HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

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toto
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HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by toto » Fri Apr 30, 2010 9:26 am

Greetings,

I need to upgrade my hard drives and while I used to always buy Samsungs, I've had two larger (120Gb and 300Gb) Sammy's fail in the past year. They were both about 4 years old. A third 300Gb Sammy may on the verge of demise, too. By contrast, my six 5+ year old 80Gb Spinpoints are still going strong. So, I'm reluctantly looking for another brand in the 300Gb - 1Tb range for NAS and office use.

Can anyone relate their long-term reliability experiences with different brands of HDD's in that size range, both positive and negative? Please include notebook drives, too.

As an aside, I checked user feedback on Newegg for the top three SPQR recommended notebook drives and the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS 500GB had a 22% failure rate, while both the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B and WD Scorpio Blue WD5000BEVT 500GB drives had 7% failure rates. All way too high, IMO.

Thanks!
toto

protellect
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Post by protellect » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:17 am

It's pretty much always a crap shoot. Newegg reviews don't represent a useful statistic; plenty of people with working drives don't bother to write a review, while the angry people with a single DOA drive certainly speak there piece.

Every brand has good and bad batches.
Every brand has had problems with certain models.
Some vendors package drives better than others.
It seems in my opinion that a lot of the 1.5TB+ sizes seem to have more issues than smaller drives.

My two cents: get two of something with a good warranty, and set up rsync. Or RAID if you really want. Keep two+ copies of everything.

I've had good luck with 1TB AALS [have 4] WD Black Edition hard drives, and 1TB EADS green drives [have 3] for data storage. I've also bought two FAEX 1TB drives lately, and both have arrived working so far.

I've used and been moderately satisfied with the RMA process for both Western Digital and Seagate, and I haven't used the RMA process from hitachi or samsung. I hear its difficult in the samsung world, but I haven't done it myself.

Newegg has gotten better about shipping there drives wrapped in bubble wrap in a cardboard box, inside of another box with peanuts.

I like how Dell, ZZF, and Superbiiz package there drives; to manufacturers shipping standards. [aka, the seagate seashell or the western digital plastic "ends"]

Overall, I'd recommend a western digital drive [green would probably be fine for what you said you need] from a vendor who packages them properly. 640GB, or 1tb.
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Wibla
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Post by Wibla » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:17 pm

As protellect said, its a crap shoot, ask 10 people and you get 10 different answers.

I swear to Samsung and Seagate myself, but YMWV (your mileage will vary)

dhanson865
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Post by dhanson865 » Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:04 pm

Always research your drives to know the number of platters

More platters gives you more heat, power draw, noise, susceptibility to
shock damage, a generally less reliable drive overall.

Buy 1 platter or 2 platter drives when possible, 3 if you need super high capacity never buy 4 or 5 platter drives.

Beware that some drive manufacturers actively try to confuse you by reusing part numbers.

Beware that some assumptions about numbers of platters aren't valid. For example the Seagate LP series of drives uses 500GB platters. The 1 TB drive has 2 platters and the 2 TB drive has 4 platters. Surprisingly the 1.5TB drive has 4 platters not the 3 you might expect.

reliability of 1.5TB and larger drives has been problematic. If you want reliability look for 1TB or below in capacity.

You can consider WD Black, WD Blue, Samsung, Seagate LP but you have to do serious research to know platter density and reliability on a model by model basis.

WD6400AAKS = WD Blue 640 GB (2 x 320GB platters)
WD5000AAKS = WD Blue 500 GB but no guarantee how many platters or what the platter density is. Could be 2 x 250GB, 2 x 320GB, or 1 x 500GB. Whatever WD can make the cheapest.

an older example would be WD3200AAKS which has been seen in at least 4 different versions. One has a single 320GB platter, another has 2 x 160GB platters. The 160GB platters are years older in design and much slower performance wise (though both are reliable).

The newer 500GB platters are on the bleeding edge and may or may not be as reliable. But more importantly you could buy a 1TB drive thinking you are getting 2 x 500GB and really get 3 x 334GB or 4 x 225GB.

Its a pain in the rear as a consumer to buy from online retailers that won't tell you which version of a drive they are selling. You can't do simple research and know reliability because you aren't even sure what you are buying until it gets in your hands if you buy a drive that shares a model number with other drives that have differing internals.
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capecodbackup
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Post by capecodbackup » Sat May 01, 2010 10:30 am

I have always used this philosophy. Good to see someone finally put it into words :)

"Always research your drives to know the number of platters

More platters gives you more heat, power draw, noise, susceptibility to
shock damage, a generally less reliable drive overall.

