Study: A Look At Hard Drive Reliability In Russia

The Durability Standard

The Durability Standard

The majority of all hard drives sold worldwide are produced by just six manufacturers: Fujitsu/Toshiba, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. In order to determine which of these vendors sell the most durable products, Storelab evaluates the hard drives they receive for recovery, as well as the economical losses failures cause customers. In this particular study, more than 4000 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives are included. Storelab also compares the number of defective drives received by different manufacturers with their respective market shares. One has to keep in mind that failure rates will appear higher for popular manufacturers. A substantial difference between market share and the proportion of failed drives can indicate higher or lower product durability.

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. It reflects only a very tiny fraction of the hard drive market. Drives are taken from analysis made during the recovery process, and there aren't specific test groups. It covers different form factors and different product lines, etc. Think of this analysis as an overview on reliability that might apply to the hard drives in your home city. Results very likely differ somewhere else.

Based on the graphs, we see that failures and market shares only partially correlate. The largest percentage difference can be seen with the market leader, Seagate, where its failure rate of over 56% is almost twice as high as its 31% market share. Even though Seagate reports a 40% market share within the Russian market, from which Storelab pulls its data set, the difference is still very noticeable. The other five manufacturers show proportional failure rates below their market shares. In particular, Hitachi and Western Digital are almost 11% lower, at least suggesting higher durability and reliability. Again, this only applies to this limited sets of drives in this specific environment.

The second key durability indicator is the average age of hard drives at their time of failure. Again, we see large differences between the various manufacturers, as well as between specific models. A hard drive's future durability is difficult to predict during development. Engineers cannot do much more than perform laboratory tests and simulate the effects of temperature, pressure, vibration, etc. These setups are never capable of identifying all possible design flaws, especially since the tests cannot be run for the full time periods the drives are designed to operate. Instead, a failure-free test period of around one and a half years is considered a good enough yardstick for the durability of the hard drive's design and construction.

As you can see from the Storelab-provided table (complete with Russian titles), Hitachi wins in terms of long-term reliability for 500 GB models. These drives operated for an average of five years, at least half a year longer than those of Western Digital. The values for Seagate's 7200.10- and 7200.11-series were separated to give a more fair representation. Keep in mind that a new product line can potentially turn the results upside down. We're looking at a snapshot of the hard drive market last year.

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  • mi1ez
    The majority of all hard drives sold worldwide are produced by just six manufacturers: Fujitsu/Toshiba, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital.

    Erm... That's 5...
  • hollett
    These figures are totally irrelevant. you can not compair the drives sent in to be representitive of the market. For example the people who use data recoverty services are not the owners of low cost computers but more likly to be enterprise drives. WD do not even manufature SAS drives, while Seagate are the market leader in this area, so this would explain the large disparity in the figures.
  • mi1ez
    These drives operated for an average of five years, at least half a year longer than those of Western Digital.
    Graph shows 1.5years. 3.5years and 5years gives 1.5years difference.
  • smalltime0
    mi1ezErm... That's 5...

    I'm guessing Tom's is counting Toshiba and Fujitsu as seperate as they were 5 years ago when this trial was seems to have started.
  • Anonymous
    Interestingly, the Air Jordan shoe suffers from a high rate of spindle slip and a resultant electromagnetic dither that is reproducible in the lab.

    Is this what you were getting at sssooo?

    Or are you just a worthless spammer?
  • astrowhiz
    hollett - the Seagate 7200.## series aren't SAS drives. All the drives in the survey are consumer devices. I would guess that if storelab had included enterprise and network storage specific drives they could have made the sample size much larger.
    Strangely enough Seagates enterprise HD's are excellent products I've found. Maybe the two divisions need some tech sharing.
  • hollett
    @ Astrowhiz. The total sales figures they use don't specify if they include just consumer or all drives. So I would assume all drives. Also Seagate 7200 NS is a popular Tier 2 or Near Line Storage SATA drive. Although the firmware on the 7200.10 was shocking.
  • Solitaire
    Wheee!! If Toms aren't shilling Hitachi like the world was about to end then they're really not picking good articles to hint at any concept of impartiality :o

    Annoying Fact: Drives sent to data recovery firms are not there for a holiday. Their users have mission-critical data on them that needs to be retrieved, and its not cheap. Not one bit. Therefore the bulk of 3.5" drives and quite a few 2.5" drives going through such a company will be enterprise or server drives which have feck-all to do with standard desktop models. So this article has no bearing on regular users.

    Except to shill Hitachi drives, that is.

    Amusing footnote: Through experience in the industry, in the domestic space the F1 and particularly F3 drive lines from Samsung seem least failure prone. WD on the other hand are pretty bad, especially with older and higher-capacity drives. And Hitachi's newer high-capacity 3.5" HDDs are the worst of the lot, with a good few enthusiasts who went on Hitachi's brand name getting burned big-time :o
  • tritono9
    wow, I have three 1 TB WD Caviar Black and tomorrow I will need to buy another. 4 TB of WD. I just wish that this HDs dont fail because I work with media and I have huge storage files... f*ck, wish me luck. The good thing is that I never had a problem with my HDs, I have two for like two years now. :\
  • Anonymous
    Seriously? "Let's take a look at HD reliability in *Russia*" ?

    Coming next week. an intimate examination of whether users in Outer Mongolia prefer MS or Logitech mice.

    Obviously filling your quota of articles there......