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How Reliable are SSDs?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-reliable-are-ssds/

an exploded view of a Samsung Solid State Drive

What’s not to love about solid state drives (SSDs)? They are faster than conventional hard disk drives (HDDs), more compact, have no moving parts, are immune to magnetic fields, and can withstand more shocks and vibration than conventional magnetic platter disks. And, they are becoming available in larger and larger capacities while their cost comes down.

If you’ve upgraded an older computer with an SSD, you no doubt instantly saw the benefits. Your computer booted in less time, your applications loaded faster, and even when you ran out of memory, and apps and data had to be swapped to disk, it felt like everything was much snappier.

We’re now seeing SSDs with capacities that used to be reserved for HDDs and at prices that no longer make our eyes water. 500 GB SSDs are now affordable (under $100), and 1 TB drives are reasonably priced ($100 to $150). Even 2 TB SSDs fall into a budget range for putting together a good performance desktop system ($300 to $400).

We’ve written a number of times on this blog about SSDs, and considered the best uses for SSDs compared to HDDs. We’ve also written about the future of SSDs and how we use them in our data centers and whether we plan on using more in the future.


In this post we’re going to consider the issue of SSD reliability. For all their merits, can SSDs be trusted with your data and will they last as long or longer than if you were using an HDD instead? You might have read that SSDs are limited to a finite number of reads and writes before they fail. What’s that all about?

The bottom line question is: do SSD drives fail? Of course they do, as do all drives eventually. The important questions we really need to be asking are 1) do they fail faster than HDDs, and 2) how long can we reasonably expect them to last?

Backing Up Is Great To Do

Of course, as a data storage and backup company, you know what we’re going to say right off. We always recommend that no matter which storage medium you use, you should always have a backup copy of your data. Even if the disk is reliable and in good condition, it won’t do you any good if your computer is stolen, consumed by a flood, or lost in a fire or other act of nature. You might have heard that water damage is the most common computer accident, and few computer components can survive a thorough soaking, especially when powered.

SSD Reliability Factors to Consider

Generally, SSDs are more durable than HDDs in extreme and harsh environments because they don’t have moving parts such as actuator arms. SSDs can withstand accidental drops and other shocks, vibration, extreme temperatures, and magnetic fields better than HDDs. Add to that their small size and lower power consumption, and you can understand why they’re a great fit for laptop computers and mobile applications.

First, let’s cover the basics. Almost all types of today’s SSDs use NAND flash memory. NAND isn’t an acronym like a lot of computer terms. Instead, it’s a name that’s derived from its logic gate called “NOT AND.”

SSD part diagram including Cache, Controller, and NAND Flash Memory

The term following NAND, flash, refers to a non-volatile solid state memory that retains data even when the power source is removed. NAND storage has specific properties that affect how long it will last. When data is written to a NAND cell (also known as programming), the data must be erased before new data can be written to that same cell. NAND is programed and erased by applying a voltage to send electrons through an insulator. The location of those electrons (and their quantity) determine when current will flow between a source and a sink (called a voltage threshold), determining the data stored in that cell (the 1s and 0s). When writing and erasing NAND, it sends the electrons through the insulator and back, and the insulator starts to wear — the exact number of these cycles in each individual cell varies by NAND design. Eventually, the insulator wears to the point where it may have difficulty keeping the electrons in their correct (programmed) location, which makes it increasingly more difficult to determine if the electrons are where they should be, or if they have migrated on their own.

This means that flash type memory cells can only be programmed and erased a limited number of times. This is measured in P/E cycles, which stands for programmed and erased.

P/E cycles are an important measurement of SSD reliability, but there are other factors that are important to consider, as well. These are P/E cycles, TBW (terabytes written), and MTBF (mean time between failures).

The SSD manufacturer will have these specifications available for their products and they can help you understand how long your drive can be expected to last and whether a particular drive is suited to your application.

P/E cycles — A solid-state-storage program-erase cycle is a sequence of events in which data is written to solid-state NAND flash memory cell, then erased, and then rewritten. How many P/E cycles a SSD can endure varies with the technology used, somewhere between 500 to 100,000 P/E cycles.

TBW — Terabytes written is the total amount of data that can be written into an SSD before it is likely to fail. For example, here are the TBW warranties for the popular Samsung 860 EVO SSD: 150 TBW for 250 GB model, 300 TBW for 500 GB model, 600 TBW for 1 TB model, 1,200 TBW for 2 TB model and 2,400 TBW for 4 TB model. Note: these models are warrantied for 5 years or TBW, whichever comes first.

MTBF — MTBF (mean time between failures) is a measure of how reliable a hardware product or component is over its expected lifetime. For most components, the measure is typically in thousands or even tens of thousands of hours between failures. For example, a hard disk drive may have a mean time between failures of 300,000 hours, while an SSD might have 1.5 million hours.

This doesn’t mean that your SSD will last that many hours, what it means is, given a sample set of that model of SSD, errors will occur at a certain rate. A 1.2 million hour MTBF means that if the drive is used at an average of 8 hours a day, a sample size of 1,000 SSDs would be expected to have one failure every 150 days, or about twice a year.

SSD Types

There are a number of different types of SSD, and advancements to the technology continue at a brisk pace. Generally, SSDs are based on four different NAND cell technologies:

  • SLC (Single Level Cell) — one bit per cell
  • When one bit is stored (SLC), it’s not necessary to keep close tabs on electron locations, so a few electrons migrating isn’t much of a concern. Because only a 1 or a 0 is being stored, it’s necessary only to accurately determine if voltage flows or not.

  • MLC (Multi-Level Cell) — two bits per cell
  • MLC stores two bits per cell, so more precision is needed (determining voltage threshold is more complex). It’s necessary to distinguish among 00, 01, 10 or 11. Migrating electrons have more of an impact, so the insulator cannot be worn as much as with SLC.

  • TLC (Triple Level Cell) — three bits per cell
  • This trend continues with TLC where three bits are stored: 001, 010, 100, …110 and 111. Migrating electrons have more effect than in MLC, which further reduces tolerable insulator wear.

  • QLC (Quad Level Cell) — four bits per cell
  • QLC stores four bits (16 possible combinations of 1s and 0s). With QLC, migrating electrons have the most significant effect. Tolerable insulator wear is further reduced.

    QLC is a good fit for read-centric workloads because NAND cells are worn negligibly when reading data versus worn more when writing data (programming and erasing). When writing and rewriting a lot of data, the insulator wears more quickly. If a NAND cell can tolerate that wear, it is well suited to read/write mixed accesses. The less wear-tolerable NAND cells are, the better they are suited for read-centric workloads and applications.

Each subsequent technology for NAND allows it to store an extra bit. The fewer bits per NAND cell, the faster, more reliable, and more energy efficient the technology is — and also, more expensive. A SLC SSD would technically be the most reliable SSD as it can endure more writes, while a QLC is the least reliable. If you’re selecting an SSD for an application where it will be written more than read, than the selection of NAND cell technology could be a significant factor in your decision. If your application is general computer use, it likely will matter less to you.

How Reliability Factors Affect Your Choice of SSD

How important these factors are to you depends on how the SSD is used. The right question to ask is how a drive will perform in your application. There are different performance and reliability criteria depending on whether the SSD will be used in a home desktop computer, a data center, or an exploration vehicle on Mars.

Manufacturers sometimes specify the type of application workload for which an SSD is designed, such as write-intensive, read-intensive or mixed-use. Some vendors allow the customer to select the optimal level of endurance and capacity for a particular SSD. For instance, an enterprise user with a high-transaction database might opt for a higher number of drive writes at the expense of capacity. Or a user operating a database that does infrequent writes might choose a lower drive writes number and a higher capacity.

Signs of SSD Failure

SSDs will eventually fail, but there usually are advance warnings of when that’s going to happen. You’ve likely encountered the dreaded clicking sound that emanates from a dying HDD. As an SSD has no moving parts, so we won’t get an audible warning that an SSD is about to fail us. You should be paying attention for a number of indicators that your SSD is nearing its end of life, and take action by replacing that drive with a new one.

1) Errors Involving Bad Blocks

Much like bad sectors on HDDs, there are bad blocks on SSDs. This is typically a scenario where the computer attempts to read or save a file, but it takes an unusually long time and ends in failure, so the system eventually gives up with an error message.

2) Files Cannot Be Read or Written

There are two ways in which a bad block can affect your files, 1) the system detects the bad block while writing data to the drive, and thus refuses to write data, and 2), the system detects the bad block after the data has been written, and thus refuses to read that data.

3) The File System Needs Repair
Getting an error message on your screen can happen simply because the computer was not shut down properly, but it also could be a sign of an SSD developing bad blocks or other problems.

4) Crashing During Boot
A crash during the computer boot is a sign that your drive could be developing a problem. You should make sure you have a current backup of all your data before it gets worse and the drive fails completely.

5) The Drive Becomes Read-Only
Your drive might refuse to write any more data to disk and can only read data. Fortunately, you can still get your data off the disk.

SSDs Generally Will Last As Long As You Need Them To

Let’s go back to the two questions we asked above.

Q: Do SSDs fail faster than HDDs?

A: That depends on the technology of the drives and how they’re used. HDDs are better suited for some applications and SSDs for others. SSDs can be expected to last as long or longer than HDDs in most general applications.


Q: How long can we reasonably expect an SSD to last?

A: An SSD should last as long as its manufacturer expects it to last (e.g. five years), provided that the use of the drive is not excessive for the technology it employs (e.g. using a QLC in an application with a high number of writes). Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that how you’re using the SSD matches its best use.

SSDs are a different breed of animal than a HDD and they have their strengths and weaknesses relative to other storage media. The good news is that their strengths — speed, durability, size, power consumption, etc. — are backed by pretty good overall reliability.

SSD users are far more likely to replace their storage drive because they’re ready to upgrade to a newer technology, higher capacity, or faster drive, than having to replace the drive due to a short lifespan. Under normal use we can expect an SSD to last years. If you replace your computer every three years, as most users do, then you probably needn’t worry about whether your SSD will outlast your computer. What’s important is whether the SSD will be sufficiently reliable that you won’t lose your data.

As we saw above, if you’re paying attention to your system, you will be given ample warning of an impending drive failure, and you can replace the drive before the data is not readable.

It’s good to understand how the different SSD technologies affect their reliability, and whether it’s worth it to spend extra money for SLC over MLC or QLC. However, unless you’re using an SSD in a specialized application with more writes than reads as we described above, just selecting a good quality SSD from a reputable manufacturer should be enough to make you feel confident that your SSD will have a useful life span.

