experience will significantly more pleasant thanks to the reduced loading time.

For eCommerce websites, loading speed is a huge factor: a slow website results in fewer sales. Customers get frustrated, abandoning the cart or site completely. You might think four seconds is a reasonable load time, but you’ll have already lost 25 per cent of potential customers at that point! (According to KISSmetrics data)

Get blazing fast performance with SSD hosting from Doteasy at just $4.95 per month for the first year.

ecommerce-frustration

Even if you’re not selling anything, serving pages faster is going to increase the overall usability of your site – that means more interaction, more page views, and more ad revenue if that’s your income source.

There’s a number of third party services, plugins and general tactics you can take to improve performance (W3 Total Cache on WordPress 3 Ways The W3 Total Cache Plugin Can Speed Up Your Wordpress Blog 3 Ways The W3 Total Cache Plugin Can Speed Up Your Wordpress Blog Read More , for instance). But ultimately, there’s not a lot you can do if the core performance of your web host is simply too slow – that particular bottleneck is out of your hands. SSD hosting tackles the core of the problem, as well as enhancing any disk caching performance you would see when used alongside those plugins. The added benefits of SSD hosting will ripple through every layer of your site – file access, database queries, down to usability.

Although the difference in raw data access times compared to a regular disk drive may be measured in milliseconds, when your site is being hammered by high traffic, those milliseconds can make all the difference!

Reliability

Unlike mechanical HDDs which can just give up the ghost and die – resulting in complete data loss – SSDs simply prevent further write access at their end of life, while the data stored within it can still be read. The lack of moving parts also means they’re less susceptible to shock or vibration damage, as well as having a greater range of operational temperatures. All of which means you’re less likely to suffer the catastrophe of losing your data, or worry about the thought of having to deal with that; thereby allowing you to focus your energy on improving your website.

not-mechanical-hdd

This is, of course, no excuse not to back up your site How To Backup Your Website Through SSH Command Line How To Backup Your Website Through SSH Command Line Backing up your website or blog can be an expensive and arduous task, requiring a variety of plugins, or additional plans from your hosting provider - but it needn't be really. If you have SSH... Read More on a regular basis, but it should at least prevent some extreme cases.

Environmental Considerations

As cloud storage and data requirements for the Internet generation increase, it’s important that we make ethically responsible decisions about how we power that technological progress – and make as efficient use of that power as possible. SSDs consume less energy than spinning drives, and run cooler – around 80% less power consumption on a per gigabyte basis. On an individual server level, it may not make a huge impact, but at the scale of entire data centres, there are real environmental savings to be made.

wind-generators

Start From Scratch, or Upgrade Later?

If you have an existing hosting plan, you’re going to see instant performance gains in migrating to SSD hosting – and prices are comparable so there won’t even be a premium to pay. You may find your new plan has slightly less storage allowance, but the chances are you’re not using it all anyway – sacrificing a little space for a lot of performance gains is a small price to pay.

If you’re just starting out with web development, there’s no excuse to not opt for SSD hosting right from the offset – but don’t use that as a crutch to neglect all the other aspects of website optimization 3 Ways To Speed Your Site Up With The Cloud 3 Ways To Speed Your Site Up With The Cloud The Cloud is the answer to all the worlds problems, it would seem - a buzzword technology that sends computing full circle right back to where it started - with a thin client model and... Read More . Every millisecond of time saved is a good thing!

But Don’t SSDs Wear Out Faster And Slow Down?

In short: no. Even the cheapest SSDs with Triple-Level Cell NAND can withstand the entire capacity of the drive being written to every day for nearly 10 years before deteriorating. In the past, it’s true that performance would degrade with time due to the need to erase a cell before writing to it. Nowadays, the invention of TRIM technology has corrected this – the operating system will tell the SSD to pre-emptively erase unused cells so that can be immediately written to.

In summary: better core performance, faster database queries, faster caching – that’s a winning formula for more traffic, more sales, and more revenue. What are you waiting for?

Image credit: Shutterstock – SSD and Laptop, Inside of a 3.5″ hard disk, businesswoman with computer at work, Wind Generators, Ecology

  1. Dan Davidson
    December 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    SSD, especially in the commercial sector have advanced light years and continue to do so. I would not use a PC, laptop, or server that did not make use of them. The difference in performance is undeniable.

    I recently moved my wordpress sites over from a dedicated server where they were having constant IO problems. Of all places I ended up moving them all onto a shared hosting provider that uses SSD and things have been running smoothly and fast since that point. I save a bunch of $, time, and stress. So really a win all the way around.

    Point of the story? SSD made it possible for me to move sites that before needed a dedicated server and drop them onto a shared host (https://kickassd.com).

  2. mark k.
    September 25, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Nice artcle, but I have to ask, since ssd hosting is necessary how come some companies do not offer it at all (hostgator.com for example, or I can't seem to find where and how much it costs) some charge it a bit more (dotnet.com for example) and some include it for free in their plans (like intraweb.host) ?

    • James Bruce
      September 26, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Some don't offer it at all because they're budget hosts who don't care about speed at all. However, some don't mention it because they offer a world class service regardless, and don't feel the need to go into technical details about what disks they're hosting the system on. Some make such a big point of it, that you have to wonder about the rest of their service, because hosting on SSDs is only one tiny part of the equation.

  3. Vance Davies
    March 19, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    When people choose SSD hosting they shouldn't base their decision solely on that. There are a few other things to consider:

    1. Is it pure SSD?

    Many use caching setups which while better than standard mechanical drives still does not = a pure SSD setup.

