What is SSD Hosting
Over the last few years, most of the major web hosting companies have transitioned their data center hardware from web servers installed with traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) to new Solid State Drives (SSDs) for better performance and faster speeds. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage technology dates back to the 1950s and operates similarly in many ways to phonograph recordings or vinyl records. Data is stored in patterns magnetically on a spinning wheel with each drive equipped with a sensor apparatus that will seek out the information and send it to the CPU.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) became common around 2009 and contain no rotating parts in their design, constructed rather from NAND-Flash memory similar to what is used in RAM chips or thumb drives. SSDs offer much faster read/write times on data transfers compared to HDDs primarily because there is no head and arm mechanism used to seek out the information. SSDs use integrated circuits to store digital files in binaries instead of electromagnetic recording technology.
Why you need SSD Hosting
SSD hosting has been a majorly positive development in hosting, enabling much faster database processing and web page performance speeds. Accordingly, it would not be recommended for any high-performance website or mobile app publisher to host their code on legacy HDD-driven hardware.
The majority of shared hosting plans found on Linux & Windows platforms now include SSD storage support at affordable prices. CMS users will especially appreciate the increased performance speeds if upgrading to SSD-driven servers from an HDD plan.
VPS and dedicated server users can secure a discount on hardware if they choose to go with legacy HDD storage configurations, but with 20x slower speeds on I/O & read/write processes on average, there is little advantage other than the cost savings to do so instead of picking SSD hosting.
SSD Hosting Versus HDD Hosting
When SSDs became common in the consumer market in 2009, they were initially priced quite expensively when compared to HDDs of equal storage capacity. However, as the price of SSD technology decreased and web hosting companies upgraded their web server hardware, SSDs have begun to replace HDDs across the board as a de facto standard common to every web hosting plan, primarily due to consumer demand, industry competition, and superior performance.
Some companies still offer web hosting plans based on HDD storage at a cheaper cost than SSD configurations, particularly on dedicated server and VPS accounts. On shared hosting plans, it is not always clear whether a company offers HDD or SSD storage on their hardware, although most webhosts prominently advertise SSD storage capability when they have it installed on their platforms.
Overall, it is important to know the performance differences between the two main storage standards and to evaluate competing web hosting plans with regards to the cost basis per GB of storage capability provided under each format.
The major advantage of using HDD storage is that it is available much cheaper than comparable SSD equipment. Almost all of the cloud hosting found in the marketplace today is based on SSD standards, with only a small sector of the budget hosting industry offering cheap shared hosting plans still relying on HDDs exclusively. HDDs also have a significantly higher fail rate in production when compared to SSDs, although some companies can take advantage of the cost advantage of HDDs for data backups, offsite storage, and hosting large digital archives for downloads.
One of the main causes of server failure is overloading the hardware with I/O requests which the 20x faster processing ability of SSDs mitigates significantly. Another problem is that repeated use of the equipment under strain leads to mechanical failure. SSDs are viewed to be more reliable than HDDs because they lack the moving parts and spinning wheels that can malfunction, but they have another problem related to electron tunneling on the nano-scale that limits the number of times a specific sector of the chip can be recorded to that leads to bit errors or shorn writes.
What are the Benefits of SSD Hosting
In benchmark tests conducted on web servers, SSDs were shown to transfer 95% more data under heavy strain than HDDs and to perform on average at rates of 20x faster in processing I/O requests. SSD performance is also determined by the data transfer speeds permitted by the bus type, of which SAS, SATA, PCI Express, Fibre Channel, USB, & PATA are all frequently used in web hosting.
SSD Hosting Factors to Consider
Failure Rates - In benchmark testing by third party experts, HDDs tended to fail on average at rates of 3.5% of the equipment over the life cycle of the drive, whereas SSDs failed at rates of around 0.5%.
Hosting Speed - This is a category where SSD shines with average read and write times of over 500 MB/s and bursts of up to 700 MB/s. In the web hosting industry, the performance speed of SSD storage over HDD technology is so great that website owners are actually at a competitive disadvantage if they fail to sign up for a plan based on SSDs. As many webhosts implement vRAM solutions on shared accounts that increase the amount of RAM available to CMS sites by running on a storage partition, it is particularly important to make sure that these plans include SSD hardware or the CMS response times will be noticeably slow. Therefore, many hosting companies offer "Cloud" VPS plans with SSD hardware options at a slightly higher cost than HDD-based options with much better performance rates.
