Changing to an SSD server – does it make a difference? An anecdote

I had been looking to change web hosts for a while, and thought I’d try out one of the hosts that was offering an SSD option.

I’ve also been learning a lot lately about performance, and how that is measured. This was a perfect opportunity to test the effect of an SSD server. Since I was moving my site, and changing nothing else about it, this seemed like a good comparison.

Now, a few caveats:

  • This was measured on my site, given my configuration. Take this all with a huge grain of salt.
  • I’m running a WordPress site with a caching plugin.

Method

  1. I used an individual post as my test page, as most of my traffic goes to one post via search, side stepping the home page
  2. While on my old hosting setup, I ran that post through webpagetest.org
  3. I copied over my theme, plugins and database to my new host. I imported my database directly in mySQL. I changed nothing about the settings of my site on the new host.
  4. After updating my domain to point to the new host, and verifying that it was indeed pointing at the new server, I re-ran that page through webpagetest.org.
  5. For both tests I’m referencing the Speed Index as my metric

Results

  • On first load, the SSD servers seems to have made a huge impact. My speed index dropped from 2428 to 1126 (lower is better), for an improvement of 2.15x.
  • Repeat view saw less of an improvement, but still a significant one – 1007 to 802, or an improvement of 1.25x.

Here is the first test result in full.

Here is the second test result in full.

Conclusion

Is SSD worth it? Yes, definitely.

While there is still a lot of room for improvement on my site, this change alone provided a noticable, significant impact to my site’s performance.