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What makes a hard drive reliable ?? - Page 2

post #16 of 80

Btw. if you end up using a Raid 1 and start using it as an active drive and not only for backup, then you need to consider backups too - for e.g. you batch edit your music or photos and unintentionally mess them up... :-)

 

But as it was said before, there are very good guidelines out on the net.

 

post #17 of 80

Just going to throw some stats out there for people.

 

SSDs are actually more stable of a platform but currently have a 1/4 failure rate early on due to construction. You can get beyond this by going with higher-quality SSDs (Intel). And while they do have a theoretical set number of writes before they die, it's in the hundreds of millions. Most SSDs are rated for many years of constant use.

 

As for reliability of an HDD, if you really want reliable you use 1 TB or smaller drives. They have a better track-record for reliability. The 2 TB drives can be iffy if you get the wrong one (Seagate) instead of the good ones (Samsung or if you have to WD). From what I'm hearing of the current 3 TB offerings they have a pretty high failure rate and have questionable longevity.

 

As for how long a drive will last, Google released a white paper a few years ago about the HDDs they use in their servers and found that the general rule of thumb was if it didn't fail within the first two months then they tended to be good for five or more years. They also found that drive brand means a lot less than drive model. Which is why a 1 TB Seagate is your best friend where a 2 TB Seagate will die on you quicker than Bambi's mom.

 

In terms of RAID arrays... I'm of the humble opinion that anyone who uses a RAID0 array without some level of data protection is really asking for trouble. In a purely striped RAID if one drive dies you lose everything on all your drives. The best option is multiple drives and a RAID5 or RAID 10 array. It requires more drives (usually four or more with RAID10 requiring even pairings) but you get a nice level of data redundancy as well as performance.

 

The one thing that's nice about RAID is that if the RAID controller card dies you can replace the card and the array will function as normal. I believe it may have to be the same card, but that's the only limitation I've ever heard. I'm actually considering building my own RAID5 NAS to use as a dev/media server. I could just buy one (Synology and QNAP are the top two companies that I know of) but you can usually build your own systems for cheaper and for the sacrifice of a bit more power-usage I could have a better processor, which will be handy if I want to do any on-the-fly encoding.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by LingLing1337 View Post

Samsung's Spinpoints are the best HDDs released so far, period. But they just sold their mechanical HDD division to Seagate :( :( :(

 

I really wish they would have had time to develop the successor to that series.

 

You're looking at it all wrong. It's not so much that Seagate got Samsung's HDD devision, it's that Samsung's HDD devision got a new bank-roller who is going to let them really push things. At least, that's my hope. Samsung isn't focused on drives. It's just one thing they do. HDDs is what Seagate does. With any luck, they'll bring up the level of Seagate drives over 1 TB to the point where they aren't a waste of money.


Edited by DougofTheAbaci - 4/26/11 at 4:22pm
post #18 of 80
I replace hard drives around every two years, even if they're still working. Haven't had a failure yet (yes, I back up) and I get a big increase in storage for low prices. Since prices are really good these days, I don't see any problem with this. I also drop the old drives into $10-$15 enclosures and stash them away as backups.
post #19 of 80

That's a little excessive. I have computers running drives that are over 7 years old. Never failed and that laptop made regular trips back and forth across the atlantic, as well as travel on public transit in a major city on a daily basis.

post #20 of 80

Honestly, there's no good way to tell if a drive is going to be reliable or not other than getting it from a good manufacturer with a generally good track record.  I've had drives fail for no apparent reason after only a few months of use, some have lasted for years.  The complexity of these things is unbelievable - a lot of small problems that occur during manufacturing would be nearly impossible to detect.  The only way to be truly safe is to use a redundant RAID array, though that could be a bit excessive as a personal backup.  Also, not having the backup drive plugged in and turned on all the time will probably help.  It's probably best to just turn it on when you want to transfer data over to it.

 

Also, one large cause of data loss is often just bad filesystems.  A large majority of the time if a hard drive crashes the data can still be recovered by bypassing the higher parts of the filesystem and just copying the low-level bits from the drive...and this actually isn't terribly difficult to do, and all computer repair shops will do it.  New filesystems like ZFS are apparently better at handling with filesystem corruption, but since Apple's dropped their intention to put it into OS X, it's probably not gonna come into use for some time.

post #21 of 80

If the drive is going to sit internally you can actually get a pretty good idea if it's going to fail via tracking the SMART status. With external drives it becomes more difficult as not all will tell you SMART status, especially if you buy you're own case. Western Digital's multi-drive systems come with software that tracks it.

