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25,000-Drive Study Gives Insight On How Long Hard Drives Actually Last

timothy posted about a year ago | from the when-they-go-they-go dept.

Data Storage 277

MrSeb writes with this excerpt, linking to several pretty graphs: "For more than 30 years, the realm of computing has been intrinsically linked to the humble hard drive. It has been a complex and sometimes torturous relationship, but there's no denying the huge role that hard drives have played in the growth and popularization of PCs, and more recently in the rapid expansion of online and cloud storage. Given our exceedingly heavy reliance on hard drives, it's very, very weird that one piece of vital information still eludes us: How long does a hard drive last? According to some new data, gathered from 25,000 hard drives that have been spinning for four years, it turns out that hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate."

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Barracuda 7200.11 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400261)

And how much of the failure rate are counted for those?

Re:Barracuda 7200.11 (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45400361)

If the real thing don't do the trick, you better make up something quick. You gonna burn into the wick, aren't you?

Re:Barracuda 7200.11 (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#45400565)

Uhhhh.... More than 30 years? Yeah, more than 5. More than 10 is also true. So is more than 50.

How about the failure rate of HARD COCK! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400265)

In your anus!?

Re:How about the failure rate of HARD COCK! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400393)

Is that a failure within two minutes? Hard, gansta bird failure rates are quite equal in association with small cats. It's our fault, always.

Um.. (4, Interesting)

Pikoro (844299) | about a year ago | (#45400287)

Yah, except for my Western Digital Green which failed 3 days after the warranty expired. And similar accounts on newegg...

Re:Um.. (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45400325)

over the last 20 years i've used almost every brand of hard drive and have had all the brands fail at least once. every single brand has had quality issues at one time or another

Re:Um.. (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#45400621)

I miss Micropolis. I had an array of their 4.3 GB 10K RPM SCSI Tomahawks close to 20 years ago. A friend of mine has them now and they are still spinning. They sounded like an Air Bus A320 and could heat a large closet, but they were fantastic. I don't think I ever had a Micropolis drive fail. Just retired them due to larger more efficient quieter drives becoming available.

I think it all has to do with luck as far as which brand works for some people though. I know people that have never had WD drives fail, but I've had dozens of them fail. Granted, their replacement policy was pretty good the last time I used it. After the replacement failed within days of receiving it, they sent me a larger better model to replace it. Seagate has been pretty good in my experience, but I read about all kinds of failures in reviews. IBM/Hitachi got the deathstar nickname, and I have to agree with this on as I've had 3 out of five drives from them fail in a spectacular manner. Anyhow, my point is, is that you can see all of the statistics you want, there still seems to be a luck factor for each person too.

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400851)

I bought a whopping 9GB SCSI Micropolis drive (5.25" full height!) with my summer job pay just before going to college. 3 months later they were out of business due to a sudden massive spike of failure rates (at the time, word of mouth was that they used substandard lube in a batch that evaporated from the spindle and condensed on the platters, but I can't find anything about this on the internet now). By the end of the semester my fancy new $500 drive was dead.

Re:Um.. (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#45401093)

they are still spinning

Other than the novelty, why would anyone waste the electricity for 4.3GB of storage space (or even multiples of 4.3GB)?

Re:Um.. (5, Funny)

andy55 (743992) | about a year ago | (#45400681)

Who is General Failure anyway, and why does he keep trying to read my hard drive??

Re:Um.. (5, Funny)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45401013)

Who is General Failure anyway, and why does he keep trying to read my hard drive??

I'm sorry, that's classified. And the NSA categorically denies doing it.

Re: Um.. (5, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#45401053)

He is Kernal Panic's superior officer.

Re:Um.. (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#45401157)

Apparently he's stationed at Bad Command.

Re:Um.. (5, Funny)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | about a year ago | (#45400769)

For the last 4 years I've had to deal with WD RE2, RE3 and RE4 hard drives. Although they are enterprise sata hard drives, they seem to fail at a rate much worse than the consumer ones Backblaze based their report on. I see much fewer problems in the first year but they usually start dying when they reach 16000 power-on hours, with only about 40% exceeding 26000 hours.

