Hard drives fail from time to time… and while it’s sometimes possible to recover some or all of your data, there are times when everything effectively disappears. That’s why it’s a good idea to back up all of your data on a regular basis. You can do that with a spare hard drive connected to your PC, a shared network drive or network-attached storage device, or a cloud-based backup service like Backblaze, Crashplan or Carbonite.

But you also might want to consider buying hard drives that are less likely to crash in the first place. Those cloud backup companies I just mentioned have an awful lot of hard drives, so they’re in a better position than most of us to know which ones fail regularly… and that makes Backblaze’s recent report on hard drive reliability an interesting read.

It turns out some drives are way more prone to failure than others.

hard drive failure

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10 replies on “Lilbits 298: When hard drives go bad”

  1. Professionally I’ve dealt with enough rotating storage devices to see a statistically significantly trend of higher fail rates with Seagate drives. In comparison WD is noticeably better. This has been going on for quite some time, even before the floods in Thailand.

  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Back in the days when hard drives were measured in megabytes I had a stack of old failed Seagate hard drives on my work bench. I was the I.T. guy for all of my family and friends and I would see 8 or 9 failed Seagate drives for one of any other brand. In all that time I have only had one really bad failure myself. An old IBM Deskstar (deathstar) that failed without warning. The couple of Western Digital drives that went bad started with the “clicking of death” first which gave me enough time to make a fresh backup before changing the drive.

    1. A tip of the hat to a fellow friends and family IT guy.

      I swore off Seagate and (and pretty much all OEM drives) back about 2005 when out of 10 drives I ordered, 6 failed within a month (2 were DOA) Prior to that, I’d had an experience with a pair of old IBM deskstars that would lose sync when striped on a regular basis. Not much data lost, but I’d swore off data striping as well since then.

      Since about 2013, I’ve been pretty exclusively using HGST drives (both 2.5″ and 3.5″) and only retail drives. I’d had my stint with Samsung and Western Digital but I keep coming back to Hitachi/HGST. Some of those OEM drives I’d ordered used to come in a mylar bag tossed into a box full of packing peanuts. Definitely not the way I’d want them shipped. The big online etailers (and a lot of B&M retailers) now ship in separate cardboard boxes so it’s a telling sign to me they saw those return numbers and got a clue.

      BTW, The HGST drives being sold now are probably made at the same IBM plants they sold to Hitachi back in 2003, so they are pretty much the “deathstars” we used to make fun of. Their reputation has come a long way since then.

  3. I read Backblaze’s 2014 article, and it reaffirmed my decision to buy only WD hard drives. Long ago I decided to only buy WD because they handle warranties very well.

    1. Seagates used to be excellent… up until circa 2005. The company seems to have changed sometime after the excellent Barracude IV, 7200.7/8 lines.

      Too bad, but with SSD’s finally coming on so fast, not having quality competition to WD (who purchased HGST) isn’t as big of a deal.

  4. Brad, did you just change this site so that the black nav bar at the top no longer sticks when you scroll?

    1. Nope… with the exception of a few days in 2011 and maybe 1 day earlier this month, the navbar has never been sticky. When you scroll down, it goes away.

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