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monerod on my hybrid server is synchronizing painfully slowly, on the order of only about 20 blocks per minute. Port 18080 is open and I have 11+2 connections (varies). Do I just need to wait or is something else going on? At this rate I'm looking at ~90 hours to go from 86% to 100%. server is INTEL XEON E3-1240V3 - 8GB 200GB HDD with over 75GB disk space free.

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Sounds like your HDD is thrashing, Monero works significantly faster on SSDs. I'd suggest waiting it out, or alternatively use the blockchain importer with the latest blockchain.raw download to catch up to the network.

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    What does "your HDD is thrashing" mean? Does it mean that the system cannot handle the load? If so, what minimum requirements do you suggest to effectively run and use Monero?
    – pl55
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:06
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    @pl55 thrashing is the entirely non-technical term for "I/O bound". Re: minimum requirements, it depends on what you mean by "effectively" - the OP was going to sync up within another ~90 hours, and they would have kept pace with the network thereafter without problem. Oct 25, 2016 at 15:07
  • Ok got it. As many of us don't leave out nodes on continuously and have to re-synch every so often, is there any HD solution you recommend or is SSD simply the way to go?
    – pl55
    Oct 26, 2016 at 8:28
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    @pl55 I'd say measure a catch-up on your hardware, and if it takes longer than 10 minutes to sync up a month's worth of RECENT (ie. fuller) blocks then you're better off switching to an SSD :) Oct 26, 2016 at 10:08
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To add to the answer provided by fluffyponyza. Hard drive IO is a major bottleneck with synchronizing the blockchain. As an example synchronizing on my desktop took approximately 50 hours on a traditional 7200 rpm disk drive. My laptop was able to fully synchronize the blockchain from scratch in 2-3 hours on its SSD.

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