Keep an eye out for any signs of failure or bad sectors, and, of course, be sure to have a solid backup plan no matter what type of drive you’re using.

The post How Reliable are SSDs? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs Solid State Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hdd-versus-ssd-whats-the-diff/

whats the diff? SSD vs. HDD

HDDs and SSDs have changed in the two years since Peter Cohen wrote the original version of this post on March 8 of 2016. We thought it was time for an update. We hope you enjoy it.

— Editor

In This Corner: The Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

The traditional spinning hard drive has been a standard for many generations of personal computers. Constantly improving technology has enabled hard drive makers to pack more storage capacity than ever, at a cost per gigabyte that still makes hard drives the best bang for the buck.

IBM RamacAs sophisticated as they’ve become, hard drives have been around since 1956. The ones back then were two feet across and could store only a few megabytes of information, but technology has improved to the point where you can cram 10 terabytes into something about the same size as a kitchen sponge.

Inside a hard drive is something that looks more than a bit like an old record player: There’s a platter, or stacked platters, which spin around a central axis — a spindle — typically at about 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute. Some hard drives built for performance work faster.

Hard Drive exploded viewInformation is written to and read from the drive by changing the magnetic fields on those spinning platters using an armature called a read-write head. Visually, it looks a bit like the arm of a record player, but instead of being equipped with a needle that runs in a physical groove on the record, the read-write head hovers slightly above the physical surface of the disk.

The two most common form factors for hard drives are 2.5-inch, common for laptops, and 3.5-inch, common for desktop machines. The size is standardized, which makes for easier repair and replacement when things go wrong.

The vast majority of drives in use today connect through a standard interface called Serial ATA (or SATA). Specialized storage systems sometimes use Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), Fibre Channel, or other exotic interfaces designed for special purposes.

Hard Disk Drives Cost Advantage

Proven technology that’s been in use for decades makes hard disk drives cheap — much cheaper, per gigabyte than solid state drives. HDD storage can run as low as three cents per gigabyte. You don’t spend a lot but you get lots of space. HDD makers continue to improve storage capacity while keeping costs low, so HDDs remain the choice of anyone looking for a lot of storage without spending a lot of money.

The downside is that HDDs can be power-hungry, generate noise, produce heat, and don’t work nearly as fast as SSDs. Perhaps the biggest difference is that HDDs, with all their similarities to record players, are ultimately mechanical devices. Over time, mechanical devices will wear out. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

HDD technology isn’t standing still, and price per unit stored has decreased dramatically. As we said in our post, HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold? — Part 2, the cost per gigabyte for HDDs has decreased by two billion times in about 60 years.

HDD manufacturers have made dramatic advances in technology to keep storing more and more information on HD platters — referred to as areal density. As HDD manufacturers try to outdo each other, consumers have benefited from larger and larger drive sizes. One technique is to replace the air in drives with helium, which reduces reduces friction and supports greater areal density. Another technology that should be available soon uses heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). HAMR records magnetically using laser-thermal assistance that ultimately could lead to a 20 terabyte drive by 2019. See our post on HAMR by Seagate’s CTO Mark Re, What is HAMR and How Does It Enable the High-Capacity Needs of the Future?

The continued competition and race to put more and more storage in the same familiar 3.5” HDD form factor means that it will be a relatively small, very high capacity choice for storage for many years to come.

In the Opposite Corner: The Solid State Drive (SSD)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become much more common in recent years. They’re standard issue across Apple’s laptop line, for example the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air all come standard with SSDs. So does the Mac Pro.

Inside an SSDSolid state is industry shorthand for an integrated circuit, and that’s the key difference between an SSD and a HDD: there are no moving parts inside an SSD. Rather than using disks, motors and read/write heads, SSDs use flash memory instead — that is, computer chips that retain their information even when the power is turned off.

SSDs work in principle the same way the storage on your smartphone or tablet works. But the SSDs you find in today’s Macs and PCs work faster than the storage in your mobile device.

The mechanical nature of HDDs limits their overall performance. Hard drive makers work tirelessly to improve data transfer speeds and reduce latency and idle time, but there’s a finite amount they can do. SSDs provide a huge performance advantage over hard drives — they’re faster to start up, faster to shut down, and faster to transfer data.

A Range of SSD Form Factors

SSDs can be made smaller and use less power than hard drives. They also don’t make noise, and can be more reliable because they’re not mechanical. As a result, computers designed to use SSDs can be smaller, thinner, lighter and last much longer on a single battery charge than computers that use hard drives.

SSD Conversion KitMany SSD makers produce SSD mechanisms that are designed to be plug-and-play drop-in replacements for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives because there are millions of existing computers (and many new computers still made with hard drives) that can benefit from the change. They’re equipped with the same SATA interface and power connector you might find on a hard drive.

Intel SSD DC P4500A wide range of SSD form factors are now available. Memory Sticks, once limited to 128MB maximum, now come in versions as large as 2 TB. They are used primarily in mobile devices where size and density are primary factor, such as cameras, phones, drones, and so forth. Other high density form factors are designed for data center applications, such as Intel’s 32 TB P4500. Resembling a standard 12-inch ruler, the Intel SSD DC P4500 has a 32 terabyte capacity. Stacking 64 extremely thin layers of 3D NAND, the P4500 is currently the world’s densest solid state drive. The price is not yet available, but given that the DC P4500 SSD requires only one-tenth the power and just one-twentieth the space of traditional hard disk storage, once the price comes out of the stratosphere you can be sure that there will be a market for it.

Nimbus ExaDrive 100TB SSDEarlier this year, Nimbus Data announced the ExaDrive D100 100TB SSD. This SSD by itself holds over twice as much data as Backblaze’s first Storage Pods. Nimbus Data has said that the drive will have pricing comparable to other business-grade SSDs “on a per terabyte basis.” That likely means a price in the tens of thousands of dollars.

SSD drive manufacturers also are chasing ways to store more data in ever smaller form factors and at greater speeds. The familiar SSD drive that looks like a 2.5” HDD drive is starting to become less common. Given the very high speeds that data can be read and copied to the memory chips inside SSDs, it’s natural that computer and storage designers want to take full advantage of that capability. Increasingly, storage is plugging directly into the computer’s system board, and in the process taking on new shapes.

Anand Lal Shimpi, anandtech.com -- http://www.anandtech.com/show/6293/ngff-ssds-putting-an-end-to-proprietary-ultrabook-ssd-form-factors

A size comparison of an mSATA SSD (left) and an M.2 2242 SSD (right)

Laptop makers adopted the mSATA, and then the M.2 standard, which can be as small as a few squares of chocolate but have the same capacity as any 2.5” SATA SSD.

Another interface technology called NvM Express or NVMe may start to move from servers in the data center to consumer laptops in the next few years. NVMe will push storage speeds in laptops and workstations even higher.

SSDs Fail Too

Just like hard drives, SSDs can wear out, though for different reasons. With hard drives, it’s often just the mechanical reality of a spinning motor that wears down over time. Although there are no moving parts inside an SSD, each memory bank has a finite life expectancy — a limit on the number of times it can be written to and read from before it stops working. Logic built into the drives tries to dynamically manage these operations to minimize problems and extend its life.

For practical purposes, most of us don’t need to worry about SSD longevity. An SSD you put in your computer today will likely outlast the computer. But it’s sobering to remember that even though SSDs are inherently more rugged than hard drives, they’re still prone to the same laws of entropy as everything else in the universe.

Planning for the Future of Storage

If you’re still using a computer with a SATA hard drive, you can see a huge performance increase by switching to an SSD. What’s more, the cost of SSDs has dropped dramatically over the course of the past couple of years, so it’s less expensive than ever to do this sort of upgrade.

Whether you’re using a HDD or an SSD, a good backup plan is essential because eventually any drive will fail. You should have a local backup combined with secure cloud-based backup like Backblaze, which satisfies the 3-2-1 backup strategy. To help get started, make sure to check out our Backup Guide.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some insight about HDDs and SSDs. And as always, we encourage your questions and comments, so fire away!

Editor’s note:  You might enjoy reading more about the future of HDDs and SSDs in our two-part series, HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold?

The post Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs Solid State Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

EC2 Instance Update – M5 Instances with Local NVMe Storage (M5d)

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/ec2-instance-update-m5-instances-with-local-nvme-storage-m5d/

Earlier this month we launched the C5 Instances with Local NVMe Storage and I told you that we would be doing the same for additional instance types in the near future!

Today we are introducing M5 instances equipped with local NVMe storage. Available for immediate use in 5 regions, these instances are a great fit for workloads that require a balance of compute and memory resources. Here are the specs:

Instance NamevCPUsRAMLocal StorageEBS-Optimized BandwidthNetwork Bandwidth
m5d.large28 GiB1 x 75 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.120 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
m5d.xlarge416 GiB1 x 150 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.120 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
m5d.2xlarge832 GiB1 x 300 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.120 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
m5d.4xlarge1664 GiB1 x 600 GB NVMe SSD2.210 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
m5d.12xlarge48192 GiB2 x 900 GB NVMe SSD5.0 Gbps10 Gbps
m5d.24xlarge96384 GiB4 x 900 GB NVMe SSD10.0 Gbps25 Gbps

The M5d instances are powered by Custom Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8175M series processors running at 2.5 GHz, including support for AVX-512.

You can use any AMI that includes drivers for the Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) and NVMe; this includes the latest Amazon Linux, Microsoft Windows (Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2 and Server 2016), Ubuntu, RHEL, SUSE, and CentOS AMIs.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the local NVMe storage on the M5d instances:

Naming – You don’t have to specify a block device mapping in your AMI or during the instance launch; the local storage will show up as one or more devices (/dev/nvme*1 on Linux) after the guest operating system has booted.

Encryption – Each local NVMe device is hardware encrypted using the XTS-AES-256 block cipher and a unique key. Each key is destroyed when the instance is stopped or terminated.

Lifetime – Local NVMe devices have the same lifetime as the instance they are attached to, and do not stick around after the instance has been stopped or terminated.

Available Now
M5d instances are available in On-Demand, Reserved Instance, and Spot form in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland), US East (Ohio), and Canada (Central) Regions. Prices vary by Region, and are just a bit higher than for the equivalent M5 instances.



Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-wipe-a-mac-hard-drive/

erasing a hard drive and a solid state drive

What do I do with a Mac that still has personal data on it? Do I take out the disk drive and smash it? Do I sweep it with a really strong magnet? Is there a difference in how I handle a hard drive (HDD) versus a solid-state drive (SSD)? Well, taking a sledgehammer or projectile weapon to your old machine is certainly one way to make the data irretrievable, and it can be enormously cathartic as long as you follow appropriate safety and disposal protocols. But there are far less destructive ways to make sure your data is gone for good. Let me introduce you to secure erasing.

