How long do disk drives last?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by SweX, Nov 12, 2013.

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  1. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    http://blog.backblaze.com/2013/11/12/how-long-do-disk-drives-last/
     
  2. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    FWIW I Also read this in the comment section of the blog.

    Question:
    I know this is potentially a big no go area, but I would be very interested to see if there is any correlation between manufacturer and failure rate .. There are some unconfirmed reports from Russia and most manufacturers have been absorbed by others, still any news would be interesting...

    Backblaze Answer:
    We're looking to doing a more detailed manufacturer-related post, but we need to be sure we have enough data points to do so. Once we do, we'll be excited to do something like that as well! You should know, there's no "no-go" for us ;-)
     
  3. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    There are 5 notebooks in my household, the oldest being 8 years, and 5 USB hard drives ranging from 90 GB to 2 TB, not a single failure so far.
     
  4. imdb

    imdb Registered Member

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    thanks, swex. good read.
     
  5. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    You're welcome Sir. :thumb:
     
  6. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Nice.
    I've owned ONLY 4 desktops HDD's in my life.
    5GB, 40GB, 250GB, 250GB.

    I dumped the 5GB Western Digital after 3 years of use because it was too small not because it stopped working.
    The 40GB Western Digital died last year after 8 years of use, the first 4 years it was used as the main HDD and the last 4 years as a secondary hard drive to backup files.
    Currently use 2 Western Digital 250GB. One is a regular one and the other is a Velociraptor.
    The regular one was used as the main HDD for 4 years and is currently being used as a secondary HDD to backup files and the Velociraptor is my main HDD now. Both running great as of now.

    Luckily the 40GB didnt die suddenly, sometimes it would work and other times it would not so i purchased a 1TB WD Portable HDD to backup my files.
    I hope that one never fails me, i'm still thinking of buying a second external HDD as a backup of my backup, does that makes sense? Hahahahahaha
     
  7. SirDrexl

    SirDrexl Registered Member

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    I have no data to back this up or anything, but it's my belief that the major manufacturers are all capable of producing good drives; it just comes down to the model. Some models just seem to be more prone to failure than others. I bet that if they were to find one manufacturer "leading" in bad drives, it would just mean they have produced more problematic models.

    What I do is check Newegg's user reviews. If a drive gets 1 egg, that usually means it failed. If there are lots of reviews, you can get a rough sense of the reliability of the model. You won't find any with a perfect record (unless there are very few reviews), so I try to get something with around 15% or fewer 1-egg reviews; anything with less than 10% is very good.
     
  8. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I just recently took about 30 old hard drives to the recycling center. The oldest was a 80Mb (yes, mega) drive. Why did I have a bunch of old drives? Because they still worked long after the PCs they were in died or were retired and since they may have still contained personal information, I did not want to discard them with the PCs.

    For sure, for electro-"mechanical" devices, they typically have a very long lifespan. Of course, until Man can create perfection 100% of the time, there will be premature failures - so despite hard drives long life, a good current backup is still absolutely essential.
     
  9. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Yeah reading reviews is what I do too before buying stuff online no matter what it is really, I have one Samsung 160GB HDD that is 9yrs old :D But it will still be intresting to see the data about the manufacturers. It probably won't be a big difference between the best and worst brand but still interesting to know.
     
  10. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I am leery of "user reviews". For one, happy users don't normally complain or write reviews. For another, and perhaps the most important is that most reviews are written within a few days of purchase. Good for catching DOAs, but not much else.

    Also, many bad reviews are often because the box was damaged, or the item description was confusing, it didn't come with cables, or delivery took too long or something other than the product itself.

    So for sure, read the reviews, but look for patterns or trends that report the "exact same problem". And then look for reviews at professional reviews sites where they have real technicians with the appropriate training, tools and test equipment, and competing products where they can do a true analysis and comparative review.
     
  11. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    As our servers are getting towards 5 years old, we have seen a big increase in failure rates (we have about 50 servers with 5 or more drives) over the past year (I've personally swapped out 20 drives in the past 9 months and others in our team have swapped some drives too), these are 10k or 15k rpm SAS drives mostly Seagate.

    So that probably 10% of our drives failled during year 4 to 5 ( enterprise drives still under warrrenty), which is in the ball part of what Blazeback predict.
     
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That's good they sprang for the more expensive enterprise drives, but 10% is totally unacceptable, IMO - and much higher than years ago. I suspect that is due in part to drive makers cutting corners, using cheaper parts. But also I bet it is due much in part to drive capacities are much greater so there is much more data stored on them compared to years past. So in the case of servers, more records are kept on fewer drives so the armatures moving the read/write heads back and forth are doing much more work per disk.
     
  13. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    We are looking at how we can improve reliability of our V2 system, we have had bad enough luck to have 2 drives drop out of raid 5 and take one server off line.
    But yeah your right, I think its down to drive reliability not improving at the same rate as capacities, so the chances of sector error/failure is increasing as we use more and more data on a daily basis, there was an article on storage review about this exact issue.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  14. TairikuOkami

    TairikuOkami Registered Member

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    HDD just like any other electronics does not like turning on/off. I disabled sleep and turning off HDD during inactivity to prolong its lifespan hopefully.
    My old HDD died after 2 years and during that time it was turned on about 3500 times. These days I turn off PC once a day, I use only a screensaver.
     
