Why Do Some Hard Drives Last Longer Than Others?

Sep 28th 2014 - by Fix My PC FREE in: Blog Hardware Fixes | 0 Comment

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Why Do Some Hard Drives Last Longer Than Others?

Hard drive failure is the worst nightmare for most PC users. When a hard drive fails, it’s game over. You need to get a new hard drive, restore your data (you were backing it up, right?), and reinstall all your software.

Some hard drives have a higher rate of failure than others. Today, I’m going to explain which company’s hard drives are more likely to fail and which hard drive qualities you should look for when comparing multiple drives:

Comparing hard drive reliability across brands

BackBlaze.com recently tested the reliability of a number of different hard drive brands. BackBlaze.com did this for two reasons: they wanted to show which hard drives are more likely to last longest, and they wanted to promote their own $5 per month backup service.

Anyways, here’s what they found:

hard drive failure rate

As you can see, Seagate tends to be the worst of the big three hard drive manufacturers when it comes to failure rates. Hitachi is in the lead and Western Digital is somewhere in the middle.

BackBlaze also examined the hard drives they had in their own data room. Since BackBlaze has literally thousands of hard drives, this provides some statistically significant results:

hard drive failure rate 2

The main lesson to learn from this is that Seagate Barracuda hard drives (which run at a blazing fast 7,200rpm), have a higher rate of failure than almost all other hard drives. Meanwhile, a very small percentage of Hitachi hard drives have failed over the years.

5 reasons why some hard drives are more likely to fail than others

Now that you know which company’s hard drives are more likely to fail, it’s time to learn why those companies have a higher rate of failure:

5) Manufacturing flaws and defects

Some companies use better-quality manufacturing techniques than others. On hard drives with moving parts and thousands of unique components, even the smallest manufacturing defects can cause problems.

4) Poor design

Different hard drive manufacturers use different designs. One older drive called the IBM Deskstar had such an infamously poor design that it was called the Deathstar. Bad design could put extra stress on the disk during read/write cycles, and even the smallest bit of extra stress can build up over a number of years.

3) Enterprise-quality drives in disguise?

Wanna hear a rumor? Hitachi is rumored to have long-running hard drives because they supposedly use re-branded enterprise-class hard drives. Enterprise-class hard drives tend to be tested to a higher standard and cost more than consumer-level drives. Hitachi may rebrand enterprise-level drives and cater those drives to consumers. Or maybe the consumer drives are the ones that just didn’t quite make the cut as enterprise drives.

Anyways, that’s the rumor.

hard drive failure rate 3

2) Damaged goods

If you’ve purchased different types of hard drives from the same vendor, but have noticed that they all fail, then the problem may not lie with the manufacturers: it may lie with your retailer.

Not all retailers handle hard drives the same way. Hard drives are extremely delicate components and rough handling can cause those drives to suffer an early death.

1) Superior technology and other innovative features

And finally, some hard drives simply have superior technology compared to other hard drives. Since companies like Western Digital and Seagate have produced hard drives for decades, they both have a wealth of knowledge and experience at their disposal. Sure, engineers will always try to reverse-engineer their competitors’ products, but differences still exist.

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