Travel, Technology, Health

SSD Hosting is the future

February 19, 2016 / Eddy / Technology, Web Hosting

I have been using web hosting services since 1998 and using several web hosts and migrating from one platform to another over the years. At one point of time, I migrated from a shared hosting to a dedicated server because at that point of time, the fastest CPU used on the server was probably much slower than the lowest end mobile phone that is available now. A lot has changed over the decades now that SSD web hosting is finding its way into mainstream hosting.

Largely web host servers are dedicated computers which relied on hard drive as their storage media and each time someone visit your website, the web server will have to read the content on the hard drive, process it and send it to the visitor’s web browser. Imaging if there is 1000 visitors at each time, this will have to be done 1000 times perhaps per second. Since the hard drive can only read and process one request at each time, this can be slowing down for the rest of the visitors. Over time, there is improvement in that avenue in terms of page caching. Depending on how the technology employed, the most commonly visited pages or components are stored in the memory so they do not need to be re-read over and over again. Blogging tools such as WordPress and other hosting platforms generate static pages from the database and this will technically require more processing of each page. Over the years, those static components and static content pages are also cached. Caching does help improve performance quite a bit as it reduces the processing time needed for each page however there is still some limits to where that can go.

Last year when shopping for a new Mac Book Pro, I bought myself a Mac Book Pro with Retinal Display and that only comes equipped with SSD drives. The only setback is that I went from 750gb (upgraded from 250gb) from my previous Macbook Pro to a 512gb on my new. The speed improvement in starting up OS X and launching apps is blazingly obvious. It now takes seconds instead of minutes to do work. Everything seems a lot more speedy.

Solid State Drive (SSD) in laymen’s term is like having a very speedy and big thumb drive to replace your existing hard drive. There is no moving parts in a SSD drive so that means it is faster to access the data since any part of the drive can be read simultaneously. Because there is no mechanical parts, it is lighter on power consumption which means a cooler computer. The setback is that each cell has a limited number of writes before failure which is about 10,000 times per memory cell. However, the processor in the drive is smart enough to ensure that all the cells are used evenly so extend its life span. That’s why defragmenting an SSD drive is not recommended and because it is actually unnecessary because of how the drive works. Frequent reformatting is also discouraged so in a computer lab where the hard drive is reformatted every time the course ends is also not recommended.

On a side note, just replacing an ailing hard drive on an old computer would certainly speed it up considerably.

SSD Hosting with Eleven2

Having tasted what the SSD drive can do, I set about looking for a new web host which supports SSD hosting in mid 2015. My current web host at the time only supported hard drive web hosting. Since I committed to a 3 year hosting contract which runs out in March 2016, I had the time to search. Thankfully my current web host Eleven2 now offers SSD hosting at the same pricing as the hard drive web hosting. As with my Macbook Pro, the only setback is that the storage quota is almost halved. It however pose no problem for me as they have been very generous with their offering.

I thought I had to wait for till my contract for my current plan to expire before I move but when I contacted their support about the prospect of moving, they surprised me by telling me that they can migrate within the next several hours during the off-peak hours. Wow! That is the level of support that I love about Eleven2. Mind you, it was the weekend too. The migration was painless and as I hosted my DNS servers externally, I just had to point to the new set of IP address and everything was transparent. They left the old sites up to ensure that the transition was smooth

There are a few reasons why I wanted to move to SSD hosting.

The most obvious is inevitably speed. My blog is getting a little more traffic than before and at times just trying to update pages can slow to a crawl at times.

The second reason is that now Google does include page speed as part of the criteria of ranking and listing on Google’s searches. They even have an online tool called PageSpeed Insight just for you to test how fast your page loads. In the past, one of the red marks I would get is page speed but having shifted to SSD hosting, that is no longer an issue.

Visitors are important to me as with any public website. In this time and age of Instant Gratification, even waiting for more than 5 seconds for a page to load would be too long and may turn visitors off to another site. It was not so even a decade ago when you can enter a URL, you need to wait up to a minute to load up a heavily graphic laden website.

I am definitely happy to make the move to SSD hosting for the speed. This definitely the wave of the future of web hosting and I can see more web host embracing this technology especially when cost of SSD drives are no longer as prohibitive as before. It’s still more pricey than normal hard drive though. So if you have the chance, its time to move off from transitional hard drive hosting to SSD, you be glad you did.

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