Power Consumption - The lower power consumption required by SSDs in operation can save money over time for web hosting companies and private cloud owners, as well as reduce the environmental strain generated by the sector. In benchmark testing, an average solid state drive (SSD) requires 0.38 watts of power per hour while idle, 0.68 watts per hour to perform a read operation, 2 watts per hour in processing database functions, and 3.01 watts per hour at max write speeds. In comparison, a normal hard disk drive (HDD) consumed around 15x more power while idle and 2.5-7x more power in heavy operations than the SSD equipment.
Durability and Reliability - SSDs are viewed to be more reliable than HDDs because they lack the moving parts and spinning wheels that can malfunction, but they have another problem related to electron tunneling on the nano-scale that limits the number of times a specific sector of the chip can be recorded to that leads to bit errors or shorn writes. Most estimates suggest a range of 10 to 20 years for SSD storage hardware longevity, although many webhosts upgrade more frequently to take advantage of new technology standards.
Cost - For high performance users willing to pay a premium for elite web server configurations, the extra cost of SSD is justified by the 20x faster I/O and read/write speeds needed to support complex web & mobile applications at scale in production. However, for bargain rate or budget webhosts operating on a small margin with shared hosting plans, it has been a long process in completing the industry-wide change over to SSD technology.
How to Migrate to SSD Hosting
In order to migrate to a SSD hosting plan, there are two basic options: have the web hosting company staff do it for you or do-it-yourself manually.
Some companies offer a free website migration service to bring in new customers. You will need to give your account login details to the data center staff for them to access cPanel or FTP and pull the database plus site files to the new server. Some companies charge as much as $180 for this service so it pays to shop around and find a free migration offer.
In terms of manual transfers, the basic process is to pack the website files into a zip file for download and to export the database either through phpMyAdmin or the CMS. Some users may choose to install a new copy of the CMS on the SSD host and then just export the database to create a mirror of the website.
Another method is to use FXP and transfer all of the files between the two hosts without a download to the desktop. Experienced users may also be able to use command line tools to expedite the procedure. With cPanel, all of this can be done using the File Manager utility for zip archives and phpMyAdmin for database exports/imports.
With WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and other CMS scripts, there are a number of third-party modules and extensions that can help with the process. The main requirement is to create a new MySQL database, user, & password, then update the CMS script with the credentials after the original codebase has been transferred.
Is SSD Hosting Right For Me?
Who is SSD Hosting for?
Since Google changed their search engine algorithms to focus on page load speed over other factors, it has become even more important for business website owners, ecommerce sites, and web publishers to run their sites on SSD hardware to gain a competitive advantage. In practical terms, this is most important for highly trafficked websites and mobile applications
In general, any website owner on shared hosting should determine whether or not their site is running on SSD hardware and migrate to another company at a similar cost range if the plan is still operating on HDD-based servers. vRAM options are not well suited for running on HDD when managing CMS code for web publishing but perform almost equivalently to system RAM when running on SSD storage partitions.
As the cost has come down on SSD storage options for VPS and dedicated server plans, it makes little sense to run websites and mobile apps on hardware that will perform at 20x slower speeds than competitors. However, there is not any standardization of pricing in the industry for equivalent services, so it is necessary to shop around between webhosts to find the same hardware and software services at the lowest price.
Who is SSD Hosting NOT right for?
Websites primarily composed of static HTML pages that do not draw heavily on server resources may not notice a major difference between HDD and SSD plans. Some companies with large file archives and download services that do not require the fastest speeds may be able to save money on storage by choosing HDD options with VPS, cloud, or dedicated server plans.
Similarly, single user blog sites with less than 1000 to 2000 visitors per day can make extensive use of free page caching and CDN utilities to remain on budget hosting with unlimited HDD storage at costs as low as $3 per month.
Usually it is worth the minimal extra cost for the speed gains to upgrade any PHP/MySQL website to SSD hardware, but budget users can implement free page caching and CDN solutions with their sites to gain near equivalent performance if locked into a legacy HDD platform.
Additionally, it may not be worth the time and effort to migrate to another host if a published website or multi-domain portfolio is performing adequately under low traffic requirements with a long-term discount contract on a shared hosting plan.
Choose the Best SSD Hosting
Deciding to upgrade to SSD hosting means that you require speed, efficiency, and scaling. Thanks to SSD hosting, you can reliably receive great uptime, security, dependability and more. While it might be slightly more expensive than an existing HDD hosting solution, the advantages of SSD are absolutely too large to ignore for growing websites with expanding traffic.
To determine the best SSD hosting options, explore our SSD hosting reviews to uncover the best hosting plan to help your website thrive.