Block Storage

Block Storage Comparison

If you need more disk space than providers offer in their packages – you need block storage. Block storage allows you to add additional disks to our cloud server, which you can map as you wish.

Today I’m comparing the block storage costs and performance from 3 providers – DigitalOcean, Linode and UpCloud. UpCloud offer 2 grades of block storage, so we’ll compare them separately. I had hoped to include Civo in this test but they were out of stock at the time of writing.

ProviderCost per GB/month
UpCloud – MaxIOPS$0.22
UpCloud – HDD$0.056

Other than UpCloud, the pricing is pretty standard.

For the performance test, I spun up a new 2GB cloud server with each provider and attached a 50GB block storage disk formated using EXT4. For each, I’ve used the standard random read/write test and an additional hdparm test to look at theoretical throughput. The block storage devices were mounted using the method described in our guide, here.

Average Transfer Speeds

UpCloud’s premium MaxIOPS disk is showing a clear victory here, but that only tells part of the story. There are very significant differences between the speed when handling different file sizes – so your choice should depend on the size of the files you will be storing.

4K files

For tiny files like these – emails for instance – there’s a 45x difference between the fastest and slowest.

1MB files

Here we see Linode going from slowest to fastest, outperforming even the much more pricey UpCloud option slightly.

HDParm Results

HDParm is a sequential read-only test, rather than the random read/write test used above. It seems to fall broadly inline with the small-mid sized files on the random test.


With such a broad range of results, my recommendation boils down very much to your usage. For storing big files with speedy access – Linode is your best bet. Above 0.5MB it offers performance comparable with UpCloud’s MaxIOPS storage, but at less than half the price.

For outright speed for a range of files sizes UpCloud’s MaxIOPS takes a healthy victory – especially for small files.

If speed isn’t as important, we again look to UpCloud. Their HDD storage doesn’t have a significant speed penalty against Linode or DigitalOcean, especially with smaller files. Its cost, however, is only just over half.

Raw Data

Block Storage – Raw data

Image courtesy of Nana Smirnova

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