Which Type of Drive Do You Have?

Before we start, you need to know whether you have a HDD or a SSD. To find out, or at least to make sure, you click on the Apple menu and select “About this Mac.” Once there, select the “Storage” tab to see which type of drive is in your system.

The first example, below, shows a SATA Disk (HDD) in the system.


In the next case, we see we have a Solid State SATA Drive (SSD), plus a Mac SuperDrive.

Mac storage dialog showing SSD

The third screen shot shows an SSD, as well. In this case it’s called “Flash Storage.”

Flash Storage

Make Sure You Have a Backup

Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that any important data on your hard drive has moved somewhere else. OS X’s built-in Time Machine backup software is a good start, especially when paired with Backblaze. You can learn more about using Time Machine in our Mac Backup Guide.

With a local backup copy in hand and secure cloud storage, you know your data is always safe no matter what happens.

Once you’ve verified your data is backed up, roll up your sleeves and get to work. The key is OS X Recovery — a special part of the Mac operating system since OS X 10.7 “Lion.”

How to Wipe a Mac Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

NOTE: If you’re interested in wiping an SSD, see below.

    1. Make sure your Mac is turned off.
    2. Press the power button.
    3. Immediately hold down the command and R keys.
    4. Wait until the Apple logo appears.
    5. Select “Disk Utility” from the OS X Utilities list. Click Continue.
    6. Select the disk you’d like to erase by clicking on it in the sidebar.
    7. Click the Erase button.
    8. Click the Security Options button.
    9. The Security Options window includes a slider that enables you to determine how thoroughly you want to erase your hard drive.

There are four notches to that Security Options slider. “Fastest” is quick but insecure — data could potentially be rebuilt using a file recovery app. Moving that slider to the right introduces progressively more secure erasing. Disk Utility’s most secure level erases the information used to access the files on your disk, then writes zeroes across the disk surface seven times to help remove any trace of what was there. This setting conforms to the DoD 5220.22-M specification.

  1. Once you’ve selected the level of secure erasing you’re comfortable with, click the OK button.
  2. Click the Erase button to begin. Bear in mind that the more secure method you select, the longer it will take. The most secure methods can add hours to the process.

Once it’s done, the Mac’s hard drive will be clean as a whistle and ready for its next adventure: a fresh installation of OS X, being donated to a relative or a local charity, or just sent to an e-waste facility. Of course you can still drill a hole in your disk or smash it with a sledgehammer if it makes you happy, but now you know how to wipe the data from your old computer with much less ruckus.

The above instructions apply to older Macintoshes with HDDs. What do you do if you have an SSD?

Securely Erasing SSDs, and Why Not To

Most new Macs ship with solid state drives (SSDs). Only the iMac and Mac mini ship with regular hard drives anymore, and even those are available in pure SSD variants if you want.

If your Mac comes equipped with an SSD, Apple’s Disk Utility software won’t actually let you zero the hard drive.

Wait, what?

In a tech note posted to Apple’s own online knowledgebase, Apple explains that you don’t need to securely erase your Mac’s SSD:

With an SSD drive, Secure Erase and Erasing Free Space are not available in Disk Utility. These options are not needed for an SSD drive because a standard erase makes it difficult to recover data from an SSD.

In fact, some folks will tell you not to zero out the data on an SSD, since it can cause wear and tear on the memory cells that, over time, can affect its reliability. I don’t think that’s nearly as big an issue as it used to be — SSD reliability and longevity has improved.

If “Standard Erase” doesn’t quite make you feel comfortable that your data can’t be recovered, there are a couple of options.

FileVault Keeps Your Data Safe

One way to make sure that your SSD’s data remains secure is to use FileVault. FileVault is whole-disk encryption for the Mac. With FileVault engaged, you need a password to access the information on your hard drive. Without it, that data is encrypted.

There’s one potential downside of FileVault — if you lose your password or the encryption key, you’re screwed: You’re not getting your data back any time soon. Based on my experience working at a Mac repair shop, losing a FileVault key happens more frequently than it should.

When you first set up a new Mac, you’re given the option of turning FileVault on. If you don’t do it then, you can turn on FileVault at any time by clicking on your Mac’s System Preferences, clicking on Security & Privacy, and clicking on the FileVault tab. Be warned, however, that the initial encryption process can take hours, as will decryption if you ever need to turn FileVault off.

With FileVault turned on, you can restart your Mac into its Recovery System (by restarting the Mac while holding down the command and R keys) and erase the hard drive using Disk Utility, once you’ve unlocked it (by selecting the disk, clicking the File menu, and clicking Unlock). That deletes the FileVault key, which means any data on the drive is useless.

FileVault doesn’t impact the performance of most modern Macs, though I’d suggest only using it if your Mac has an SSD, not a conventional hard disk drive.

Securely Erasing Free Space on Your SSD

If you don’t want to take Apple’s word for it, if you’re not using FileVault, or if you just want to, there is a way to securely erase free space on your SSD. It’s a little more involved but it works.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me state for the record that this really isn’t necessary to do, which is why Apple’s made it so hard to do. But if you’re set on it, you’ll need to use Apple’s Terminal app. Terminal provides you with command line interface access to the OS X operating system. Terminal lives in the Utilities folder, but you can access Terminal from the Mac’s Recovery System, as well. Once your Mac has booted into the Recovery partition, click the Utilities menu and select Terminal to launch it.

From a Terminal command line, type:

diskutil secureErase freespace VALUE /Volumes/DRIVE

That tells your Mac to securely erase the free space on your SSD. You’ll need to change VALUE to a number between 0 and 4. 0 is a single-pass run of zeroes; 1 is a single-pass run of random numbers; 2 is a 7-pass erase; 3 is a 35-pass erase; and 4 is a 3-pass erase. DRIVE should be changed to the name of your hard drive. To run a 7-pass erase of your SSD drive in “JohnB-Macbook”, you would enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 2 /Volumes/JohnB-Macbook

And remember, if you used a space in the name of your Mac’s hard drive, you need to insert a leading backslash before the space. For example, to run a 35-pass erase on a hard drive called “Macintosh HD” you enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 3 /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

Something to remember is that the more extensive the erase procedure, the longer it will take.

When Erasing is Not Enough — How to Destroy a Drive

If you absolutely, positively need to be sure that all the data on a drive is irretrievable, see this Scientific American article (with contributions by Gleb Budman, Backblaze CEO), How to Destroy a Hard Drive — Permanently.

The post Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

[$] The NOVA filesystem

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/754505/rss

At the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit, Andiry
Xu presented the NOVA filesystem, which he
is trying to get into the upstream kernel. Unlike existing kernel
filesystems, NOVA exclusively targets non-volatile main memory (NVMM)
rather than
traditional block devices (disks or SSDs). In fact, it does not use the
kernel’s block layer at all and instead uses persistent memory mapped
directly into the kernel address space.

EC2 Instance Update – C5 Instances with Local NVMe Storage (C5d)

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/ec2-instance-update-c5-instances-with-local-nvme-storage-c5d/

As you can see from my EC2 Instance History post, we add new instance types on a regular and frequent basis. Driven by increasingly powerful processors and designed to address an ever-widening set of use cases, the size and diversity of this list reflects the equally diverse group of EC2 customers!

Near the bottom of that list you will find the new compute-intensive C5 instances. With a 25% to 50% improvement in price-performance over the C4 instances, the C5 instances are designed for applications like batch and log processing, distributed and or real-time analytics, high-performance computing (HPC), ad serving, highly scalable multiplayer gaming, and video encoding. Some of these applications can benefit from access to high-speed, ultra-low latency local storage. For example, video encoding, image manipulation, and other forms of media processing often necessitates large amounts of I/O to temporary storage. While the input and output files are valuable assets and are typically stored as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) objects, the intermediate files are expendable. Similarly, batch and log processing runs in a race-to-idle model, flushing volatile data to disk as fast as possible in order to make full use of compute resources.

New C5d Instances with Local Storage
In order to meet this need, we are introducing C5 instances equipped with local NVMe storage. Available for immediate use in 5 regions, these instances are a great fit for the applications that I described above, as well as others that you will undoubtedly dream up! Here are the specs:

Instance NamevCPUsRAMLocal StorageEBS BandwidthNetwork Bandwidth
c5d.large24 GiB1 x 50 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.25 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
c5d.xlarge48 GiB1 x 100 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.25 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
c5d.2xlarge816 GiB1 x 225 GB NVMe SSDUp to 2.25 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
c5d.4xlarge1632 GiB1 x 450 GB NVMe SSD2.25 GbpsUp to 10 Gbps
c5d.9xlarge3672 GiB1 x 900 GB NVMe SSD4.5 Gbps10 Gbps
c5d.18xlarge72144 GiB2 x 900 GB NVMe SSD9 Gbps25 Gbps

Other than the addition of local storage, the C5 and C5d share the same specs. Both are powered by 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8000-series processors, optimized for EC2 and with full control over C-states on the two largest sizes, giving you the ability to run two cores at up to 3.5 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

You can use any AMI that includes drivers for the Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) and NVMe; this includes the latest Amazon Linux, Microsoft Windows (Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2 and Server 2016), Ubuntu, RHEL, SUSE, and CentOS AMIs.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the local NVMe storage:

Naming – You don’t have to specify a block device mapping in your AMI or during the instance launch; the local storage will show up as one or more devices (/dev/nvme*1 on Linux) after the guest operating system has booted.

Encryption – Each local NVMe device is hardware encrypted using the XTS-AES-256 block cipher and a unique key. Each key is destroyed when the instance is stopped or terminated.

Lifetime – Local NVMe devices have the same lifetime as the instance they are attached to, and do not stick around after the instance has been stopped or terminated.

Available Now
C5d instances are available in On-Demand, Reserved Instance, and Spot form in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland), US East (Ohio), and Canada (Central) Regions. Prices vary by Region, and are just a bit higher than for the equivalent C5 instances.


PS – We will be adding local NVMe storage to other EC2 instance types in the months to come, so stay tuned!

Hard Drive Stats for Q1 2018

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-stats-for-q1-2018/

Backblaze Drive Stats Q1 2018

As of March 31, 2018 we had 100,110 spinning hard drives. Of that number, there were 1,922 boot drives and 98,188 data drives. This review looks at the quarterly and lifetime statistics for the data drive models in operation in our data centers. We’ll also take a look at why we are collecting and reporting 10 new SMART attributes and take a sneak peak at some 8 TB Toshiba drives. Along the way, we’ll share observations and insights on the data presented and we look forward to you doing the same in the comments.


