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Mac Mini Server Tips: Speed Up Disk I/O
Monday, October 01, 2012 - 1:18 AM EST
Posted by: Jon Schwenn

It's no doubt by now that you've heard that an SSD drive can dramatically speed up your computer. We recently ran some back-to-back sequential data tests on a 2011 Mac mini with and without a SSD. SSD stands for 'Solid State Drive', it looks and functions similarly to a HDD 'Hard Disk Drive'. Instead of mechanical moving platers and heads used to read and write data, the SSD uses memory chips similar to RAM. This dramatically speeds up disk I/O (reading and writing) and the end result include benefits like lighting fast boot times, faster VM speeds (Fusion/Parallels), quicker software updates, and generally fast speeds with programs that do a lot of reading/writing like databases. SSD's are nothing new and many generations of controllers and memory chips have been produced. The longevity and failure rates are similar to standard HDD units. In many times the speed benefits outweigh the risks.

The SSD drive we use in Mac minis is a Samsung 830 Series SSD. They are a great value and can be installed in less than 20 minutes with the proper tools. I'll refer to iFixit's guide - they also sell the tools required to do the job.

Our back-to-back tests were done with Xbench and showed an average 229% increase in speeds for sequential read/write tests. See our graph below:

This Mac mini Server tip was provided by Jon Schwenn from Mac Mini Vault. Jon has been managing Linux and Mac web servers for over a decade. His certifications include ACTC and RHCE.

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