HDD Failure Rates and Longevity


Allen Davis

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I read an article last week about HDD reliability and longevity, and darned if I can remember exactly where I read it, but am sure some intrepid individual here can quickly locate it. I did manage to take a couple of screenshots that might be informative.

Seems that the HDD market has basically boiled down to only two or three manufacturers these days: Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba. I’m attaching the screenshots and welcome any input or opinions from those who read this.

I’ve long had a dislike for Seagate HDDs. I haven’t had very many HDD failures in thirty-three years, but of those I have had were ALL Seagate drives.

I bought a pair of Maxtor 2TB Shared Storage Devices two years ago. One died the very day after the warranty expired, and when I dissected it, it contained two 3.5” Seagate HDDs. And both were dead, even when I plugged them into a docking station. One moaned long and loud, the other gave the dreaded “click-click-click of death.” The device they came from saw only very light usage.

I’m still using the other one for Postscript file storage, but it’s beginning to get flaky. I can attempt large uploads to it (20-40GB) and it starts out fine. Within only a few minutes, it slows to a crawl to the point it will take 45 minutes or longer to copy 1GB. Unacceptable.

A disturbing thing to me was with the drives I removed from the dissected device. Both drives’ labels specified they were 3G HDDs, but there was a jumper on both drives limiting them to 1.5G. Hmm…

I have come to have a great deal of respect for the HGST drives and I own a few. They’re lickety-split fast and don’t heat up appreciably in the fanless enclosures I have them in.

I’d like to find out what others here think.
 
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honestone

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Hmm, interesting post! When I was still using HDDs, I had the exact opposite experience with Seagate HDDs. They always performed flawlessly for me, and that goes all the way back to the late 90's. I will say, though, that the largest Seagate drive I had was 1 TB in size.

For SSDs, I swear by ones made by Samsung. They have had numerous positive reviews, and I can certainly verify those reviews with the 3 Samsung SSDs I have.
 

Allen Davis

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Hmm, interesting post! When I was still using HDDs, I had the exact opposite experience with Seagate HDDs. They always performed flawlessly for me, and that goes all the way back to the late 90's. I will say, though, that the largest Seagate drive I had was 1 TB in size.

For SSDs, I swear by ones made by Samsung. They have had numerous positive reviews, and I can certainly verify those reviews with the 3 Samsung SSDs I have.
I thought the chart showing how various makes and brands have been acquired or changed hands was fascinating. I always got satisfactory service from LaCie drives, and the illustration shows it was acquired by Seagate in 2014. However, I haven't had a LaCie drive manufactured after George W. left office. Likewise with Quantum devices.

The Maxtor Shared Storage Device I referenced was purchased long after Seagate acquired them, so that proves that Maxtor is still produced under that name. And Samsung HDDs became a Seagate property in 2011, but this begs the question of who produces their SSDs. Either Seagate does, Samsung retained them, or they were ponied off to a third-party. Since this chart reflects only HDDs, it's a mystery unless one commits to some extensive Googlery.

Similarly, HGST (Hitachi Global Storage Systems) drives are now owned by Western Digital. I was under the impression they were IBM products. Before I began using SSDs, I acquired my first couple of HGST drives and was impressed at their speed. One of them is a 5,400 rpm model, and even it's snappy.

I will admit when I first saw the graph comparing failure rates it probably only served to reinforce the preconceived notions I'd already formed prejudicing my opinion regarding Seagate products.

It would've been more helpful had I saved the webpage I got these from as a PDF or at least took note of the URL. The article was careful to note that the company that compiled this data is a cloud storage company, and they used hundreds of HDDs and began keeping careful records of drive reliability and failures, but they only published their findings beginning in 2013. I'd really like to see their data from 2015 on just to see if their findings continue to hold up, giving more veracity to the two-year trend they published numbers on. There were a couple of other details in the article which might've mitigated their findings, so I'll have to do some digging myself.

I only have anecdotal experience with Samsung, Crucial and other SSDs, and most of that is from YouTube videos I've seen. But most people hold Samsung drives in high regard. I'm somewhat prejudiced against Samsung for purely nonsensical reasons because of the ongoing legal battles they're engaged in with Apple. On the other hand, I'm a bit put off from Samsung because they're so pricey. They tend to run about 25-30 percent higher than Mercury drives from Amazon and BestBuy. Then again, I remind myself that "you get what you pay for," which keeps me from purchasing bargain-basement priced items of almost any kind.