Since April 2013, Backblaze has recorded and saved daily hard drive statistics from the drives in our data centers. Each entry consists of the date, manufacturer, model, serial number, status (operational or failed), and all of the SMART attributes reported by that drive. Currently there are about 97 million entries totaling 26 GB of data. You can download this data from our website if you want to do your own research, but for starters here’s what we found.

Hard Drive Reliability Statistics for Q1 2018

At the end of Q1 2018 Backblaze was monitoring 98,188 hard drives used to store data. For our evaluation below we remove from consideration those drives which were used for testing purposes and those drive models for which we did not have at least 45 drives. This leaves us with 98,046 hard drives. The table below covers just Q1 2018.

Q1 2018 Hard Drive Failure Rates

Notes and Observations

If a drive model has a failure rate of 0%, it only means there were no drive failures of that model during Q1 2018.

The overall Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) for Q1 is just 1.2%, well below the Q4 2017 AFR of 1.65%. Remember that quarterly failure rates can be volatile, especially for models that have a small number of drives and/or a small number of Drive Days.

There were 142 drives (98,188 minus 98,046) that were not included in the list above because we did not have at least 45 of a given drive model. We use 45 drives of the same model as the minimum number when we report quarterly, yearly, and lifetime drive statistics.

Welcome Toshiba 8TB drives, almost…

We mentioned Toshiba 8 TB drives in the first paragraph, but they don’t show up in the Q1 Stats chart. What gives? We only had 20 of the Toshiba 8 TB drives in operation in Q1, so they were excluded from the chart. Why do we have only 20 drives? When we test out a new drive model we start with the “tome test” and it takes 20 drives to fill one tome. A tome is the same drive model in the same logical position in each of the 20 Storage Pods that make up a Backblaze Vault. There are 60 tomes in each vault.

In this test, we created a Backblaze Vault of 8 TB drives, with 59 of the tomes being Seagate 8 TB drives and 1 tome being the Toshiba drives. Then we monitored the performance of the vault and its member tomes to see if, in this case, the Toshiba drives performed as expected.

Q1 2018 Hard Drive Failure Rate — Toshiba 8TB

So far the Toshiba drive is performing fine, but they have been in place for only 20 days. Next up is the “pod test” where we fill a Storage Pod with Toshiba drives and integrate it into a Backblaze Vault comprised of like-sized drives. We hope to have a better look at the Toshiba 8 TB drives in our Q2 report — stay tuned.

Lifetime Hard Drive Reliability Statistics

While the quarterly chart presented earlier gets a lot of interest, the real test of any drive model is over time. Below is the lifetime failure rate chart for all the hard drive models which have 45 or more drives in operation as of March 31st, 2018. For each model, we compute their reliability starting from when they were first installed.

Lifetime Hard Drive Failure Rates

Notes and Observations

The failure rates of all of the larger drives (8-, 10- and 12 TB) are very good, 1.2% AFR (Annualized Failure Rate) or less. Many of these drives were deployed in the last year, so there is some volatility in the data, but you can use the Confidence Interval to get a sense of the failure percentage range.

The overall failure rate of 1.84% is the lowest we have ever achieved, besting the previous low of 2.00% from the end of 2017.

Our regular readers and drive stats wonks may have noticed a sizable jump in the number of HGST 8 TB drives (model: HUH728080ALE600), from 45 last quarter to 1,045 this quarter. As the 10 TB and 12 TB drives become more available, the price per terabyte of the 8 TB drives has gone down. This presented an opportunity to purchase the HGST drives at a price in line with our budget.

We purchased and placed into service the 45 original HGST 8 TB drives in Q2 of 2015. They were our first Helium-filled drives and our only ones until the 10 TB and 12 TB Seagate drives arrived in Q3 2017. We’ll take a first look into whether or not Helium makes a difference in drive failure rates in an upcoming blog post.

New SMART Attributes

If you have previously worked with the hard drive stats data or plan to, you’ll notice that we added 10 more columns of data starting in 2018. There are 5 new SMART attributes we are tracking each with a raw and normalized value:

  • 177 – Wear Range Delta
  • 179 – Used Reserved Block Count Total
  • 181- Program Fail Count Total or Non-4K Aligned Access Count
  • 182 – Erase Fail Count
  • 235 – Good Block Count AND System(Free) Block Count

The 5 values are all related to SSD drives.

Yes, SSD drives, but before you jump to any conclusions, we used 10 Samsung 850 EVO SSDs as boot drives for a period of time in Q1. This was an experiment to see if we could reduce boot up time for the Storage Pods. In our case, the improved boot up speed wasn’t worth the SSD cost, but it did add 10 new columns to the hard drive stats data.

Speaking of hard drive stats data, the complete data set used to create the information used in this review is available on our Hard Drive Test Data page. You can download and use this data for free for your own purpose, all we ask are three things: 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you accept that you are solely responsible for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to anyone. It is free.

If you just want the summarized data used to create the tables and charts in this blog post, you can download the ZIP file containing the MS Excel spreadsheet.

Good luck and let us know if you find anything interesting.

[Ed: 5/1/2018 – Updated Lifetime chart to fix error in confidence interval for HGST 4TB drive, model: HDS5C4040ALE630]

The post Hard Drive Stats for Q1 2018 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Implementing safe AWS Lambda deployments with AWS CodeDeploy

Post Syndicated from Chris Munns original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/implementing-safe-aws-lambda-deployments-with-aws-codedeploy/

This post courtesy of George Mao, AWS Senior Serverless Specialist – Solutions Architect

AWS Lambda and AWS CodeDeploy recently made it possible to automatically shift incoming traffic between two function versions based on a preconfigured rollout strategy. This new feature allows you to gradually shift traffic to the new function. If there are any issues with the new code, you can quickly rollback and control the impact to your application.

Previously, you had to manually move 100% of traffic from the old version to the new version. Now, you can have CodeDeploy automatically execute pre- or post-deployment tests and automate a gradual rollout strategy. Traffic shifting is built right into the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM), making it easy to define and deploy your traffic shifting capabilities. SAM is an extension of AWS CloudFormation that provides a simplified way of defining serverless applications.

In this post, I show you how to use SAM, CloudFormation, and CodeDeploy to accomplish an automated rollout strategy for safe Lambda deployments.


For this walkthrough, you write a Lambda application that returns a count of the S3 buckets that you own. You deploy it and use it in production. Later on, you receive requirements that tell you that you need to change your Lambda application to count only buckets that begin with the letter “a”.

Before you make the change, you need to be sure that your new Lambda application works as expected. If it does have issues, you want to minimize the number of impacted users and roll back easily. To accomplish this, you create a deployment process that publishes the new Lambda function, but does not send any traffic to it. You use CodeDeploy to execute a PreTraffic test to ensure that your new function works as expected. After the test succeeds, CodeDeploy automatically shifts traffic gradually to the new version of the Lambda function.

Your Lambda function is exposed as a REST service via an Amazon API Gateway deployment. This makes it easy to test and integrate.


To execute the SAM and CloudFormation deployment, you must have the following IAM permissions:

  • cloudformation:*
  • lambda:*
  • codedeploy:*
  • iam:create*

You may use the AWS SAM Local CLI or the AWS CLI to package and deploy your Lambda application. If you choose to use SAM Local, be sure to install it onto your system. For more information, see AWS SAM Local Installation.

All of the code used in this post can be found in this GitHub repository: https://github.com/aws-samples/aws-safe-lambda-deployments.


For this post, use SAM to define your resources because it comes with built-in CodeDeploy support for safe Lambda deployments.  The deployment is handled and automated by CloudFormation.

SAM allows you to define your Serverless applications in a simple and concise fashion, because it automatically creates all necessary resources behind the scenes. For example, if you do not define an execution role for a Lambda function, SAM automatically creates one. SAM also creates the CodeDeploy application necessary to drive the traffic shifting, as well as the IAM service role that CodeDeploy uses to execute all actions.

Create a SAM template

To get started, write your SAM template and call it template.yaml.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion : '2010-09-09'
Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31
Description: An example SAM template for Lambda Safe Deployments.


    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: returnS3Buckets.handler
      Runtime: nodejs6.10
      AutoPublishAlias: live
        - Version: "2012-10-17"
          - Effect: "Allow"
              - "s3:ListAllMyBuckets"
            Resource: '*'
          Type: Linear10PercentEvery1Minute
            PreTraffic: !Ref preTrafficHook
          Type: Api
            Path: /test
            Method: get

    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: preTrafficHook.handler
        - Version: "2012-10-17"
          - Effect: "Allow"
              - "codedeploy:PutLifecycleEventHookExecutionStatus"
              !Sub 'arn:aws:codedeploy:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:deploymentgroup:${ServerlessDeploymentApplication}/*'
        - Version: "2012-10-17"
          - Effect: "Allow"
              - "lambda:InvokeFunction"
            Resource: !Ref returnS3Buckets.Version
      Runtime: nodejs6.10
      FunctionName: 'CodeDeployHook_preTrafficHook'
        Enabled: false
      Timeout: 5
          NewVersion: !Ref returnS3Buckets.Version

This template creates two functions:

  • returnS3Buckets
  • preTrafficHook

The returnS3Buckets function is where your application logic lives. It’s a simple piece of code that uses the AWS SDK for JavaScript in Node.JS to call the Amazon S3 listBuckets API action and return the number of buckets.

