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A Dan Thompson contribution
Who makes the most reliable hard drives? (updated) | ExtremeTech
It’s the eternal question for PC owners: Which manufacturer makes the most
reliable hard drives? Backblaze, the unlimited online backup company, has
been following this story for years now, and its latest
2015 data sheds some new light on the subject. Backblaze currently has over
41,000 hard drives powered up and constantly spinning. And as you can
imagine, it is very much in Backblaze’s interests to
ensure that it buys reliable hard drives. Every time a drive fails, it takes
considerable time and effort to pull the drive, slot in a new one, and
rebuild the RAID array.
So while it’s generally known
how long hard drives actually live for
–read more here:
it stands to reason that some manufacturers make drives that are more
reliable than others. But whose?
Which hard drive manufacturer is the most reliable?
To answer that question, we took a look at Backblaze’s latest numbers. The
breaks down its data in two ways
– by manufacturer, and by specific drive.
The data is fairly complex, but we’ll try to break it down into bits of
easy-to-digest, actionable information. (Read:
How a hard drive works
As of the end of December 2014, Backblaze had 15,528 Seagate drives, 22,902
Hitachi drives, 1,174 Western Digital drives, and 47 Toshiba drives. These
drives are not all the same age – some are
several years old, while many were installed in the past year, including
thousands of brand new 4TB and even a few 6TB models.
The odd numbers are because Backblaze basically buys whatever drive offers
the most competitive dollar-per-gigabyte ratio, with reliability being a
secondary factor. For most of the last five years,
Seagate and Hitachi have offered the best price-per-gig, with Western
Digital Red and Toshiba DT01ACA drives only recently becoming viable
(although there are too few Toshiba drives to draw any
Backblaze 2015 hard drive failure
As you can see from the graph at this link,
, Hitachi drives are by far the most reliable. Even though many of Backblaze’s
Hitachi drives are several years old, they only have an annual failure rate
of 2% or so on average. And the latest HGST drives
have a failure rate of just 1.4%. The “annual failure rate” is the chance of
a drive dying within a 12-month period.
Western Digital is worse, but still impressive: After three years of
operation, 92.4% of Western Digital Red 3TB drives are still running – not
terrific, but still good.
Seagate 3TB drives turned out to be a disaster, with over 40% failing
throughout 2014. In 2013, the failure rate was 9.6% – high, and a kind of
foreshadowing, in retrospect. Thanks to the new 4TB version,
the numbers improve tremendously, as the second graph indicates below, with
an excellent failure rate of just 2.6% – indicating that even a few years
out, they should do much better than the 3TB models.
Which single hard drive is the most reliable? (And which is the least?)
In general, then, if you want a reliable hard drive, you should stay with
4TB for the best value and reliability, and go with either Hitachi or
Seagate. If you’re looking for a specific drive model that has good
longevity, the numbers break down interestingly.
The Hitachi GST Deskstar 5K3000 3TB has proven very reliable, but expensive
compared with other HGST models. Get one of these drives and you’re almost
guaranteed (97-98%) to make it through three
years without a dead drive. If you want a 4TB drive, the Hitachi Deskstar
5K4000 is your best bet – it has a slightly higher failure rate, but still
below WD and Seagate’s offerings. As far as poor reliability
goes, Seagate had some nasty offenders, particularly the 3TB 7200.14 model.
But the latest 4TB 7200.15 drives are turning out to be a solid way to go.
Backblaze also notes that some drives (the Western Digital Green 3TB and
Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB) start producing errors as soon as they’re slotted
. They think this is due to the
large amounts of vibration caused by thousands of other hard drives. (They
also think that their aggressive spin-down setting, which is ostensibly to
save power, causes a lot of wear to the drive.)
Hit up Backblaze’s website for
a full list of hard drives and their statistics
. Found here:
Samsung, Toshiba, 6TB, and beyond
Unfortunately, Backblaze doesn’t have a statistically significant number of
Samsung or Toshiba drives installed. Even so, because Seagate acquired
Samsung’s hard drive division in 2011, it’s hard to say
if an older, pre-acquisition Samsung drive would be more or less reliable
than a post-acquisition drive. Toshiba and Fujitsu still have a reasonable
wedge (~10%) of the market share pie. But unfortunately
we’ll have to wait for another study to see how they compare with Seagate,
Western Digital, and Hitachi.
Otherwise, the next stop is the 6TB tier. Backblaze expects to have plenty
of data on the subject come early next year, as it’s busy buying up
thousands of new drives at that capacity. We can’t wait for those
Sebastian Anthony contributed to this article.
on April 10, 2015 from Extreme Tech
(Links inserted by Dan.)