How Long Will Your Hard Drive Last? - Comments Page 1

Category: Hard-Drives



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Comment Page: 1 |  2 

Posted by:

Curt Mixon
04 Aug 2017

SSD's come under a different category. We used those because of many features like shock resistance and speed and reliability for our military and aerospace applications. Those drives are likely to outlive the computers they are used in. Early on there were write failures occasionally but those days are over.

Posted by:

Isaac
04 Aug 2017

I keep multiple full backups of my computers. I rotate them every daily. I use Carbon Copy Cloner on my Macs to automate the process overnight. One should be prepared not only for failure of the computer's internal drive but failure of a backup drive. One of my backup drives failed recently. This was not a problem since I have others. All I had to do was purchase a new drive and connect it to the computer and the next backup copied the entire internal drive to the new drive. As far as I am concerned one cannot have "too many" backups! :-)

Posted by:

Mark Roy
04 Aug 2017

As your article mentions, read and write stability of the media may be sketchy from the start and degrade over time. Also there may be a degree of head drift that misaligns where the head thinks the data is VS it's actual location on the drive platter. I use Spinrite by Gibson Research to keep my drives tuned up.

The downside to Spinrite is that, while thorough, it now takes me almost a full day to check and tune my 2@1TB RAID-1 array.

And as you, Bob, always say. Backup!

**Not affiliated with Gibson Research. Just a fan of their product! ;-)

Posted by:

Frank Starr
04 Aug 2017

Mr. Mixon, I was wondering about SSD drives. What is the longest that you have had one last, so far?

Posted by:

BobD
04 Aug 2017

We need an independent shop that tests disks.
Probably publicly funded.
Then again, by the time we set up such an institution, disks will be extinct.

Posted by:

Therrito
04 Aug 2017

I have had only two hard drives fail ever since I started using a PC but they were not my C: drive and neither of them was a Western Digital (WD). When I built my first PC I purchased a 74G WD Raptor drive to use as my C: drive and it has performed brilliantly throughout the life of that PC. It's currently in my second build for a total life span of about 16 years. Ever since the second failure I have been a firm believer in WD hard drives and I won't buy anything else.
Recently I have been looking into replacing my old 74G WD SATA drive as it no longer has the capacity that I need as a C: drive. What are your thoughts on it?

Posted by:

Mike
04 Aug 2017

The average time before failure includes some brands of hard disk drives (HDD) that simply are not built with the quality in them of the major manufacturers. Even the technology of the minor-named brands is inferior and should never be expected to last. If you want a cheaper drive, expect lower performance and shorter life.

While it is true we seem to change computers more frequently than we realize a hard drive failure, I can say I have never had to use one of my monthly full image backups to recreate a failed HDD. My oldest working computer is a 1998 one with the original drive in it.

Posted by:

Mike K
04 Aug 2017

This same failure rate then applies to a back-up hard drive as well does it not? Then it applies to the cloud back-up also. The only more reliable back-up medium then appears to be a solid state drive.

Posted by:

Elwood P. Dowd
04 Aug 2017

Bob, I completely agree with your answer re: the life expectancy of HDDs. Every PC of mine is a business MT with at least two internal 3.5 HDDs and each MT has an external drive.

But after twenty years in institutional IT, each organization with tens of thousands of PCs, I have to question the significance of overall averaged statistics regarding the lifespan of HDDs. These studies are like an averaging of human lifespan which includes everyone from the extraordinarily healthy and fit, living in the best and most controlled environments, to those struggling to survive in a pandemic in a war zone. This averaging, misunderstood, can produce the illusion that the privileged are in greater danger than they really are, and the war-tossed in less.

Every HDD company offers grades of drives, and the higher grades are much more reliable, a different class of technology. Next there’s class difference between the drives that come in business/institutional computers (Dell OptiPlex and Precision, Lenovo ThinkCentre M, HP Elite and Pro) - whose choices of HDDs and terms of warranties are based on extensive, long-term records of what lasts how long, and why - and the lesser HDDs in home and mass market computers.

Then there are bad manufacturing lots, often in the thousands, sometimes in the tens of thousands, sometimes even regional, such as caused by flooding in Southeast Asia. Then there’s environment – heat, shock, vibration, condensing humidity, improper installation, and electrical malfunction, and the consideration that 3.5 HDDs are more reliable than 2.5, since the 2.5s are more susceptible to the same environmental factors, and more delicate, but more frequently subjected to higher absolute and relative levels of heat, shock, and vibration resulting from inferior cooling, inferior maintenance, and greater risk of physical force through accidents.

Bottom line, I agree that we shouldn’t assume anything about the lifespan of HDDs, especially with important information. I sure don’t. But there’s a whole galaxy of difference when we use better products properly.

Posted by:

Cho
04 Aug 2017

@ Therrito...I maintain multiple computers for various users...For SoHo applications, my experience has been that Hitachi drives last longer than WD; which lasts longer than Seagate.
Toshiba and Fujitsu are in the upper 90% also.
Hitachi has been the best bang for the buck....Seagate least...

