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I know that everyone has their own personal preferences and favorites but around here we have running joke about a particular brand of hard drive.

It seems that 95% of the time when we have a crashed hard drive on either a server or a user's desktop machine the drive is a [intentionally blank].

I'm curious as to the experiences with other system administrators out there. Do you favor one particular brand over another? Do you find a particular brand or model especially troublesome?

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You have to be aware of your total drive population. Once a tech came to me stating that we should stop buying brand X because 70% of the company's drive failures have been brand X, I pointed out that 90% of our drives where brand X, so the 70% wasn't bad. We realized that the real issue was Brand Y, because it was almost 30% of the failures, with only about 5% of the population (almost every drive from that brand had failed). This was over ten years ago, so the actual brand names are pretty meaningless today. –  BillN Jun 25 '09 at 22:41
    
Sure, goes without saying (or at least I thought it did... LOL) just because all of the boys in grade 8 have brown hair doesn't mean that everyone with brown hair is in grade 8. We have a slightly biased distribution of various drives but I intentionally left out naming any particular brand so as not to mess with the honest postings of others. –  KPWINC Jun 26 '09 at 1:49

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The plural of anecdote is not data, which is seemingly all this question is asking. But to add useful content to the topic, I suggest two papers presented at a Usenix conference in 2007.

Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population

Disk failures in the real world: What does an MTTF of 1,000,000 hours mean to you

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yeah, the Google paper is awesome, and about the only decent source of reliability data for large drive populations. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 26 '09 at 5:48

In my opinion it's not possible to answer this unless we are talking about a specific point in time or a specific make and model.

Which makes and models of drives are good or bad changes constantly. All manufacturers have produced some real rubbish models and all major manufacturers have produced some very good ones as well, so a general answer has little or no validity. You really need to ask about specific drives, as that is the only time the answers have real relevance. Before buying new drives I always ask my supplier about the return rate of what is currently available. I don't buy drives with a return rate higher than 1 in 500 within the first year. I also avoid models that have been out for less than at least 6 months.

One thing I would advise you to do is steer well clear of any drive that doesn't have a decent warranty, with 5 years becoming the norm. Manufacturers can't afford to give long warranties on drives with a high return rate.

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Speaking of actual data -- there is a user-entered reliability database at Storage Review, which is widely regarded as the best hard drive review site out there.

http://www.storagereview.com/map/lm.cgi/survey_login

I signed up (note that browsing the reliability data requires entering reliability for at least one of your own hard drives, first) and it has this much data so far:

24,857 readers have entered results for their experiences with a total of 52,876 drives.

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I will let you know in 10 years which hard drive maker is the best today.

Seriously. New hard drives are so much different from ones from 5 years ago that we don't know which ones are good or bad. There simply hasn't passed enough time.

Historically the stability of hard drives has gone up and down a lot. From one generation to the next IBM went from really good to crap (and later back again). And it has happened both ways for all HD manufacturers. I have a 3GB IBM drive from something like the mid 90's that has worked perfectly 24/7 since then.

Or are you just interested in what brand will hold up for 3 months?

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(I assume we are talking about spinning-disk based drives here)

I've had best experience with Seagate drives over the years, though I did have one go bad last year and people have been reporting problems with some of the 1Tb and 1.5Tb models recently.

As drives are getting cheaper and cheaper per measure of space, I've started having two or more on the go (RAID1/5/6/10) for anything I care about losing if a drive goes bad. It is a good idea to get drives from different manufacturers or, if you get drives from the same maker, get them from different suppliers - that way you don't risk getting all your drives from the same production batch and that batch being oe that had QA problems.

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For sure the 1.5TB Barracuda is problematic, I only had 8 of them in test (vs 2000 1TB ...) but 5 failed in various ways in 6 months! Frightening... –  wazoox Jun 26 '09 at 10:01

I was a long-time fan of Maxtor. I have had 1 die on me in 15 years with computers. Since Seagate purchased them, I have been using Seagate and am very happy. The great thing about Seagate is they finally got rid of their insanely noisy drives! Also the 5 year warranty. You can't beat that.