 

Likewise, if you do a software RAID you can track the health of the RAID through your system.

 

So, basically, while you can't tell ahead of time if the drive is going to end up being a problem drive, you can usually get advanced warning of a failure. As long as  you have more than one copy of those files you should be safe. One drive failure is actually relatively rare with good HDDs. Multi-drive failure is significantly more rare.

 

If you end up going RAID the only real concern you have is that if your house burns down, there's a massive power surge, or some other freak accident happens, all your data is in one place. I know a lot of people who promote the 3:2:1 method of backups which is three copies total, two local (original and backup) and one in the cloud or offsite.

 

 

Getting back to the original posters question, since you just need a single drive to do backup now (you can consider RAID systems later) I would recommend one of two routes:

 

1. Buy a LaCie external hard drive. I've had a number of drives from LaCie and never has one died on me. Western Digital and Seagate, yes, but never LaCie. the reason is they use Hitachi HDDs which are very good.

 

2. Buy a Samsung HDD and drop it in an enclosure. Which enclosure doesn't matter as long as it works the way you want. One nice thing about this option is you can eventually take that drive and use it in a RAID array.

 

If you do want to just dive in and start going RAID then I'm going to reiterate LaCie for a pre-built system for the same reasons I've already stated. If you want to go a more bespoke solution I recommend going with a Drobo. The reason I say Drobo and not one of the other, sometimes cheaper options, is because Drobos are very stable and borderline idiot-proof. You don't have to think about pairing drives, how you're going to repair the RAID if one drive dies, what you're going to do about expanding it... All you do is swap out the dead drive with a new one and it automatically repairs. For expansions, just slot in newer, larger hard drives. Also... Any size, any speed, no pairing necessary.

 

A Drobo will cost you about $400 to $800 for the case (depending on Drobo or Drobo S) plus another $100–300 depending on what hard drives you put in it. The nice thing about Drobos is you can start with just two HDDs and drop in more until it's filled as they're needed.

 

The one down-side of a Drobo is it's a software RAID in the box so it'll be slightly slower than a hardware RAID (though still faster than a single drive normally is) but unless you're using it for editing uncompressed video that's not going to be an issue.

post #22 of 80

Good advice from Doug, except the part about LaCie external hard drives. I've had one awhile back, and its power supply failed after 18 months without any warning (this is a somewhat well known problem with these Lacie drives). So now I'm going back to WD.


Edited by jenneth - 4/28/11 at 12:46am
post #23 of 80

To be honest, build your own. You can spend $800+ on an 4x1TB RAID or you can buy a Drobo, and fill it with 4x2TB. It doesn't even have to be a Drobo. $300–$400 gets you a good 4-bay RAID enclosure and another $300 gets you four 2 TB HDDs of Newegg.

 

I'm a little sad to hear that LaCie hasn't kept the quality up. It's been a few years since I've owned them but when I did they were rock solid.

post #24 of 80

I think currently there is only Western Digital and Seagate left since they have bought up the others. The Lacie I had that died had a Seagate Barracuda so up until the past year different vendors have ended up using different drives.

post #25 of 80

I've always heard great things about Hitatchi and if you buy Samsung drives in the next few months they aren't going to change.

post #26 of 80

Hard disk technology is inherently unreliable. I've had three of my own drives go bad in the past 12 months- two Hitachi GST Deathstar Deskstar 7k2000 drives in my desktop and a WD Caviar Black 1TB in an external enclosure. The desktop drives were cooled by a 120mm fan and the backup drive has an 80mm fan.

 

I'd say that we average about two failures per year between the ~15 computers and ~5 backup drives that I manage (NOT all my own). In total my personal systems have experienced at least 7 failures that I can think of off the top of my head.

 

I personally keep at least one backup of all of my data- this has saved me countless times. Important files will also get backed up to the cloud or even placed on optical media.

 

Edit: In my personal experience, this is how I'd rate the reliability of different vendors from best (top) to worst. Bear in mind that this is rather subjective.

