Are consumer drives more reliable than enterprise-grade devices?

An ongoing study by a cloud service provider indicates that enterprise-focused hard drives from manufacturer Seagate are more likely to fail than consumer hard drives from Western Digital or Hitachi.

Backblaze has more than 34, 881 drives storing a total of more than 100 petabytes of data involved in its study. Because the company was bootstrapped without funding, initially it was designed around data redundancy, which allowed it to use consumer drives in its early storage pods. Later it added enterprise drives

“The surprising (and bad) news is that Seagate 3.0 TB drives are failing a lot more, with their failure rate jumping from nine per cent to 15 per cent,” according to a blog on the company’s site. “The Western Digital 3 TB drives have also failed more, with their rate going up from four per cent to seven per cent.”

All the Hitachi Drives, Seagate 1.5 TB and 4.0 TG and Western Digitakl 1.0 TB continue to perform well.

So does this mean that you should be buying consumer drives instead?

Backblaze has two answers to that question:

1) Today on Amazon, a Seagate 3 TB “enterprise” drive costs $235 versus a Seagate 3 TB “desktop” drive costs $102. Most of the drives we get have a three-year warranty, making failures a non-issue from a cost perspective for that period.

However, even if there were no warranty, a 15 per cent  annual failure rate on the consumer “desktop” drive and a 0 per cent failure rate on the “enterprise” drive, the breakeven would be 10 years, which is longer than we expect to even run the drives for.

2) The assumption that “enterprise” drives would work better than “consumer” drives has not been true in our tests. BackBlaze analyzed both of these types of drives in its system and found that their failure rates were very similar — with the “consumer” drives actually being slightly more reliable.



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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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