'use strict';

var AWS = require('aws-sdk');
var s3 = new AWS.S3();

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {
	console.log("I am here! " + context.functionName  +  ":"  +  context.functionVersion);

	s3.listBuckets(function (err, data){
			console.log(err, err.stack);
			callback(null, {
				statusCode: 500,
				body: "Failed!"
			var allBuckets = data.Buckets;

			console.log("Total buckets: " + allBuckets.length);
			callback(null, {
				statusCode: 200,
				body: allBuckets.length

Review the key parts of the SAM template that defines returnS3Buckets:

  • The AutoPublishAlias attribute instructs SAM to automatically publish a new version of the Lambda function for each new deployment and link it to the live alias.
  • The Policies attribute specifies additional policy statements that SAM adds onto the automatically generated IAM role for this function. The first statement provides the function with permission to call listBuckets.
  • The DeploymentPreference attribute configures the type of rollout pattern to use. In this case, you are shifting traffic in a linear fashion, moving 10% of traffic every minute to the new version. For more information about supported patterns, see Serverless Application Model: Traffic Shifting Configurations.
  • The Hooks attribute specifies that you want to execute the preTrafficHook Lambda function before CodeDeploy automatically begins shifting traffic. This function should perform validation testing on the newly deployed Lambda version. This function invokes the new Lambda function and checks the results. If you’re satisfied with the tests, instruct CodeDeploy to proceed with the rollout via an API call to: codedeploy.putLifecycleEventHookExecutionStatus.
  • The Events attribute defines an API-based event source that can trigger this function. It accepts requests on the /test path using an HTTP GET method.
'use strict';

const AWS = require('aws-sdk');
const codedeploy = new AWS.CodeDeploy({apiVersion: '2014-10-06'});
var lambda = new AWS.Lambda();

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {

	console.log("Entering PreTraffic Hook!");
	// Read the DeploymentId & LifecycleEventHookExecutionId from the event payload
    var deploymentId = event.DeploymentId;
	var lifecycleEventHookExecutionId = event.LifecycleEventHookExecutionId;

	var functionToTest = process.env.NewVersion;
	console.log("Testing new function version: " + functionToTest);

	// Perform validation of the newly deployed Lambda version
	var lambdaParams = {
		FunctionName: functionToTest,
		InvocationType: "RequestResponse"

	var lambdaResult = "Failed";
	lambda.invoke(lambdaParams, function(err, data) {
		if (err){	// an error occurred
			console.log(err, err.stack);
			lambdaResult = "Failed";
		else{	// successful response
			var result = JSON.parse(data.Payload);
			console.log("Result: " +  JSON.stringify(result));

			// Check the response for valid results
			// The response will be a JSON payload with statusCode and body properties. ie:
			// {
			//		"statusCode": 200,
			//		"body": 51
			// }
			if(result.body == 9){	
				lambdaResult = "Succeeded";
				console.log ("Validation testing succeeded!");
				lambdaResult = "Failed";
				console.log ("Validation testing failed!");

			// Complete the PreTraffic Hook by sending CodeDeploy the validation status
			var params = {
				deploymentId: deploymentId,
				lifecycleEventHookExecutionId: lifecycleEventHookExecutionId,
				status: lambdaResult // status can be 'Succeeded' or 'Failed'
			// Pass AWS CodeDeploy the prepared validation test results.
			codedeploy.putLifecycleEventHookExecutionStatus(params, function(err, data) {
				if (err) {
					// Validation failed.
					console.log('CodeDeploy Status update failed');
					console.log(err, err.stack);
					callback("CodeDeploy Status update failed");
				} else {
					// Validation succeeded.
					console.log('Codedeploy status updated successfully');
					callback(null, 'Codedeploy status updated successfully');

The hook is hardcoded to check that the number of S3 buckets returned is 9.

Review the key parts of the SAM template that defines preTrafficHook:

  • The Policies attribute specifies additional policy statements that SAM adds onto the automatically generated IAM role for this function. The first statement provides permissions to call the CodeDeploy PutLifecycleEventHookExecutionStatus API action. The second statement provides permissions to invoke the specific version of the returnS3Buckets function to test
  • This function has traffic shifting features disabled by setting the DeploymentPreference option to false.
  • The FunctionName attribute explicitly tells CloudFormation what to name the function. Otherwise, CloudFormation creates the function with the default naming convention: [stackName]-[FunctionName]-[uniqueID].  Name the function with the “CodeDeployHook_” prefix because the CodeDeployServiceRole role only allows InvokeFunction on functions named with that prefix.
  • Set the Timeout attribute to allow enough time to complete your validation tests.
  • Use an environment variable to inject the ARN of the newest deployed version of the returnS3Buckets function. The ARN allows the function to know the specific version to invoke and perform validation testing on.

Deploy the function

Your SAM template is all set and the code is written—you’re ready to deploy the function for the first time. Here’s how to do it via the SAM CLI. Replace “sam” with “cloudformation” to use CloudFormation instead.

First, package the function. This command returns a CloudFormation importable file, packaged.yaml.

sam package –template-file template.yaml –s3-bucket mybucket –output-template-file packaged.yaml

Now deploy everything:

sam deploy –template-file packaged.yaml –stack-name mySafeDeployStack –capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM

At this point, both Lambda functions have been deployed within the CloudFormation stack mySafeDeployStack. The returnS3Buckets has been deployed as Version 1:

SAM automatically created a few things, including the CodeDeploy application, with the deployment pattern that you specified (Linear10PercentEvery1Minute). There is currently one deployment group, with no action, because no deployments have occurred. SAM also created the IAM service role that this CodeDeploy application uses:

There is a single managed policy attached to this role, which allows CodeDeploy to invoke any Lambda function that begins with “CodeDeployHook_”.

An API has been set up called safeDeployStack. It targets your Lambda function with the /test resource using the GET method. When you test the endpoint, API Gateway executes the returnS3Buckets function and it returns the number of S3 buckets that you own. In this case, it’s 51.

Publish a new Lambda function version

Now implement the requirements change, which is to make returnS3Buckets count only buckets that begin with the letter “a”. The code now looks like the following (see returnS3BucketsNew.js in GitHub):

'use strict';

var AWS = require('aws-sdk');
var s3 = new AWS.S3();

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {
	console.log("I am here! " + context.functionName  +  ":"  +  context.functionVersion);

	s3.listBuckets(function (err, data){
			console.log(err, err.stack);
			callback(null, {
				statusCode: 500,
				body: "Failed!"
			var allBuckets = data.Buckets;

			console.log("Total buckets: " + allBuckets.length);
			//callback(null, allBuckets.length);

			//  New Code begins here
			var counter=0;
			for(var i  in allBuckets){
				if(allBuckets[i].Name[0] === "a")
			console.log("Total buckets starting with a: " + counter);

			callback(null, {
				statusCode: 200,
				body: counter

Repackage and redeploy with the same two commands as earlier:

sam package –template-file template.yaml –s3-bucket mybucket –output-template-file packaged.yaml
sam deploy –template-file packaged.yaml –stack-name mySafeDeployStack –capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM

CloudFormation understands that this is a stack update instead of an entirely new stack. You can see that reflected in the CloudFormation console:

During the update, CloudFormation deploys the new Lambda function as version 2 and adds it to the “live” alias. There is no traffic routing there yet. CodeDeploy now takes over to begin the safe deployment process.

The first thing CodeDeploy does is invoke the preTrafficHook function. Verify that this happened by reviewing the Lambda logs and metrics:

The function should progress successfully, invoke Version 2 of returnS3Buckets, and finally invoke the CodeDeploy API with a success code. After this occurs, CodeDeploy begins the predefined rollout strategy. Open the CodeDeploy console to review the deployment progress (Linear10PercentEvery1Minute):

Verify the traffic shift

During the deployment, verify that the traffic shift has started to occur by running the test periodically. As the deployment shifts towards the new version, a larger percentage of the responses return 9 instead of 51. These numbers match the S3 buckets.

A minute later, you see 10% more traffic shifting to the new version. The whole process takes 10 minutes to complete. After completion, open the Lambda console and verify that the “live” alias now points to version 2:

After 10 minutes, the deployment is complete and CodeDeploy signals success to CloudFormation and completes the stack update.

Check the results

If you invoke the function alias manually, you see the results of the new implementation.

aws lambda invoke –function [lambda arn to live alias] out.txt

You can also execute the prod stage of your API and verify the results by issuing an HTTP GET to the invoke URL:


This post has shown you how you can safely automate your Lambda deployments using the Lambda traffic shifting feature. You used the Serverless Application Model (SAM) to define your Lambda functions and configured CodeDeploy to manage your deployment patterns. Finally, you used CloudFormation to automate the deployment and updates to your function and PreTraffic hook.

Now that you know all about this new feature, you’re ready to begin automating Lambda deployments with confidence that things will work as designed. I look forward to hearing about what you’ve built with the AWS Serverless Platform.

Cloud Empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/cloud-empire-meet-the-rebel-alliance/

Cloud Empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance

Last week Backblaze made the exciting announcement that through partnerships with Packet and ServerCentral, cloud computing is available to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage customers.

Those of you familiar with cloud computing will understand the significance of this news. We are now offering the least expensive cloud storage + cloud computing available anywhere. You no longer have to submit to the lock-in tactics and exorbitant prices charged by the other big players in the cloud services biz.

As Robin Harris wrote in ZDNet about last week’s computing partners announcement, Cloud Empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance.

We understand that some of our cloud backup and storage customers might be unfamiliar with cloud computing. Backblaze made its name in cloud backup and object storage, and that’s what our customers know us for. In response to customers requests, we’ve directly connected our B2 cloud object storage with cloud compute providers. This adds the ability to use and run programs on data once it’s in the B2 cloud, opening up a world of new uses for B2. Just some of the possibilities include media transcoding and rendering, web hosting, application development and testing, business analytics, disaster recovery, on-demand computing capacity (cloud bursting), AI, and mobile and IoT applications.

The world has been moving to a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud world, and customers are looking for more choices than those offered by the existing cloud players. Our B2 compute partnerships build on our mission to offer cloud storage that’s astonishingly easy and low-cost. They enable our customers to move into a more flexible and affordable cloud services ecosystem that provides a greater variety of choices and costs far less. We believe we are helping to fulfill the promise of the internet by allowing customers to choose the best-of-breed services from the best vendors.

If You’re Not Familiar with Cloud Computing, Here’s a Quick Overview

Cloud computing is another component of cloud services, like object storage, that replicates in the cloud a basic function of a computer system. Think of services that operate in a cloud as an infinitely scalable version of what happens on your desktop computer. In your desktop computer you have computing/processing (CPU), fast storage (like an SSD), data storage (like your disk drive), and memory (RAM). Their counterparts in the cloud are computing (CPU), block storage (fast storage), object storage (data storage), and processing memory (RAM).

Computer building blocks

CPU, RAM, fast internal storage, and a hard drive are the basic building blocks of a computer
They also are the basic building blocks of cloud computing

Some customers require only some of these services, such as cloud storage. B2 as a standalone service has proven to be an outstanding solution for those customers interested in backing up or archiving data. There are many customers that would like additional capabilities, such as performing operations on that data once it’s in the cloud. They need object storage combined with computing.

With the just announced compute partnerships, Backblaze is able to offer computing services to anyone using B2. A direct connection between Backblaze’s and our partners’ data centers means that our customers can process data stored in B2 with high speed, low latency, and zero data transfer costs.

Backblaze, Packet and Server Central cloud compute workflow diagram

Cloud service providers package up CPU, storage, and memory into services that you can rent on an hourly basis
You can scale up and down and add or remove services as you need them

How Does Computing + B2 Work?

