Skip to comments.What Hard Drive Should I Buy?
Posted on 01/22/2014 8:49:17 PM PST by Utilizer
Because Backblaze has a history of openness, many readers expected more details in my previous posts. They asked what drive models work best and which last the longest. Given our experience with over 25,000 drives, they asked which ones are good enough that we would buy them again. In this post, Ill answer those questions.
At the end of 2013, we had 27,134 consumer-grade drives spinning in Backblaze Storage Pods.
Why do we have the drives we have? Basically, we buy the least expensive drives that will work. When a new drive comes on the market that looks like it would work, and the price is good, we test a pod full and see how they perform. The new drives go through initial setup tests, a stress test, and then a couple weeks in production. (A couple of weeks is enough to fill the pod with data.) If things still look good, that drive goes on the buy list. When the price is right, we buy it.
We are willing to spend a little bit more on drives that are reliable, because it costs money to replace a drive. We are not willing to spend a lot more, though.
(Excerpt) Read more at blog.backblaze.com ...
Lots more data and graphs included of the results at the link.
I am already wondering about that one Seagate backup drive I purchased recently...
If a drive is refurb, it means it has had a failure at least once.
I would not use a refurb driv.
My first Windows 95 computer had a hard drive with two thirds of a gigabyte. Despite that, it had several video clips built in.
I just bought two sandisk memory vaults which they say will store memory for a hundred years without deteriorating.
I paid less than $30 for both.
I paid around $800 for that first computer and now I can get one with 1 terabyte hard drive for about the same price. I also remember when one megabyte of RAM cost $100.
Seagate isn’t a quality HD to put it mildly.
Or did not pass Final QA Test before certification (I used to work in Production -and Customer Service). Refurbs are Factory Recertified (rebuilt and retested) and usually tested to more hands-on standards before certifying as good.
*laugh* Sounds like one of the drives I purchased some years ago that came with a few videos as well. Really couldn't complain however. *grin*
I have had many hard drives fail over the years. Thus far not one Seagate has failed. I have at least one Seagate that is ten years old. IBM, WD and others failed long before the expiration of the warranty.
I dunno. I am a pretty regular computer user and never noticed which particular brands failed over the years, granted they were few and far between. Then again, I am not a hardcore gamer or raid storage user. Good to know which drives seem the most reliable, since I have lost some irreplaceable data over the years.
Depends on when it is. Many referbs don’t come from consumer sources, but from event sources. For example, this Superbowl will likely generate nearly a thousand referb drives. The Olympics in Sochi will likely generate close to 50,000 referb drives, and the average DNC or RNC convention will generate upwards of 10,000 referb drives.
There are post consumer drives out there, don’t get me wrong. But quite a number of them come from temporary use at major events, and then at the end of the event they do a minor wipe and out the go the door again. In the case of convention drives, maybe one in ten will actually exit the wrapper. In the case of the olympics, almost all will exit the wrapper, but few will have much more than a basic system format done to them.
The nature of the beast is that it is cheaper for a logistics company to order 50,000 hard drive than to have a couple hundred expressed delivery, and since most major drive manufacturers are willing to supply drives with returning privileges (for a minor restocking fee), it is a great boon to the home user right after those events.
Right now, you couldn’t pay me to take a referb drive. Next month, I’d take one no problem, two months from now, I’ll likely be in the market to buy multiple referb drives.
Great little article. I sell drives, mostly Seagate HDD14 and 15. But also Enterprise Seagate, WD Black and Red and used to sell a lot of Hitachi. I am unwilling to allow my customers to test whether a Hitachi transitioned to Western Digital manufacture is of as good a quality as those that were made by Hitachi GST. So I am waiting on them to see.
The current crop of Seagate desktop drives have been very good for our customers. They are fast and reliable. We recommend they leave them spinning 24/7, and at a stable temperature. Which will go a long ways towards extending their longevity.
Thanks for the article. Useful stuff.
I want a 2.5” laptop drive at preferably 1.5-2TB. I’ve been using WD blacks lately, but they only go up to 1TB. Does everyone feel the reliability/warranty of the blacks are enough better than the blues that it justifies living with the 1TB limit?
I’ve been lucky all my life with external hard drives. My latest one is the Seagate 4 TB back Up Plus. Even my old Maxtor 2 TB external Passport drive from 2006 is still working. 2nd to that is my 3 TB WD external drive. 3 years in and still working. Judging by the Amazon reviews for both WD and Seagate, I’m lucky. But I do miss those old Maxtor drives.
All my Maxtor drives even from 2004 are still working. The external drives for me I guess I can account to luck. I’ve had many tell me their Seagate drives just go dead and same with WD. I’ve had both and even the Hitachi ones.
Ping. Your experiences match this, mate?
