When scoping out a server, whether you are looking at something to host your company website or a server that will host the application that you sell to your clients, it is important to have the right resources in place. In general, you can’t go wrong with getting as much CPU and RAM as you can buy, but when it comes to hard drives sometimes it can feel overwhelming, because there is a choice between size vs. speed. So which drive should you choose? We will try to help out by going over the 3 different types of drive available from Vault Networks for dedicated servers – HDD, SSD, and SAS.
Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are the oldest form of storage technology in use today, but they are also capable of storing incredibly large amounts of storage for much lower costs than Solid-State drives (SSD) and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives. Commonly referred to by their PC interface connection, SATA, these drives operate on spinning disks and have been mostly unchanged for many years. Until a recent announcement by Samsung in late 2015, SATA drives were also the only way to get truly large hard drives as well (the Samsung Drive which holds the crown for largest in the world as of this writing is an SSD). Even with that change, larger drives will still be SATA drives, so if your application is storing a lot of cold data, SATA is likely still the best way to go. However, SATA drives are much slower than SAS and SSD drives – the WD Velociraptor line has done some work to speed them up, but even Velociraptors are slower than SAS and SSD drives. But if your concern is to maximize gigabytes or terabytes of space, SATA drives are worth considering.
Solid-State Drives are the opposite of Hard Disk Drives, and they have removed the spinning disks seen in SATA drives for flash storage – USB drives and SD cards are common examples of flash storage seen outside the server world, though SSD drives tend to be much higher quality and perform much quicker. They are normally sold in smaller sizes, but they are incredibly fast when it comes to input and output speeds. There were concerns about older SSD drives failing as they have only a finite amount of read/write actions they can take, but as the technology has gotten more use these fears are no longer really founded, as can be seen in this report from PCWorld. The true issue with SSD drives is that they are costly, so unless there isn’t that much storage that is needed or unless the speed is that important they can be limiting to most projects.
Serial Attached SCSI falls in between traditional hard drives and SSDs. SCSI drives are clocked at 15k RPM (revolutions per minute) for speed – to compare, WD Velociraptors are 10k, and traditional SATA drives are 7.2k. SSD drives don’t have any revolutions because they are solid (no spinning disks), so they don’t have any RPM metrics to compare; we have performed our own comparison between traditional drives and SSD drives in the past – there were no 10k or 15k drives used in our test, but the benefits of SSD over SATA are clear in the charts, and going by the statistics a 15k drive would fall in the middle. SAS drives are also a bit less costly than SSDs, so if a balance is needed between speed and storage, SAS makes a lot of sense to consider.
In the end, there isn’t truly a ‘best’ drive for every type of server. If you are hosting a massive database that doesn’t get changed often, then a large SATA drive (or SATA RAID) might make the most sense. If data isn’t being collected but the application needs to run as fast as possible, then an SSD drive should be used. If some data is collected, and performance is a concern, then WD Velociraptors or SAS drives should be considered. If you need assistance finding the right drive for your server, feel free to talk with our sales team, who will be happy to help you find the right hard drive for your project. To learn more about our server offerings, feel free to reach out to us at (305) 735-8098 option 2 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.