Having said that, I count sector reallocation as a failure. In my experience, as soon as a disk has non-zero value in Reallocated_Sector_Ct and Reallocated_Event_Count, it usually fails completely within a few weeks or months.

Fortunately, WD has a tool on their website which you must run before they give you an RMA number. I managed to get its source code:

int main()
{
      printf ("Disk OK, no errors found.");
      return 0;
}

Re:Um.. (2)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about a year ago | (#45400905)

I've never had a hard drive fail on me, across 5 PC generations. I booted my old 486 a few months ago, one last time before disposing on it. Also no failure after ...21 years. Maybe I just got lucky though.

Re:Um.. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45401001)

over the last 20 years i've used almost every brand of hard drive and have had all the brands fail at least once. every single brand has had quality issues at one time or another

Sooner or later all drives wear out. I usually lose 1 or 2 drives a year. I mostly buy Seagate. I liked them best when 7-year guarantees were common, but I've only had one Seagate actually fail within warranty.

Western Digital, on the other hand, is something I avoid. One project I worked on was seeing a 30% infant mortality rate. And that included the drive the sysadmins installed in my development system and then didn't bother to keep up the backup schedule on. Lost 2 weeks of work that way.

More recently, got a laptop where the WD drive was flaky from Day 1. Ordered a replacement, and the replacement (still factory-wrapped) was worse than the original. Bad sectors all over the place. Gigabytes of them. Had to swap it out for yet another drive before finally getting one that worked reliably.

There are bad models and bad runs, but I've just had overall better results with Seagate.

Re:Um.. (1)

linear a (584575) | about a year ago | (#45401155)

We had terrible luck with multiple batches of W/D drives (both standalone drives and USB drives) a couple years ago. Roughly 50% mortality rate (unreadable) within the first year before we scrapped them all.

Re:Um.. (3, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#45401021)

I'm in the market for a new external hard drive (my 1TB one is getting too small for my backups) and kept looking at Seagate. Unfortunately, my father-in-law had a Seagate which broke rather quickly and my wife is convinced that this means all Seagate drives are junk. The reality is that Seagate, Western Digital, and any other large hard drive manufacturer is going to have a lot of failed drives by the sheer fact that they produce a lot of drives. Since people who are happy with their products don't post comments as often as people who aren't happy, you're likely to get a higher percentage of complaints in the reviews than percentage of people who actually experienced problems.

Re:Um.. (5, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45400339)

Maybe it's a CONSPIRACY in which they've invested ALL their manufacturing PRECISION into guaranteeing that the drives will fail precisely THREE DAYS after WARRANTY.

Consider this! You register for warranty, and you enter the purchase date, right? What if... WHAT IF... some FIRMWARE CODES in the drive pick up this transaction and STORE THE INFORMATION IN FLASH. Then then starting the day after warranty expiry the drive STARTS TO DO BAD THINGS f.e. not park properly or run just a little too slowly or maybe even there's like a secret drop of DESTRUCTION SAUCE which is released onto the platters at this time.

Anyway you see where I'm getting here? REPTILE OVERLORDS are conspiring with 9/11 truthers (yeah they're in on it! it's all a false flag operation) to destroy hard drives.

And this whole study.

Is.

SPONSORED BY A JEWISH-OWNED CORPORATION.

Yeah.

Re:Um.. (3, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#45400503)

Not one connection to the NSA, or Snowden's ex-girlfriend, or the World Bank, or two employees at Infowars who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their true jobs with the Bilderberg Group? FAIL.

Re:Um.. (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45400595)

SHUT UP MAN SHUT UP you mentioned Snowden's ex-girlfriend we're all fucked now DONT YOU SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE

Re:Um.. (4, Funny)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45400571)

This would explain why I've never had a hard drive fail on me yet in my life: I've never registered for a warranty on one. If you don't get the warranty, the reptiles don't bother sabotaging you.

Re:Um.. (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45400611)

See? There's a rational explanation for everything.

Re:Um.. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45400615)

They can't program the devices to fail on a specific day. That's stupid. They're just designed with a secret substance that reacts with that day's PLANNED CHEMTRAIL composition.

