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I need to buy a pair of 2.5" disks for the root partition of a file server. These disks would essentially only contain the OS, so there will be practically no writing on them. Therefore, no SSD wear out should be an issue and the only thing I need is for the drive to keep responding to read requests.

In this setting, from what should I expect more reliability, an SSD or a HDD? I've heard of SSDs going bad because of the controller getting fried. Where should I put my money? Should I be looking at a pair of 2.5" HDDs or a pair of e.g. 60GB Intel SSDs?

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SSD in the correct RAID configuration would provide you the speed of SSD but allow you to rebuild the RAID if a single ( or multiple depending on the configuration ) device goes bad. In either choice data duplication is lkely important so a RAID likely should be used in either case. –  Ramhound Sep 4 '13 at 14:39
    
Yes, in both cases I have a ZFS mirror, but this is not very relevant to the actual question. Disk loss won't be catastrophic issue, but it's an annoyance I want to minimize. –  ttt Sep 4 '13 at 14:43
    
SSD units come with a warranty, HDD come with a warranty, in both cases you are covered. Do you want pure performance or 20 years of proven level of reliability with HDDs? –  Ramhound Sep 4 '13 at 15:16
    
I do not care about performance, since a file server will do practically nothing with the system disk and since it's supposed to be always on, I don't care about how long it takes to boot. What I care about is keeping the machine running with minimum amount of trouble. Also, mirroring does protect you, but a more reliable disk always translates to a more reliable mirror. –  ttt Sep 4 '13 at 15:28
    
Sounds like you can answer your own question. –  Ramhound Sep 4 '13 at 15:46
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I have had MS Server running on an ADATA 32gb SSD for the past three years without issue and several Corsair SSDs in my gaming rig. Before that, the ADATA SSD was used and abused on several other computers for learning purposes. These SSDs have all gone through the gaunlet of formats, partions, curruptions, reformats, recoveries, etc. and not once have they, or any controllers ever skiped a beat. With that said, I can also say the same for my HDDs. I have one original IDE HDD with a SATA converter that has no business still being alive, but it is, and it still runs like a champ beside the ADATA in the server. Unfortunately, none of this leads to a conclusive answer as you could buy a SSD or HDD that craps the bed within two days. There is just no way of predicting an items manfacturing quality and life cycle.

The real answer here is proper data backup. Reguardless of which storage medium you choose, a failure is moot if you have a backup image to restore from. If performance is not an issue, then my advice would be to go with the cheapest solution.

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