Backblaze is a major cloud service provider which, being in the mass storage business, uses a huge amount of HDDs in its equipment. Computerworld reports that the company has been releasing data over the past few months about its experience with HDDs including the fact that just over one in five of the "consumer-grade" hard drives it employs in its Storage Pod RAID racks has failed over the past four years. Yesterday Backblaze published its most thought provoking chart yet - which correlates HDD brands and disk failure rates.
Backblaze's Storage Pods, made up of arrays of RAIDed disks adding up to as much as 180TB of storage each, contained over 27,000 drives at the end of 2013. The firm used drives from all the major manufacturers including Seagate, WD, Hitachi, Toshiba and Samsung. However the numbers of Toshiba and Samsung which drives it employed are statistically insignificant so aren't part of the table below. Let's cut to the chase and take a gander at the table (below).
click to zoom-in
Following previous blog posts by Backblaze on the topics of drive lifetimes and drive reliability readers were keen to see these figures tallied into charts with manufacturer names against them. Pulling no punches Backblaze has published its information in a blog post called "What Hard Drive Should I Buy?"
Commenting upon the graph depicting the 36 month survival rate Backblaze says "Hitachi does really well. There is an initial die-off of Western Digital drives, and then they are nice and stable. The Seagate drives start strong, but die off at a consistently higher rate, with a burst of deaths near the 20-month mark."
Despite the charts above Backblaze's current favourite purchase is a Seagate drive; the 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD.15 (ST4000DM000). However it does note that "We’ll have to keep an eye on them, though. Historically, Seagate drives have performed well at first, and then had higher failure rates later." Another favourite is the Western Digital 3TB Red (WD30EFRX), we are told.
With the WD acquisition of Hitachi around 18 months ago it will be interesting to see if the union of these two storage providers will produce even better reliability. Also I note that the relatively tiny amount of Samsung brand drives used by Backblaze look very promising in the stats that are available.