Yeah, Maxtor was my standard since the early 90’s. Almost never used anything else and had very good luck. Since their demise I’m not really sure what to use. Have mostly been using WD blacks, but had a 2TB 3.5” die in under 3 tears, so I’m not sure what to do. Certainly don’t want to use anything LESS reliable than that.
It's been some time since I last evaluated purchasing flash drives and SSDs, but I was always informed that they had FAR fewer write cycles than pretty much all HDDs. Has that been determined to have changed recently?
I’ve had both Seagate and WD drives fail.
The worst in my experience, and I have many drives, were the WD MyBook externals. I had two catastrophically fail on me, costing a lot of data and hassle. (It was backed up, but there is no good way to really back up a terrabyte.)
Any drive will fail eventually, just remember the 3,2,1 philosophy. Three copies on two different types of media, one stored off site.
Oh, and I should also add that I have recently begun looking out for a company that can perform some discrete data recovery off of a few dead HDDs, since there might be some *cough* “personal” *cough* data (or vids) still on them that AT LEAST one Ex- might have a problem with someone else seeing...
I don’t know but I bought these memory vaults just to store once. Maybe twice.
I had a hard drive “crash” several years ago.
The read head which normally is about half a hairs width above the spinning 7200 rpm disk touched the disk....
It was a hot day and my a/c was off and that was the last straw for the hard drive. When I walked into the home I heard a loud screeching sound. Only later did I find out it was a physical crash and all my data was scrapped away into tiny shredded bits of magnetic material.
I took the hard drive apart. Here are some photos. Click on photo for bigger view. I cleaned up my ‘data’ from the disk before taking the photos.
Old webpage before I learned css.
From what I understand, Reads are not generally a problem, but Writes are severely limited -at least compared to a HDD.
Don’t buy a Western Digital Caviar drive whatever you do. They store the configuration info on the HD itself, so when it starts to fail, you end up with a brick with no practical way to recover your data.
RE: If I set my Pop-Up blocker on “High,” it disables all the links I have on any page, even on Google.
Anybody else ever run into that problem?
It stops when I re-set to “Medium” block, but then I get a lot of pop-ups.
My computer is clean, I do a full McAfee scan twice a week, so there is no malware.
It's just more and more websites that use pop-ups, like “Daily Caller” and most of the football and financial websites I use.
Maxtor was bought out by Seagate. Usually the hard core Maxtor buyers wouldn’t touch Seagate. I spoke to an actual Seagate tech guy and he wouldn’t shut up about Maxtor being better. In hindsight, I’d rather have any ext hd’S beside me that foolishly saving everything to the cloud after the Snowden revelations.
I had a similar problem with Ghostery, and only overcame it by disabling all the default aggressive settings and then disabling the adware sites one by one according to the website I visited. Once I determined a site was adware, I instructed Ghostery or AdBlocker to block the site and only allowed the necessary sites to be allowed through. Took some tweaking, and YMMV.
New router installed while I was away. It does not work with Linux. It is called Arris or something. Do not know when I will be back online normally.
I'm just getting irritated by the increasing number of pop-ups on the safe, traditional sites I visit.
I was hoping there might be another setting I could adjust some place in my browser (IE 11) that I don't know about.
I was also quite surprised that shutting down pop-ups completely shut down my hyper-links.
I had no idea they were connected in any way.
Yes, they are -and sometimes you have to allow certain sites to load before you can get to the content you want, which also loads up other adware that needs to be specifically disabled.
Think of it as having to allow a google main site to load before you can see a google.youtube.vid site to load, and then you can disable the google.chat.now adware / flash program that it brings along from loading at the desired site.
Certain sites such as Disqus (a chat-function site) need to be enabled to be able to see the comments, and only then can you disable the adware that accompanies it once it is allowed to display.
You better give this a read. SeaGate is the pits.
“Hard drive reliability study names names”
I wouldn’t buy a hard drive now that isn’t a SSD. They are still relatively expensive, but worth every penny, IMO.
A for hard drives, Get one that will keep you up all night :)
As for my computer, I found Maxtor to be the best, but I have not used a desktop style computer in over six years.
I now have 3 laptops.
SSD for the boot drive, and a standard “spinner” for the data drive (set to “spin down” after a period of non-use)...once you’ve booted from SSD you’ll never go back!
I have had good luck with Seagate & WD drives (not the cheapest models), and “OWC” make great SSD drives:
The difference in price spread out over a few years is a cheap price to pay for the benefits.
New Egg is a good source and locally, the Microcenter stores stock them if you have one in your area.
If you want to boost the performance of your laptop or desktop, replace your mechanical drive with a SSD (solid state drive). Expensive but dramatically faster.
SSDs have come a LONG way in the last 5 years. Newer SSDs (SATA III) have a writes-per-sector rating higher than the MTBF on most drives under 512 GB. Be mindful, however, that SSDs are designed for low write and high read, and that's still the case today. Anything writing or overwriting data on a frequent basis (i.e. databases) should continue to use spinning disk.
