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Reliable (and Unreliable) Hard Drive Manufacturers

The Hard drive is the most convenient way to store digital data whether it online or offline. There are many big hard drive manufacturers, and everyone claims to make a reliable hard drive. However, even then why every hard drive is not equally reliable, even if it is manufactured by the most reputed manufacturers in the world such as Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung, Hitachi  and Toshiba.

BlackBlaze provided the report for all Hard Drives’ reliability, as it is an online backup company, which currently has almost 34,881 hard drives powered up. It is continuously storing as well as spinning over 80,000 terabytes (80 petabytes) total of user data.  Now you can imagine how good this company could be to analyze hard drive reliability. Every time when a hard drive fails, the company has to pull it out, slot in a new one, and rebuild the RAID array. Now, he we will discuss that why there is a difference between the reliability of all the hard drive makers.

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Firstly, let us check the BlackBlaze’s new figures in their new report and try to find out the most reliable and unreliable manufacturers. The company had revealed its first reliability figures at the end of 2013, when it was using 27,134 hard drives. Next data was revealed in end of September 2014 with tracks of old and new hard drives.

Hard Drive Annual Failure Rate

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On the chart, the gray bars indicate the annual failure rates of end 2013, where the colored bars indicate the failure rates of upper six months of 2014. ‘Annual failure rate’ always shows quite odd statistics but it is a better way to analyze the hard drive reliability. In a company annually multiple new hard drives slot in and many become old, a large number of hard drives come with different manufacturing batched and from different vendors. Therefore, it would be a mixed response of multiple hard drives in 12 months. The annual failure rate is an averaged over a drive’s entire life.

The second chart indicates the first three years a Hard drive life and after that a quick drop-off.

Survival Rate in Months

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The above chard conclude that which one is the most reliable hard drive even after three years and which one you should replace into a new one after three years. According to Backblaze among Seagate, Western Digital, and HGST (Hitachi), Hitachi is the most reliable hard drive manufacturer. However, Western Digital has acquired HGST but still there is a minor difference between their reliability factors.

Samsung and Toshiba

Unfortunately, Backblaze does not release any statistical chart for Samsung or Toshiba drives. As in 2011, Samsung’s hard drive division has been acquired by Seagate, so it is quite obvious that Samsung reliability must be similar as Seagate. Toshiba/Fujitsu share only around 10% of the market so it is not the right time to compare them with Seagate, Western Digital, and Hitachi.

After the complete BlackBlaze analysis, we conclude that the average lifespan of hard drives at Backblaze is still very high. All the hard drive has very good chances of last longer than four years. So why some hard drives reliable than others, let us discuss some more facts:

According to Backblaze’s data it is now clear that HGST’s drives are much reliable than any other available hard drives in the market. As there is no significant information about hard drive reliability; so, the best way to find out is to go with some educated guesses about reliability factor of a hard drive.

Manufacturing defects

Every hard drive manufacturers in different batches and if one batch fails and it belongs from a bad batch it could be a reason of hard drive failure. At times, a bad batch of motors or the QA guys could also be a big cause.

Bad Design

A design could also be a cause of a bad hard drive. At times, one hard drive is bitterly designed than others. There could be many manufacturing defects can take place on the basis of design such as less stress on the motor or read/write head arms, etc. which leads to a bad reliability factor.

Rebadged Enterprise Drives?

This is also a big factor of hard drive reliability. Actually, most of the reliable hard drives are enterprise-class hard drives, but they are sold as a consumer-level drive. These types of hard drives are manufactured for a higher standard so their quality assurance processes are tougher.

Damaged goods

If the retailer sells damaged hard drives, so its reliability will be automatically less. Many times, it happens that the same vendor’s hard drives show the low reliability behavior. May be they are dropped in the vendor still selling them to earn money. Therefore, it is always better that never buy all the products from the same vendor.

Better or Different Technology

It is a fact that the technology matters a lot that is why some hard drive manufactures a better than others. The quality they use and the efficient technology they apply in their hard drive, always show results on the reliability factor of the hard drive. The smallest difference in the manufacturing can make a hard drive much better. There is always a difference between two different manufactures’ technology, which leads a good or a bad hard drive and impact your decision on purchasing a new hard drive

Conclusion

There are many reasons behind a reliable and an unreliable hard drive. We have already discussed the statistics of some higher manufacturers and rest of them might have followed the above factors for an unreliable or reliable hard drive. It is recommendable that whichever hard drive you have chosen for yourself, it is better to take regular backup for your important data as the most reliable manufactures’ hard drive also shows failures.

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