 

Western Digital

Seagate (Just slightly below WD)

Quantum (No longer exists)

Toshiba

Maxtor (No longer exists)

Hitachi GST (Terrible warranty as well- no cross shipping, 2+ week wait time. WAY behind WD and Seagate in this regard.)

 

I don't have enough experience with Samsung to comment on them.


Edited by MCC - 4/29/11 at 6:57am
post #27 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougofTheAbaci View Post

To be honest, build your own. You can spend $800+ on an 4x1TB RAID or you can buy a Drobo, and fill it with 4x2TB. It doesn't even have to be a Drobo. $300–$400 gets you a good 4-bay RAID enclosure and another $300 gets you four 2 TB HDDs of Newegg.

 

I'm a little sad to hear that LaCie hasn't kept the quality up. It's been a few years since I've owned them but when I did they were rock solid.

 

I have heard bad things about the Lacie 2big drives, but we are happy with 2 Lacie 4big Quadra's (4 harddrives/Raid via USB) for around 2 years now.

 

It is probably good to mention that most of us throw everything togeteher - NAS, DAS, DNAS/NDAS devices - which are quite different depending on what you need or want.

post #28 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCC View Post

Western Digital

Seagate (Just slightly below WD)

Never buy a Seagate. Those are the worse pieces of HDD garbage that I had to suffer through for 4 years. They cheap out on the parts which power the HDD and their HDD are very unreliable. My first Seagate died from merely being knocked over onto the softest cotton. Other Seagate did the same and the other two died smelling of burning electronics. Even when they were working, they always suffered from unpredictable reading errors.

 

WD is much better than Seagate IMO. I have 2 and they both out lasted my Seagates and are still going strong. Never had a problem.
 

 

post #29 of 80

Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

Never buy a Seagate. Those are the worse pieces of HDD garbage that I had to suffer through for 4 years. They cheap out on the parts which power the HDD and their HDD are very unreliable. My first Seagate died from merely being knocked over onto the softest cotton. Other Seagate did the same and the other two died smelling of burning electronics. Even when they were working, they always suffered from unpredictable reading errors.

 

WD is much better than Seagate IMO. I have 2 and they both out lasted my Seagates and are still going strong. Never had a problem.
 

 


We all have different experiences I guess. I've worked on many machines with Seagate hard drives that have been reliable for ages. I even have a couple 50-200MB Seagates from the early 90s that still work well. Two ST340016A and one ST360021A from 2002 are still going strong, as are a pair of 80GB 1st gen SATA drives, a 7200.10 in my Desktop, a Momentus 7200.3 in my laptop, two backup drives with older barracudas, a couple 120GB drives RAIDed in an old file server, a 400GB drive in a media center PC, etc. Failures were an 80GB laptop drive, a 120GB 3.5" drive, and I third that I can't remember.


Edited by MCC - 4/29/11 at 9:37am
post #30 of 80


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCC View Post

Hard disk technology is inherently unreliable. I've had three of my own drives go bad in the past 12 months- two Hitachi GST Deathstar Deskstar 7k2000 drives in my desktop and a WD Caviar Black 1TB in an external enclosure. The desktop drives were cooled by a 120mm fan and the backup drive has an 80mm fan.

 

I'd say that we average about two failures per year between the ~15 computers and ~5 backup drives that I manage (NOT all my own). In total my personal systems have experienced at least 7 failures that I can think of off the top of my head.

 

I personally keep at least one backup of all of my data- this has saved me countless times. Important files will also get backed up to the cloud or even placed on optical media.

 

Edit: In my personal experience, this is how I'd rate the reliability of different vendors from best (top) to worst. Bear in mind that this is rather subjective.

 

Western Digital

Seagate (Just slightly below WD)

Quantum (No longer exists)

Toshiba

Maxtor (No longer exists)

Hitachi GST (Terrible warranty as well- no cross shipping, 2+ week wait time. WAY behind WD and Seagate in this regard.)

 

I don't have enough experience with Samsung to comment on them.



most computers tend to come with toshiba hard drives and mine have never failed on me. but my acer which has a toshiba drive is making the click of death noise. i think its luck of the draw. if toshiba was as bad as that list suggests i don't think it would be in every computer including apple.

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