    2. What RAID is being used?

    Many hosts using Pure RAID cut corners by using small Raid such as 0, 1, 5. Yes I do know of hosts using RAID 0 on shared hosting servers, this is crazy, and 1 and 5 is not much better though at least a little redundancy is offered.

    3. What else does the host offer in their environment for performance enhancements?

    With the price of RAM a host based on performance should be offering something besides SSD. Opcode caching, file caching, etc.

    4. One of the biggest reason for SSD is Database performance but if the host is running a Mysql server that has not been highly tuned than it will not make any difference and performance will be worse than a host on mechanical drives with a tuned Mysql. MariaDB is also a plus.

    Long story short don't be caught up by the SSD hype and make sure the host has more than just SSD. I searched for months and talked to many Webhosts that offer SSD webhosting before I actually found https://kickassd.com which met all of my requirements and answered all my questions.

  4. BennyB
    March 4, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Ad or not, the indirect message that I get form the article is that SSD is your sawoyer. It's not !
    But, the HDD is no longer a bottleneck when using SSD's on a Server. It's the Code, the Internet and the endusers Browser that has been Bloat and Malwared to a standstill.

    The default Local Cache on Internet Explorer is still 250MB and is defaulted to that when creating a new User. That is a serious bottleneck. 250MB can hold 10 of thousands of small files that's going to take forever to look up on a hard fragmented 5400 rpm "Green" drive.

    But the real win is in the Power consumption, and I did the Math (hope i'm right):

    1 x 3½" 600GB SAS 15K rpm disk typical power consumption 13 - 20 Watt
    Server with 2 disks = 26 - 40 Watt
    Rack 45 1U Server = 1.170 - 1.800 Watt

    1 x 500GB SSD typical power consumption 2 - 4 watt
    Server with 2 disks = 4 - 8 Watt
    Rack 45 1U Server = 180 - 360 Watt

    SSD is only consuming close to 1/5 of an 3½" SAS 15K rpm = 80% saved.

    That is massive 1,44 KWh saved pr. full Rack. That's more than 34 KWh pr day, or 12,6 MWh pr. year.
    Think about having, lets say, 500 Racks ! That would be arround 6,3 GWh pr. year.

  5. Wesley Hermans
    January 15, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I agree with this good article.
    I had my previous server with a regular HDD, but a little optimization and SSD server later my website is blazing fast.
    To be honest the guys at my current web host (rosehosting.com) did the optimization for me, but nevertheless, the SSD drive help a lot.

  6. Guy M
    April 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    @Pieter at the beginning of the article , it says "This post was made possible by Doteasy Technology. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of MakeUseOf. For more details, please read our disclaimer."

    Which means that Doteasy really wanted one of our writers to review them by sponsoring the article. So James did. All I'm saying is that James is probably our harshest critic of things, and he is pretty much always spot on. So even though the article is sponsored, you can trust that James will always give his true feelings. You should watch him on our Technophilia podcast. He's a terribly bright guy who calls them as he sees them.

    • James B
      April 12, 2014 at 7:58 am

      Aww, blushing now. Excuse me while I go get us a room...

  7. Guy M
    April 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    @Pieter your point about website optimization is a great one, and the FIRST thing that should be done by a web developer. Unfortunately, most people making websites these days aren't developers. They use WP and Joomla and just throw media and script at it. So, some gains by hosting on an SSD host might be all they will get.

    Even though this article is an 'ad' believe me when I say you can't pay James enough to say he likes something that he does not like.
    Sometimes you can barely get him to say he likes something that he really does like! ;)

    I find the energy savings part intriguing. I wonder how much energy savings a rack full of servers could have if they switched from HDDs to SSDs. Something to look into.

    • Pieter
      April 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      I'm with you on the energy savings. A single server might not use massive amounts of energy, but a whole serverpark with 1000s of servers does. Switching to more energy-efficient hardware will stack up quickly.

      The ad part is because the article has a convenient ad in the middle for SSD hosting. Even if it's unintentional it gives the article a feel of being an infomercial.

  8. Gee Deezy
    April 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Nice ad.

    • Pieter
      April 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      It is indeed a nice ad... Also, the benefits of a server with SSD drives are slightly exaggerated. From my personal experiences as a webdeveloper I can tell you IO is rarely a problem in real world situations. Sure an SSD will be slightly faster, but faster and more memory will in most cases result in much bigger improvements. And, if your website runs on multiple servers (which it often will. Think seperate app and db servers), improving networking speeds between those servers can yield bigger improvements as well.

      Also, while improving your server hardware can be important to get your website to more people. For website load times the bulk of the time will go into getting the website from the server to the screen of your user. This means downloading all the files needed and rendering. In almost all cases websites can massively reduce the amount of data sent to users, which means reducing load times not by 1 or 2 ms, but often by 100+ ms. The homepage of this very website, for instance, is loading a lot of javascript files that could be combined into a single file, reducing the amount of round trips to the servers and reducing the amount of time files spend waiting in line to be downloaded. This could easily improve performance more than switching to SSD could. The homepage, currently, also shows a png file that's 364 KB in size, even though it's never shown in the resolution it's downloaded in (not even close) and even if it was a simple optimization would reduce its filesize by something like 67% (I tried). The image took almost 300 ms to get downloaded on my not so fast connection, so optimizing this would, for people with similar connections, shave well over 150 ms off the download time. If the image resolution was reduced to the size it's actually shown in, the download size could be reduced even further.

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