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When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
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When Will Your Hard Drive Fail?

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  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:54AM (#49970053) Homepage Journal

    ...would be my guess.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:12AM (#49970211) Homepage

      Sounds about right. I've had two crashes, one was back in 2006 and it was a raid night in WoW, the drive head of my main drive crashed. The other was a SSD failure, when I was writing a term paper. Luckily in both cases I used a triple redundancy solution for my backups and was up and running again in a few hours. I learned way, way back in '91 that if you don't have a backup you're up shits creek.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. I've had a drive fail exactly once: two days before my flight for a conference where I was giving a paper. Luckily I had daily backups, so I was a able to recover fairly quickly, but it taught me that computers know what we humans do and time their strikes to cause us maximum damage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alex67500 ( 1609333 )

      True. But then again, is there such a thing as a convenient hard drive failure?

      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @01:25PM (#49971203) Homepage

        True. But then again, is there such a thing as a convenient hard drive failure?

        "Sorry honey, I can't make it over to dinner at your folks house tonight. Hard drive failed."

        Clouds and silver lining sort of thing....

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        Yes. I bought a new drive to replace my old PATA drive. The new SATA drive is to take its place. Now, the copy operation I tried failed because there were too many bad sectors on the old drive. So, it'll take some massaging and a different method, but I'll be able to salvage the data. The drive, at that point (migrated off and useless) is then free to "die" a peaceful and convenient death. Oh, and the old drive is SMART, but no errors were generated warning of the issues, until I tried moving off it.
    • hard drives will fail whenever it will cause the largest disruption, be it money, time, career, or life safety. they got it from further development of the "critical detector" in all office copy machines, which invariably takes the machine down for days when you absolutely MUST make a squillion sets of a critical document.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      About 10 minutes after my porn collection is finally complete.
  • When? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpio- ( 986581 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:54AM (#49970057)
    When you least expect it, except if you expect it to happen just before taking a backup. Then it'll happen just when you expect it to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:55AM (#49970059)

    Death, taxes, hard-drive failure.

  • by dstyle5 ( 702493 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:56AM (#49970069)
    Then it won't matter if when your drive/PC fails. Him having a backup on the same machine is almost as bad as not having one at all, IMO.
    • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:06AM (#49970155)

      Him having a backup on the same machine is almost as bad as not having one at all, IMO.

      That was bad, but holy fuck, his backup "strategy" was manual drag-copy!!! It sounds like the "backup" drive was fine, but just didn't have all the data he needed to recover, because it was never copied there.

      Why is this guy writing about computers???

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:11AM (#49970205) Journal
        Probably because computers don't bite you in the ass merely because you write about them without knowing about them; while most other computer-related jobs have built-in punishments, exacted somewhat more capriciously but almost as inevitably as a hot surface burning your hand when you touch it, for not knowing what you are doing.

        Puking up column-inches to wrap around the ads is pretty safe by comparison.
        • by sribe ( 304414 )

          Probably because computers don't bite you in the ass merely because you write about them without knowing about them; while most other computer-related jobs have built-in punishments, exacted somewhat more capriciously but almost as inevitably as a hot surface burning your hand when you touch it, for not knowing what you are doing.

          That's a really good point.

      • by yagu ( 721525 )
        replying to obviate inadvertant "redundant" moderation
      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        At the minimum, the guy should have at least an external hard disk and Mozy, Carbonite, BackBlaze, or another provider. The external HDD is for the backup program to allow for a bare metal restore of the box, and saving it on a remote provider helps with retrieving the files if the computer and its backup drive become inaccessible (destroyed/stolen/etc.)

      • That is basically what I do. I copy over all the important files and my data to a external HD. I have used automatic backup systems and bare metal recovery options in the past. To me they have never been worth the trouble. Seems like every time I try to recover from one of these something isn't comparable or something is missing like a driver.

        To me its just easier to reinstall and copy over the data from backup once I replace the drive.

    • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:11AM (#49970201)

      Yeah, the whole article came off as "Look how stupid I am even though I am supposed be writing about IT."

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:36AM (#49970403) Journal
      Then it won't matter if when your drive/PC fails. Him having a backup on the same machine is almost as bad as not having one at all, IMO.

      I have to disagree - Yes, I personally go for a waaay more paranoid backup approach, but just backing up to an external USB HDD (though with a "real" backup, not his manual drag-and-drop BS) puts someone a whole world of hurt better off than 99% of computer users.