Hybrid disks are becoming more popular as well. They utilize both a spinning disk and a large format chip set of SSD. We're seeing them in a lot of server offerings and have proven to be very valuable in database clusters.
I currently utilize SSDs for gaming machines and recommend them to anyone with a laptop or a gaming PC. Seagate still makes a strong product in their back up lines, and they are one of the better manufacturers for large-format disks (>2 TB). I do, however, defer to Western Digital's Red line for my NAS devices or anything where an array is useful.
When I was a junior in High School, one megabyte of RAM cost $1,000,000.
That might be a difficult distinction to work with, then, since I use Linux and I understand that because of the way it operates there is no need to defrag a drive since it is inherent in the manner which all 'nix systems operate and pretty much defrags as it runs. Swap space, and data space I have no problem relegating to a secondary drive, but I am not certain how to limit Linux to not writing anything to the main drive unless specifically allowed to.
When I say “low write” I mean lifetime, not on average. Matter of fact, newer SSDs handle the swap files without issue and no degradation overall. “Low write” generally means sequential, so you don’t want to re-write the same sectors over and over again or you wear out the gate and eventually the transistor stops working.
They’re not as delicate as you might think. I run my Windows desktop on 2 OCZ SSDs including the swap file, but since I have 12 GB of RAM, the swap file is not used very often. As long as you have defrag turned off, as it is with most modern operating systems using SSDs, and the “fetch” programs are turned off in MS Windows, your SSD will last longer than you’ll likely need.
Nowadays, SSDs are the most noticeable upgrade to a computer. You can have the fastest, most up-to-date processor, RAM, and graphics cards, but if you’re using old-school spinning disk, your bottleneck is always going to be your disk.
Just an update: Although there has been a refutal recently, http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/storage-hardware/selecting-a-disk-drive-how-not-to-do-research-1.html, I have been monitoring several tech sites and they do not agree with the refutal. Most, if not all of the users out there have experienced pretty much the same results as previously presented by the BackBlaze people -essentially, Hitachi is very good, then WD, and Seagates have some issues that need to be addressed. As in some people stating they have a failure rate approaching 25 percent over a short period of time.
In the week or so since the report was first published, several techies have posted on other sites as well that their experiences are pretty much identical with the results posted here. Your recommendations follow their indications, and we should all take note. I will definitely be looking much closer at the manufacturor of any new drives purchased in the future and plan on concentrating on Hitachi as much as possible.
"It really doesn't matter what the accumulated knowledge over the intervening years says, the facts remain that for this user, Blackblaze, the results were the results, and it happened to match what the industry already knew.
Their results: Hitachi has the lowest overall failure rate (3.1% over three years). Western Digital has a slightly higher rate (5.2%), but the drives that fail tend to do so very early. Seagate drives fail much more often 26.5% are dead by the three-year mark."
I think I would be very cautious about using drives other than the best for critical purposes.
For those of us who already possess one or more Seagate drives, now might be a very good time to start lots of backups going.
"This article states everything anyone competent already knew. Consumer drives come rated for a lighter workload than enterprise.
Duh? That's the point - it's a cost:reliability tradeoff. With "enterprise" drives being 1.5x+ the expense, for uses like Backblaze where you can survive multiple disk failures with ease it's a no-brainer.
I also got "burned" by these Seagate 1.5TB disks. By *far* the worst drives we have in production (~300 or so these days), and they have had an annual failure rate around 20% since the day they were put into service. Other consumer drives don't even come close to that metric, but are rated similarly.
I actually like Seagate - every disk manufacturer has problematic models from time to time. No big deal, we knew the risks when we bought them. However, the data Backblaze published is completely validated by our own internal data. It's a drive model to avoid when at all possible. Most of our disks have a less than 5% annual failure rate, but this specific model is close to, or over, 20%. That's a major difference.
This article just states the obvious. Consumer drives generally fail earlier under heavy loads. This is not interesting, it's a known tradeoff anyone with a high school degree can figure out for themselves by looking at cycle ratings and MTBF. The only thing I care about for this workload, is if my failure rate exceeds the savings I get from utilizing the lesser drives. The answer has thus far (even with 20% of drives failing each year) been a resounding yes.
There is a difference between consumer drives, data like this is *great* to have published as it can add to your own data and you can compare notes. Will I make a buying decision based off it? Probably not. But it will certainly be one data point of many when it comes time to buy more disk. Known issue? I don't care. All I care about is if the drive works or not, and this particular Seagate model does not. The author of this article completely glances over the fact Seagate admitted to the issue, but did absolutely *nothing* to make it right for their customers essentially blaming them. This fact is what bothers me the most, not the fact they had a problematic drive model - and will likely be the largest factor when it comes to my evaluating Seagate products in the future."