Re:Um.. (3, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45400655)

chemtrails don't exist, they're just soul shadows of the RUSSIAN WOODPECKER. now that was some hardcore shit.

Re:Um.. (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about a year ago | (#45401015)

Actually, they can and they do. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Um.. SHUT UP IDIOT (1)

rawtatoor (560209) | about a year ago | (#45400661)

You just mocked the essential point of this whole question. Drives if they fail (other than from abuse) will usually fail in the first few days of use. My question is why are you here mocking anything at all?

This used to be a place to learn interesting technology from interesting and smart people. You won't notice that none of them are still around and there aren't even any good stories on the front page anymore "because you just showed how stupid you are on the internet".

Re:Um.. SHUT UP IDIOT (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45400699)

You won't notice that none of them are still around

I see your DISINFORMATION double negative and your FALSE FLAG.

Regard ----> I am in fact STILL AROUND therefore (& everyone agrees with me who isnt already PROGRAMMED) those who know the TRUTH are still around.

I mock nobody these are POWERFUL MASTERS and you have to always sleep with 1 eye (EYE) %%%% OPEN. i feel only sorrow heartache despair and blueballs for Pikoro (844299) who is clearly a victim to the HARD DRIVE FALSE FLAG.

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400789)

Man, I got to get me some DESTRUCTION SAUCE. I bet it goes great with everything: eggs, beans, curry, noodle soup, fried chicken, waffles, hot grits, Ms. Portman, pizza, chips, Cheetos. Maybe Taco Bell has a DESTRUCTION SAUCE flavored taco shell.

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45401171)

I got to get me some DESTRUCTION SAUCE. I bet it goes great with everything: eggs, beans, curry, noodle soup, fried chicken, waffles, hot grits, Ms. Portman, pizza, chips, Cheetos

My grandma puts that shit on everything!

Re:Um.. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#45400843)

You're clearly a disinfo agent. Reptilians combined with truthers make sure the drive start malfunctioning at a certain date by simply keeping a watch on the metadata written on the disk itself for created or updated files. For the few cases of 100% encrypted storage they rely on internal counters that officially do S.M.A.R.T. metering.

Re:Um.. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45400873)

Maybe it's a CONSPIRACY in which they've invested ALL their manufacturing PRECISION into guaranteeing that the drives will fail precisely THREE DAYS after WARRANTY.

I believe it would be cheaper to simply make the drives fail using a random generator and a firmware routine. The effect would be the same but software solutions are usually cheaper.

Re:Um.. (0)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#45400345)

We're venturing deeply OT but this has to be said. WD "green" drives suck. I also made the HUGE mistake of buying one of their external 750GB drives: they have a FUCKING PROPRIETARY interface which is not SATA so i was screwed. Had to throw it all away cause there was nothing i could do besides some soldering mumbo jumbo which i never attempted in my life so...
So fuck them, that's my take on this.

Re:Um.. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45400723)

The Green drives are fine so long as you don't expect them to be as fast as 15k SCSI, except that I've had a very high failure rate on the 3TB model; that may just be bad luck, but I've yet to see the 1TB to 2TB models fail even after five years.

However, having read the article, I think I'll be replacing the 4-5 year old drives soon :).

Re:Um.. (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#45401139)

Both my 1TB have developed a *LOT* of BS, they are about 4 years old. But thay are the only two WD that failed.

A study by BackBlaze (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400309)

These are the same stupid fucks that use rubber bands around hard drives in their "SAN" storage.

Re:A study by BackBlaze (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45400929)

These are the same stupid fucks that use rubber bands around hard drives in their "SAN" storage.

Given that anything remotely serious is based on the premise that you can't trust your hard drives, is a strategy that makes your HDDs incrementally less trustworthy; but much cheaper, actually 'stupid'?

I wouldn't want to use BackBlaze's 'Pods' on a small scale; because part of their low cost is achieved by moving all the redundancy, fault tolerance, etc. into software (and, for a small shop, paying a bit more for fancy hardware that handles that, along with backups, is cheaper than having a software guru on hand); but on a large scale, making the amount of 'overhead' (ie. dollars worth of hardware purchased to support each disk) as low as possible, and just using software (with its high up-front cost; but zero cost to copy an arbitrary number of times) seems pretty reasonable.

