Why is disk space so expensive?

I understand that it's not fair to compare server disk prices with consumer ones, and that you charge more than the standard prices to pay for maintenance, staff, RAID, etc.

However, it seems like the storage prices are far higher than they should be.

10 GB of storage costs me $120/year.

To put this into perspective, I can store 70 GB of data in Amazon S3 high-redundancy data for that price.

I love every aspect of Linode and consider myself a very happy customer, but I need some more disk space and think these prices are way too high.

In addition, it's only possible to add 10 GB to your server. Is it possible to increase this to at least 50 or 100 GB as the max possible to be added?

Hopefully these prices and limits have just been overlooked and somebody at Linode will reconsider them.

Thanks!

45 Replies

I needed to warm up with big numbers before diving into the smaller numbers. Scientific notation sometimes gives me a headache if I eat it too fast.

Ah, here's a picture I was looking for earlier:

~~![](<URL url=)http://i.imgur.com/FY8CW.jpg" />

^–- 700 TB, or about enough for 35000 users at 20 GB each. We'll say that's sufficient.

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

HOOPYCAT IS APPLYING MATHEMATICS TO BUSINESS STUFF

That's about as dense as I could find in a recent DSW. Based on my math (each server brings in 50*$20/mo, 40 servers per rack, 3 racks), the physical space is worth $0.17/GB/mo, fully loaded. (I don't think this is an unreasonable proposition; if the proposal were to replace one server with a non-revenue-generating thing, like a shelf or something, it would have to justify the loss of $1000/mo in revenue.)

Tough to speculate about hardware cost, but the DSW I linked to started with $1,000,000 for 100 TB of Really Fscking Fast SAN, and the 700 TB array is used by a television network. So, while it's 7x as much space, the performance requirements are much, much lower. Only data I can find how much TB costs isn't useful, so we'll say that's $1,000,000.

To pay that back in one year, it'd have to bring in $0.12/GB/mo, again assuming 100% occupancy. So that's $0.29/GB/mo. If it's only half-full, we're looking at $0.58/GB/mo, before maintenance costs, service contracts, staff, support, platform integration, and profit.

This actually wasn't where I was expecting the math to go. :-)

Something like the BackBlaze hardware might be more likeable. This has the advantage of being much less expensive hardware-wise, but is much less reliable (by design) and requires much more work to make it go. So, at $4000/mo worth of space and $8000 per 58 TB (rounding the price up and using the actual RAID6 capacity), the same math would give 2900 users at 20 GB each, at $0.07/GB/mo for physical space, $0.01/GB/mo for 1-year payback, or $0.08/GB/mo for 100% utilization (or $0.16/GB/mo at half-full). That's getting closer, but it's going to be harder to implement than just "plug into LAN and push button", and even before the other costs, it's going to cost more than S3.

My assumptions are dubious, my math probably faulty. But, no matter which way you cut it, it's going to be more than just hanging a couple 1.5 TB drives out of the back of a server with some duct tape. There are hundreds of servers handling tens of thousands of customers in every single datacenter (maybe not Tokyo yet). Just the network traffic alone will be crazy. If we assume –- no, nevermind, I'm not going to do any more math here.~~

@tommy:

The point was simply that cheap consumer hardware could be used instead of expensive server-grade hard drives.

Probably not without deploying an additional model of server chassis and stocking another type of hard drive on-site. And this isn't going to be a small-scale thing, either: 1 TB only provides 20 GB for each of 50 customers.

I'm not saying it's not possible, I'm just saying it's probably not going to happen with a couple NASes from NewEgg. Not with tens of thousands of users hitting it.

(As an aside, I'm currently doing a bit of a Windows-based project on EC2/EBS. Holy damn is it slow. Feels like NFS over a DSL line. Linode has spoiled me a bit.)

As part of my continuing series on the state of hard drive technology:

Currently, 600 GB seems to be the largest hard drive you can get from Newegg, with Linode's presumed interface and rotational speed specifications. At four bays per server with a RAID 10 configuration, this allows for 1200 GB per server. At 20 GB per Linode Standard Unit and excluding dom0 storage and scratch space for snapshots, etc, this permits 60 Linode Standard Units per server.

@tommy:

I understand that it's not fair to compare server disk prices with consumer ones, and that you charge more than the standard prices to pay for maintenance, staff, RAID, etc.

However, it seems like the storage prices are far higher than they should be.

10 GB of storage costs me $120/year.

To put this into perspective, I can store 70 GB of data in Amazon S3 high-redundancy data for that price.