Those wanting to use B2 with computing will need to sign up for accounts with Backblaze and either Packet or ServerCentral. Packet customers need only select “SJC1” as their region and then get started. The process is also simple for ServerCentral customers — they just need to register with a ServerCentral account rep.

The direct connection between B2 and our compute partners means customers will experience very low latency (less than 10ms) between services. Even better, all data transfers between B2 and the compute partner are free. When combined with Backblaze B2, customers can obtain cloud computing services for as little as 50% of the cost of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Opening Up the Cloud “Walled Garden”

Traditionally, cloud vendors charge fees for customers to move data outside the “walled garden” of that particular vendor. These fees reach upwards of $0.12 per gigabyte (GB) for data egress. This large fee for customers accessing their own data restricts users from using a multi-cloud approach and taking advantage of less expensive or better performing options. With free transfers between B2 and Packet or ServerCentral, customers now have a predictable, scalable solution for computing and data storage while avoiding vendor lock in. Dropbox made waves when they saved $75 million by migrating off of AWS. Adding computing to B2 helps anyone interested in moving some or all of their computing off of AWS and thereby cutting their AWS bill by 50% or more.

What are the Advantages of Cloud Storage + Computing?

Using computing and storage in the cloud provide a number of advantages over using in-house resources.

  1. You don’t have to purchase the actual hardware, software licenses, and provide space and IT resources for the systems.
  2. Cloud computing is available with just a few minutes notice and you only pay for whatever period of time you need. You avoid having additional hardware on your balance sheet.
  3. Resources are in the cloud and can provide online services to customers, mobile users, and partners located anywhere in the world.
  4. You can isolate the work on these systems from your normal production environment, making them ideal for testing and trying out new applications and development projects.
  5. Computing resources scale when you need them to, providing temporary or ongoing extra resources for expected or unexpected demand.
  6. They can provide redundant and failover services when and if your primary systems are unavailable for whatever reason.

Where Can I Learn More?

We encourage B2 customers to explore the options available at our partner sites, Packet and ServerCentral. They are happy to help customers understand what services are available and how to get started.

We are excited to see what you build! And please tell us in the comments what you are doing or have planned with B2 + computing.

P.S. May the force be with all of us!

The post Cloud Empire: Meet the Rebel Alliance appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Your Hard Drive Crashed — Get Working Again Fast with Backblaze

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-recover-your-files-with-backblaze/

holding a hard drive and diagnostic tools
The worst thing for a computer user has happened. The hard drive on your computer crashed, or your computer is lost or completely unusable.

Fortunately, you’re a Backblaze customer with a current backup in the cloud. That’s great. The challenge is that you’ve got a presentation to make in just 48 hours and the document and materials you need for the presentation were on the hard drive that crashed.

Relax. Backblaze has your data (and your back). The question is, how do you get what you need to make that presentation deadline?

Here are some strategies you could use.

One — The first approach is to get back the presentation file and materials you need to meet your presentation deadline as quickly as possible. You can use another computer (maybe even your smartphone) to make that presentation.

Two — The second approach is to get your computer (or a new computer, if necessary) working again and restore all the files from your Backblaze backup.

Let’s start with Option One, which gets you back to work with just the files you need now as quickly as possible.

Option One — You’ve Got a Deadline and Just Need Your Files

Getting Back to Work Immediately

You want to get your computer working again as soon as possible, but perhaps your top priority is getting access to the files you need for your presentation. The computer can wait.

Find a Computer to Use

First of all. You’re going to need a computer to use. If you have another computer handy, you’re all set. If you don’t, you’re going to need one. Here are some ideas on where to find one:

  • Family and Friends
  • Work
  • Neighbors
  • Local library
  • Local school
  • Community or religious organization
  • Local computer shop
  • Online store

Laptop computer

If you have a smartphone that you can use to give your presentation or to print materials, that’s great. With the Backblaze app for iOS and Android, you can download files directly from your Backblaze account to your smartphone. You also have the option with your smartphone to email or share files from your Backblaze backup so you can use them elsewhere.

Laptop with smartphone

Download The File(s) You Need

Once you have the computer, you need to connect to your Backblaze backup through a web browser or the Backblaze smartphone app.

Backblaze Web Admin

Sign into your Backblaze account. You can download the files directly or use the share link to share files with yourself or someone else.

If you need step-by-step instructions on retrieving your files, see Restore the Files to the Drive section below. You also can find help at https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217665888-How-to-Create-a-Restore-from-Your-Backblaze-Backup.

Smartphone App

If you have an iOS or Android smartphone, you can use the Backblaze app and retrieve the files you need. You then could view the file on your phone, use a smartphone app with the file, or email it to yourself or someone else.

Backblaze Smartphone app (iOS)

Backblaze Smartphone app (iOS)

Using one of the approaches above, you got your files back in time for your presentation. Way to go!

Now, the next step is to get the computer with the bad drive running again and restore all your files, or, if that computer is no longer usable, restore your Backblaze backup to a new computer.

Option Two — You Need a Working Computer Again

Getting the Computer with the Failed Drive Running Again (or a New Computer)

If the computer with the failed drive can’t be saved, then you’re going to need a new computer. A new computer likely will come with the operating system installed and ready to boot. If you’ve got a running computer and are ready to restore your files from Backblaze, you can skip forward to Restore the Files to the Drive.

If you need to replace the hard drive in your computer before you restore your files, you can continue reading.

Buy a New Hard Drive to Replace the Failed Drive

The hard drive is gone, so you’re going to need a new drive. If you have a computer or electronics store nearby, you could get one there. Another choice is to order a drive online and pay for one or two-day delivery. You have a few choices:

  1. Buy a hard drive of the same type and size you had
  2. Upgrade to a drive with more capacity
  3. Upgrade to an SSD. SSDs cost more but they are faster, more reliable, and less susceptible to jolts, magnetic fields, and other hazards that can affect a drive. Otherwise, they work the same as a hard disk drive (HDD) and most likely will work with the same connector.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)Solid State Drive (SSD)

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

Solid State Drive (SSD)

Be sure that the drive dimensions are compatible with where you’re going to install the drive in your computer, and the drive connector is compatible with your computer system (SATA, PCIe, etc.) Here’s some help.

Install the Drive

If you’re handy with computers, you can install the drive yourself. It’s not hard, and there are numerous videos on YouTube and elsewhere on how to do this. Just be sure to note how everything was connected so you can get everything connected and put back together correctly. Also, be sure that you discharge any static electricity from your body by touching something metallic before you handle anything inside the computer. If all this sounds like too much to handle, find a friend or a local computer store to help you.

Note:  If the drive that failed is a boot drive for your operating system (either Macintosh or Windows), you need to make sure that the drive is bootable and has the operating system files on it. You may need to reinstall from an operating system source disk or install files.

Restore the Files to the Drive

To start, you will need to sign in to the Backblaze website with your registered email address and password. Visit https://secure.backblaze.com/user_signin.htm to login.

Sign In to Your Backblaze Account

Selecting the Backup

Once logged in, you will be brought to the account Overview page. On this page, all of the computers registered for backup under your account are shown with some basic information about each. Select the backup from which you wish to restore data by using the appropriate “Restore” button.

Screenshot of Admin for Selecting the Type of Restore

Selecting the Type of Restore

Backblaze offers three different ways in which you can receive your restore data: downloadable ZIP file, USB flash drive, or USB hard drive. The downloadable ZIP restore option will create a ZIP file of the files you request that is made available for download for 7 days. ZIP restores do not have any additional cost and are a great option for individual files or small sets of data.

Depending on the speed of your internet connection to the Backblaze data center, downloadable restores may not always be the best option for restoring very large amounts of data. ZIP restores are limited to 500 GB per request and a maximum of 5 active requests can be submitted under a single account at any given time.

USB flash and hard drive restores are built with the data you request and then shipped to an address of your choosing via FedEx Overnight or FedEx Priority International. USB flash restores cost $99 and can contain up to 128 GB (110,000 MB of data) and USB hard drive restores cost $189 and can contain up to 4TB max (3,500,000 MB of data). Both include the cost of shipping.

You can return the ZIP drive within 30 days for a full refund with our Restore Return Refund Program, effectively making the process of restoring free, even with a shipped USB drive.

Screenshot of Admin for Selecting the Backup

Selecting Files for Restore

Using the left hand file viewer, navigate to the location of the files you wish to restore. You can use the disclosure triangles to see subfolders. Clicking on a folder name will display the folder’s files in the right hand file viewer. If you are attempting to restore files that have been deleted or are otherwise missing or files from a failed or disconnected secondary or external hard drive, you may need to change the time frame parameters.

Put checkmarks next to disks, files or folders you’d like to recover. Once you have selected the files and folders you wish to restore, select the “Continue with Restore” button above or below the file viewer. Backblaze will then build the restore via the option you select (ZIP or USB drive). You’ll receive an automated email notifying you when the ZIP restore has been built and is ready for download or when the USB restore drive ships.

If you are using the downloadable ZIP option, and the restore is over 2 GB, we highly recommend using the Backblaze Downloader for better speed and reliability. We have a guide on using the Backblaze Downloader for Mac OS X or for Windows.

For additional assistance, visit our help files at https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217665888-How-to-Create-a-Restore-from-Your-Backblaze-Backup

Screenshot of Admin for Selecting Files for Restore

Extracting the ZIP

Recent versions of both macOS and Windows have built-in capability to extract files from a ZIP archive. If the built-in capabilities aren’t working for you, you can find additional utilities for Macintosh and Windows.

Reactivating your Backblaze Account

Now that you’ve got a working computer again, you’re going to need to reinstall Backblaze Backup (if it’s not on the system already) and connect with your existing account. Start by downloading and reinstalling Backblaze.

If you’ve restored the files from your Backblaze Backup to your new computer or drive, you don’t want to have to reupload the same files again to your Backblaze backup. To let Backblaze know that this computer is on the same account and has the same files, you need to use “Inherit Backup State.” See https://help.backblaze.com/hc/en-us/articles/217666358-Inherit-Backup-State

Screenshot of Admin for Inherit Backup State

That’s It

You should be all set, either with the files you needed for your presentation, or with a restored computer that is again ready to do productive work.

We hope your presentation wowed ’em.

If you have any additional questions on restoring from a Backblaze backup, please ask away in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our help resources at https://www.backblaze.com/help.html.