In 15 years, I would say about 40% of the Western Digital drives I have used, have died.

I tend to think this question leans toward personal preference because I have had friends who say the exact opposite of what I just typed. So in the end, look at warranty and always go RAID 1!!

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Definitely depends on the particular user's experience. I never had a Maxtor that lasted more than 9 months, yet many of my friends swore by them. :-) –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 24 '10 at 17:30

I usually purchase Seagate or Hitachi drives. I have had so many Maxtor drives burn out in less then a year. Had them installed in over 50 "servers" for POS system and we were replacing drives at least a few times a month. They were in a RAID1 so, no lost data. My order of purchasing drives are Seagate, Hitachi, then Western Digital. Everyone seems to have there own preferred hard drive choice. But I have had real good luck with Seagates. They are fast and reliable.

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I would start by looking at the number of platters on the hard drive. As the number of platters increase unless something else improves in development, the likelihood of crashing will also increase. You've got more platters and thus more heads to fail.

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I have always preferred Seagate. They have been very reliable for me and their warranty has been one of the best in the business (5 years).

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Second that for their internal drives. Somehow I've had bad luck with external. –  Notmyfault Jun 25 '09 at 23:28
    
I have 50 Seagates 500GB and 750GB in the lab, Barracuda ES kind. Under heavy and random access, these babies burn out too. Keep in mind that I've put them thru hell, and 40 still live on. –  GregC Jun 25 '09 at 23:55

Western Digital always seem to crash on me. (You want to tag this as subjective?)

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Done. Tagged as subjective. –  KPWINC Jun 25 '09 at 21:52
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DeathStar drives! ohh the painful memories –  Zypher Jun 25 '09 at 22:04
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I think DeathStars were IBM. –  Notmyfault Jun 25 '09 at 23:27
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They were manufactured by Hitachi and sold under the IBM name. –  phuzion Jun 26 '09 at 0:19
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Actually they (60GXP series) were manufactured by IBM, who then sold its hard drive business to hitachi. –  wazoox Jun 26 '09 at 9:59

My personal favourite? The Quantum Fireball.

Reliability? The name of the product line should speak for itself...

;-)

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The 9GB Micropolis was the best :) I remember that over a year (was it 1996 or 1997?), we had to return... 100% of the shipped drives, Woohooo! Talk about pissed off customers... –  wazoox Jun 26 '09 at 9:56
    
Remember the Quantum Bigfoot? Amazingly reliable for being as wide and thin as it was. I was always afraid it would bend and then have a head crash! –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 24 '10 at 17:39

I've used multiple brands over the years although I tend to pick Seagate for my personal machines. They have generally been reliable. HOWEVER, I did have one machine where I had to replace the drive 3 times.

Handling returns is where the vendor becomes important. Seagate has a policy where you either return the drive and they mail one out to you after or you pay a fee and they mail you a drive first.

After the second crash, I was fairly unhappy as it was within a short period of time. Seagate ended up shipping me a replacement drive first gratis so that I could pull the data off. So it ended up being okay with just the time to replace things being wasted.

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Sharing my preference experienced with over 400 disks for a period of 10 years:

1.Hitachi - solid, rare failures

2.Seagate - very hot and if you dont have good cooling they die fast

3.Fujitsu - very quiet

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I've got some 15K RPM Seagates and they're quite literally too hot to touch. They run painfully hot. Yet, they seem very reliable. –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 24 '10 at 17:31

Study: A Look At Hard Drive Reliability

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hdd-reliability-storelab,2681.html

In this particular study, more than 4000 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives are included... ... ..At this point, we also need to make very clear that the study is not representative and cannot be seen as a comprehensive reliability summary

In short, it says Hitachi is most reliable.

