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hard drives

PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:30 pm
by ejonesss
in another topic it was mentioned that some hard drives are not as good quality

viewtopic.php?t=64085

rather than cluttering up that topic with the hard drive topics i will ask here

what is the failure mode if they fail? does sectors start failing or does it one day stop showing up on the desktop or what?

i do know there was some horror stories of bad firmware but i think that only applied to raid setup data loss between western digital and osx mavericks

is it only externals or are internals showing problems?

if externals are failing does putting the drive internally or into a different enclosure help?

does anyone know of any quality hard drives?

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:57 am
by MrFredPFL
my comments were about internal drives, i have little experience with externals.

in most cases, the failure is catastrophic and complete. the drive is gone.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:13 am
by Lee1001
If its Windows and there is enough free space on the HD you can reinstall on a new partition,then do searches for your files that you lost,ie if you want to find your"my documents"do a seach for 1 item that was in it,when it's found open it's location and the whole"my docs" should be there,then add it to your bookmarks/favourites and you can then transfer to external HD,repeat same for others ie photo's,video,music ect.It recently worked for me.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:18 am
by HouseCrowd
External drives are usually just encased internals, so the reliability and failure rate will generally be the same, assuming of course that the external drive isn't going to be moved around much. In practice, external drives are more likely to be exposed to knocks and rough handling, which can significantly increase their failure rate.

I think incorrect handling has a large part to play in the early demise of most mechanical drives. Modern hard drives rely on precision engineering and extremely close tolerances for the heads to correctly float and the platters to spin at high speed with minimal vibration and resistance. Any significant jolt in the early life of a hard drive (such as it may receive from a careless courier or air-freight handler) that isn't sufficient to cause the drive to be DOA, could still result internal movement and/or deformations that cause greater strain and wear, resulting in a shortened service life.

I think this is probably why there's such a difference of opinion and experience when you ask about hard drive failure rates. Over the many years I've built and repaired PCs, I've bought hundred - and worked with thousands - of hard drives. In my own experience, apart from a few periods where batches of hard drives (like the notorious IBM/Hitachi Deskstar drives, for example) had known design/manufacturing flaws, I find that premature failure is quite rare. I also find WD to be one of the most reliable makes of HDD, contrary to what some people seem to be experiencing. In fact, I buy more WD HDDs than any other make. If I had to pick a make of HDD that had the most failures, for me that would be Seagate, though the difference in reliability is marginal and more to do with a recent spate of failures rather than an all-time failure rate.

Also, in the majority of cases, I find that data is recoverable -- though not always, so you should always keep backups of course. In my experience, most drives fail partially or slowly and, if the symptoms are spotted early enough, 90%+ of the data is recoverable. In the cases where the failure is sudden (typically resulting in a drive that the system no longer recognises), the cause is often firmware related. In such cases I've usually managed to recover data (when necessary) by resorting to flashing the firmware directly at board-level.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:51 am
by MrFredPFL
a couple of questions, HC. if careless handling is the cause, why wasn't that also applicable years ago?

and u say u find WD to "one of the most reliable" makers of HDs. when it comes to internal PC drives, who else is there besides seagate and WD? am i missing something here?

i have not kept stats, but there's no doubt in my mind that hard drives tend to fail sooner than they used to.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:36 pm
by HouseCrowd
MrFredPFL wrote:a couple of questions, HC. if careless handling is the cause, why wasn't that also applicable years ago?

Maybe it was.

I don't doubt your experiences, but I find them more reliable these days, not less. Certainly they're much more common-place these days, which means more users will experience more failures, but after factoring that in, I'm not sure there's a great deal of difference ... not in my experience at least.

Assuming that some people are seeing more failures than others now, poor handling may well be the reason still. The higher platter spin speeds, greater density and tighter tolerances will no doubt make newer drives more fragile than the old drives. It's also possible that drives take a more 'treacherous' journey to some parts of the world than others, receiving jolts that older drives were perhaps more able to withstand.