      If Grandma calls and says her HDD died and she hasn't "run that DVD backup thing" in a few months, well gee, sucks for you, granny! If, however, she calls and asks for help getting her nightly USB drive backup reinstalled to a new computer, hey, cool, she's lost almost nothing.

      Now, sure, perhaps her computer got hit by lightning and toasted both. Perhaps her house got flooded and nothing electronic in it still works. Perhaps her PSU went bad and toasted every component in the machine (although even then, USB devices will often survive that). Perhaps she caught a cryptolocker-type virus that ate the backups as well. Sure, a single connected backup device has a lot of points of failure in common with the system drive itself. But in practice, it drops that "lose everything once every few years" down to "lose everything once in a lifetime".
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Why? Most people only have one computer, and really, anything in the same building is subject to most failures that are going to get a drive in the same machine. Back up often to a dedicated hard drive in your computer, or a NAS. Less frequently, back up that drive to something more secure.

      People don't make backups because it's inconvenient. An automatic backup to a dedicated drive in the same computer is very convenient, and will take care of the vast majority of failures.

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:56AM (#49970071)

    Is millions of external HDs being hastily plugged in and spinning up.

  • Wrong question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:57AM (#49970083) Journal
    Short answer: If you actually care, you need better backups.

    If the HDD in one of my PCs dies, I don't care in the least. Restore it from last night's backup to the NAS, and call it good.

    If up to two of the HDDs in my NAS die, I buy new ones, swap them in, resilver them, and call it good.

    If my entire NAS dies, I would start to get worried, but at that point I can still fully recover (at least to where I left everything last night) from my partially offsite backup, an exact snapshot of my NAS that lives in my detached garage.

    If my house and garage somehow both get destroyed at the same time, I would lose a lot, but do still have my most important data mirrored offsite... Though at that point, I probably have more important things to worry about than re-ripping my music library. :)

    But if you care about when any one particular drive will fail on you, you've already accepted the eventual catastrophic failure and loss of your life's work as entirely acceptable.
    • See I do have a backup of my laptop on a local NAS, but that's actually my sort of "safeguard" backup, in case my primary plan fails somehow. My primarily plan is, I keep everything of importance in my Dropbox folder. Anything sensitive is encrypted, but it's all in Dropbox, which is synced as soon as I alter a file.

      In this day and age, you should be able to be absolutely blasé about hard drive failures. At any moment, you should be able to say, "Fine, wipe my hard drive. I might lose an hour of w

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      SSDs just make it worse, since when they fail, they are usually impossible to recover.

      I do three layers of backups:

      Layer 1 is an external HDD. That covers "oh shit" failures where I can completely rebuild and bare-metal a machine quickly, as well as restore files.

      Layer 2 is a server that "pulls" backups. It runs Windows Server 2012R2 and Server Essentials, (if I get past ~10 machines, that means time to go for a "big boy" backup platform like DPM or NetBackup.) What this provides is resistance against ra

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        SSDs just make it worse, since when they fail, they are usually impossible to recover.

        My hard drive failures generally tend to be unrecoverable - sure I might be able to get pieces of data, but once they go, it's generally gone. SSDs just up and dying is no real biggie (backups!).

        I suppose the real sad thing is that Microsoft had one of the best backup solutions for networked Windows computers, especially in a home/SOHO setting. Windows Home Server had a stupidly simple to use backup system - it worked at a

      • C'mon people, unless you are recording movies, backing up your data (onto multiple thumb drives) is trivial.

        The real hassle is backing up your operating systems along with all the software installations and installs.

        Sure, we all have the activation keys for every piece of software we installed in a safe place somewhere?

        That is also the royal hassle that Microsoft created when they started "authenticating Windows" against hardware configurations. You used to be able to just clone hard disks and take t

    • Re:Wrong question. (Score:4, Informative)

      by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @12:36PM (#49970883)

      When I reads these comments, I can't help but feel sad that I have very little data valuable enough to go through this trouble.

      I have my family photos and docs backed up. That's about it.

