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Size means everything when it comes to hard-drives

by on03 February 2023

Study concludes that it is not just how you use it

A new report claims that when it comes to drive stability and avoiding failure -- the bigger the better.

A research report from cloud storage provider Backblaze into the hard drive failure rates for 2022 confirms the age of a drive is a key indicator for foretelling possible failure but only an 8TB Seagate (model: ST8000NM000A) had zero failures.

The report concludes that larger drives—12TB, 14TB, and 16TB—fail less frequently than smaller capacity versions. The annualised failure rate (AFR) for HDDs increased significantly from 1.01 percent in 2021 to 1.37 percent in 2022.

Backblaze chief cloud storage evangelist Andy Klein said that his company had 236,608 HDDs in use at the end of 2022, including 4,299 boot drives and 235,608 data drives. Backclaze excluded the boot units and 388 of the data HDDs from the analysis because they had either been used for testing or had a fleet size of fewer than 60 units. That left a total of 230,921 HDDs studied.

 "In our Q2 2022 and Q3 2022 quarterly Drive Stats reports, we noted an increase in the overall AFR from the previous quarter and attributed it to the aging fleet of drives, but is that the case?" Klien asked.

Every size (apart from 16TB drives) showed an increase in AFR between 2021 and 2022 when higher capacity HDDs—12TB, 14TB, and 16TB—were compared against smaller ones—4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB.

The AFR for small drives stood at 2.12 per cent, significantly higher than the 1.37 per cent increase for all HDDs in 2022. Additionally, even though smaller units only made up 28.7 per cent of drive days in 2022, they were responsible for 44.5 per cent of drive failures.

Although smaller drives failed more frequently last year, they were also older. The oldest hard disk examined, a 6TB Seagate (ST6000DX000), had an average age of 92.5 months. Its AFR in 2021 was 0.11 percent, while in 2022, it was 0.68 percent.

Seagate and Toshiba had the highest failure rate. However, most Seagate units were significantly older than the other HDDs. The firm expects to replace the older drives with 16TB and larger hard drives in 2023, which means that its 4TB drives and the 6TB Seagate drives are probably on their way out.


Last modified on 03 February 2023
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