MrFredPFL wrote:and u say u find WD to "one of the most reliable" makers of HDs. when it comes to internal PC drives, who else is there besides seagate and WD? am i missing something here?

I believe Tosh are still manufacturing, are they not? But you're right, there's not many makers now -- just those 3 in fact I think. I actually said 'makes' though, and by which I meant brands -- apologies for the ambiguity -- and I'm also including recent years in my experiences of 'newer drives', when more brands were still manufacturing. And even though few of the remaining brands actually manufacture the drives these days, it's likely their drives undergo some amount of brand customisation, even if that's just a few firmware tweaks.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:09 pm
by Drake
Here are some interesting stats from BackBlaze:
http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/wh ... 1&at_pos=0

Personally, I like WD drives the best.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:11 pm
by MrFredPFL
interesting stuff there, drake - thanks :) . my bad, it would appear i have been unfair to WD in particular, but not drives in general.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:06 am
by HouseCrowd
Hey Drake! :howdy:


I agree hard drive reliability in general could be better. Although, considering the underlying physics of mechanical drives and the incredible manufacturing precision required to make them work -- especially the later, high-capacity drives -- I'm always amazed they ever work at all. I think it's a waste of effort trying to improve mechanical hard drives now though; what we really need is better, cheaper solid state solutions.

I've been trying to find some statistics to support your experience, Fred. Not that I don't believe you, I'm just genuinely interested how new drive reliability compares on the whole with the drives of old. And I'm curious why it might be that some people experience more failures than others -- though I still think that my drive handling theory may have something to do with it.

Old HDD vs new HDD reliability comparison stats seem a bit thin on the ground. I'm struggling to find any information either way. One thing that does seem to crop up a lot when searching though is strong criticism of BlackBlaze's test results:
http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/6028/ ... index.html
http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/s ... rch-1.html

On the whole though I would agree with the conclusion of BlackBlaze's test results. From a brand comparison point of view at least, I'd say the results roughly reflect my own experiences, even if the way they conducted the tests is somewhat flawed or in question.


There is one more possible explanation of course though Fred: Do you perhaps store a lot more Prince mp3 files on your hard drives these days than you once did? :wink:

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:14 am
by MrFredPFL
is 0 > 0?

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:43 pm
by IneptVagrant
If your still talking hard drives, then sure.

0 is a space, and 1 is a different space. And there is a space in there that is indeterminate, successive reads may result in different values.

|------------0-------------|----indeterminate---|----------1----------|

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:54 pm
by sunnyd
Since when does Prince music qualify for measurement on any scale? :wink: :P

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:56 pm
by zbeast
Let me first off start of by saying, hard drives are a commodity product.
They are made by the millions and being that so may are made, there's bound to be a bad batch.

There are also some manufactures that just can't make a good hard drives.
Maxtor was one of these makers they are now out of business.

Even my favorite hard drive maker made has some dog drives.
Seagate... they shipped drives with the wrong surface lubricant resulting in the drive heads sticking to the platters.
They shipped drives with bad firmware, which resulted in the drive writing data to the platters at the
wrong current level and the drive self erasing.

But that's not the question your asking.
Here's list of common failures across all drives and brands.
1) write head failure.. (heads are small and fragile and they sometimes just fall off.)
2) bearing failure. (drives spin and spin for years. at some point the bearings just ware out.
3) Surface defects. (damaged to the disk surface which results in clicks and drive re-cals.)
4) logic board failure. (some chip on the board just blows. rendering the drive dead.)

If you want to know what drives to buy...
spend the extra money on Seagate server class drives. (NAS Drives) or (RED Drives)
Don't buy these "green" drives or any of the "consumer" drives for your personal use.
They are ok to stuff in "other people" hardware but I would not use them in my Nas or even my workstations.
As the drives have a shorter MTBF's and NAS drives when they go bad... I just call up Seagate and order an rma.