      • Maybe, on the other hand, you're doing something right. I have a minimum of stuff that I even bother to back up. If you were to ask the wife, she has terabytes of shit that need backed up. Just stupid movies, that she can torrent again anytime she wants. Me? Very nearly nothing. Everything I consider worthy of worry will fit on a single hard drive. 250 gig should suffice. Hmmmmmmm - my local backup is on a 320 gig drive, and there's a lot of redundant crap in there that I need to delete. Sifting th

  • Very old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by cb88 ( 1410145 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:59AM (#49970097)
    This is months old and probably one of the first things to come up when you do a google search on hard drive failure statistics. Also the blog linked to is not the original story.

    This is where the actual data comes from... https://www.backblaze.com/blog/best-hard-drive/
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:05AM (#49970149)

    that writes these "I lost everything hard drive failures"? You would think people who have been in the computer industry for a decade or longer would understand the importance of backups.

    Simple rules

    1) Automatic. Because if it is a manual backup, it won't happen.
    2) At least 2 backups
    3) One copy offsite

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:14AM (#49970239) Journal
      Don't forget the bits where you verify that the 'backups' actually restore into something useful; such verification ideally including integrity checks of every file; but at the very least a sanity check of the backup.

      More than a few people have learned the hard way that screwing up the backup job such that it omits large portions of the important data makes it run nice and fast, and consume relatively few tapes; but substantially reduces the value of those tapes.
    • 1) Cannot do automatic, corporate security has disabled all these features.
      2) 2 backups? Never happens.
      3) Ha ha ha! *wipes tear* Good one!

      Tips:
      At home with your own security, you can do automatic. Make peace that if your media drive fails it is gone (or pony up the $$$ for the duplicate backup storage if it is that important to you). Generally speaking backup your important stuff, personal pictures, files, taxes, etc... Once you take videos and the like out of the picture the amount of storage you really ne

  • This is why I use RAID-1 on all my machines (except laptops which unfortunately don't usually have space for two drives) and why I use automated backups to both on-site and off-site targets so I don't need to remember to do anything.

    I know RAID won't protect you from user errors, software bugs or maliciousness, but the number of times I've had a disk fail and not had to worry about lost data is worth the price of admission.

    • RAID 5 here... do you even RAID bro?

    • I've had controllers failures on RAID that ended up corruptiong a lot of data despite the drives functioning propertly. So I've switched mainly to tapes. For my home use I managed to get two DAT/DDS drives for a reasonable price and bought a case of tapes, should last me quite some time. My backups are quite small. I don't need to backup my movies, since I already have the DVDs of them. For me 36GB of photos is a few life times worth. And tax pdfs, source code, and various musings tend to compress really we

  • Never! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:09AM (#49970187)
    I've had my drive up and running for over five years! This hard drive failure FUD is way overbl
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:12AM (#49970213)
    If you need to ask yourself WHEN it will fail, that is the wrong question. The right question is "are you ready for imminent hard drive failure?"

    If you are not running under the assumption that your hard drives will randomly fail, you have already lost. I have 20 year old drives still spinning, and 2 month old drives turned paper-weights.
  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:16AM (#49970255)
    Stop reading! Back that drive up!
    • For me, it's always been boot sector errors that have taken drives down. They don't boot, but I've always been able to read user data from them after removing them so I haven't made regular thorough backups a part of my computing life. Yeah, I've backed up some things separately like Mail (and I use IMAP now), tax return PDF's, the keepassx database, the precious gpg keys, but not things I probably should be backing up.

      But....I am running a backup right now. Kudos to you, Slashdotter, for a humorous way

      • Usually by the time you've got boot sector errors, you'll have errors on a lot of other sectors. I've been hit several times by circuit board problems. For one user, I was able to swap circuit boards with an identical drive and recover important data.
  • I have 12 seagate drives in a raid array. I finally had one fail, but it was after 8 years or operation, but I think that was my fault because I moved the server to a new rack and it was offline for about 30 minutes and it failed about 30 days later. Data loss? Zero. Personally I think backblaze is the cause of the seagate drive failures.

    • It looks like you got lucky and had a good batch of Seagate drives. If you would have gotten those newer 3 TB drives, you probably would have lost half of them by now.

  • Check how long your warranty is good for. It'll fail about a week after that.

  • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:24AM (#49970323)

    When Will Your Hard Drive Fail?

    The exact time of the next hard drive failure is about as easy to predict as an earthquake. However, there is a well know law of physics which states that the more time that passes from your last backup the more likely your hard disk is to fail more or less regardless of the dis's age and the odds of the damn thing failing increase exponentially if you have been doing something really important and/or time consuming in the interval.