I love every aspect of Linode and consider myself a very happy customer, but I need some more disk space and think these prices are way too high.

In addition, it's only possible to add 10 GB to your server. Is it possible to increase this to at least 50 or 100 GB as the max possible to be added?

Hopefully these prices and limits have just been overlooked and somebody at Linode will reconsider them.

Thanks!

Generally you get a storage + ram + less CPU and IO contention + bandwidth upgrade for the same price if you switch plans instead of buying extra storage for the lower plan.

I suppose the pricing for extra storage comes down to it actually being locally attached storage in the Linode host machines, hence a limited amount of total storage available to the guests running on that host.

Also, there is nothing stopping you from using Amazon S3 if that is what you want.

@hawk7000:

Also, there is nothing stopping you from using Amazon S3 if that is what you want.

Also there is nothing stopping him from using Egyptian hieroglyphs written on the backsides of frogs if that is what he wants.

James

@zunzun:

Also there is nothing stopping him from using Egyptian hieroglyphs written on the backsides of frogs if that is what he wants.

Until the frogs jump away :-)

If you're looking for just basic mail server + web/mysql server, Linode is more than sufficient:

[email protected]:~$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/xvda              39G  1.3G   36G   4% /

That's a Linode 1024. Of course, I don't know what you're looking to use it for, but if it uses more than the allotted 40GB (or close to it), then a higher-up plan will be the route to go.

Linode's host machines have room for four drives, and they use four 15K RPM SAS drives in RAID 10. So they're really limited in how much storage they can afford to give a linode. It may be that the storage itself isn't expensive, but because of the scarcity, they charge a lot so that people won't consume all the excess.

That said, it's high time that Linode offered us some sort of affordable way to get more storage.

@Guspaz:

That said, it's high time that Linode offered us some sort of affordable way to get more storage.

Hear, hear!

They have a way, they just need to make it affordable :-)

There was a thread here a few weeks ago where Linode asked us what kind of features we wanted. Cheap network-attached disk was one of the most commonly requested features. So I'm sure Linode is working on some sort of disk solution…

@hybinet:

There was a thread here a few weeks ago where Linode asked us what kind of features we wanted. Cheap network-attached disk was one of the most commonly requested features. So I'm sure Linode is working on some sort of disk solution…

Network-attached disks would work great. They could set up special servers with lots of disk space to avoid the problems mentioned in this thread of their current hardware limitations.

@tommy:

@hybinet:

There was a thread here a few weeks ago where Linode asked us what kind of features we wanted. Cheap network-attached disk was one of the most commonly requested features. So I'm sure Linode is working on some sort of disk solution…

Network-attached disks would work great. They could set up special servers with lots of disk space to avoid the problems mentioned in this thread of their current hardware limitations.

Once again I am bumping up against the limits of disk space on my Linode. Seems to be a yearly problem. I'm at 96% after a vacation to France and the resulting 1,000 photos added to my gallery site. I have eliminated every nonessential file from my server.

Please Linode, if you're working on network attached storage, make it happen soon!

@bji:

Once again I am bumping up against the limits of disk space on my Linode. Seems to be a yearly problem.
I was wondering when you'd show up in this thread. 8)

Suggestion: Whenever you go on vacation, include the cost of upgrading your Linode (and keeping it upgraded until your next vacation) in your holiday budget, right next to the airfare and hotel charges.

@hybinet:

@bji:

Once again I am bumping up against the limits of disk space on my Linode. Seems to be a yearly problem.
I was wondering when you'd show up in this thread. 8)

Suggestion: Whenever you go on vacation, include the cost of upgrading your Linode (and keeping it upgraded until your next vacation) in your holiday budget, right next to the airfare and hotel charges.

I actually took the time to calculate the cost of storing pictures on my Linode a little while ago. At an average of 2.5 MB per picture (which includes the large version and all intermediate versions and associated content that gallery keeps for each image), and at Linode's rates of $10 per month per incremental 10 GB of disk space, each photo costs me 0.2 cents per month, or 2.4 cents per year.

This is $24 per year for the 1,000 photos taken on the France trip. Not too expensive when you look at it in that light. Of course, I have to pay that every year in perpetuity (until Linode's disk prices come down, which they slowly but surely will), and I have to pay it for the other 10,000 photos on my site as well, so the total is really closer to $250 per year. That's a fair chunk of change for hosting digital photos …

@bji:

At an average of 2.5 MB per picture
@bji:

the other 10,000 photos on my site
@bji:

so the total is really closer to $250 per year
You've been complaining about 2.5MB x 10,000 = 25GB of storage all this time? That's only slightly more than the capacity of a Linode 512, which indeed costs $240 per year if you pay monthly. You can't go much lower than that, even if you had zero pictures.