Now, if their arrangement was so dodgy that it was actively murdering drives, that'd be another story; but its thermals and electrical supply are good enough that the drives inside get to fail, or not, the same as though they were in any other enclosure, and these enclosures are crazy cheap, so why not?

20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (4, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#45400327)

>> hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate.

You call a 20% failure rate in 3 years LOW? My career rate is closer to 5% over 5 years - who keeps buying all those crappy hard drives?

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#45400367)

i'm sure they have data on more hard drives than what you have handled

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#45400449)

They have a lot of drives, but their data is only from 4 years. The article would be more meaningful if they had been gathering data for a longer time.rather than just resorting to crap like

"engineer, Brian Beach, speculates that the failure rate will probably stick to around 12% per year.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (2)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#45400521)

I was curious to look at this article until I saw that it was based on only 4 years of data, and concluded that it was of no real value.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400623)

They are working on a time machine. In the meantime you can wait for another six years and they should have a ten year test on ancient technology that you can't buy.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#45400585)

They use consumer hard drives not enterprise, They say themselves that this data probably does not really apply to ent drives. BB also uses a custom chassis that a lot of people would take issue with as far as potential vibration etc. That is a great deal different than a well engineered SAN or even server and affects wear and performance.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#45400759)

They use consumer hard drives not enterprise, They say themselves that this data probably does not really apply to ent drives. BB also uses a custom chassis that a lot of people would take issue with as far as potential vibration etc. That is a great deal different than a well engineered SAN or even server and affects wear and performance.

In other words, this is a typical Slashdot article with little or no meaningful information.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#45401011)

Yea it's rather much to call one company's statistics a study there is no comparisons etc made just raw stats.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45400779)

I'd also like to know if there is any difference seen in horizontal vs vertical-side mounting. Seems like if they were smart they would have had both configurations in the sample.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#45400985)

They are just sharing data on there particular setup not actually testing anything. Backblaze loves to blog it's a marketing tool after all. There hardware really does not have any place outside of there market. Lets face it you can cram 48 raw TB into a 1ru with some actual processing power, ram and a decent interconnect. They are slightly less dense with very little CPU, ram, or interconnect.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#45400405)

>> hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate.

You call a 20% failure rate in 3 years LOW? My career rate is closer to 5% over 5 years - who keeps buying all those crappy hard drives?

They do have a slightly more harsh environment than your desktop. On for 24/7 to start... And in a box with a lot of other vibrating drives for another.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#45400613)

>> more harsh environment than your desktop

Ya' mean like my server room?

Gotta remember...some of us do work in IT for a living. :)

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45400815)

Which is why I've had to return more than a dozen Seagate drives under warranty in the last two years from one sixteen-bay server; however, they were all one of two very close models so I'm more inclined to believe it was just a bad batch or bad firmware than a larger issue with Seagate. Unfortunately, the higher-ups insists on replacing failed RAID drives with the same model/firmware.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#45400427)

That is what I was thinking.
When they said a "surprisingly low failure rate" I was thinking 20% failure rate in 10 year. (AKA outlasting the usable life of the computer)
But 3 years, with an average usable life span of 5 years means there is a more then an 1/5 chance that you will need a new drive isn't really that good.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (3, Interesting)

nerdbert (71656) | about a year ago | (#45400627)

Careful. These are consumer grade drives. In other words, they're meant for use by typical consumers, where the disk spends 99.9999% of its time track following and running in a relatively low power state. But the folks who are using them are using them as enterprise drives, running 24/7 in racks with other drives, in a hot environment. Something that is very different from what they were designed for. Heat is the enemy of disk drives.

Honestly, if you want enterprise drives buy enterprise drives. These folks don't (too cheap on the initial cost so they'd rather pay on the backend?), so they get higher failure rates than "normal" folks do for their drives. This is like buying a Cobalt and going off-roading with it -- it'll work, but not for long before something breaks because it wasn't designed to be used that way.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400839)

Heat isn't the enemy. Removing the heat is. In other words, don't move an electronic device from it's home and through it into a new environment/climate and expect it to work. Same goes for immigrants.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400931)

What a pile of bullshit.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (4, Insightful)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about a year ago | (#45401041)

Careful. These are consumer grade drives. In other words, they're meant for use by typical consumers, where the disk spends 99.9999% of its time track following and running in a relatively low power state.