  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:27AM (#49970353)
    2.5" Hitachi and Toshiba drives are extremely good.
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      Hitachi is no more (they are now HGST owned by Western Digital), but I do like them.

      While I do not keep count, and my shop's numbers are too small to be statistically significant, Toshiba drives make up a smaller portion of market share, but a larger portion of the failed drives I see, so my anecdotal experience leads me to distrust Toshiba drives, although I to like certain models of toshiba laptops, as the price/performance ratio is just right for many of my customers.

  • It mentions on the horrendous failure rates of Seagate 3TB drives. I can personally confirm such thing, as my Seagate 3TB drive choked and started to die out on me. The drive technically still works... but it's having major issues trying to read random spots on the drive. It's not even half filled and yet the drive is running like a half-dead entity. After looking through Backblaze's articles, I noticed that the same model was used there and it had a horrible failure rate too.

    What baffles me is how two big

    • Accelerated aging tests are far from perfect. So in a fast changing buisness there will always be the risk of a flaw that slips past testing but becomes apparent once the product has been out in the wild for a while.

  • Writing about hard drives and not making periodic drive images onto a portable hard drive (removed when the image is done to avoid power surges killing it) is simply inexcusable. Andy Patrizio doesn't seem to be a tech writer that understands the tech he's writing about. Otherwise, he wouldn't put out the embarrassing news that he's too stupid to make a full image backup of his hard drive, Sad. I'll make sure I avoid what he writes in the future as I can't trust that he understands what he's writing about.
  • As long as my laptop and my desktop don't go pfft at the same time as Dropbox, Onecloud, and Google Drive, I'm fine.

  • by karlandtanya ( 601084 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:49AM (#49970517)

    Friends, I am hear to bear witness! Once I lived in darkness and sin, and I have suffered the pain of my transgressions.

    I kept one copy--yes friends--one copy only-- of data I believed was important.
    One fateful day Providence saw fit to show me the error of my ways. The foundation of rust on which my data was build collapsed into the sea of oblivion and the data thereon was lost forever to the void. Yes, Lost! Lost and without hope of salvation!
    But this was a blessing, Friends, a blessing and a revelation for it was at that moment of humiliation and regret that the truth was shown to this poor sinner!

    (cue rising electric organ chord)

    That data is gone and despite our mournful remembrance of our departed files, they can never be brought back from their eternal sleep.
    But, friends, that data was not important. For verily it is written that none may know the hour that the data will be lost, only that the data will be lost. And it is also written that data of which there is only one copy is not important data.

    Brethren (and Sistren...) do not repeat my error and sin! Learn from my sin and my shame and join me in salvation!

    Use ye a robust and mature filesystem with many protective features as self-checking, and multiple parity.
    Yea, I say unto you multiple parity. Spend ye a small sum today for truly I say to ye that if ye are afraid to purchase an additional drive, then surely professional data recovery is beyond your means! Trust not in single parity for it is written that filesystems have grow huge in our greed for virtual machines, high resolution, and hoarding. Yea, though RAID5 was once a stalwart guardian against the failure of a single drive, RAID5 is dead and its promises are vanity for surely on the day the first drive fails thou shalt begin to rebuild thy array and before thou canst complete thy task the second drive shall fail and on that day there will be no salvation but only the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Scrub ye regularly thy filesystem and furthermore perform regular smart long tests, but never at the same time, for it is written that a scrub and a long test shall persist unto eternity and never complete.
    Implement well thy automated email notices and read thoroughly thy notices every week. When thy status report does not arrive at the appointed hour and when thy daemon sends thee an unexpected email, remain not idle but take action to investigate and resolve thy anomalies.

    When thee hast constructed and filled a robust and well-monitored filesystem name it thy primary file server and do not rest in false security, but instead do the same a second time call this thy secondary file server. Locate ye thy secondary server in a place separate and apart from thy primary server and schedule ye regular backups from the primary to the backup filesystem. Monitor ye well the status of the backups and should the report of successful replication fail to arrive at the appointed time, investigate thy primary and secondary servers and all the links between. For in truth it is written that RAID is not a backup.