Stingy stingy bji :twisted:

But I suppose that's after deleting lots of pictures and shrinking the originals to fit your Linode, so you still have a point.

@hybinet:

@bji:

At an average of 2.5 MB per picture
@bji:

the other 10,000 photos on my site
@bji:

so the total is really closer to $250 per year
You've been complaining about 2.5MB x 10,000 = 25GB of storage all this time? That's only slightly more than the capacity of a Linode 512, which indeed costs $240 per year if you pay monthly. You can't go much lower than that, even if you had zero pictures.

Stingy stingy bji :twisted:

But I suppose that's after deleting lots of pictures and shrinking the originals to fit your Linode, so you still have a point.

Well, my setup with linode is a little more extreme. locally mounted amazon S3 / CDN and 3 node Zend Cluster 1024's

This provides me storage at the Amazon rate ( which is rather affodable ) and is as easy as doing mv file /mnt/s3/bucket … then the display URLs are hooked into the CDN urls. :D

Though +1 for locally attached storage - then I'd just need to rsync the servers.

notsoluckycharm: What are you using to mount S3 storage on your Linode?

@jonny5alive:

notsoluckycharm: What are you using to mount S3 storage on your Linode?
You can use the FUSE module (s3fs) but the problem is S3 doesn't provide a real file system, just a basic file/folder structure, and uploading to S3 from outside of the EC2 cloud is very slow (sometimes as bad as 60 kB/s from my linode).

@tommy:

@jonny5alive:

notsoluckycharm: What are you using to mount S3 storage on your Linode?
You can use the FUSE module (s3fs) but the problem is S3 doesn't provide a real file system, just a basic file/folder structure, and uploading to S3 from outside of the EC2 cloud is very slow (sometimes as bad as 60 kB/s from my linode).

This probably is fairly easy to circumvent. Simply rent the smallest, cheapest EC2 node, which is about $9.61/mth base cost with no bandwidth or storage, and mount S3 from there. Then your Linode communicates with your EC2 storage node rather than S3 directly.

Or better yet, instead of mounting S3 on your EC2 instance, mount EBS volumes on your EC2 instance and then mount that on your linode. Unlike S3, EBS is actually intended to be mounted as a filesystem, since it's block storage. EBS is also generally cheaper than S3 because it's $0.10 per GB and no data transfer fees (since it's internal), only for IO.

Let's say you want to mount a 1TB filesystem on your Linode. Let's calculate the total costs, including an average of 10GB read and 10GB write per month, and a million IO per month.

EC2 reserved micro instance: $54 + 8760 * $0.007 = $115.32

1000GB EBS storage: $0.10 * 1000 * 12 = $1200

10GB read per month: (10-1) * $0.12 * 12 = $12.96

10GB write per month: 10 * $0.10 * 12 = $12.00

1 million IO per month: $0.10 * 12 = $1.20

Total annual cost: $1341.48

Total monthly cost: $111.79

Total cost per gigabyte month: $0.11179

So there you have it, you can get bulk block storage on your linode for under twelve cents per gigabyte.

Guspaz, it's a decent and workable solution, but it's still a pretty big pain. Not only is there more latency when accessing data (and slower transfer speed), but you have to pay for bandwidth on both EC2 (EC2 has free incoming bandwidth but not outgoing) and Linode.

It really would be nice if Linode would offer more options for disk space. DreamHost, for example, uses NFS shares for all storage, with the storage in a different machine than the one doing the work. Granted, most of what they do is shared hosting, but they also do it with their VPSes. Something similar could work for Linode.

Even inexpensive lower quality storage (no RAID, consumer hard drives) would be great. You can get a couple TB for less than $100 with consumer hardware. As long as it's made clear that backups aren't made of data, and that it could disappear at any time, this could be very useful for many people (although not as useful as good, backed-up storage, it'd be a start).

@tommy:

You can get a couple TB for less than $100 with consumer hardware.
Obviously you haven't bought a SATA hard drive lately. You'd be lucky if you scored a 320G SATAII HD for much under $100 these days.

Thailand, flood, under water - Google it.

@vonskippy:

@tommy:

You can get a couple TB for less than $100 with consumer hardware.
Obviously you haven't bought a SATA hard drive lately. You'd be lucky if you scored a 320G SATAII HD for much under $100 these days.

The point was simply that cheap consumer hardware could be used instead of expensive server-grade hard drives.