Personally, I've only got real-world experience with OWC's Mercury SSDs and have numerous examples of them around, and they've been absolutely superb. And OWC is second-to-none in standing up behind their products. For example, when TTP began reporting an impending drive failure on a Mercury SSD I'd purchased only last September, I contacted OWC and they were eager to issue an RMA number, but I put them off, saying I wanted to wait to see if the drive did indeed fail (not wanting to needlessly return a perfectly good item and all that). So far, the device is still chugging along nicely, regardless of what TTP is telling me (SpeedTools reports the SMART tests are fine).
 

Allen Davis

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Oh, another thing...

When I received my MacBook Pro, I told you I pulled the existing 750GB HDD (an HGST) and the optical drive and installed two Mercury 6G 1TB SSDs arranged in a RAID 0 array. I was absolutely blown away with the speed. Booting in 15 seconds or less is impressive by anyone's standards after all. And the results I got from Geek Bench and BlackMagic's Disk Speed Test were indeed astounding.

However, I got curious after reading that such a deployment wasn't overly helpful in the manner I had them arranged. So I reformatted the drives as conventional ones, reinstalled Sierra and went off to the races. Of course, both drives appeared on the desktop as individual 1TB volumes as God and Steve Jobs intended. But I didn't see a nickel's bit of difference in the boot-up time. I repeated my previous tests with the aforementioned disk utilities, but the numbers weren't appreciably lower than they were when arranged as a RAID.

So now I'm wondering what I should do. I'm toying with the idea of reformatting them again, but this time as a RAID 1, which would go a long, long way in alleviating backup anxieties. That doesn't mean I'd give up on my two external clones or my TimeMachine backup.

I suppose I'm becoming increasingly anal and curmudgeonly in my senior citizenry. I owe my near obsessiveness about backups from you. That soapbox you preach from reminded me of the occasions during which I lost precious data and didn't have backed up. Hopefully, that mistake will never be repeated.

An important consideration is that with SSDs, one should never let the space become crowded. Knowledgeable sources insist that at least 10-15 percent of the drive's space be kept free to make better use of the "wear leveling" technology thus increasing the device's longevity. Being anal (as I pointed out previously), I've taken that sage advice to another level. I keep no less than 25 percent of the space free. And thinking back, 2TB of internal storage on a MBP is a bit excessive for my needs. I don't keep more than 700GB of stuff I don't want to be without on my laptop. And if I do anticipate going about with more stuff, I've got those lovely little bus-powered enclosures I can tuck into my briefcase.
 

honestone

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I've always thought it was ironic that Apple was using (not sure if they still are) Samsung SSDs (flash type units) in their laptops, even though Apple and Samsung have been having "battles" with their phones. But we also have 7 other Samsung "devices" in our place (Washer, Dryer, Disk Washer, Microwave Oven, Refrigerator, Gas Range, 46" non-Smart TV, 65" Smart TV, and my Samsung Phone (not a real high priced model; my wife has an LG phone)), and except for the Microwave oven, they have been rock solid.

As for Samsung SSD prices, they have become "somewhat" less expensive, but there are times where I have seen some excellent sale prices on some of them, especially around Black Friday and Christmas. The 3 SSDs I have are the "Pro" variety (840 Pro inside my Mac Mini, and two 850 Pro models inside external cases), but I have read quite a few positive reports about the "EVO" models, and they are less expensive than the Pro ones.

Interesting what you say about the amount of free space on SSDs. Actually, I was following that advice even when I had HDDs. Right now, with the 840 Pro 256 gig SSD inside my Mac Mini, and the 252 gig Flash SSD drive inside my mid 2017 Mac Book Air (don't think it's a Samsung model), I am only using about 30 to 35 % of the space. For the Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig models inside external cases, for each of the 3 partitions (two of them are for my SuperDuper! backups, and those partitions are formatted as APFS; the third partition is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled)), there is a little over 20 % of free space on each partition. But I really only use the external ones when I do my weekly SuperDuper! backups (and once in a while when I want to "place" some stuff on the third partition). For the most part, those drives are idle, and not even connected to either of my Macs. Really no need to, and also it would slow down the start up time of HS even more.
 