    Go forth in peace my brothers and sisters in the knowledge that while it is inevitable that thy data will still someday be lost, this day will come to pass after all else has been lost and on this day the data will truly not be important.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:49AM (#49970519)

    For Mac users, time machine is a complete no-brainer. RAID won't protect you against data corruption...but time machine will. Stick it on a NAS and you'll be fine. Then use BackBlaze or CrashPlan to back that NAS up offsite. Heck, there are crashplan clients for synology systems, so there's no excuse. And it's cheap! Would you rather rebuild your whole music library from scratch, or pay $60/year for some insurance? Hello!

    Note that you probably don't want to back up your TM folder.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @11:49AM (#49970525)

    ...But I had to remember to make manual backups via drag and drop. ...

    With a backup strategy like the one he describes in place, it is amazing his data have survived this long.

    .
    His backup strategy is worse than non-existent. It gave him a false comfort.

    A second drive in the same computer? Wow, just fuckin' wow.

    I just made a note to never, ever read anything else Andy Patrizio writes. It is writers such as he who give tech writers in industry magazines a bad name.

    geesh.

  • I read TFA and he did not have a backup, because he had to do it manually. The solution to that is putting it in the cloud.

    So I am not sure how much I trust him with anything if his solution of 'manual' is 'the cloud'.

    I had a HD failure on my main drive of my NAS. I do have automated backup, so no worries. Bought a new drive, moved the data back, done.

    With the prices of HDs I have all data double and I have incremential backups on two systems. No, not offline (except for

  • A mechanical hard drive is, well, a mechanical device, which can fail at any time due to vibration, wear, weak parts, and lots of other reasons. They're ticking time bombs. That being said, as with other mechanical devices, like cars, they are appropriately over-designed with wide tolerances. With cars, you get several years of warranty to have the weak parts replaced so that by the end of that period, it ought to be in good shape. Testing a hard drive is a time-consuming and expensive procedure, which

  • Right after my warranty expires.
  • nuf said.
  • No wonder I have replaced most of my array. I don't see baracuda 2GB in there, but I imagine they probably rate like the others. I had a 2 TB array built from 750 GB drives, that I replaced with a 6 TB array from 2 TB drives, all seagate.

    In the years I ran the old array, I replaced 1 drive. In a similar span of time with the second array, I have now replaced 3 drives in that array.

    -

  • Many people still don't make backups. Even most of my friends don't, and most of them are quite tech-savvy or even hardened by experience. When one of my friend's hard drive crashes I always laugh at them and say: "Backups are for whimps, no?" That seems to be the only way to make them take backups seriously.

  • Dammit so much.
    Any advice for bringing a SSD back from the grave long enough to get some e-mails off it?

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @12:28PM (#49970817)
    I work for a small repair/IT firm and our experience largely matches backblazes when looking at brands. We rarely deal with NAS drives or larger capacities so I cannot speak to those. There is a 2007 study by google into predicting HDD failure. Per their data, about 50% of drives fail with a discernible warning in SMART. However, that warning requires manual watching as what they saw is that any type of pending or reallocated sector is indicative of failure. However, a few pending sectors may not be past the manufacturers threshold for failure. Therefore, 50% will fail with no warning, that is a given. The number probably approaches 95% or more if you are relying on tools that compare SMART stats with the manufacturer thresholds. You need tools that allow you to set your own thresholds or look at the numbers manually on a regular basis. My personal (and uneducated) assumption about this is that most of the pending/reallcoated sectors are caused by the magnetic domains on the surface of the platters weakening over time. Given the areal density of modern disks, slight defects in the coating or other chemical degradation could be to blame. Basically this would be a form of bit rot, and makes a sort of sense given the failure rate seems to spike for all manufactures at about the same time frame. Lastly, all drives will fail. Also other events happen, be it fire, theft, crypto viruses that encrypt your files and local backups, accidental or malicious deletion, etc. An on-site backup protects against none of those in any reliable way. Add in the fact that SSDs (which also will fail for other reasons), and are more difficult (expensive) to recover from are gaining traction, an off-site backup is the most logical solution, be it cloud, safe deposit box, etc. I am not here to advertise so I won't name names, but the solution my firm sells is cloud-based with both file and system image backups, including versioning and archiving. It also allows for a local copy of the backup set to be stored on a suitable drive. This allows for super fast recovery of large backup sets, with the online version as a backup. The backup set is fully encrypted with a choice of encryption standards and the ability to have only the customer have the encryption key (normally we keep the key as well, but we do not have to). If you are serious about your data, you should look into features like that for yourself. Relying on manual on-site backups can only be a recipe for eventual disaster.
  • by krray ( 605395 )

    If you don't make an ass out of you and me (assume) that the hard drive / ssd WILL fail then you are just the ass.