@tommy:

DreamHost, for example, uses NFS shares for all storage, with the storage in a different machine than the one doing the work. Granted, most of what they do is shared hosting, but they also do it with their VPSes. Something similar could work for Linode
I don't know the current situation over at DreamHost, but they have had all sorts of fun problems with their NFS servers, and switched at least some users to local storage a couple years ago.

@vonskippy:

@tommy:

You can get a couple TB for less than $100 with consumer hardware.
Obviously you haven't bought a SATA hard drive lately. You'd be lucky if you scored a 320G SATAII HD for much under $100 these days.

Thailand, flood, under water - Google it.

I bought two 3TB WD Green drives for $140 CAD maybe two weeks ago. I was trying to buy five, they only shipped two, now I'm stuck with them.

The same drives at the same store currently sell for $370 CAD.

Well, if the front panel lights did the "cylon" thing, that'd totally be worth it.

![](http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3393/328 … 026c7b.jpg">http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3393/3287188157_f2f2026c7b.jpg" />

Hoopy… do you hate Linode and all of us?

No… really?

Recommending EMC stuff?

They're the Oracle of storage… same way "enterprisey", same way "popular because managers decide to use it", just as expensive… and just as painful.

The highest density I've ever seen (and I'm not making comments about appropriateness or reliability) was the Sun Fire X4500 (and later X4540). Sun discontinued them, but they had rather insane density.

They were 4U boxes, with a decent server component (dual processor quad core Opteron 2000 series with four GigE ports and up to 64GB of RAM. But the interesting part was that they mounted 48 hard drives in a 4U chassis. At the time, drives were smaller, but if you used the largest drives on the market today (4TB) and put ten servers in a rack, you'd have just a hair shy of 2 petabytes per standard rack.

Of course, that line of servers was discontinued in 2010, RAID-oriented drives only go up to 3TB, and I remember people being concerned about cooling that many drives in that small a space. But the density those things achieved was insane.

For funsies, I just priced out a SoftLayer QuantaStor server. (SoftLayer is where Linode colos in Dallas, which makes me find them interesting.)

The 24-disk server, with baseline hardware (which probably isn't a good idea) and 22 2 TB SATA II disks (the other 2 disks are for the OS) at $60/month each, you get 44 TB of space for $2829/month, or $0.063/GB/month. Halving that for RAID, it's 22 TB or $0.126/GB.

Using 600 GB 15k SAS drives at $150/month apiece, that's $4809/month for almost 13 TB, which is $0.364/GB/month. Halving it for RAID, it's $0.729/GB/month. That's…not good, and explains a lot about Linode's current prices.

(IANA mathematician, and I assumed 1024 GB TBs and 100% usable space. Reality would be a bit worse.)

Edit: Spelling.

I don't know a whole lot about server hardware, but obviously the competition has managed to be a lot cheaper in regards to disk space.

Apparently this was a problem 5 years ago, too: http://forum.linode.com/archive/o_t/t_2 … _fish.html">http://forum.linode.com/archive/ot/t2523/solongandthanksforallofthefish.html

A shame nothing much has changed. I love you Linode but I need more disk space!

Linode Staff

@tommy:

A shame nothing much has changed. I love you Linode but I need more disk space!
?? We've upgraded disk space six times since then.

-Chris

Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like you haven't improved. I'm merely commenting on how disk space is still far more expensive with Linode than it is with your competitors. If you Google "linode expensive disk", you see multiple threads about the same thing.

I'm not naive—I know "unlimited" providers have limits, and that other web hosts have tricks to scam you out of disk space, but with DreamHost I was using 100 GB almost the entire time I was with them, and never had any issues. Maybe this is the exception, but it seems like there ought to be a way to get disk space cheaper.

I don't expect you to reach S3 or EBS levels—all they do is storage, so of course they can better reduce the price per GB—but $1 per GB with a maximum of 10 extra GB is really crippling for me. I know this might be a far-off solution, but wouldn't it be possible to get some dedicated storage servers and allow customers to buy storage off of that and mount it with NFS?

Linode Staff

It makes perfect sense. The cost of fast, redundant, battery-backed, directly-attached storage is expensive, but the capital expense isn't even the real issue. We're all about scale and efficiency. 20 GB of storage occupied on a host offsets a $20/mo Linode, therefore it's the same price as just upgrading.

Also you can have more than 12 GB of extra disk space by adding the extra more than once.

-Chris

Thanks for the response, I didn't realize you could add extras more than once. That will solve my problems for now. It still seems strange to me that other VPS or hosting companies are able to offer more storage for less money, but it's worth it to me to pay more to have great hosting.

