HGST Hard Drives the Most Reliable: Backblaze

By Pedro Hernandez

After taking tens of thousands of hard disk drives (HDDs) for a spin, online data backup services provider and cloud storage systems designer Backblaze has crowned HGST as the maker of the most reliable 4 terabyte (TB) HDDs.

"At Backblaze, as of December 31, 2014, we had 41,213 disk drives spinning in our data center, storing all of the data for our unlimited backup service," wrote Brian Beach, distinguished engineer at Backblaze, in a blog post. "That is up from 27,134 at the end of 2013." The majority of the new drives are 4 TB in size, with some 6 TB in the mix.

Seagate's affordable, consumer-grade drives scored well, according to Beach. "The Seagate Desktop HDD.15 has had the best price, and we have a LOT of them. Over [12,000] of them," he said. "The failure rate is a nice low 2.6 percent per year. Low price and reliability is good for business."

HGST's slightly more pricey HDDs came out on top, however.

"The HGST drives, while priced a little higher, have an even lower failure rate, at 1.4 percent. It's not enough of a difference to be a big factor in our purchasing, but when there’s a good price, we grab some," he said. "We have over [12,000] of these drives.

With only 45 drives spinning in a Backblaze Storage Pod, Western Digital's (WD) 4 TB HDDs were essentially a no-show. The reason: simple economics.

"Generally the WD drives were $15-$20 more per drive," claimed Beach. "That's too much of a premium to pay when the Seagate and HGST drives are performing so well."

Taking a step down in terms of storage capacity, Backblaze was also underwhelmed by 3 TB drives on the market. "The HGST Deskstar 5K3000 3 TB drives have proven to be very reliable, but expensive relative to other models (including similar 4 TB drives by HGST)," stated Beach. "The Western Digital Red 3 TB drives annual failure rate of 7.6 percent is a bit high but acceptable."

Backblaze has also begun dabbling in higher-capacity 6 TB HDDs. So far, it's too early to tell how they'll pan out.

"Currently we have 270 of the Western Digital Red 6 TB drives," Beach explained. "The failure rate is 3.1 percent, but there have been only 3 failures. The statistics give a 95 percent confidence that the failure rate is somewhere between 0.1 percent and 17.1 percent."

Backblaze also has 45 Seagate 6 TB SATA 3.5 drives in its environment. For a better sense of how well the 6 TB drives stand up to the rigors of cloud storage, the company to monitor the drives as they age.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on January 26, 2015