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Allen Davis

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I've always thought it was ironic that Apple was using (not sure if they still are) Samsung SSDs (flash type units) in their laptops, even though Apple and Samsung have been having "battles" with their phones. But we also have 7 other Samsung "devices" in our place (Washer, Dryer, Disk Washer, Microwave Oven, Refrigerator, Gas Range, 46" non-Smart TV, 65" Smart TV, and my Samsung Phone (not a real high priced model; my wife has an LG phone)), and except for the Microwave oven, they have been rock solid.
My wife carries a relatively recent Samsung Galaxy her daughter gave her for Christmas, but I don't know much about it. I think I'm going to cave in a finally buy an iPhone, but will probably wait to see what Apple has up its sleep later this year. I know I ain't gonna spend anywhere near $800-$1000 for one. And I know what you mean about accumulating a lot of products by a single company. I also appreciate how difficult it is to keep those darned disks clean, too!

As for Samsung SSD prices, they have become "somewhat" less expensive, but there are times where I have seen some excellent sale prices on some of them, especially around Black Friday and Christmas. The 3 SSDs I have are the "Pro" variety (840 Pro inside my Mac Mini, and two 850 Pro models inside external cases), but I have read quite a few positive reports about the "EVO" models, and they are less expensive than the Pro ones.
Heaven help me, but BestBuy appears to have the lowest prices on Samsung drives, but even they're higher than OWC's offerings. I'm just pleased to see that capacities are rising as prices are declining.

I really only use the external ones when I do my weekly SuperDuper! backups (and once in a while when I want to "place" some stuff on the third partition). For the most part, those drives are idle, and not even connected to either of my Macs. Really no need to, and also it would slow down the start up time of HS even more.
That's what I do as well. They're all on my desk and connected to a Sabrent USB 3.0 hub/card reader so I only have to use one port on my Mac, and the hub is never plugged in until I use them.

Since we're supposed to get 10-12 inches of snow today (REALLY???), we'll probably just cocoon today. Which means I'll have to reformat those pesky internal SSDs again as a RAID 1. If spring ever does rear its head around here in central Indiana, I'd like to get outdoors for a while. I've never been prone to it before, but I think I'm suffering from my very first case of cabin fever.
 

Allen Davis

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Well, cutting and pasting those quotation tags worked really well. Nothing ventured, nothing learned.
 

Cory Cooper

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The quotes were missing the [ left bracket before QUOTE. I edited them for you.

;)

C
 

honestone

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My wife carries a relatively recent Samsung Galaxy her daughter gave her for Christmas, but I don't know much about it. I think I'm going to cave in a finally buy an iPhone, but will probably wait to see what Apple has up its sleep later this year. I know I ain't gonna spend anywhere near $800-$1000 for one.
The Samsung Phone I have is an inexpensive model. I really only need such a phone to make calls and text messaging. I paid $50 for it at a MetroPCS store last year (after I lost my LG phone).

Heaven help me, but BestBuy appears to have the lowest prices on Samsung drives, but even they're higher than OWC's offerings. I'm just pleased to see that capacities are rising as prices are declining.
We have a Frys around here also, besides Best Buy, and they can be competitive. You might want to check out some mail order places.

Since we're supposed to get 10-12 inches of snow today (REALLY???), we'll probably just cocoon today. Which means I'll have to reformat those pesky internal SSDs again as a RAID 1. If spring ever does rear its head around here in central Indiana, I'd like to get outdoors for a while. I've never been prone to it before, but I think I'm suffering from my very first case of cabin fever.
We had nice spring like weather about a week or so before we "sprang forward" on March 10th. But it has been somewhat cold here, along with some days of rain. Supposedly we were supposed to have some snow last night, but I did not see any when I woke up. The forecast for next week looks OK, but temperatures still are not very "spring like", and thus I really can't start my fern picking tasks just yet. I definitely want to get outside!
 
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bargbill

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I was not going to mention any drive names, but since he did mention MAXTOR in his original post, here goes.
I first saw MAXTOR drives on a running paint shaker at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic show. It was attached to an oscilloscope and producing data perfectly.
I was responsible for Apple Operations at a large University and had the forth largest Mac installation in the country.
The Maxtor man was proud of his drive and said the Defense Department uses them in cruise missiles.
Wow that sounds like a good heritage.
But really, a cruise missile only has to work for about 3 hours! I started buying large quantities 144 megabyte drives, and almost everyone failed at about 1 year. That was about 30 years ago.
Since then I have noted that whatever brand of drive I use, I expect failure to happen at about 3-4 years.
I have a 4T time machine backup drive on my iMac and a second 3T external drive that is a drag the whole internal drive thing type of backup, about once a month.
If any one of the three drives die, oh well, so be it.... off to the store for a new one.
You too would die if you spun around at 10,000 RPM for 3-4 years.
 