That would amount to about 32 seconds of activity per year.
There's more drive activity than that in a single Windows boot.
Stop making up numbers.

Re:20% failure rate in 3 years is LOW? (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#45400733)

>> hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate.

You call a 20% failure rate in 3 years LOW? My career rate is closer to 5% over 5 years - who keeps buying all those crappy hard drives?

Apparently me, I've had 6 harddrives die just over a year of getting them over the last few years. And that is out of 8 drives total.

On the other hand, i have 20 years old SCSI drives that still run. 40mb drives, woot! =)

Am I the only one (1, Offtopic)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#45400343)

Am I the only one that read the title and thought they were talking about cars? Those long hard car drives can be frustrating.

Re: Am I the only one (2)

Aboroth (1841308) | about a year ago | (#45400431)

Cars? I thought they were talking about sex.

Re: Am I the only one (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45400573)

Wrong website for that.

Re:Am I the only one (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400601)

Long hard drives are nice, but Tour golfers realize that accurate chipping and putting is for the dough.

Brands/temperatures/power cycling (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#45400419)

I would love to see the breakdown(ha ha) by brands. But I would also like to see if they had temperature variations or power cycling stats.

Does a HD that is always on last for more or fewer hours? Ideal temperature? And a hard one to test, vibrations.

Re:Brands/temperatures/power cycling (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45400487)

This. The test doesn't tell me how long my NAS drives should last given periodic usage..that is a few hours a day. It seems the test drives were all continuously spinning, but were they also performing read-writes continuously? More info desired.

Re:Brands/temperatures/power cycling (5, Insightful)

jhumkey (711391) | about a year ago | (#45400533)

Only my personal experience but as for "power cycling" . . . I follow one basic rule.

If you turn it off every night (when you go home from work) . . . it'll work fine, and last five years . . . then you're in the danger zone.
If you LEAVE IT ON for weeks at a time and NEVER turn it off . . . it'll work fine, and last five years . . . then you're in the danger zone.
What you NEVER want to do is . . . run it for a year (like at a factory plant) then turn it off for a week vacation. You're toast. (In my limited experience of 28 years) . . . if you turn it off that week . . . there is a 75% chance . . . it'll never turn on again.

I don't know if the "grease" settles, or the metal binds . . . I just know if its been on a year . . . don't turn it off for more than an hour or two if you want it to continue to work.

Re:Brands/temperatures/power cycling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45401019)

I would love to see breakdown my manufacturing site.

Google's own study was 4 times larger (5, Informative)

Greg Allen (3008951) | about a year ago | (#45400435)

Re:Google's own study was 4 times larger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400657)

But the only link in the article has expired, and TFS focused on the self-monitoring facility of newer hard drives, rather than the overall failure rates.

Yeah, I suppose I could google for it, but c'mon - that's a Google link.

Re:Google's own study was 4 times larger (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400983)

Google study was mentioned in backblaze's own blog on this subject [backblaze.com] , the article misrepresents things a bit imo. Doing some more reading of their blog and when the floods hit Thailand they actually harvested harddrives from external drives (another blog-entry) [backblaze.com] ; makes me think maybe those drives are crappier by default / endure worse treatment on the way from the factory to the consumer.

No one else? (2)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | about a year ago | (#45400439)

"Surprisingly, despite hard drives underpinning almost every aspect of modern computing (until smartphones), no one has ever carried out a study on the longevity of hard drives — or at least, no one has ever published results from such a study."

I recall reading a /. story from Google on THEIR experiences with hard drive longevity several years ago, over a much larger sampling of drives. Even linked to a PDF with the particulars....

Maybe they are to small to count, compared to an upstart backup company...