The post Your Hard Drive Crashed — Get Working Again Fast with Backblaze appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

2018-03-13 китайски лаптоп

Post Syndicated from Vasil Kolev original https://vasil.ludost.net/blog/?p=3380

(те всичките лаптопи се правят в Китай вече, ама не ми хрумва как да го кръстя иначе)

Преди някакво време разбрах за един проект на ентусиасти от Китай за нови дъна за стари лаптопи. От много време ми липсваше 4:3 дисплея, T420 от време на време ми беше бавен (дори с 16GB памет и SSD), по-новите thinkpad-и са с гадна клавиатура, а Retro проекта в крайна сметка не беше customizable и не беше приемлив (с тая NVidia карта и широк дисплей, да не говорим за цената).

Поръчах си един t60p от ebay, и след като дойде тръгнах да си поръчвам дъното. От форума на хората и някаква facebook страница намерих контакти, писах си с един човек, който ми предложи директно лаптоп, но аз си поръчах само дъното (in hindsight, да си бях взел цял лаптоп). Няколко неща по темата с поръчването:
– опциите бяха SWIFT и western union. Не ми се разхождаше, та го направих по SWIFT, и там се оказа, че има допълнителни такси, които взимат от получателя (които не могат да вземат от мен);
– За освобождаване от митница ми поискаха следните неща: фактура (която поисках да ми издадат, щото нямаше) която включва и цената и транспортните разходи, EORI номер, пълномощно да ме представляват и документ за направеното плащане (изискване на митниците за стоки от Китай и Хонг Конг, пише “SWIFT или PayPal”);
– EORI номер може да си издадете безплатно, ако имате електронен подпис и търпение (бях си издал за нещо друго, отне около седмица);
– DHL могат да пратят как изглежда митническата декларация, да си я платите с един online превод и да си получите нещата (иначе искат 24 лв да направят превода те);

Дъното беше $780 и доставка, вариантът за това дъно с цял лаптоп (без памет) беше $980 за 1400×1050 матрица и $1100 с 1600×1200 матрица (нови, IPS, по думи на продавача).

Хората си имат и форум, в който има и инструкции за сглобяване (google translate е ваш добър приятел за тия страници). При мен сглобяването се забави, понеже се оказа, че има вариант на T60p, който е с 16:10 матрица, за който дъното не става, и аз съм взел точно такъв, та си поръчвах нов и чаках да пристигне.

Последва сглабянето с помощта на добрите хора от adsys (на които им отрових живота, щото се оказа доста пипкава работа):
– има малко рязане по кутията (има го описано във форума, със снимки);
– болтовете за закачане са по-малко, дупките на някои са запушени;
– на дъното до конектора за монитор има превключвател за типа на дисплея (1024×768 или по-голям);
– трябва ви DDR4 памет;
– най-вероятно wifi картата от преди няма да ви върши работа, аз си взех моята от T420-ката, и малко трябваше да се лепне с тиксо, понеже е половината слот и нямам преходник;
– CD-то от T60 няма да влезе, понеже е PATA, а конектора на дъното е SATA (не, че ползвам CD). Трябва да си измисля нещо за запушване на дупката;

Неща за дооправяне:
– поне за момента под linux GPU-то не работи (забива на boot), и за това си ползвам xfwm4 вместо compiz, submit-нал съм bug report;
– горните бутони на touchpad-а спират да работят след suspend/resume, направил съм един fix, ама трябва да събера желание да рестартирам.

Моята работна среда на 4:3 се усеща доста по-приятно и най-накрая мога да си пусна email клиента в режим като преди (отляво списък папки, отдясно разделено на две – отгоре списък писма, отдолу отвореното писмо, вместо три вертикални колони, дето едвам пасваха). Също така с тоя процесор вече firefox-а се движи почти прилично, като си оправя и GPU-то, вероятно всичко ще лети.

HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/ssd-vs-hdd-future-of-storage/

SSD 60 TB drive

This is part one of a series. Use the Join button above to receive notification of future posts on this and other topics.

Customers frequently ask us whether and when we plan to move our cloud backup and data storage to SSDs (Solid-State Drives). That’s not a surprising question considering the many advantages SSDs have over magnetic platter type drives, also known as HDDs (Hard-Disk Drives).

We’re a large user of HDDs in our data centers (currently 100,000 hard drives holding over 500 petabytes of data). We want to provide the best performance, reliability, and economy for our cloud backup and cloud storage services, so we continually evaluate which drives to use for operations and in our data centers. While we use SSDs for some applications, which we’ll describe below, there are reasons why HDDs will continue to be the primary drives of choice for us and other cloud providers for the foreseeable future.

HDDs vs SSDs


The laptop computer I am writing this on has a single 512GB SSD, which has become a common feature in higher end laptops. The SSD’s advantages for a laptop are easy to understand: they are smaller than an HDD, faster, quieter, last longer, and are not susceptible to vibration and magnetic fields. They also have much lower latency and access times.

Today’s typical online price for a 2.5” 512GB SSD is $140 to $170. The typical online price for a 3.5” 512 GB HDD is $44 to $65. That’s a pretty significant difference in price, but since the SSD helps make the laptop lighter, enables it to be more resistant to the inevitable shocks and jolts it will experience in daily use, and adds of benefits of faster booting, faster waking from sleep, and faster launching of applications and handling of big files, the extra cost for the SSD in this case is worth it.

Some of these SSD advantages, chiefly speed, also will apply to a desktop computer, so desktops are increasingly outfitted with SSDs, particularly to hold the operating system, applications, and data that is accessed frequently. Replacing a boot drive with an SSD has become a popular upgrade option to breathe new life into a computer, especially one that seems to take forever to boot or is used for notoriously slow-loading applications such as Photoshop.

We covered upgrading your computer with an SSD in our blog post SSD 101: How to Upgrade Your Computer With An SSD.

Data centers are an entirely different kettle of fish. The primary concerns for data center storage are reliability, storage density, and cost. While SSDs are strong in the first two areas, it’s the third where they are not yet competitive. At Backblaze we adopt higher density HDDs as they become available — we’re currently using both 10TB and 12TB drives (among other capacities) in our data centers. Higher density drives provide greater storage density per Storage Pod and Vault and reduce our overhead cost through less required maintenance and lower total power requirements. Comparable SSDs in those sizes would cost roughly $1,000 per terabyte, considerably higher than the corresponding HDD. Simply put, SSDs are not yet in the price range to make their use economical for the benefits they provide, which is the reason why we expect to be using HDDs as our primary storage media for the foreseeable future.

What Are HDDs?

HDDs have been around over 60 years since IBM introduced them in 1956. The first disk drive was the size of a car, stored a mere 3.75 megabytes, and cost $300,000 in today’s dollars.

IBM 350 Disk Storage System — 3.75MB in 1956

The 350 Disk Storage System was a major component of the IBM 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) system, which was introduced in September 1956. It consisted of 40 platters and a dual read/write head on a single arm that moved up and down the stack of magnetic disk platters.

The basic mechanism of an HDD remains unchanged since then, though it has undergone continual refinement. An HDD uses magnetism to store data on a rotating platter. A read/write head is affixed to an arm that floats above the spinning platter reading and writing data. The faster the platter spins, the faster an HDD can perform. Typical laptop drives today spin at either 5400 RPM (revolutions per minute) or 7200 RPM, though some server-based platters spin at even higher speeds.

Exploded drawing of a hard drive

Exploded drawing of a hard drive

The platters inside the drives are coated with a magnetically sensitive film consisting of tiny magnetic grains. Data is recorded when a magnetic write-head flies just above the spinning disk; the write head rapidly flips the magnetization of one magnetic region of grains so that its magnetic pole points up or down, to encode a 1 or a 0 in binary code. If all this sounds like an HDD is vulnerable to shocks and vibration, you’d be right. They also are vulnerable to magnets, which is one way to destroy the data on an HDD if you’re getting rid of it.

The major advantage of an HDD is that it can store lots of data cheaply. One and two terabyte (1,024 and 2,048 gigabytes) hard drives are not unusual for a laptop these days, and 10TB and 12TB drives are now available for desktops and servers. Densities and rotation speeds continue to grow. However, if you compare the cost of common HDDs vs SSDs for sale online, the SSDs are roughly 3-5x the cost per gigabyte. So if you want cheap storage and lots of it, using a standard hard drive is definitely the more economical way to go.

What are the best uses for HDDs?

  • Disk arrays (NAS, RAID, etc.) where high capacity is needed
  • Desktops when low cost is priority
  • Media storage (photos, videos, audio not currently being worked on)
  • Drives with extreme number of reads and writes

What Are SSDs?

SSDs go back almost as far as HDDs, with the first semiconductor storage device compatible with a hard drive interface introduced in 1978, the StorageTek 4305.

Storage Technology 4305 SSD

The StorageTek was an SSD aimed at the IBM mainframe compatible market. The STC 4305 was seven times faster than IBM’s popular 2305 HDD system (and also about half the price). It consisted of a cabinet full of charge-coupled devices and cost $400,000 for 45MB capacity with throughput speeds up to 1.5 MB/sec.

SSDs are based on a type of non-volatile memory called NAND (named for the Boolean operator “NOT AND,” and one of two main types of flash memory). Flash memory stores data in individual memory cells, which are made of floating-gate transistors. Though they are semiconductor-based memory, they retain their information when no power is applied to them — a feature that’s obviously a necessity for permanent data storage.

Samsung SSD

Samsung SSD 850 Pro

Compared to an HDD, SSDs have higher data-transfer rates, higher areal storage density, better reliability, and much lower latency and access times. For most users, it’s the speed of an SSD that primarily attracts them. When discussing the speed of drives, what we are referring to is the speed at which they can read and write data.

For HDDs, the speed at which the platters spin strongly determines the read/write times. When data on an HDD is accessed, the read/write head must physically move to the location where the data was encoded on a magnetic section on the platter. If the file being read was written sequentially to the disk, it will be read quickly. As more data is written to the disk, however, it’s likely that the file will be written across multiple sections, resulting in fragmentation of the data. Fragmented data takes longer to read with an HDD as the read head has to move to different areas of the platter(s) to completely read all the data requested.

Because SSDs have no moving parts, they can operate at speeds far above those of a typical HDD. Fragmentation is not an issue for SSDs. Files can be written anywhere with little impact on read/write times, resulting in read times far faster than any HDD, regardless of fragmentation.