Posted by:

Mike
04 Aug 2017

RE: Mike K: The average life for a external drive used for backup is likely less because of the risks of separate handling. Cloud failure is really unlikely due to disk failure because of mirroring backup where you would never know a failure occurred. SSD is subject to failure so it is not the most reliable of all choices for backup.

Posted by:

Mike
04 Aug 2017

I think the requisite caution about regular backups is always good but shouldn't dominate the post. It would have been better to have covered the exact topics covered in the comments.
I have found SSDs have gotten much better but I have picked up a few 256s as a C drive that died in a couple weeks.
My experience over the years for SoHo drives has been good with WD having had almost no failures in dozens of drives. A little more cautious with Seagate so not much history.
Not a lot of Hitachi history. Did they buy someone in the past? Is this now HGST?
I really wish MS would provide support for splitting the OS on a separate drive from programs/apps and user data. I know it's doable, I do it, but it's harder in W10 and the only support is on web blogs. This makes for better backups. I use Macrium Reflect. Easy and complete. I found Acronis impossible to use.

Posted by:

Stephanie
04 Aug 2017

I've never had a hard drive fail. Yet, my backups (have 3 external hard-drives, that I rotate) have saved me several times, because of a wide-spread, very common problem. If it hasn't affected you yet, just wait, it will. What's the problem, you ask? It's the dreaded PEBKAC!! (Problem exists between keyboard and chair). My backups have saved me every time!

Posted by:

Old Man
04 Aug 2017

Something that I’ve never seen mentioned is failure of the interface PCB.
In the past 27 years I only had three HDs fail due to hardware issues. However, I’ve had about 10 rendered useless due to failure of some component on the PCB.

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
04 Aug 2017

@BobD Any halfway decent computer shop can test HDDs and SSDs. So can you, for that matter, using free software. It isn't rocket science. I test every new drive I get. No matter how good the shop or the software, it's impossible to predict drive life with 100% accuracy and only a solid backup scheme can reasonably ensure the safety of your data.


@Mike I disagree with much of what you have posted here. First, there is nothing wrong with using SSDs for backups. In fact SSDs are now much more reliable than HDDs. SSDs aren't subject to damage from physical shock (drop an HDD and you can probably kiss it goodbye) or parts wearing out. Despite the fact SSDs do have a finite write life, with the ones made in the past five or so years, it is high enough that you are extremely unlikely to wear one out before you upgrade it to newer technology or one of higher capacity.

WD bought up parts of Hitachi and renamed it HGST.

If people would backup their data, there would be no need to harp on the importance of backups. However, very few people do backup their data or often mistakenly think that using a RAID is a backup. Hence, the need to keep emphasizing the need for backups.

@BobRankin Automatic backups are an extremely bad idea since they require that a backup drive be kept connected to the computer, subjecting them to many of the same dangers the drives in the computer are subjected to, such as malware and user error. Backup drives should be connected to a computer only while updating the backup. other wise, they should kept disconnected from the computer and powered down and stored away from the computer. Ideally, one should have at least two backups of each drive: one kept onsite and one kept offsite (although even only one backup is better than none). One has to discipline themselves to manually update their backups, the same as one has to remember to have one's cars serviced.

Posted by:

Paul
04 Aug 2017

The comparison between "consumer" and "enterprise" hard drives was not raised. If you are not consistent with your backups enterprise drives may be for you, they are generally built to higher tolerances than consumer drives. Yes they cost more, but you get what you pay for. I have three Seagate ES.2 1TB drives that have been running just fine for 8 years now.

Posted by:

Robert A.
05 Aug 2017

I believe that with the rapid price decline in SSDs, within two to three years, the price of an aftermarket 1TB SSD will probably be under $100.00, and in five years they will be going for what a typical HDD is retailing these days - in the $40.00 to $55.00 range. I also expect to see within two years, typical desktop computers shipping from the factory with 500 to 700 GB SSDs as standard equipment, and 1 TB units to be standard within a year or two after that. At that point, the era of the HDD will be over, except for those units in the 4+ TB range.

Posted by:

Robert A.
05 Aug 2017

@Paul: Do the "commercial" series of HDDs really have better parts and are built to 'higher tolerances," or do they basically the same as the consumer editions, but with a longer factory warranty?

I've been told by techs at several computer stores that, for example, the difference between the WD 'Blue Label' series (consumer) and the WD 'Black Label" series (commercial/enterprise) is minimal, except for the factory warranty, which, in the case of the Blue series, is one year, while the Black series is covered for three years, which accounts for the typical $20 to $30 upcharge for models from the Black series versus comparable sized units from the Blue series.

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
05 Aug 2017

@Robert A. WD Blues have a two year warranty and the WD Blacks have a five year warranty.

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
05 Aug 2017

@Robert A. Btw, WD Blacks are a performance, consumer grade drive. There is a considerable difference between the WD Blues and the WD Blacks. Just hold a Blue in one hand and equally sized Black in the other and just the weight difference will be very noticeable. Also, the Blues are 5400 rpm drives and the Blacks are 7200 rpm drives.

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