As data centers increasingly rely on solid-state drives (SSDs), ordering the right SSDs can have a significant impact on server performance, cost, and longevity. With so many options on the market, buyers need to ask a few questions to ensure they are equipping their server with the right SSD for their business needs. Indeed, there are many features that can determine what a buyer does when it comes to replacing a hard drive with an SSD or expanding existing storage. However, answering these basic questions can help prevent them from investing in the wrong type of SSD:

Capacity – what will it be now and later?

Most SSD searches start with capacity. Obviously, more capacity is a good thing, but as with most features, the extra overhead may not translate into improved performance in every case. Buyers should consider the minimum capacity limit based on the type of data, storage time, and expected input volume to the system. Based on allocated budget and near-term usage forecasts, buyers should increase target capacity for the future.

Getting this right is critical: while choosing an SSD with too much capacity is more expensive and provides little immediate benefit, an SSD with undercapacity can cause performance degradation, data loss, and downtime that can lead to user frustration and business operations Disruption, and can result in… data breaches, loss of critical information, and increased costs. An important step in choosing an SSD is balancing the freedom provided by the additional capacity against the cost of expanding storage.

What level of performance do you really need?

Someone plugged a Kingston DC600M SSD into a server bank.
The increasing popularity of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) has placed higher demands on data storage. Specifically, the high-performance, low-latency storage required to support and enable complex, high-volume workloads requires SSDs that can handle these tasks.

When choosing an SSD, it is important to ensure that the read and write speeds are sufficient for the frequency and intensity of data queries. Besides pure speed information, latency is also a deciding factor. Low latency is especially important when peak activity is expected, such as during seasonal sales peaks or when processing large volumes of online transactions.

What is compatible with your system?

High-capacity, high-performance SSDs are of no use if they don’t work with your existing system. Compatibility is another important factor, especially when choosing between the popular data center and enterprise form factors M.2 NVMe and 2.5-inch SSDs. For small PCs or workstations with limited space, M.2 NVMe SSDs are often the best solution for providing high-speed storage. For entry-level servers or deployments requiring broad compatibility, 2.5-inch SATA drives are a great general-purpose storage option.

Many modern server motherboards have SATA ports for 2.5-inch SSDs, and some also have M.2 NVMe slots. However, it is important to check the server motherboard’s specific compatibility with these form factors. Some motherboards may require adapters or expansion cards for specific form factors, which incurs additional cost.

How long will your drive last?

The fourth factor to consider is endurance. Since SSDs often have to be replaced earlier than planned, data centers face delays, maintenance and increased costs. If your data center runs 24/7 and requires heavy use, choose an SSD designed for continuous use needs. This includes choosing a long-lasting SSD and components with build quality that can withstand intensive, round-the-clock use for years to come. Not all drives are created equal: the drives that last the longest are those that are built to precise specifications and tested extensively. SSD manufacturers continue to extend the life of their drives using techniques such as wear leveling, which evenly distributes write and erase cycles among storage cells to prevent uneven wear. They also use over-provisioning and reserve a portion of the SSD capacity for wear leveling management and spare block replacement. These solutions work together to extend SSD life and maintain consistent performance.

What level of security do you need?

Cyberattacks are relentless. Enterprises and their data centers continue to place a high priority on data security, and depending on the type of data you have, security will be high on your must-have list to prevent theft or unwanted access. When choosing an SSD, make sure it meets your current and potential future security needs and has the necessary encryption capabilities. Data centers that support financial or medical institutions that handle highly sensitive data are subject to strict regulations. For example PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). In such cases, encrypted SSDs help protect sensitive customer information and financial transactions. However, for general data center use, standard firewalls can protect lower-cost, unencrypted drives.

Who provides the best support?

Someone offered a Kingston DC600M SSD to a co-worker in the server room.
The final factor to consider is brand support. Choose an SSD from a reputable brand that offers reliable support and warranty options. This gives you peace of mind and ensures you have access to troubleshooting and support resources in the future. While one-year warranties are common, providers that offer long-term or lifetime warranties can provide significant cost savings and fewer future problems in the long run. If a drive fails, a lifetime warranty can mean the difference between a free replacement drive and needing to buy new hardware. Knowledgeable and readily available customer support can also differentiate seemingly similar drives from others, as on-site expertise allows buyers to troubleshoot and resolve any issues promptly.

With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to find the best drive for your needs. Nonetheless, this decision is critical to ensuring your data center is running at peak performance and providing reliable data storage. To browse the many options and find the right SSD for the job, buyers should consider six criteria: capacity, performance, compatibility, durability, security, and brand support.

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