Re:No one else? (1)

deains (1726012) | about a year ago | (#45400639)

I think the difference is that the Google study used commercial hard drives, whereas this one, since it comes from the upstarts, is about consumer-grade drives. Of course, the conclusions are pretty much the same, which is good news for us ordinary plebs I suppose.

Re:No one else? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45401025)

It would not be a major surprise, especially for drives at lower spindle speeds(as opposed to 10 and 15k, which are 'commercial' only, a few obsolete velociraptors excepted), that the economies of scale you get by using the exact same parts wherever possible, as opposed to trying to encheapen the consumer junk slightly, are more attractive than any savings that differentiation by hardware can give you. Especially since 'consumer' still means "must be able to rotate at 7200RPM for prolonged periods, while not head-crashing the head nearly touching the platter surface. This isn't like heavy machinery, where the 'pro' stuff is all fancy steel and the consumer shit is aluminum and nylon gears.

SAS and firmware optimizations? Sure. Actually different bearings or construction tolerances? I hope you like RMAs...

Only four years? (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#45400463)

Four years isn't long enough. Come back to us when you reach 6 or 8 years. The study looked at drives during the warranty period (WD drives have 5 year warranty).

Also the information they presented doesn't show that low of a failure rate.

Re:Only four years? (2)

decsnake (6658) | about a year ago | (#45400693)

Does anyone actually use drives in a commercial environment that are more than 3-4 years old? By the time they are that old they aren't worth the space they take up and the power they consume, i.e. 1TB per form factor as opposed to 3TB in the same form factor.

Re:Only four years? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400767)

Yes. Not all businesses need to expand their storage space exponentially nor can all businesses afford a major upgrade every 3 or 4 years (those RAIDs add up). Besides the lower the failure rate, the lower the maintenance costs (less drive replacements and lower number of spares in inventory).

Re:Only four years? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45400923)

From my experience, the majority of servers don't need to expand their storage much over time. We have a few servers with beefy storage for databases/file shares/email and the rest of them store most of their data on a NAS or just don't work with an expanding set of data (terminal servers, application servers, print servers). The end result is that we have a lot of 6 and 8 year old servers still spinning most of their original disks. The servers we do expand the storage for usually have disks added, not replaced, so some of the disks are still as old as the server. Over time, older servers get relegated to less intensive tasks until they finally do die (power supplies more often than not) or are completely obsolete.

Re:Only four years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400925)

Nonprofits (like the one I work for) often have no choice but to keep using them till they die (and then, praying and scraping till we can afford a replacement). I have servers that are over a decade old, and a couple of the PCs are still running Win98.

Re:Only four years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45401175)

Some people start using them after they're 3-4 years old.

Warranty period is long enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400845)

It depends on what you're doing with the drives.

If the drives are mainly holding your torrent/nzb -client output and you only have so many SATA ports and drive bays, then you really don't care if they last over 3 years. In that situation, a four-year-old drive needs a capacity upgrade anyway.

I have three 2TB drives right now, that I'm only keeping because I just massively upgraded my server (Lian Li PC-D8000 case and two SAS HBAs). If were still crammed into a conventional tower case or living with only 10 SATA ports, I'd be replacing these kickass-for-2010 drives with newer models now.

Re:Warranty period is long enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400963)

Home user with a small number of drives are not the beneficiary of this study. Come back to us when you have at least 50 drives in use.

Re:Only four years? (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#45400951)

Four years isn't long enough. Come back to us when you reach 6 or 8 years. The study looked at drives during the warranty period (WD drives have 5 year warranty).

Also the information they presented doesn't show that low of a failure rate.

Yes indeed. Nobody should publish any data at all until the minimum time requirements of Bill_the_Engineer are met!

This is still interesting, and will get more so as more years are added on. (You did read the bit where they say they're going to keep updating the data, didn't you?)

Obligatory... (1)

Lairdykinsmcgee (2500904) | about a year ago | (#45400489)

Long... Hard... How long can it last? That's what she said, that's what she said, that's what she said!

20% is bad... (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45400505)

99% of consumers have no backups and no raid, so 20% failure rate = 20% chance of losing EVERYTHING.

I call that an unacceptably high failure rate.

And note: I also have seen a 20% failure rate at home. Higher if I use the crap WD green drives.

