Upgrading your PC to the latest high-capacity HDD? Building a RAID system? Do you know what brands of hard disks to buy? Are they reliable enough for your purpose? Do you go for Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi or Samsung (which had been acquired by Seagate)? Well, to help you with this decision, the folks at Backblaze, an online storage provider, had come up with their sharing and statistics on what are real and actual failure rates of the 27,000 and grow number of hard disk drives (HDDs) that they had used in the course of their online storage business. Bearing in mind, the Backblaze uses “consumer-grade” hard disks to run their business, coupled with software to provide data redundancy:
|Hard Drives by Manufacturer Used by Backblaze|
Age in Years
Some interesting insights include the following (you can read the details in their blog post):
1) The theory of failure rate is a bath tub shape failure curve, formed by a mixed of initial “infant mortality” failures, random failures and “wear and tear” failures:
2) Hard disk drive typically start to wear out at/after 3 years:
- For the first 1.5 years, drives fail at 5.1% per year.
- For the next 1.5 years, drives fail LESS, at about 1.4% per year.
- After 3 years though, failures rates skyrocket to 11.8% per year.
3) About 4 out of 5 drives (yes, 80%) of the drives last after 4 years. After 6 years, it is estimated that 1 out of 2 will still be operating.
4) Two of the graphs that caught my eyes were this (which would be very helpful for hard disk buyers like you and me):
The annual failure rates of the different brand were enlightening. You can see that the Seagate brand seemed to suffer from high failure rates, especially the 1.5TB. The non LP version of the 1.5TB Seagate drive were the culprits for this high failure rate. The Hitachi HDDs were the lowest in annual failure rates, followed by the Western Digitals.
Looking at the 36 months (i.e. 3 years) survival rates, it was noted that out of 100 hard disks, only about 3 hard disks from Hitachi would likely die, 5 from Western Digital and 27 from Seagate would die. This is a tad too many for Seagate, and is very significant and troubling. I am beginning to wonder if I should buy from Seagate at all, given the track record shared by Backblaze from their 24×7 operations sharing.
With the world’s disk drive consolidation with Hitachi’s 2.5″ hard drive business that went to Western Digital, and the 3.5″ hard drive business that went to Toshiba about 1 year+ ago, will the rock solid reliability of Hitachi continue? For more information, feel free to visit the blog entry at backblaze. Kudos to the folks for sharing their real-life data about the durability of hard disk drives.
Credits: Graphs and information credits to Backblaze