  15. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Well, kinda sorta. Hard drives are NOT just like other electronics. They are electro-mechanical devices. They have motors, worm gears and actuators arms - moving parts that are subject to wear and tear - the forces of friction.

    I agree with you that the inevitable (and natural) power surges that occur whenever electronics is turned on can impact aging, as can the natural expansion and contraction of matter that occurs when electronics and mechanical devices heat up and cool down. But motors that spin 24/7 are likely to wear out faster than motors that run 6 - 8 hours (or less) per day due to constantly moving parts.

    Engineers know all about those power-on surges and build in circuitry to compensate for it. And of course modern lubricants and precision manufacturing techniques minimize friction - but never totally eliminate it! So the downside to regular power cycling is offset by the downside of friction.

    In other words, any aging differences are marginal at best (worst?). Therefore, today (compared to electronics of many years ago - when I too used to leave all my electronics on 24/7) it boils down to economics and the facts are you burn more $$$ in electricity costs keeping your systems running 24/7 than you save by the small lifespan extension you "might" get.

    IF these devices were exposed to the elements (that is cold nights and warm days resulting in greater swings in the expansion and contraction of matter) then I would keep them on 24/7 to maintain a more constant operating temperature. But since they stay indoors with environmentally controlled ambient conditions, you really don't gain anything by keeping them running 24/7. In fact, keeping your computer running 24/7 is like keeping a 60-100W light bulb (or 2 bulbs) lit in an unused closet for 5 - 10 years. That's a lot of kilowatt/hours.
     
  16. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Now that you bring up the "leaving the computer on" i wonder how much energy i waste/consume everytime i leave the computer on overnight . . .
    I usually forget to turn it off because i fall asleep. So it stays idling for over 7 hourss.
     
  17. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    It is not hard to measure power consumption then calculate how may kilowatts are used over a period of time. You can use a simple plug in monitor or if your UPS (your computer and network equipment are on a "good" UPS with AVR, right?) has an LCD readout, you can see how many watts are being used that way too. Then calculate the kilowatt hours. Then use your electricity to see how much your power company charges per kilowatt hour and multiply that times your consumption.
     
  18. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Update...Hitachi vs Western Digital vs Seagate

    http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/what-hard-drive-should-i-buy/
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  19. AlexC

    AlexC Registered Member

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  20. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    I have yet to have an internal hard drive fail that wasn't at least 10 years old. Except for one, all of them were in the 1 to 4GB size range. At present, I have an 80GB external USB drive that's starting to fail. Except for the last month, it ran 24/7 from the day I bought it. My hardware firewall, a very old PC convetered to run Smoothwall, has 2 drives, 1 and 2GB respectively. They've been in continuous service for the last 6 years.

    Regarding energy consumption, the energy used by hard drives eventually becomes heat energy. In climates with a heating season, that heat is not waste. The amounts may be small by comparison, but all the heat generated by a PC during the heating season is heat that your furnace didn't have to produce. Energy used by the PC is energy not used by the heating system.
     
  21. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    And the answer to how long can disk drives last rather than how long they do last is:

    Million-Year Data Storage Disk Unveiled.

    -- Tom
     
  22. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I have a 10MB disk from the early 1980's that sees aperiodic use, is still functioning correctly, and has retained original data from day #1 without re-writes. Little more than a decade? My ass.. I suppose they gotta get sensationalism somehow.

    I have a pile of other disks from the 1990 and early 2000's that are of course much higher density like 27GB through 120GB, and they are working.

    3 of them are in a computer that gets dropped and banged around, they're fine too.

    I had a series of WD disks fail on me due to overheating in improperly designed enclosures. These were around 60GB. I also had a MyBook 500GB crap out for similar reasons. Ran too hot.
     
  23. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    I've never had a Western Digital fail on me. They're all I'll buy now. Maxtor & Seagate on the other hand, I've both seen problems with.

    I had a 4.3 GB WD HD on an old 500 mhz EMachines running 98SE. It lasted probably 8 years. My Dell Dimension 3000 came with a 40 GB WD HD. I replaced it with a 160 GB one, for more space, not because of failure. And now use a 250 GB SATA WD (Blue) HD that's quieter and quicker than my last one. Never had a problem with any of them. I also use proper ventilation and turn my PC's off overnight at least once a week.

    I've heard people that say they have bad experiences with WD, but that hasn't held true to me.

    I also like the app Western Digital Data Lifeguard to write zeros to the HD's before reformatting them. I've come to find doing so makes the drive seem snappier and stable after reinstalling an OS.
     
  24. cortez

    cortez Registered Member

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    I am the go-to-person for computer stuff for my extended family (both sides) which means a lot of computers (mostly desktops).

    I always install 2 after market fans into the towers (in a push/pull configeration). This has (anecdotally) just about kept any mechanical hard drives from failing. One was replaced but with a complete erasure it came back to life.

    As a rule of thumb I woud say with good ventilation 7 to 9 years is now my expectation of a hard drive's life (again anecdotally as I do not deal with servers or buisness stuff). ;)
     
  25. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    I've had a couple WD's fail on me, one within a few months of purchase... But overall, thru the years and decades, it seems that drive failures are pretty much random.
     
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