Buy 1 platter or 2 platter drives when possible, 3 if you need super high capacity never buy 4 or 5 platter drives."

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Post by dhanson865 » Sat May 01, 2010 12:30 pm

yeah and I did that from memory because I wasn't in the mood to look it up. Here is a partial quote from a post I made in 2008
OK here we go again:

640GB = two platters
1TB = three platters

That extra platter = more noise, more power usage, more heat, slower drive ready time, more susceptible to shock damage, and more vibration.

Code: Select all

Black 640GB vs 1TB comparison

Drive Ready Time 11 sec  13
R/W Power watts  8.3     8.4
Idle Power watts 7.7     7.8
Standby watts    1       1
Max shock        300     250
Performance seek 29      33
Quiet seek       26      29
It's plain physics when the manufacturer is willing to show the specs even a single extra platter makes things worse comparing 2 platters to 3.

2 years later the comparison would be between 1TB and 1.5TB drives now but the issue is the same. More platters equals a less desirable drive for any reason other than Price/GB and total capacity.

The only time more platters is a plus is when considering sound and sound only when a single 2 platter drive won't hold your data and you have to choose between having 2 x 2 platter drives or 1 x 3 platter drive. Though that is one that can be debated on the specifics of your situation as either solution has it's advantages outside of the noise issues.
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dhanson865
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Re: HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by dhanson865 » Sat May 01, 2010 1:56 pm

toto wrote:Greetings,

I need to upgrade my hard drives and while I used to always buy Samsungs, I've had two larger (120Gb and 300Gb) Sammy's fail in the past year. They were both about 4 years old. A third 300Gb Sammy may on the verge of demise, too. By contrast, my six 5+ year old 80Gb Spinpoints are still going strong. So, I'm reluctantly looking for another brand in the 300Gb - 1Tb range for NAS and office use.

Can anyone relate their long-term reliability experiences with different brands of HDD's in that size range, both positive and negative? Please include notebook drives, too.

As an aside, I checked user feedback on Newegg for the top three SPQR recommended notebook drives and the Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS 500GB had a 22% failure rate, while both the Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B and WD Scorpio Blue WD5000BEVT 500GB drives had 7% failure rates. All way too high, IMO.

Thanks!
toto
6 drives? Are you doing RAID or just a lot of PCs with single drives?

If you want to go cheap for a group of PCs with one drive each I'd say $50 a piece for WD5000AAKS if noise isn't your primary concern or HD103SI for $90 a piece for a quieter drive that incidentally is 1TB.

If you are doing RAID I'd have to have more details, if you are concerned about every last ounce of performance SSDs are the way to go.

Just not enough information on your concerns for noise, price, RAID, single drive performance, etc to make a single solid recommendation.
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Post by xan_user » Sat May 01, 2010 6:31 pm

Over the last 20 years I have realized a fairly consistent pattern of what ever drive company was awesome 3-5 years ago is now crap, and what ever was the worst drive company 3-5 years ago now builds solid gear.

It seems that when sales figures go up from all the great customer recommendations about a good company, the corporate bean counters move in from Wall St. and maximize profits, and as a result quality goes right out the window.

Safest bet is to buy one drive from each OEM and shelve them for a few years to see what one comes out on top after consumers use it in the real world. ;)
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Post by themaster1 » Mon May 03, 2010 12:55 pm

Well if that can help you i got a Samsung Spinpoint (200gb) since 2006 (4 years) and it still work like a charm.This big boy worked almost 24/7 with Xp. I bought a new sumsung spinpoint recently (250gb) but i don't use it much for now so i can't say if samsung improved or what.

I also have an external WD my book 500Gb and it work like a charm since 2008.

On the other hand i have 2 external Seagate freeAgent (500gb x2) and i would not recommand this brand because of this

vindicator8
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Re:

Post by vindicator8 » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:12 am

dhanson865 wrote:Always research your drives to know the number of platters

Buy 1 platter or 2 platter drives when possible, 3 if you need super high capacity never buy 4 or 5 platter drives.

Beware that some drive manufacturers actively try to confuse you by reusing part numbers.

Beware that some assumptions about numbers of platters aren't valid. For example the Seagate LP series of drives uses 500GB platters. The 1 TB drive has 2 platters and the 2 TB drive has 4 platters. Surprisingly the 1.5TB drive has 4 platters not the 3 you might expect.

reliability of 1.5TB and larger drives has been problematic. If you want reliability look for 1TB or below in capacity.
The only HDD vendor who intentionally confuse customers is WD. they use different platters in different revisions of the same hard drive model and refuse to inform you about it.