If I hear a drive clicking or recaling for any reason, I make a safety backup of that drive and call for an rma.

Are flash drives better than hard drives? Yes and no..
Flash drive are faster but they have limited read and write life's..
So if you use them on let's day a computer where you are running your file trading software.
emule, bit torrent gnutella or any place where your doing lot's of writes you will more than likely
destroy that drive.

Flash drives are also high cost for there capacity.

Seagate 4tb hd. Seagate NAS HDD 4TB SATA 6GB NCQ 64 MB Cache Bare Drive ST4000VN000 $174.99
I can buy these for $140.00 each.
The biggest ssd I could find is 600gb cost is $999.99

I would go broke trying to buy 20tb work of that type of storage. (this is what I currently have in hard drive space)

If your just worried about data reliability . Just buy a nas, or buy a mirroring hardware controller and buy two drives.

it's not worth the time these day's worrying about how drives fail, because no matter how they are made
and who makes them. like everything they will die on you one day.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:25 pm
by bmh67wa
Drake wrote:Here are some interesting stats from BackBlaze:
http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/wh ... 1&at_pos=0


For as new as that blog post is one would think that the author would have spent time to look into the products being tested before coming out with a confusing set of conclusions.

For example, Hitachi was bought by WD in 2011 so the models he was testing are actually WD drives with Hitachi labels.

Samsung's hard drive division was acquired by Seagate in 2011. The drives he tested were Seagate drives with Samsung labeling.

AFAIK the only manufacturers of mechanical hard drives are WD, Toshiba, and Seagate.

I used to swear by Hitachi drives. Dell and HP used them in laptops for years and I rarely ever seen one go bad. Unfortunately I have recently seen two different model Hitachi drives that were less than a year old fail very recently. One could assume rough handling but one of the units was a HTPC that never moved and had plenty of ventilation. Bad luck or poor quality? :shrug:

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:09 pm
by Drake
Hey HouseCrowd, long time no see.

bmh67wa wrote:
Drake wrote:Here are some interesting stats from BackBlaze:
http://blog.backblaze.com/2014/01/21/wh ... 1&at_pos=0


For as new as that blog post is one would think that the author would have spent time to look into the products being tested before coming out with a confusing set of conclusions.

For example, Hitachi was bought by WD in 2011 so the models he was testing are actually WD drives with Hitachi labels.

Samsung's hard drive division was acquired by Seagate in 2011. The drives he tested were Seagate drives with Samsung labeling.

AFAIK the only manufacturers of mechanical hard drives are WD, Toshiba, and Seagate.



Good catch. Maybe they overlooked it or thought that it wasn't worth mentioning because they didn't have too many of those drives. I think Seagate got a bad name when one of their models had a high failure rate. I'm not sure if it's the Seagate Barracuda 7200 (ST31500341AS) 1.5TB but the blog shows that this model has a 25.4% failure rate so this might be the one.

Re: hard drives

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:31 am
by HouseCrowd
Drake wrote:I think Seagate got a bad name when one of their models had a high failure rate. I'm not sure if it's the Seagate Barracuda 7200 (ST31500341AS) 1.5TB but the blog shows that this model has a 25.4% failure rate so this might be the one.


Yeah, that would've been about the time I switched to WD. The problem was likely confined to a few models and a limited number of batches, but it kinda leaves a bad taste that lasts. I used to buy a lot of Seagate drives but I haven't bought one in quite a while now. If I recall correctly, this was the dreaded firmware flaw. I had a few large capacity drives fail without warning. I managed to recover the data on one or two of them though by re-flashing the firmware directly, using the RS232 adaptor method, connected to the board's programming pins.

(Edit: I think this was the repair procedure: https://sites.google.com/site/seagatefix/)

It's probably time I gave Seagate another chance now, but until such time as WD drives become unreliable or uncompetitively priced, I'll probably stick with WD.