Conclusions

Hitachi manufacturers the safest and most reliable hard drives, according to the Storelab study. Of the more than 200 Hitachi hard drives received, not a single one had failed due to manufacturing or design errors. All failures were due to physical impacts caused by the users.

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In my experience, hitachi has been the worst with samsung in a close second. In the past I had good luck with Maxtor, although now most of those 5 year old drives are crapping out. Currently I normally choose Seagate.

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I agree about hitachi, but have never heard a samsung fail for any of my friends, nor has it failed for me. So far I really like samsung drives, cheap and reliable in my opinion. –  Karolis T. Jun 26 '09 at 6:14
    
How many drives did you use? Under a hundred, you only have anecdotal evidence. I have installed about 1000 hard drives each year in the last years, and the Maxtor are the worst with about 5% death/year; the first series of seagate drives started at 3% then dropped around 1%; Hitachi started at 3% and fell to about 0.5%. So as now, and talking of Enterprise SATA drives, Hitachi are the best (by a small margin). –  wazoox Jun 26 '09 at 9:54

It all depends on where the hard drive is sourced I'm told.

Hard drive manufacturers dump (or sell) hard drives they know to "more likely" to fail to retail outlets like PC World.

However OEMs like Dell or HP have certain buying criteria and QA procedures whereby the very best hard drives (reliable) end up in their hands.

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Worst? Well, IMO:

  • Western Digital
  • IBM (remember the deathstar?)
  • Samsung

I also typically steer clear of Hitachi, Toshiba, and Fujitsu... although these are pretty standard brands to find in all sorts of laptops.

I used to love Maxtor, but nowadays they don't seem to be very reliable. Currently my go-to brand is Seagate... although their recent firmware fiasco has me wondering.

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You do know that Seagete aquired Maxtor in 2006? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxtor –  Karolis T. Jun 26 '09 at 6:16
    
Yep, and the "deathstar" was like 7 or 8 years ago... –  wazoox Jun 26 '09 at 9:57
    
Yeah I know that Seagate acquired Maxtor, but that doesn't mean that Maxtor drives are just rebranded Seagate drives. And the Deathstar was such a massive failure that I'll have trouble ever using an IBM drive. –  Boden Jun 26 '09 at 15:23

I have always bought Western Digital and have never had any problems. I have never owned a Seagate but I have heard some bad things about them. My professor is a Network Admin and he says he tries to strictly use Fujitsu.

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Seagate NS series 7200 RPM type, many many in RAID setups with multiple clients and still running well. Most machines or servers are in their 4th year of use without hiccups.

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I once had a Fujitsu drive probably an 80gb start to slide off a keyboard box. I lifted the end to try to stop it but instead it launched about 4 feet and hit in between two shelves and bounced back and forth till it hit the ground. i have built thousands of computers and have seen drives fail from a one inch drop, but this dive worked fine with zero bad sectors. I was a believer after that, to bad my main vendor quit carrying them. I have not used one in years so don't know about current reliability but that drive was the best drive I have ever seen.

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More than likely that's a drive with motion sensors. They detect too sudden a movement in any plane and move the heads off the working area of the platter, a bit like the old park command did for MFM drives. It's technology originally designed for laptop drives but becoming more common in "normal" drives. One of the advantages for the manufacturers is a big drop in the return rate of drives damaged in transit. –  John Gardeniers Nov 5 '09 at 7:24
    
Motion sensors are only for when the drive is running and have nothing to do with failures in transit. Voice coil drives automatically slide over to the parking area when power is removed. All the ones that I'm aware of also automatically lock there. –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 24 '10 at 17:43

Funny, but no Ha Ha funny, drive are sold advertising MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of like 150,000 hours. Now I don't know if the manufacturers have found a way to travel forward in time, but this criteria is clearly bogus.

Anybody remember DOS? just copy C: to D: and voila! a perfect copy.

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