On the other hand Seagate specifies number of platters and heads used in HDD specification sheet and the model number indicates number of platters used too:

1.5TB Seagate LP (discussed above) use model number ST31500541AS, where "4" means number of platters.
Or 1TB Barracuda ST31000528AS use 2 platters. There is no need for assumptions in case of Seagate drives.

Shornaal
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Re: HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by Shornaal » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:38 am

To get a better idea about WD number of platters i usually go read here: http://rml527.blogspot.com/2010/09/hdd- ... abase.html

If the model you've chosen might be with a different number of platters the best thing i'd suggest is asking your vendor to tell you the full code.
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danimal
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Re: HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by danimal » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:55 am

pick the the most reliable hard drives the same way that the manufacturers do: length of warranty.

ask yourself; do wd, seagate, etc., base their hard drive warranties on how many platters the drive has? i can't say for sure, but i'd guess not, so why ignore what they are doing with warranties.

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Re:

Post by frostedflakes » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:46 am

protellect wrote:It's pretty much always a crap shoot. Newegg reviews don't represent a useful statistic; plenty of people with working drives don't bother to write a review, while the angry people with a single DOA drive certainly speak there piece.

Every brand has good and bad batches.
Every brand has had problems with certain models.
Some vendors package drives better than others.
It seems in my opinion that a lot of the 1.5TB+ sizes seem to have more issues than smaller drives.

My two cents: get two of something with a good warranty, and set up rsync. Or RAID if you really want. Keep two+ copies of everything.

I've had good luck with 1TB AALS [have 4] WD Black Edition hard drives, and 1TB EADS green drives [have 3] for data storage. I've also bought two FAEX 1TB drives lately, and both have arrived working so far.

I've used and been moderately satisfied with the RMA process for both Western Digital and Seagate, and I haven't used the RMA process from hitachi or samsung. I hear its difficult in the samsung world, but I haven't done it myself.

Newegg has gotten better about shipping there drives wrapped in bubble wrap in a cardboard box, inside of another box with peanuts.

I like how Dell, ZZF, and Superbiiz package there drives; to manufacturers shipping standards. [aka, the seagate seashell or the western digital plastic "ends"]

Overall, I'd recommend a western digital drive [green would probably be fine for what you said you need] from a vendor who packages them properly. 640GB, or 1tb.
This is the best advice IMO. Brand doesn't matter so much, what matters is that you have redundancy. Any drive can fail on you, even brands like WD that have a really good reputation.
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dhanson865
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Re: HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by dhanson865 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:56 am

frostedflakes wrote: This is the best advice IMO. Brand doesn't matter so much, what matters is that you have redundancy. Any drive can fail on you, even brands like WD that have a really good reputation.
Yeah, every day is International Backup Awareness Day.

danimal wrote:pick the the most reliable hard drives the same way that the manufacturers do: length of warranty.

ask yourself; do wd, seagate, etc., base their hard drive warranties on how many platters the drive has? i can't say for sure, but i'd guess not, so why ignore what they are doing with warranties.
Unfortunately longer warranties are offered as a demand from the sales/marketing team not as a result of engineering/QA/Actuaries.

Note that the same basic internals are used in the WD Black and Blue drives but the Black has a 5 year warranty and the Blue Has a 3 year warranty.

They take some of the purchase price and hold it back as though it is insurance premiums to defray the cost of replacing drives in the 4th and 5th year.

http://www.wdc.com/en/company/releases/ ... 106e24ad79 shows that they implemented the longer warranty period back in 2005 but we know that they have had significant failures of drives since then. http://products.wdc.com/library/matrix/ ... 771112.pdf gives a good overview as well.

WD and Seagate both had major problems with 1TB, 1.5TB, and 2TB drives. The drives below 1TB were more reliable on average. In the case of the high capacity drives more platters are a problem but in addition around the 1TB+ mark they had problems with firmware issues and compatibility issues. It's too early to say with certainty but 2.5 and 3TB drives now will probably be just as risky as 2TB was then and newer 1-2 TB drives with fewer platters and years of fixing problems under their belts will probably be more reliable.

It pays in the HD arena to avoid the newest highest capacity drives.
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danimal
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Re: HDD Reliability - Best Buys? Musts to Avoid?

Post by danimal » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:29 pm

the thought had occurred to me that higher prices are set at that level in order to pay for warranty repairs, but the problem with that logic is that if it was a profitable approach, all drive manufacturers would still be doing it... most are not, because their hardware can't stand up for the duration of the warranty period.

wd black warranty is 5 years, wd blue warranty is 3 years, the performance/power numbers are radically different, i don't see any evidence that the internals are all the same parts.

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