honestone

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You too would die if you spun around at 10,000 RPM for 3-4 years.
I remember some years ago Western Digital sold 10,000 rpm VelociRaptor HDDs, and they were pricey. I see they are still available:

https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=hard+drive+velociraptor&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=241913657653&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11599963134098342051&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9033275&hvtargid=kwd-10618150524&ref=pd_sl_kzosnzbf5_b

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAAEE43V5443&ignorebbr=1&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleMKP-PC&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleMKP-PC-_-pla-_-Hard+Drives-_-9SIAAEE43V5443&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoqyVsPie2gIVjP5kCh24cwV0EAYYASABEgLZNfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

And I see where 15,000 RPM drives, from various companies, are available:

https://www.amazon.com/Internal-Hard-Drives-15000-RPM/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n:1254762011,p_n_feature_keywords_two_browse-bin:6899491011

Wonder how they compare to Samsung SSDs (for the most part, they are the fastest ones on the market). I always got more than 5 years of use whenever I had HDDs (all of them were Seagate models), but I am not a real "heavy" user (except when I was providing production IT support for some systems at a bank).

So far, the Samsung 840 Pro 256 gig SSD inside my Mac Mini (installed it back in 2013) is going strong. The 252 gig Samsung SSD flash drive that was inside the mid 2013 13" MacBook Air I had also was rock solid (sold it back in December, and as far as I know, still going strong).
 

Allen Davis

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My comment about Maxtor was in reference to a shared storage device. To be even more accurate, it was a shared storage device enclosure which contained two Seagate 3.5" HDDs. One device failed promptly after its warranty expired. Both drives inside were quite dead. They were attached to a small circuit board which served as an interface and power to the drives. What I thought curious was that both drives bore labels indicating they were 3G devices, but they both had jumpers installed which "throttled" them back to 1.5G. I've since dissected the other Maxtor enclosure and extracted its HDDs, removed their jumpers and use them to archive a large collection of Postscript files I've created and archived over my career. Only now they are connected/powered-up via a dock and only when I need to access particular files. Hopefully they'll last a little longer with less use and lower operating temperatures.
I only expressed my own personal preferences/prejudices based on my own personal experience. I much prefer Chevys over Fords, but that doesn't mean Ford doesn't make a good car and I wouldn't presume to tell someone they're going to hell if they buy a Ford. Honestone is crazy for Samsung SSDs, and I'm sure they're great. I happen to favor OWC's Mercury line simply because I've had stellar experiences with them.
I had an IBM Deskstar HDD in my Mac G4 MDD that lasted 18 years without a hiccup. But when it died, it didn't suffer. It went quickly and don't believe it suffered any pain. It was certainly quiet about ailing!
It's impressive a hard drive could operate under such vibration you describe. Most of us don't use our Macs on roller coasters, either. I guess with hard drives it's pretty much luck of the draw, I suppose. Anyone can make a lemon, and likewise make a real jewel.
I am impressed that you ran such a large Mac setup. I'm told that at one time, the space shuttles were equipped with the equivalent of five PowerMac 7600s, four of which were for redundancy. The 7600 was nice when it came out, but mine was clearly obsolete for my usage before it was a year old. It's amazing that our pocket calculators today have ten times the computer power than the Gemini capsules had.
 

honestone

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I much prefer Chevys over Fords, but that doesn't mean Ford doesn't make a good car and I wouldn't presume to tell someone they're going to hell if they buy a Ford.
I prefer Toyotas over Hondas, but I would say the same thing as you: would not "fault" anyone for buying a Honda.

Honestone is crazy for Samsung SSDs, and I'm sure they're great.
Well said! So far so good with mine.

It's amazing that our pocket calculators today have ten times the computer power than the Gemini capsules had.
Ain't that the truth!
 
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Allen Davis

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I prefer Toyotas over Hondas, but I would say the same thing as you: would not "fault" anyone for buying a Honda.



Well said! So far so good with mine.



Ain't that the truth!
<strutting about the domicile with chest puffed out> My wife says the reason I often talk to myself is that I'm seeking an expert opinion. <thumbs stuck proudly into my armpits while waving my elbows like an idiot rooster>
 
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