Which Are the Most Reliable Hard Drives?

All mechanical hard drives fail after a while. For consumers, it may not be that big of an issue as long as data is properly backed up, but for businesses, a higher failure rate may lead to extra maintenance costs and downtime.

As a cloud storage company, Backblaze has lots of drive, and by a lot, we mean over 140,000 hard drives from different vendors, and they happen to provide quarterly and yearly updates to the failure rates of different drives. The latest one is for Q2 2020.

Hard Drive Failure RatesDrive days represent the number of days, hard drives were operational during the period, basically drive count x (365/4) – maintenance/replacement days. AFR stands for “Annualized Failure Rate”. HGST (Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) was a manufacturer of hard drive acquired by Western Digital in 2012, but the company still sells HGST parts… More on that later.

There were three drive models without any failure during the April-June 2020 quarter: HGST HUH728080ALE600 (8TB), Seagate ST6000DX000 (6TB), and Toshiba MD04ABA400V (4TB). BackBlaze points out the latter did not have a single failure since Q4 2018 or 54,054 drive days.

The good news is that the AFR is constantly decreasing dropping from 1.8% in Q2 2019 to under 1% for the first time in Q2 2020. What we don’t see in this table is the average life of the drives, so it may be important to have a look at a longer-term chart.

most reliable hard drives chartIf you care about reliability HGST hard drives seem to be the way to go. There’s a lot of variation for some other brands due in part because the company has less WDC and Toshiba drives. Wait… but why does Western Digital Corporation (WDC) chart stop in Q1 2019?

BackBlaze Hard Drives Failure Rates Drive CountsThat’s because Backblaze simply stopped using drives from Western Digital with the official reason being WD could not meet price and/or availability requirements from the company. Seagate had over double the failure rate of HGST drives, but for some reason, they get on adding more over the years. Seagate AFR still dropped to 0.9% so it’s improved a lot.

cumulative hard drive reliability chartThe cumulative annualized hard drive failure chart smoothens the results and does not look good at all for Western Digital, with HGST and Toshiba drives being the most reliable based on Backblaze data. But as Andy Klein, Director of Compliance at Backblaze, explains it’s important to focus on the drive model instead of just the manufacturer. You’ll find all historical data on Backblaze website.

Via Liliputing

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6 Comments
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Joe T
Joe T
1 year ago

It would be interesting to see how different these charts would look if drives with under 200k hours were excluded.

FransM
FransM
1 year ago

There were three drive models without any failure during the April-June 2020 quarter: HGST HUH728080ALE600 (8TB), Seagate ST6000DX000 (6TB), and Toshiba MD04ABA400V (4TB). BackBlaze points out the latter did not have a single failure since Q4 2018 or 54,054 drive days. Note that this does not say much about the quality. In the original report they also report 5 failures on the Toshibas between April 2013 and jun2020. (with 252.766 drive days) Typically the failure pattern for hard disk is that some fail very early in their lifetime, then the failure rate drops and at some point the failure rate starts to increase. (kind of a… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

Their quarterly data presentation is mostly an example of ‘statistics gone wrong’ targeted at consumers. If you want to derive information from data you need to filter out stuff without statistical significance and need to weigh specific data. If they would do this the graphs would look differently. Differently in a way no consumer would want to look at the graphs any more. But hey, who cares? All that matters are some graphs and percentages people are talking about so kudos to the Backblaze marketing team since they get free press coverage world-wide every 3 months. For people wanting to… Read more »

FransM
FransM
1 year ago

Ah yes
There are lies, damned lies and statistics 😉

And actually the most stressful part of a disk is the poweron behavior. That is not something that is found from data like this, but it is important for your desktop system.

And if your drive is not used for a prolonged time it may not even spin up any more (maybe due to the bearings giving more friction)

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

Are the Seagate and Toshiba drives as loud as the HGST?

HGST seem to be notoriously loud for typical home NAS use

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

Your question shows why these Backblaze ‘statistics’ are so terribly misleading. HGST is not a HDD manufacturer but since more than 8 years just a Western Digital brand being replaced by the WD brand starting two years ago.

As such HGST was just a WDC label for enterprise drives that usually are louder than desktop/consumer or homeuser NAS drives.

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