Samsung SSD 850 Pro (back)

Due to the way data is written and read to the drive, however, SSD cells can wear out over time. SSD cells push electrons through a gate to set its state. This process wears on the cell and over time reduces its performance until the SSD wears out. This effect takes a long time and SSDs have mechanisms to minimize this effect, such as the TRIM command. Flash memory writes an entire block of storage no matter how few pages within the block are updated. This requires reading and caching the existing data, erasing the block and rewriting the block. If an empty block is available, a write operation is much faster. The TRIM command, which must be supported in both the OS and the SSD, enables the OS to inform the drive which blocks are no longer needed. It allows the drive to erase the blocks ahead of time in order to make empty blocks available for subsequent writes.

The effect of repeated reading and erasing on an SSD is cumulative and an SSD can slow down and even display errors with age. It’s more likely, however, that the system using the SSD will be discarded for obsolescence before the SSD begins to display read/write errors. Hard drives eventually wear out from constant use as well, since they use physical recording methods, so most users won’t base their selection of an HDD or SSD drive based on expected longevity.

SSD internals

SSD circuit board

Overall, SSDs are considered far more durable than HDDs due to a lack of mechanical parts. The moving mechanisms within an HDD are susceptible to not only wear and tear over time, but to damage due to movement or forceful contact. If one were to drop a laptop with an HDD, there is a high likelihood that all those moving parts will collide, resulting in potential data loss and even destructive physical damage that could kill the HDD outright. SSDs have no moving parts so, while they hold the risk of a potentially shorter life span due to high use, they can survive the rigors we impose upon our portable devices and laptops.

What are the best uses for SSDs?

  • Notebooks, laptops, where performance, lightweight, areal storage density, resistance to shock and general ruggedness are desirable
  • Boot drives holding operating system and applications, which will speed up booting and application launching
  • Working files (media that is being edited: photos, video, audio, etc.)
  • Swap drives where SSD will speed up disk paging
  • Cache drives
  • Database servers
  • Revitalizing an older computer. If you’ve got a computer that seems slow to start up and slow to load applications and files, updating the boot drive with an SSD could make it seem, if not new, at least as if it just came back refreshed from spending some time on the beach.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of HDD vs SSD

That’s it for part 1. In our second part we’ll take a deeper look at the differences between HDDs and SSDs, how both HDD and SSD technologies are evolving, and how Backblaze takes advantage of SSDs in our operations and data centers.

Here's a tip!Here’s a tip on finding all the posts tagged with SSD on our blog. Just follow https://www.backblaze.com/blog/tag/ssd/.

Don’t miss future posts on HDDs, SSDs, and other topics, including hard drive stats, cloud storage, and tips and tricks for backing up to the cloud. Use the Join button above to receive notification of future posts on our blog.

The post HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

SSD 101: How to Upgrade Your Computer With an SSD

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/ssd-upgrade-guide/

SanDisk Solid State Drive

Adding or upgrading an SSD is, along with adding memory, the most popular DIY computer upgrade. SSDs are changing rapidly, however, so we updated this post by Peter Cohen from December of 2016 with the latest information to help you take advantage of SSDs. We hope you enjoy it.

— Editor

Is your computer performing slower than you like, or are you looking for a way to boost performance? If your computer is more than a couple of years old, replacing the hard drive with an solid-state drive (SSD) is one of the most cost-effective changes you can make. It will completely change your computing experience. That said, there are some practical challenges you’ll need to consider before you do, so let’s look further into SSD drives.

What Is an SSD?

Historically, most computers have used spinning hard disk drives for permanent data storage. Conceptually, hard drives work a bit like old-fashioned record players. They contain spinning platters. A part called the actuator moves a tiny arm that floats a miniscule distance above the surface of the disk platters. The read/write head on that arm magnetically reads and writes binary data concentrically on the disk.

HDD internals

Those disks spin at high rates of speed (thousands of revolutions per minute), so there are a lot of moving parts inside a hard disk drive. They’re built to last, but they do eventually wear down and wear out. Hard drives can also be noisy and use a fair amount of power — reasons to consider switching to an SSD especially if you’re a laptop user. Spinning hard drives are also more delicate and prone to failure if they’re dropped too hard.

By comparison, SSDs contain a form of non-volatile computer memory. In other words, the information stays put on memory chips once it’s been written. That’s different than the regular RAM in your computer, which is reset when you turn off or restart the computer. Compared to HDDs, SSDs are more shock resistant and are not affected by magnetic fields.

SSD internals

For more about the difference between hard disk drives and SSDs, check out Hard Disk Drive vs. Solid State Drive: What’s the Diff? or our two-part series, HDD vs SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold?

Why Upgrade to an SSD?

The biggest difference is performance for most people between HDDs and SSD is performance. Replacing a hard drive with an SSD is one of the best things you can do to dramatically improve the performance of your older computer.

Samsung SSD

Samsung 850 SSD

Without any moving parts, SSDs operate more quietly, more efficiently, and with fewer parts to break than hard drives that have spinning platters. Read and write speeds for SSDs are much better than hard drives.

For you that means less time waiting for stuff to happen. An SSD is worth looking into if you’re frequently seeing a spinning wheel cursor on your computer screen. Modern operating systems increasingly depend on virtual memory management, which pages out temporary swap files to disk. The faster your drive, the less performance impact you’ll experience from this overhead.

If you have just one drive in your laptop or desktop, you could replace an HDD or small SSD with a one terabyte SSD for less than $150. If you’re a computer user with a great deal of data, replacing just the drive that holds your operating system and applications could provide a significant speed boost. Put your working data on additional internal or external hard drives, and you’re ready to tackle a mountain of photos, videos, or supersized databases. Just be sure to implement a backup plan to make sure you keep a copy of that data safe on additional local drives, network-attached drives, or the cloud.

Any Reasons Not to Upgrade to an SSD?

If SSDs are so much better than hard drives, why aren’t all drives SSDs? The two biggest reasons are cost and capacity. SSDs are more expensive than hard drives. A good 1 TB SSD might cost you $135. A comparable hard disk drive with twice the capacity will cost you about half that. SSDs aren’t yet available with the capacity of the largest hard disk drives, though they are getting bigger all the time. To store a great deal of data, hard drives are still the best solution.

Having said that, prices on SSDs have fallen sharply in the past few years and will continue to do so. But hard drive makers aren’t sitting still. They improve their technology every year. Basically, there’s an arms race going on that benefits you.

Whether your computer can use an SSD is another question. It all depends on the computer’s age and how it was designed. Let’s take a look at that question next.

How Do You Upgrade To An SSD?

Does your computer uses a regular off the shelf SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drive? If so, you can upgrade it with an SSD. SSDs are compatible with both Macs and PCs. All current Mac laptops come with SSDs. Both iMac and Mac Pro come with SSD, as well. The iMacs are available with HDDs, SSDs, or Apple’s Fusion Drive, which combines an SSD with a hard disk drive.

Even if your computer already has an SSD, you may be able to upgrade it with a larger, faster SSD model. Besides SATA-based hard drive replacements, some later model PCs can be upgraded with M.2 SSDs, which look more like RAM chips than hard drives. Some Apple laptops made before 2016 that already shipped with SSDs can be upgraded with larger ones. However you will need to upgrade to a Mac specific SSD. Check Other World Computing and Transcend to find ones designed to work. The latest Mac laptop models have SSDs soldered to the motherboard, so you’re stuck with what you have.



Comfortable taking your computer apart? Upgrading it with an SSD is a pretty common do-it-yourself operation. Many companies now make plug-and-play SSD replacements for hard disk drives. Open up a new browser tab to Amazon.com or Newegg.com and you’ll have an embarrassment of riches. The choice is yours: Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, and Toshiba are all popular SSD makers. There are many others too.

That said, if you don’t know what you’re doing it may not make sense to learn how. SSD upgrades are such a common aftermarket improvement most independent computer repair and service specialists will take on the task if you’re willing to pay them. Some throw in a data transfer if you’re lucky or a skilled negotiator. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendation. You can also hit up services like, Angie’s List or Amazon.com to find someone.

If you are DIY inclined, YouTube has tons of walkthroughs like this one for desktop PCs, this one for laptops, and this one aimed at Mac users.

SSD Drive Adapter

HDD/SSD to 3.5″ Drive Bay Adapter

Many SSDs replace 2.5-inch hard disk drives. Those are the same drives you find in laptop computers and even small desktop models. Have a desktop computer that uses a 3.5-inch hard drive? You may need to use a 2.5 inch-to-3.5 inch mounting adapter.

How to Migrate to an SSD

Buying a replacement SSD is the first step. Moving your data onto the SSD is the next step. To that end, you need two things: cloning software and an external drive case or drive sled or enclosure, which lets you connect the SSD to your computer through its USB port or another data transfer interface. The videos I pointed you to in the previous section go into some detail there.

Cloning software makes a bit-for-bit copy of your internal hard drive’s data. Once the data is transferred to the SSD, transplant the new drive into your computer and you should be good to go. I prefer to clone a hard drive onto an SSD whenever possible. If it’s done right, a cloned SSD is bootable, so it’s literally a plug-and-play experience. Just copying files between the two drives instead may not copy all the data you need to get the computer to boot with the new drive.

A new SSD, or even a new hard drive, is unlikely to come pre-populated with the operating system your computer needs. Cloning your existing hard drive fixes that. That may not be possible all the time, however. For example, maybe you’ve installed the SSD in a computer that previously had a bad hard drive. If so, you can do what’s called a clean install and start fresh. Each OS maker has different instructions. Here’s a link to Microsoft’s clean install procedure, and Apple’s Mac clean install instructions.

As we said at the outset, SSDs cost more per gigabyte than hard drives. You may not be able to afford as large an SSD as your current drive, so make sure your data will fit on your new drive. If it won’t, you might have to pare down first. Give yourself some wiggle room, too. The last thing you want to do is immediately max out your new, fast drive.

You’ve cloned your drive and moved the SSD into your computer. What do you do with the old drive? If it’s still working okay, consider reusing that external drive chassis that you bought to do the migration. Keep it as an external drive by itself or in a disk array such as a NAS. You can use it for local backup — something we strongly recommend doing in addition to using cloud backup like Backblaze. Or just use it for additional storage, like for your photos or music. We have detailed tips in blog posts for both Windows and Macintosh.

Make Sure To Back Up!

SSD upgrades are commonplace, but that doesn’t mean things don’t go wrong that can stop you dead in your tracks. If your computer is working fine before the SSD upgrade, make sure you have a complete backup of your computer to restore from in the event something goes wrong. Visit our Backup Guide for more help and info.

SSD can add pep to a computer that’s been gathering dust because it’s too slow and make it feel like brand new machine. Install an SSD and a fresh copy of the operating system, then download or order a restore from us, and you’ll feel a world of difference. Too bad they don’t make rejuvenators for people that work as well as SSDs!

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