    Backup your systems. Backup the backup. It will fail too.

    S.M.A.R.T. is useless today IMHO. Don't believe anything it says about your drive. I've had drives that I know are failing, clicking, unable to read blocks -- but the SMART status says all is A-OK.

    I personally like to put RAID-1 in my end user systems. The data goes to a RAID-6 array. The array is duplicated to another live. Never lost any

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @12:31PM (#49970847)

    While interesting, the devil is in the details, and these are more less all generalizations. So yeah, don't go out and buy a Seagate built with those specific specs. That said, usually you can't tell wtf you are buying until you have it at home, crack the box and look at the serial numbers and such, at which point you are probably SOL anyway as it is yours now.

    The analysis looks at the Hitachi drives as the best, which were acquired by WD. However they were acquired by Hitachi from IBM before that. IBM had it's own scandal for anyone that cares to remember for 1) The "DeathStar" class of drives that had an industry worst failure rate once upon a time for whatever reason, and 2) leaked documents about warranties and planned obsolesce, in that an approximate 3 year failure rate was more less built into drives for commercial reasons (i.e. to sell more hard drives). They were designed for 3 year lifespans, though they didn't intentionally fail after that.

    Anyway it all depends. Certain drives, made at certain times, made by certain manufactures, *may* have higher or lower failure rates... This is why this topic is so hard to pin down...

    I liken it to back in the golden age of OC CPU, people would be very particular to get lots or batches of certain CPU that would perform much better than their counterparts. However it had the same issue. You buy it, usually without knowing that kind of detail, roll the dice, and hope when you open the box it is the right serial number, etc...

    Though where the similarity is really close it is by regional manufacturing. I vaguely recall some Intel CPU being make in Thailand, and others being made in Malaysia, and one being better than the other back in the day for a certain spec... I doubt it is much of a causality leap to infer that the drives made in China may be of lesser quality than those made in Thailand during that period of time...

    One other thing to remember with computer electronic is binning. Usually in *any* electronics manufacturing process there will be binning where after QA testing, a product could pass, it could fail, or it could marginally pass and be classified as another product. As you may recall, after the whole Thailand flood, either for real or imaginary (for profit), there was a shortage of drives, and the prices doubled, then tripled. It would be VERY hard for any company to not cheat a bit in the binning process when the profit is triple what they used to make. So perhaps usually drives that might otherwise be binned as marginal or failiure, were making it to market simply because the drive you used to pay 70$ for is now selling for 300$ and that is too good to pass up (particularly for short term CEO getting quarterly bonuses not overly concerned with long term implications of branding).

  • Having a quality backup solution isn't all that hard these days.

    On-site file server with a ZFS RAID-Z (2/3) storage pool. Frequent snapshots of data (hourly?). Occasional ZFS Sends to offsite location over VPN (nightly?)

    Occasional ZFS scrubbing, which validates block level data against hashes rather than just a basic checksum/parity bit/SMART check. (weekly/monthly?)
    Single drive failure? Just replace it, nothing is down.
    Multi-drive failure? Depends on your RAID-Z level, but possibly still nothing down, and

  • I once tried to back up my windows 7 laptop to a external hard-drive. It continuously failed with no good explanation as to why. Turns out The external-drive which was 2 TB had a different sector size than the laptop’s 200 MB. WTF Microsoft?!? You can’t bother to be more explicit that you need to have the right sector size before a huge backup that several hours later fails??? And even then doesn’t tell you why it failed?

    I lost several hours trying to find the cause of the problem, an

  • ...to Google. I am sure some Slashdotter will feel umbrage at this approach, but it has worked wonderfully for me. I now have my documents synced from all my computers in one place, and as I said, backing up is done by highly trained professionals, using storage devices and methodologies far above my means.

  • I have in my possession a 1TB WD Blue which was built in 2011.

    The controller board was assembled onto the drive improperly, with the board bent over an alignment post instead of the post going through a hole.

    Eventually, this caused a power issue as some SMD or other's RoHS solder joint(s) turned intermittent through years of heat-cycling: It wasn't spinning up or being recognized in BIOS.

    I took it apart, looked at it funny, put it back together as properly as possible, and applied a rubber band to put some

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.

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