How long do consumer level hard drives last?

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I think it’s admirable that Backblaze has done this and shared it with anyone who wants to know. I look forward to see how much of a difference enterprise level drives would produce in comparison.


My old backup IBM still has it’s original 1999 DeskStar 13.5 GB .
That is no longer it’s main OS drive . It has Windows 98SE on it.
So I guess a certain percent defy the odds.
The main OS drive has Windows XP Pro on it .
That drive is 6 or so years old.
It has low time used on it because it is on a computer only used on a limited basis.

Running 24/7 is the critical data here, as all drives are more likely to fail under those conditions. I’m not sure how useful that data can be to anyone NOT running HDDs 24/7.

Nowadays you can feel lucky when a HDD lasts 5 years while there have been times where 10 years were normal.

High end “performance” hard drives Such as WD “Black” series drives
actually use a type of fluid dynamic bearing that wears far more during each startup or spin down than it would during a year or more of continuous operation…

so I’d expect these drives to live longer in 24/7 operation than in daily start-up
and overnight shut downs.

The basic reality here is that “performance” drives are in essence “enterprise drives” that have been relabeled for consumer sale.

Another story entirely are the new “green” drives that are supposed to save power, these actually have firmware internal to the drive that turn them off after a time of inactivity, so even with power applied 24/7 after 15-30minutes the drives aren’t running anyway…

So I’ve gotta ask what specific types of “consumer” drive were they testing?

Knock on wood, I’ve only had two personal drives fail in the last several years

Personally I’ve had one WD “blue” drive fail, that one started throwing SMART failure warnings within a week of installation.
The other was a 1.5TB WD green that was simply dead one morning when I turned the power on to it’s external enclosure… aside from formatting it it had less than 20hours of actual run time.

I don’t ever entirely trust ANY hard drive, but I trust them at all until they’ve been running for >30days.

This is quite usefull. I don’t understand why companies with huge stacks of drives don’t publish this information. The only other similar study was google’s paper a few years ago.

I’m more interested in how the drives failed rather than how soon. Do they one day suddenly become completely unusable, or are there warning signs?

I’ve had a hard disk develop bad sectors to the point that the partition table got corrupted. The data was lost, but I managed to repartition it and get a few more years of use before throwing it out on the grounds that the capacity was too low to be worth the space it occupied. If I had the money, I could’ve replaced it before the data was lost.

When the stock disk in my current computer was on the way out, it became really slow. I didn’t know the disk was at fault at first, so I pursued the software side of troubleshooting until eventually the computer failed to POST with the disk connected. Nothing was lost. It was all accessible using a SATA-to-USB bridge.

I’ve never had a spontaneous failure. The warning signs where there and I know better now about what to look for. Still, it is the spontaneous failures that worry me. Are they common? Is my luck due to run out?

Depends all on the operational environment - many HDDs are overheating due to “airtight” cases or wrong airflow.

I replace HDDs every 3-4 years to be on the safe side

I must be the only one who doesn’t really see this data as particularly useful…

  1. Who really thinks that enterprise use of consumer drives is representative of what the average consumer will see and can therefore draw conclusions from this data?

  2. How come they didn’t break down the failure rates by brand / model?

I actually have about 2-3 computers running at almost all times in any given year, so this is very useful to me. So far I’ve only had 1 drive die on me, and 1 go ‘flakey’. I do tend to cycle my drives as larger capacities are needed though, instead of in a set pattern.

This information is very useful to me.

Now if only they would release the brands and models of those drives…that would make it truly useful.

Right now I suppose it’s useful in a sense that it confirms I need to cycle out my drives every few years, so not very when I think about it more.

I roll with a RAID-1 mirror array in my rig for this reason. Don’t trust moving parts. Or electrical components :slight_smile:

If you go back into the older entries in their log, it shows that they tended to buy Hitachi drives. I doubt there is much on specific models.

I have a netbook that’s suffered from two hard drive issues recently. The first was when I found that several files were found, as a result of some bad sectors.

My second issue happened just a few hours ago, when my bios was unable to access my replacement drive (presumably due to not being able to spin-up). Sadly, this drive is only a month and a day old.

[QUOTE=JimPBish;2708685]I’m more interested in [I]how[/I] the drives fail…[/QUOTE]
Yes. But I believe this is a worthless search.

Because there are many plants assembling these devices, and in each plant, there are probably many robotic assembly lines AND there are so many parts-suppliers. No two can be exactly alike, as much as it displeases their owners AND consumers. When a product line starts having failures of some repeated nature, those lines are adjusted. (Oh please - let that be true!)

Of course, “hearing about failings from the field” takes months, probably, before there are significant statistics. And those will also be eroded by questions of “how was it used”. By that time, there’s a likely chance that those assembly lines have undergone changes anyway, perhaps because of different suppliers, different parts, OR in response to in-house lab test results (failures).

Thus, the quantity of assembly lines, the quantity of parts suppliers, and the relative rapidity of model changes (due to?? assembly line modifications??) castrate our research into “How do they fail”.

I end up with the “everything’s a crap shoot” argument.

The so-called Enterprise Line of hard-drives survives for extended periods of time not so much because they are ‘better’ products, but because the manufacturers (parts assemblers), parts suppliers AND the warehousing middle-men agree to maintain supply-levels for that extended time. I think they are AS likely to have assembly-line differences in performances and longevity - but the supply of dust-collecting replacements is ‘guaranteed’ by this host of middle-men parts distributors. “Double your per-unit suggested retail price, and we’ll keep twice as many on our shelves, paying inventory taxes on all of them for years to come.”

It’s a foregone conclusion that the new drives utilizing helium (above 4tb) will probably have a catastrophic decline if/when that pocket of compressed air leaks or become “dirty” inside. Who knows if that’s projects for 5 years, 10 years, or more… but I think they delayed releasing it until they had significant 5 year data longevity results that wouldn’t give them a bad PR problem down the line.

After all the blowback on HAMR technology, customers want drives to minimally last on average at least 2-3x the MFG warranty. This is an industry “GOLD STANDARD”, but of course, YMMV. Nobody gives a crap about the statistics when you have multiple terabytes vaporized or are stuck with a multi-hour/day rescue/backup/restore operation to save data…

I just hope nobody goes postal because 50-250 terabytes of their movie/media collection goes offline permanently…

Most of my drives died at about 5 years so I set the Bios to read the drive SMART status that most support now so hopefully I get some warning before it kacks.
I’ve had a few older drives last 10 years but they are so small now and old who’d want to use them, plus not many new boards have much for IDE connectors these days.
They certainly have gone away from the enthusiast boards that used to have up to 8 of every popular connection format like I used to buy.
I did have one Maxtor drive I got cheap die in less then a year of service too, just stared clunking and then couldn’t be read, luckily it wasn’t my boot drive so I lost some photos and things. One of the first 1 year warranty drives too and it sat on my shelf for that year till I needed it so warranty was useless.