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Hitachi tops hard drive reliability report

Hitachi tops hard drive reliability report

Hitachi hard drives have come top in a report on reliability from cloud storage giant Backblaze, although its higher pricing means rivals get the company's cash.

Cloud storage giant Backblaze has released the results of an internal report into hard drive reliability, with Hitachi topping the charts as the most reliable brand across all capacities.

Offering web-based unlimited backup for its clients, Backblaze - as you might imagine - requires plenty of spinning-rust storage in its data centres. The company claims to have finished the year with around 27,134 active hard drives, the majority of which - around 13,000 each - were of Seagate and Hitachi manufacture, with a further 3,000 Western Digital drives and a small number of Toshiba and Samsung units - the latter excluded from the reliability report due to their statistically insignificant numbers.

'Why do we have the drives we have? Basically, we buy the least expensive drives that will work,' explained Backblaze's Brian Beach in a blog post on the results. 'When a new drive comes on the market that looks like it would work, and the price is good, we test a pod full and see how they perform. The new drives go through initial setup tests, a stress test, and then a couple weeks in production.'

The result, Beach claims, is an insight into just which drives respond well to the high-stress environment of a Backblaze storage pod - where drives are frequently spun-up and spun-down - and which fail sooner than expected.

According to its internal statistics, Backblaze found that Hitachi drives were by far the most reliable, with failure rates well below two per cent across all storage capacities. Western Digital closely followed, with sub four per cent failure rates. Seagate, meanwhile, saw only its newest and largest 4TB drives managing a sub four per cent failure rate, with its 3TB drives hitting almost 10 per cent and its 1.5TB drives hitting a whopping 13 per cent.

Beach claims that the older Seagate 1.5TB drives - the Barracuda LP models - were fine, but recent replacements in both non-LP 7,200RPM and energy-saving Barracuda Green models have been causing no end of trouble - although there may be an explanation for the latter's terrible showing in the report. 'We got [the Barracuda Green drives] from Seagate as warranty replacements for the older drives, and these new drives are dropping like flies. Their average age shows 0.8 years, but since these are warranty replacements, we believe that they are refurbished drives that were returned by other customers and erased, so they already had some usage when we got them.'

Beach's recommendation? '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.' Sadly, the higher cost of Hitachi units means the company is currently using 4TB Seagate Desktop drives instead. 'We’ll have to keep an eye on them, though,' admitted Beach. 'Historically, Seagate drives have performed well at first, and then had higher failure rates later.'

10 Comments

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Corky42 22nd January 2014, 12:00 Quote
Nice to read that my long held belief of Seagate drives being unreliable has been shown to be more than just my personal belief, i was in mourning for weeks when Seagate acquired Samsung's HDD business.
Chicken76 22nd January 2014, 12:31 Quote
Didn't Hitachi 3.5" business unit get transferred to Toshiba a year and a half ago? Is Toshiba still selling the drives under the Hitachi name?
Gareth Halfacree 22nd January 2014, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicken76
Didn't Hitachi 3.5" business unit get transferred to Toshiba a year and a half ago? Is Toshiba still selling the drives under the Hitachi name?
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Report Linked To From The Article
A year and a half ago, Western Digital acquired the Hitachi disk drive business. Will Hitachi drives continue their excellent performance? Will Western Digital bring some of the Hitachi reliability into their consumer-grade drives?

At Backblaze, we will continue to monitor and share the performance of a wide variety of disk drive models.

(Remember, any given report into the reliability of hard drives over a three-year period is basically an insight into what hard drives you should have bought three years ago.)
CrapBag 22nd January 2014, 12:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Nice to read that my long held belief of Seagate drives being unreliable has been shown to be more than just my personal belief, i was in mourning for weeks when Seagate acquired Samsung's HDD business.

....but according to the report the older drives are fine it's the newer ones that are causing an issue or have I read that wrong.

As for samsung I've had 3 of their drives fail on me and they are the only drives I've ever had fail. Just recently my wifes 500gb samsung was throwing up errors, had to rma and got a seagate back so if that's an newer model then GULP>>>
Dave Lister 22nd January 2014, 13:18 Quote
I've lost a couple seagate 2Tb drives over the last 12 months so concur about them being unreliable ! Also I've read some bad stuff about seagate not honoring warranties in the EU.

Sadly my main media drive is still a seagate (almost 6 months old!) because they do tend to be the cheapest available just now.
leslie 22nd January 2014, 13:20 Quote
Before everyone starts bashing Seagate, keep in mind what they are doing with the drives.

These drives are under heavy load, and not just normal load, it is write loads. While this alone could heavily skew the results, they are also stored in a high vibration environment (which they were warned about before they did this). How does this compare to home and office use? It doesn't. These Seagates may just not like that environment and duty cycle and could outperform the rest in other situations.

From what I have seen from others regarding the Hitachi, it doesn't surprise me they did well in that instance due to their spindle design being better at handling vibration.


And yes, I do prefer them, I replace far too many WD's to trust them (except the Raptor and Black line, which are awesome). I haven't had a lot of experience with Hitachi, but when I did it was mixed results.
Corky42 22nd January 2014, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrapBag
....but according to the report the older drives are fine it's the newer ones that are causing an issue or have I read that wrong.

As for samsung I've had 3 of their drives fail on me and they are the only drives I've ever had fail. Just recently my wifes 500gb samsung was throwing up errors, had to rma and got a seagate back so if that's an newer model then GULP>>>
Not to sure about reading it wrong as im awful when trying to interpreter stats :o But Gareth does mention in the article...
Quote:
Seagate, meanwhile, saw only its newest and largest 4TB drives managing a sub four per cent failure rate, with its 3TB drives hitting almost 10 per cent and its 1.5TB drives hitting a whopping 13 per cent.
So my interpretation on that is buying Samsung's HDD business has made Seagate's bigger (newer) drives more reliable.

And at the end Gareth quotes Beach as saying "Historically, Seagate drives have performed well at first, and then had higher failure rates later. Along with a chart on the blog post linked in the article showing %13 of all Seagate drives fail within one year.
Chicken76 22nd January 2014, 13:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
(Remember, any given report into the reliability of hard drives over a three-year period is basically an insight into what hard drives you should have bought three years ago.)
True, but the same reliability they speak of, could turn up in new Toshiba 3.5" drives, since they now own those factories and have the same patents. WD is unlikely to use the knowledge from Hitachi, since they already have designs and manufacturing processes that are cheaper and good enough in terms of reliability. Had Hitachi been able to produce their drives just as cheap as WD, they wouldn't be in a position to be bought.
SchizoFrog 22nd January 2014, 15:59 Quote
I would have thought that the sale of Samsung's HDD division to Seagate would have seen them improve. Obviously not. I think I'll be going with WD in future as I have had personal negative experiences with Hitachi.
Damn I miss Samsung's HDD's, they really knew what they were doing and it shows at the success of their SSD's now.
Parge 22nd January 2014, 17:52 Quote
I knew it! I've been saying for YEARS how crap Seagate were. I've had so many failures vs any other drive.
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