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Old Jan 13, 2013, 11:37 AM   #1
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Will SSD improve network performance?

For the life of me I can't find an answer to this. At work we have a Mac mini 2011 with a standard HDD (5490) as the server and about 10 networked iMacs. The iMacs primarily read and write to a database on the mini and also pull up lots of PDFs off of the mini. Not major throughput by any means but just wondering if the accessing and reading PDFs from the server from the iMacs would be noticeably faster if I was to install an SSD in the mini. Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 01:12 PM   #2
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You can't find an answer because nobody can tell you what's happening with your machine

If these PDFs are so numerous and massive and the database is updated so often that the Mini's disk is slowing the whole process down, then yes, a faster disk will speed things up.

However it seems unlikely to me that ten clients acting as you describe are overwhelming even a lazy 5400rpm disk.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 01:43 PM   #3
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Pull up activity monitor and see how heavy your disk usage is during peak times.

I would say yes, it would be "noticeable". Vastly improved random i/o will always speed things up. Whether or not its a major improvement or worth it financially is a whole other story.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 08:20 PM   #4
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SSD to improve "network" performance. No..

SSD to improve "DATABASE" access reads/writes, more then likely yes.

In other words you network may be fine, but it may very well be waiting on your computer to pump up the information. A fast SSD could help in this area. But keep in mind not all SSDs perform the same. Some are very fast with small files, some perform better under heavy loads but sluggish with small files. You will want to research what best suites your needs.

Like posted above. Its best to check your activity monitor to see were your bottleneck is.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 07:33 AM   #5
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Unless you're performing very complex database queries on tons of data, your bottleneck is most probably the network. PDF access is limited by the network for sure. I'd be more concerned about data redundancy than performance and would probably want to setup two drives in a RAID 1 array before getting SSD. I think the mini can do that.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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A lot of really good responses, figured I would chime in as I looked closely at the Mini as a possible server for a friend's small business.

The mini uses a mobile class NIC card. NIC cards come in many flavors and just because it is a 10/100/1000 NIC doesn't mean it can handle the work load put upon it by 10 network clients. This was the main reason I did not recommend the Mini as a server. If Apple wants to sell this as a "server" they should double it's hight, add a desktop class CPU, and server class NIC card, and 4 drive bays. My server has 2 Intel ET 2 4 port NIC cards and the traffic flies! I spend an entire weekend testing testing testing speeds before I went live... NIC cards make a big difference when loaded!

This again brings up other issues. R/W speeds across your network. I have servers (Virtual Machines) running on RAID 5 SSD arrays, and servers running on RAID 5 HDD arrays, and I have Windows 7 running off a single SSD in a 2009 Mini (it's serving Quickbooks to 3 people and my remote PC desktop for quickbooks). It's days are numbered as I have been waiting for my new iMac before I retire the Mini and roll a new Virtual machine on my RAID 5 SSD array. I have tested how much faster Quickbooks will run on the SSD and it's vavavooooom! Can't wait!

Why the RAID 5 SSD array? The read/write speeds across my network off my RAID 5 SSD array are off the charts in comparison to my RAID 5 HDD array (and those are SATA III Enterprise class drives).

I also have CAT 6 across my network, Intel NIC cards in all our PCs, and a Cisco switch.

What can you take from all of this?

1. Yes, the SSD will help for reasons previous mentioned
2. Your NIC card in the Mini is a bottle neck, nothing you can do about it
3. I would open up the Mini and add 2 SSDs, and then run them on RAID 0. Then setup an external drive for Time Machine as a backup
4. Make sure your cables are Cat 5e and up (if you are using WIFI, then you are wasting your time with any upgrades here)
5. Check your switch, you can get an awesome unmanaged gigabit switch for around 200$
6. Get off that 5400 HDD, omg
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:37 PM   #7
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Thank you for the great responses. Now I have some things to think about.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:47 PM   #8
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SSDs have such fast random access time that it's measured in 10,000s of IOPs instead of the more traditional seek times of hard drives.

Gigabit ethernet should offer up to 125Mb/s maximum and an SSD would saturate that speed.

To put this in perspective. On the SATA 3Gb/s interface in my 2009 Mac Mini it stacks up like this and those speedy random access times will add up on a server with small files, sustained transfer of large files as well as for booting and launching applications:-

Drive Type OCZ-VERTEX2
Disk Test 230.42
Sequential 142.50
Uncached Write 148.07 90.91 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 147.00 83.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 84.07 24.60 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 381.80 191.89 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 601.64
Uncached Write 625.02 66.17 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 283.57 90.78 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 2274.66 16.12 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 923.86 171.43 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Drive Type Hitachi HTS543232L9SA02
Disk Test 34.63
Sequential 78.07
Uncached Write 70.29 43.16 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 85.10 48.15 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 66.24 19.38 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 98.41 49.46 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 22.25
Uncached Write 7.21 0.76 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 68.03 21.78 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 60.05 0.43 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 102.71 19.06 MB/sec [256K blocks]

As you can see, even an SSD that's quite old and started to slow slightly from use is WAY faster than the stock 5400rpm drive.
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