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Three-year, 27,000 drive study reveals the most reliable hard drive makers

Ian Paul | Jan. 22, 2014
If you're looking to upgrade your PC's hard drive in the next few months, you might want to take a look at an interesting blog post from online backup provider Backblaze. After shining a general light on how long hard drives actually last late last year, the company took to its blog on Tuesday to provide a detailed look at how consumer-grade hard drives from Hitachi, Seagate, and Western Digital performed in Backblaze's storage pods.

Over a 36 month span, Hitachi drives had a 96.9 percent survival rate, followed by WD at 94.8 percent and Seagate way below that at 73.5 percent.

So what's a home shopper to do?
Backblaze's data may look like making your next drive a Hitachi is a no-brainer, but it's important to remember that Backblaze runs drives harder than the average PC user ever could. So while Seagate products may go down all the time at the company, a PC user may never notice a problem during the lifetime of their PC.

For example, Backblaze said it will stop buying Seagate LP 2TB drives and Western Digital Green 3TB drives, because they just don't work in the company's environment. Part of the problem, Backblaze says, is these drives are designed to spin down when not in use to save power. That's a great feature for a home PC user, but in an industrial environment Backblaze says the drive would spin down only to spin back up a few minutes later. The end result being more wear and tear on the drive than it was designed for.

Then there's cost. The only thing holding Backblaze back from going with all Hitachi drives was the price, which was one reason why the company sticks with Seagate drives.

Your risk of a complete hard drive failure over the long-term might be higher with Seagate than Hitachi, Backblaze's numbers suggest at first glance but there's no guarantee that will happen. In fact, Backblaze's earlier study showed that hard drives are actually pretty reliable overall over a four-year stretch, even in a server farm. And hey, a number of individual Seagate models actually had a longer average age than Hitachi products!

Maybe the lesson from Backblaze's data is that choosing the right hard drive is all about tradeoffs. (Isn't it always?) Nevertheless, it's an interesting look at the reliability of many internal hard drives you might be considering for your next PC. Be sure to check out the full Backblaze post if you want to dive even deeper into the nitty-gritty numbers.

 

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