Re:20% is bad... (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45400949)

I think what you mean is a 20% chance of having a teachable moment.

Re:20% is bad... (2)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#45401183)

So because people are stupid hard drives need to be perfect? If you don't have backups you *will* lose your data one day. Even a 5x improvement in hdd reliability won't change that.

To be taken with a grain of salt (2)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about a year ago | (#45400507)

Backblaze has done their study in their datacenter. This means they did it in a controlled environment. I'm sorry but I don't have an AC where my computer is... the air is not filtered. my PC is in my basement (as some people put it in a room) where theres 30-40% humidity using normal crappy air i breath like we all do. Some of us (not me) smoke and live in places with lots of humidity or dry air as well. Is this taken into account...nope.

Well this study is to be taken with a grain of salt as lots of variables are missing in their study but it is a good start to know what hard drives last longer under perfect condition

Re:To be taken with a grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400875)

my PC is in my basement (as some people put it in a room) where theres 30-40% humidity using normal crappy air i breath like we all do.

How do you keep you basement so dry? My dehumidifier struggles to keep it down below 60%.

Re:To be taken with a grain of salt (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45401061)

It won't save you from heat or humidity; but the little breathing holes in HDDs are very aggressively filtered. The last few I butchered seemed to be some sort of carbon material with extremely fine pores, in a teflon pouch, also presumably with very fine pores, almost a cm thick over the air hole. Dust and whatnot might well play hell with the cooling in a PC, and smoking does pretty dreadful things indeed; but HDDs are serious about what they breathe.

Useless study (4, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#45400519)

This study was completely useless. WHAT BRAND WERE THEY?! Hitachis and Fujitsus have a higher failure rate by a factor of about ten than a top of the line Seagate drive.

Re:Useless study (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45400727)

Need lube to get more statements out of your ass?

Re:top of the line Seagate drive (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about a year ago | (#45400823)

I've head at least 7 Seagate ES.2 250GB drives fail on me. Luckily, not all at once.

Re:Useless study (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45400965)

Since you apparently already have the statistics, why do you need theirs?

Not typical use. (1)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#45400579)

Backblaze, an unlimited online backup company that keeps 25,000 hard drives spinning at all time,

Drives take far more wear and tear if they're power-cycled on a daily basis, and allowed to spin down when a machine is idle. I'd like to see the figures from an organization that services a large number of desktop machines.

-jcr

Next step (4, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#45400673)

Run the test longer and show us the data for span of 10 years. Additionally, reveal the brands and models of the disks. Thanks.

Everybody knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45401103)

...that the failure rate of hard drives is an exponential function of the importance of the data residing on the drive multiplied by the business need for uninterrupted systems uptime.

this is consistent with my data... (5, Interesting)

decsnake (6658) | about a year ago | (#45400675)

I worked at an on-line service for several years way back in the late 90s and early 00s and this data is consistent with the data I collected then over perhaps an order of magnitude more units. While 25K drives may not be a lot in the scale of today's internet services it is more than enough to draw statistically valid conclusions, as opposed to that, oh, 1 drive in your desktop gaming system that failed 1 day after the warranty expired.

Remember IBM Deskstar failures and correct stats (1)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#45400677)

I remember that all my Deskstar drives failed [slashdot.org] after each other very soon...

Regarding those statistics, I think we should rule out some brand and model well known for failure, because, as soon as the information goes public, we need to replace them with some other brand/model.
With such strategy we can achieve a lower effective failure rate.

Re:Remember IBM Deskstar failures and correct stat (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#45400787)

Maxtor disks were also famous for their unreliability.

Seagate ST-225- 25 years old and still strong... (1)

chiark (36404) | about a year ago | (#45400955)

My first hard drive was a Seagate MFM 20MB drive - an ST-225. It still performs flawlessly, and still gets used at least once a month. It still sounds like a small jet taking off... So anecdotally on my evidence the most reliable drive ever is the Seagate ST-225.

You're welcome.

Re:Seagate ST-225- 25 years old and still strong.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45401115)

I had one such thing in my Amiga 500. And it literally released the smoke out on the very same day I bought it.

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