Online backup firm Backblaze has a lot of consumer-grade hard disk drives spinning away in their open-source Backblaze Storage Pods -- 27,134 at the end of 2013, to be exact. Over the past several months they've been providing us with statistics generated by keeping an eye on all of those drives. First they told us how long a hard disk drive should last, followed by some info on whether or not those pricey enterprise-grade drives really last longer than cheap consumer-grade drives. Now they're back with a blog post on what company makes the most reliable hard drives.
With the caveat that these are consumer-grade drives being used in a very high-vibration environment under stressful conditions, Backblaze's Brian Beach noted that they've excluded the Western Digital Green 3 TB and Seagate LP (low power) 2 TB drives. These drives tend to spin down when not in use and then spin right back up, which causes a lot of wear and tear and a high failure rate in the Backblaze environment. It's not that they're bad drives -- they're just not suited for the high-stress environment of a storage farm.
As you can see in the graphic at the top of this post (taken from the Backblaze study), Hitachi drives tend to have the lowest annual failure rates for Backblaze, followed by Western Digital drives. Seagate drives have a much higher failure rate, although the larger 3 and 4 TB drives tend to be more reliable than the 1.5 TB model. Of the 1.5 TB Seagate drives, the Barracuda LP is the most reliable, but the Barracuda Green drives are -- to quote Beach -- "dropping like flies."
Beach notes that "if the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives. They have been rock solid, and have had a remarkably low failure rate." I've always been a fan of Western Digital drives, so I was happy to see that they also tend to be survivors in the Backblaze world. You can see the relative survival rates for Hitachi, Western Digital and Seagate drives in the graphic at the bottom of this post.
For a more detailed look, be sure to read Beach's blog post over on the Backblaze site.