Best HDD per dollar?



  • I just installed PFSense on an old Lenovo SFF desktop (E5400, 4gb DDR2) that I had laying around. I installed it on a 250GB 3.5" HDD. I do plan on using Squid, however it is just a small home network, so I doubt much of anything will be cached. I am looking to swap out that HDD. I get the feeling that for the constant uptime associated with a router build, I may be throwing money away in the long run (plus the HDD is pretty old and will likely need to be replaced soon anyway). Is there any power savings to be had with a 2.5" Sata drive? I noticed I can find small 2.5" drives for $20. I also considered going with an SSD, but will that provide good results, given that it may be regularly written to via Squid?



  • I noticed this hadn't been answered yet. Probably because the guys get tired of answer the same questions as I'm sure this has been asked many times before, but I'll give you a quick answer anyhow.

    In a system like that you're not going to see much power savings between a 3.5 and a 2.5. Maybe a few Watts of power, but nothing you'll notice on the electrical bill.

    If you want to save some power you'd have to spend some $$ and build a more power efficient rig. Something like this…
    https://store.pfsense.org/C2758/
    Or you could build one yourself, but that'll still run you about $800
    Though something that powerful may not be needed in your situation. What you need depends on what packages you want to run and how much speed you want.

    In regards to your SSD idea, sure it'll be fast but if you're planning on doing squid or anything else for that matter, you'll likely run the drive dead.

    Here is a thread you should read in regards to SSDs
    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=34381.0



  • SSD write endurance concerns are vastly overblown, IMO.  It would take multiple years of writing the drive's full capacity every day.  A mechanical drive is far more likely to fail due to moving parts, thermal stress, bad sectors, etc.

    I would definitely trust an enterprise grade SSD more than a consumer grade HDD.  I would not use a consumer SSD (ADATA, Corsair, etc.)  Had far too many of those spontaneously die in light desktop/laptop use.



  • Agreed, mostly.

    Consumer grade drives do die pretty quick but not always. I've seen cheap crappy drives last 10 years and enterprise drives last 3. It varies all across the board but SSDs are still in their infancy and they are still improving the drives. Have they improved them from 2 years ago? oh yea! For sure they have. But unless 10% is unallocated and trim is being run to keep up the drive maintenance you can kiss your SSD goodbye within about 18 months give or take (not valid in all states :) )

    So is a mechanical drive more likely to fail? That depends on the conditions in which it lives. Is it kept cool, is it being vibrated, ect.
    Mechanical drives have been around for 30+ years. The typical life expectancy of a drive is no more than about 5 years, give or take some.

    So what is the life expectancy of a SSD? Well, is it being kept cool? Vibration is almost a non issue, and are you performing drive maintenance like trim? If so, well it could last as long or longer than a spinner, but that depends on how much is being written to the drive. Reading is a non issue, it's the writing. If your writing lots and lots of data, yea it could die quickly, if not it could last a very long time.

    My point is that a spinner will take the abuse of being used A LOT. A SSD is limited and mileage from SSD to SSD varies. Really the choice is yours, but a SSD in a firewall box isn't necessary unless you're needing a crap tone of speed and in which case a more complex setup may be required.
    If you want reliability stick with what is known and true.
    If you want to test and see what happens then have at it and have fun, hopefully you'll share your findings.



  • I appreciate everybody's input. Am I losing anything by using a 3.5 over a 2.5 spinner, or a spinner over an SSD? I am talking by way of energy efficiency.

    The drive that is in there is one that I pulled my kid's PC, and I'd just as well stick a newer drive in there, because I am sure this one is on its last legs, given that it was from a refurb PC to begin with.

    I have been happy with the "consumer" SSDs I have used so far. All 4 of the PCs in the house use Sandisk bottom of the heap SSDs (about $45 for a 120GB). They work fine for what they are intended for, which is boot drive/easily reinstalled applications. I'm a surveillance agent by occupation, and all of our servers and workstations use 850 EVOs and have been fine, although those are all just boot drives, too.



  • If you're not going to run squid or any other package that hits the drive quite a bit a SSD should be fine as long as you enable the trim command. Though because of logging it's still a gamble.
    Read that post I linked earlier, that will tell you everything you need to know about a SSD vs a spinner.

    You shouldn't even notice a difference between a 3.5 and 2.5. The only thing it may effect if anything is boot up time but even then I doubt you'd notice more than a couple seconds or so. So no, you won't loose anything between a 3.5 and a 2.5. Personally I run spinners in all my appliances because I use squid, a proxy cache application along side squidgaurd for internet filtering. But filtering can be done via DNS too.

    I'd say do some more research on PfSense builds, see the different builds, read up on them, there is a lot to know about PfSense, it does A LOT of stuff!!!

    If you ever want to save power and as long as you don't care about saving all your logs and caches locally to the appliance then look into a pfsense appliance. They have them at the pfsense store. They are expensive but VERY stable.



  • I appreciate everybody's input. Am I losing anything by using a 3.5 over a 2.5 spinner, or a spinner over an SSD?

    Why a spinner over an SSD? The normal HDDs are coming with an spinning motor and the SSDs not,
    so it might be better then to go with a SSD as the storage for the speed and the electric power saving
    as I see it right. If you have this HDDs and you are lucky with them, please fell free to use them until
    they will dying.

    I am talking by way of energy efficiency.

    Related to this circumstance you might be happy with a mSATA or M.2 SSD or perhaps also with
    an SATA-DOM if electric power saving is the real goal in this game.



  • @BlueKobold:

    I appreciate everybody's input. Am I losing anything by using a 3.5 over a 2.5 spinner, or a spinner over an SSD?

    Why a spinner over an SSD? The normal HDDs are coming with an spinning motor and the SSDs not,
    so it might be better then to go with a SSD as the storage for the speed and the electric power saving
    as I see it right. If you have this HDDs and you are lucky with them, please fell free to use them until
    they will dying.

    I am talking by way of energy efficiency.

    Related to this circumstance you might be happy with a mSATA or M.2 SSD or perhaps also with
    an SATA-DOM if electric power saving is the real goal in this game.

    Are teh power savings of an mSATA or M.2 really worthwhile? Even if they are more energy efficient, does it really justify the cost given the higher cost to buy and replace them?

    Also, where in Germany are you from/do you live? I was stationed in Heidelberg/Mannheim a few years ago, and I would kill to go back. My daughter was born in Schwetzingen.



  • Are teh power savings of an mSATA or M.2 really worthwhile? Even if they are more energy efficient, does it really justify the cost given the higher cost to buy and replace them?

    No the cost is to high, but this was not your question, it was more the question if the SSD or mSATA
    is saving more electric energy compared against a spinning HDD.

    Also, where in Germany are you from/do you live? I was stationed in Heidelberg/Mannheim a few years ago, and I would kill to go back. My daughter was born in Schwetzingen.

    Lower Saxony, in the near region of Hannover.


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