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For First Three Years, Consumer Hard Drives As Reliable As Enterprise Drives 270

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the good-luck-convincing-management dept.
nk497 writes "Consumer hard drives don't fail any more often than enterprise-grade hardware — despite the price difference. That's according to online storage firm Backblaze, which uses a mix of both types of drive. It studied its own hardware, finding consumer hard-drives had a failure rate of 4.2%, while enterprise-grade drives failed at a rate of 4.6%. CEO Gleb Budman noted: 'It turns out that the consumer drive failure rate does go up after three years, but all three of the first three years are pretty good,' he notes. 'We have no data on enterprise drives older than two years, so we don't know if they will also have an increase in failure rate. It could be that the vaunted reliability of enterprise drives kicks in after two years, but because we haven't seen any of that reliability in the first two years, I'm skeptical.'"
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For First Three Years, Consumer Hard Drives As Reliable As Enterprise Drives

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  • by John3 (85454) < minus berry> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:25PM (#45597843) Homepage Journal
    "Enterprise" drives may have longer warranty coverage, so you are essentially just buying an extended warranty that is built into the selling price. This is how water heaters are priced...a 5 year warranty water heater is often identical to a 10 year warranty unit, but the manufacturer has crunched the failure rate numbers and will just wind up replacing a percentage of 10 year models when they start to leak in 8 years.
  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:46PM (#45598117)

    Yeah, because no business ever adds computers to a domain, has users log in via Remote Desktop, uses group policies or roaming profiles.

  • by brianwski (2401184) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:48PM (#45598145) Homepage
    Disclaimer: Backblaze engineer here. I don't think all "commercial storage systems" get exactly the same "hammering". Some commercial systems are used to store data quietly for a long time (let's say online backup or shutterfly storage of photos), some commercial systems are hammered constantly (google's homepage search). I reject the concept that "enterprise" or "commercial" is a thing. You MUST look at the specific application. Some consumers use their hard drives quite a bit, some don't. Some corporations are hammering away at their drives, some are not.
  • by ewibble (1655195) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:06PM (#45598465)

    Consumer drives have this thing called being half the price, keep one spare, what the heck if it breaks go out and buy a new one, in 1 a hour, still faster than 4 hours. What kind of enterprise organization wouldn't have a few hard drives spare just in case a few failed. Send the old one back to replaced, in their own good time.

    I don't see why you would have to pay 100% markup for what is basically insurance, for the manufactures defects.

    Sort of like airline tickets that you can reschedule, more than 2x the price and still subject to availability (last time my company bought one), just buy the non refundable ticket, if your plans change then buy another one, the average cost is going to be less, unless you change your plans a lot, perhaps you need better planning? You also have travel insurance for such things which is not the cost of the plane ticket, and covers other things too.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:06PM (#45598473)

    Are you saying that the enterprise drives last longer?

    I didn't say that.

    Or just that they are replaced for free when they die at the same or higher rates? If you want to save money, I think the answer is *NOT* buy the warranty (so buy consumer drives) because the warranty costs more than just replacing the failed drives?

    If your company wants to do that, then do it. But I would think that is a hard sell to the IT directors who want service and replacement parts quickly. Here's the scenario:

    1. HD fails
    2. Log ticket with HD company and get replacement drive with little cost
    2. Put in a purchase order for a new drive.

    At some companies, buying a new drive outright is more troublesome/bureaucratic than getting a replacement drive.

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:56PM (#45599397) Journal

    You can't use a consumer drive in a RAID array if that drive will spend 90 seconds trying to recover a normal read error before sparing the sector out. TLER means "give up almost immediately" on media errors.

    Yes, it's a bit of a scam that you have to buy a high-end drive to get TLER, since it's just a flag in the firmware, but it's still critical ro RAID.

  • by fnj (64210) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:22PM (#45604619)

    What the heck? The error retry and sector sparing are within the drive itself. ZFS doesn't even see this. What ZFS can see is a drive not responding for 90 seconds after a write command, and ZFS or the driver below the ZFS level does not like this. There is real danger of multiple drives being kicked out of the storage pool quickly and the whole pool failing, when proper drive behavior lets the pool continue undegraded even in the face of bad sectoirs on multiple disks.

    There are plenty of consumer drives that can be set to the same TLER (time limited error control) behavior as enterprise drives, though.

    Right on the money about using ZFS, though. I will never understand losers using old fashioned expensive caching RAID controllers when ZFS on dumb SATA/SAS ports is far superior in every way. Many or most of them are Windows losers, of course.

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