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Using DigitalOcean Block Storage

DigitalOcean block storage provides network-attached raw block device volumes. The most common usage of block storage is to format and mount block storage volumes as additional disks connected to your server.

You should only use DigitalOcean block storage if you're an experienced sysadmin.

When to Use DigitalOcean Block Storage

DigitalOcean block storage can be used in most situations you'd use network-mounted block storage volumes.

One reasonable use of block storage is to mount a block storage volume as a /backups directory on your server. You can then write backup scripts to create backups of app files and databases under your server's /backups directory. With this approach, you never run the risk of filling up your server's primary disk if the size of your backups grows larger than expected.

It's possible to use block storage for your apps' files by mounting /srv to a block storage volume before you connect your server to ServerPilot. You should only attempt this if you're an expert sysadmin and understand the limitations, consequences, risks, and complexity of block storage.

Risks of DigitalOcean Block Storage

Using block storage increases the complexity of your server configuration. If you aren't familiar with how to manage this complexity, you risk downtime and potentially losing all of your data.

If you are not an experienced sysadmin, you should not be using DigitalOcean block storage.

Even if you are an experienced sysadmin, you should be aware of a few limitations of block storage:

  • Block storage volumes can only be attached to a single droplet at a time.
  • You cannot automatically or manually create snapshots of block storage volumes. [In October 2016, DigitalOcean added the ability to manually create block storage snapshots.]
  • You cannot downsize a block storage volume. You can only increase the size.
  • Block storage volumes are slower than your server's internal SSD drive. With block storage, there is increased latency in accessing the volume, network throughput limitations, and IOPS (input/output operations per second) limitations.
  • Droplets cannot be booted from a block storage volume. That is, block storage volumes can only be used as additional disks.

Last updated: October 28, 2016

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