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A Report on Hard Drive Reliability

September 27, 2014

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Update April 15, 2015

A few days ago, Backblaze published an update about this.

Backblaze is an online backup service provider so a huge amount of reliable storage is fundamental to its operation. Backblaze uses a manufacturer cocktail of nearly 35,000 mechanical hard drives (at the time of their writing) to store customer data—and they've been keeping tabs on their drives' failure rates. Backblaze's first release of statistics appeared on their blog in January 2014 but several days ago, they published an update and their results certainly command attention.

Below is Backblaze's graph of failure rates representing most of the drives previously used in their custom fabricated storage pods. Overwhelmingly apparent is the increase in failures of 3TB Seagate and Western Digital drives compared to other sizes models, even within a manufacturer. The general trend is interesting as well, with Hitachi drives outshining both Seagate and WD by an impressive margin.

Hard Drive Failure Rates by Model

These findings are uniquely valuable for to major reasons. First, they're not influenced by drive manufacturers or based on reader submissions, so the conditions experienced by each drive during use would be virtually equal. Second, these are consumer-level products used in an enterprise operation. In fact, Backblaze's experience and conclusion is that the consumer hard disk drives are actually more reliable than the enterprise hardware.

It should go without saying that these findings are not absolute but they are worth keeping up with because there are so few (if any) accurate markers of reliability for hard disk storage. Usually it comes down to good luck for some and bad luck for others.

A healthy Thank You to Backblaze for providing this info and keeping it updated.

If you're curious, Backblaze describes the use environment and testing procedures each of their HDDs endures. For more info, see:

Hard Drive Reliability Update – Sep 2014

What Hard Drive Should I Buy?

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