If you ever can I'd still really appreciate some way to get cheaper storage.

Don't forget you could consider "cloud" storage. For example, sign up with a 3rd party storage provider and mount the storage to your linode server. It wont be as fast as local storage but you can get the best price/quanity of storage you want.

@caker:

It makes perfect sense. The cost of fast, redundant, battery-backed, directly-attached storage is expensive.

We realize this (and the flooding has made this even more true), but there seems to be a strong demand for less fast, less redundant, less backed up, non-directly-attached storage at Linode.

It's like, you guys are selling us nothing but Tesla Roadsters when really we need a greyhound bus to supplement that. The roadsters we have are super awesome when we just need to move one or two people, but when we need to move 80 people, we can't afford to buy 40 roadsters to do it!

Bad analogies are like a leaky screwdriver.

@vonskippy:

Bad analogies are like a leaky screwdriver.

OK, then how about this:

It's like you're selling me 20GB of expensive but super fast storage when really I need 200GB of slow and cheap bulk storage.

The 20GB of super fast storage is fine for most of my data, but not infrequently accessed bulk files like photoshop or illustrator stuff.

I see it more like "you're selling me 20Gb of reliable disk; I want 200Gb of disk… " conveniently missing out the "reliable" part. Which won't work because you know the first time people lose data 'cos of lack of redundancy and battery back up and the rest then there will be screams and people bitching at linode.

@sweh:

I see it more like "you're selling me 20Gb of reliable disk; I want 200Gb of disk… " conveniently missing out the "reliable" part. Which won't work because you know the first time people lose data 'cos of lack of redundancy and battery back up and the rest then there will be screams and people bitching at linode.

It doesn't have to be less reliable, just less fast.

Example: They're currently using 15K RPM SAS drives in RAID for storage, they could be using enterprise-grade 5400 or 7200RPM SATA drives in RAID for a SAN product.

The cost-per-gig is out of whack now because of the floods, but here's two comparisons (newegg.ca pricing):

15k RPM SAS 600GB (Cheetah): $1.14/GB

7200RPM SATA 2TB (Constellation ES): $0.21/GB

Both are enterprise-grade drives, and I'm assuming both are in similar RAID configurations, so the reliability between these setups should be the same. But the cost per gig is still dramatically lower.

If I can get 20GB of fast reliable storage from Linode for $20, shouldn't I be able to get 100GB of slow reliable storage from Linode for $20?

EDIT: Or just storage linodes, which used the exact same disk configuration (RAID10) as regular linodes, but use cheaper enterprise SATA drives to bump up storage allotments; you can then let the customers manage the data themselves and avoid the complexity of managing a SAN. It would be a very simple thing for Linode to do, because they just have to build the machines with a different kind of drive. Of course, it'd require changes to the linode manager.

@Guspaz:

EDIT: Or just storage linodes, which used the exact same disk configuration (RAID10) as regular linodes, but use cheaper enterprise SATA drives to bump up storage allotments; you can then let the customers manage the data themselves and avoid the complexity of managing a SAN. It would be a very simple thing for Linode to do, because they just have to build the machines with a different kind of drive. Of course, it'd require changes to the linode manager.

Would these really be able to be enough cheaper to make a difference? I'm guessing not, I don't think the disks are enough of the cost of the hardware/rack space/personnel/etc to make that big a difference.

It's not about them being cheaper, it's about storage linodes having more but slower storage capacity for free. Yes, the drives would be a bit cheaper, since you can only get 333% the storage in the same physical space (since I don't think anybody has enterprise-grade 3TB or 4TB drives yet), but it's about getting more space for the same price, not the same space for a smaller price.

@peleus:

Quick question on disk space please. Some providers say disk space is unlimited. Are there any catch for this?

Of course there's a catch, do you really think "unlimited" space is actually possible?

@glg - please don't feed the "peleus bot" - it does nothing but resurrect (very) old dead threads with nonsense posts.

I can't figure out the purpose - normally it would be click bait - but it doesn't have a link in any of it's posts (unless maybe Linode strips them out).

Although puzzling, it's more annoying then the mystery it presents.

@vonskippy:

@glg - please don't feed the "peleus bot" - it does nothing but resurrect (very) old dead threads with nonsense posts.

I can't figure out the purpose - normally it would be click bait - but it doesn't have a link in any of it's posts (unless maybe Linode strips them out).

Although puzzling, it's more annoying then the mystery it presents.

I usually click on "most recent", didn't scroll up to see it was such an old thread, but you're right, it's odd, usually these have click-bait like the other one that's posted a couple times.

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