Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hard drive brands - most / least reliable?

Which hard drive to buy? A helpful report by cloud backup provider Backblaze, which uses consumer hard drives, summarised its experiences with over 27,000 drives: of the following 3 brands, Hitachi did best in terms of both annual failure rate and cumulative survival rate (see the report for detailed info on specific models etc). The survival rates over 3 years were:

  1. Hitachi 96.9%
  2. Western Digital 94.8%
  3. Seagate 73.5%.

Interestingly, the latter two reflect my own experience.

I use 4 external hard drives as standard. Two are Seagate and two are Western Digital (WD). One is for my documents (I moved 'My Documents' and similar folders from C drive to an external drive, to protect myself against Windows problems or C drive failing - I wish Microsoft would store user data in a different partition from Windows!). The others are for backup.

One WD recently died, but I've had it for years, and the other one (equally old) is still going strong. One 2TB Seagate also died just after that - but it's less than a year old! And to add insult to injury, one of my WD drives was bought to replace a drive that died a few years ago - a Seagate, again. So, to add my own review, the failure rate I've personally experienced is 2 Seagates (including quite a new one) to 1 WD.

That's nowhere near as statistically significant as Backblaze's results, of course. Still, I'll have to buy at least one more hard drive soon given the 2 dead ones - and guess which brand I'm considering now? Hitachi!

I'm thinking of getting this one:

Or this 2TB one (though two of the 1TB seems better value, and one customer says the 1TB is USB 2.0-compatible, which I need as my KVM switch is USB 2.0 and I don't want to buy another one till the price of USB 3.0 KVM switches with DVI comes down a lot more!):


Backblaze noted that WD acquired Hitachi's disk drive business a year and a half ago, but given that WD ranked only just behind Hitachi, I'm not too worried about buying those Hitachi drives. Also, entirely subjectively, a relative who's a hardware whiz (always builds all his own PCs etc), has always sworn by WD drives. So I might go for this instead:

That's because I have so little desk space that I need drives that stand up vertically with a small footprint, so I may have to buy the WD given that it's not clear whether I can use the Hitachi Touro drives vertically on their side - does anyone know?

One thing's for sure, after two Seagate drives going dead parrot on me, the second one being my newest hard drive, I ain't gonna buy Seagates no more, no sirree!

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