Seagate hard drives exhibit surprisingly high failures rates in reliability test, Hitachi leads the pack

Backblaze, the makers of a cloud-based online backup service, has released the results of a hard drive reliability test for three leading manufacturers. The findings indicate two winners and one clear loser.

In terms of annual failure rates, Seagate led the way with, on average, almost 14% of their 1.5 terabyte drives failing within the first year. The failure rates of Seagate's 3TB and 4TB drives, while lower, still led all other manufacturers. A failure, according to Backblaze, constitutes having to replace a drive in a server pod.

While Western Digital followed closely behind, Hitachi drives still demonstrated a clear advantage with a lower than 2% percentage failure rate across their 2, 3, and 4TB offerings.

The results of the test are based on a wide range of models from all manufacturers, but Backblaze singled out the Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB drive as a particularly poor performer, exhibiting only an average age of 0.8 years.

In terms of the 36 month survival rate for each manufacturer, the order of results remained largely the same. After a noticeable amount of failures in the first few months, Hitachi and Western Digital held steady, suggesting that hard drives that survive the first year unscathed will likely serve users well in the future.

Seagate products, in comparison, experienced a number of precipitous drops during the 36 month study. By the end, only 73.5% of their drives had made it to the 36 month mark, a poor showing indeed.

Do your experiences support Blackblaze's findings? Let us know in the comments. Also, thanks to Odom for the news tip.

Source & Images: Backblaze

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I had an IBM before the death star days and that thing lasted forever. It even made it through the Windows 98 formatting for performance days. I have had plenty of Maxtor, Western Digital, and Seagate. They all sucked compared to IBM/Hitachi. They were horrible for performance and died. Seagate for me was the second best. That was all about ten years ago. After my experience I stuck with IBM/Hitachi and have bought a lot of their drives in the past ten years. They are all still spinning. It all depends on the time you buy the hard drive. The IBMs were bad during a period of time and the others have had their times they were manufactured bad too. Always use the ratings when you buy a hard drive so that way you know how they are for those batches for that period of time.

Hmm?

I believe I have WD's in all 9 computers and the newest one is like 7 years old now!! I think every computer I've ever had, has had a WD in it and I've never had a hard drive failure.

hmmm no mention of Samsung hdds in here i;ve got 2 500GB ones in an raid 0 array working for 4 years now never skipped a beat I do also have a real seagate hdd in the way of an 545MB one that still fires up when plugged in and chugs along with win 95osr 2 installed noisy as though i've also got a couple of quantum bigfoot 1.2GB hdds that still work fine see built back when QA meant something nowadays the Q in QA stands for Quick not Quality and the A now stands for As not assurance

I've had 3 Seagate HDD's fail on me in the last 5 to 6 years. Have to actually sit and count just how many WD drives I have, but only 1 has failed so far.

Hitachi has also been really good for me; I still have 2 laptop HDD's from way back in 2005 that I now use with external casings. Both are working flawlessly without even a single bad sector.

I still have a 320 GB Seagate drive that I use for virtual machines. HD Sentinel says it's 100% healthy and I got it in 2006.

I'm not surprised.

Seagate hard drives have always failed me.
My Dell XPS came with Seagate hard drive which went through three replacements before Dell finally put in a Hitachi which is working perfectly even through 2014.

Not shocked, whenever i have to fix a laptop and its got a faulty HDD i always think oh god i bet its a Seagate and it almost always is!

Seagate are a pile of trash. They had 5 year warranties to try lure customers back, but now that they're down to a much lower term, yet the drives are still utter garbage. Drive after drive has failed.

I've found Hitachi drives to be the best in terms of reliability and warranty period. They will always be a preferred drive to me.

Sounds about right, but i'm a bit surprised that Hitachi is that good (or maybe it's just not used as much?)

OEM western digital hdds have high failure rates also. The OEM raptor drivers have cheap motors in them. Thus doesn't differentiate between OEM drives and retail. The OEM drives are usually made with cheaper parts.

Whenever I replace a fried hard drive I use Western Digital Blue or Black. They usually never fail again. Seagate and Toshiba hard drives have the biggest failure rate in my experience.

I stopped trusting them whenever they had that... what was it... a 5 year warranty on their drives? That to me just didn't sit right. And of course, that warranty was actually put to use. That's how I discovered they had great customer service at least.

Though, having done a quick Google search, it seems others weren't so lucky with their CS...

I had a bad WD and a Samsung in recent memory.

I had a kalok that lasted forever and ran so hot you could fry an egg on it. :-)

Which makes sense, as some people have loyalty to certain brands. I've always used WD myself, but Hitachi's drive fitness diagnostics were one of my go-to tools at least.

Funny timing, I was talking to a former co-worker just yesterday about hard drives. He has gone through at least three Seagate 1.5 TB drives in his WHS box in the last year. I believe it started out as sector allocation errors and progressed to total failure. RMA's twice, same issue within months. Different mobo/ram/cpu combinations and still kept happening.

I have been using WD for all my system builds since day one and will continue to use them on my next system build. I have a pair of old 160GB Seagate HDD external USB 2.0 that date back to 2007 (Part #9BD862-560). These drives use an AC Adapter to run at 12 VDC and power brick to run them. They have served me well for backups. They only get turned on when I need to backup important files such as programs about once a week for the last 7 years. I bought them at Walmart for $110 apiece. You can pick one up on ebay for $9.99

>>Seagate hard drives exhibit surprisingly high failures rates in reliability test, Hitachi leads the pack

I once a bought an external 100GB Seagate external drive USB 2.0 for $100 that was notorious for having a bad HDD controller. This was also 2007. I was only able to connect once and only once to transfer files. I ended up taking the drive out of the case, installing it in a desktop, and trashing the case and the HDD controller. This explains the 90 day warranty. I took it that Seagate didn't have much faith in the product they produced. Lesson learned. The drive still functions though.

Edited by ReimondX, Jan 22 2014, 6:32pm :

I used to love Lacie external drives, but since Seagate bought them out, I have to refrain from purchasing their products.

I'll say I bought 35 WD drives and 20 Seagates in my lifetime. I've RMA'd probably 5 of each, so seagates did fail more often but nothing startling.

I did get bitrot quite frequently on seagates over WD though. Since the hitachi/toshiba switch I have few if any issues. Seeing how both WD and seagate were in the pockets of NSA, I Wonder if 'deliberate' drive fail happened to encourage RMA?? tin-foil hat on!

I had two Seagate 1.5TB drives that died within 36-months.

Also, from the title I thought Hitachi was the worst until I read the article.

I have had many western digital drives and never had a problem, recently i bought a seagate 2TB and after a few months it had 8 bad sectors.

It looks like the Seagate models hail from the 11th generation of Barracudas which were notorious for failing. That was around the time Seagate acquired Maxtor as well and Maxtor's hard drives weren't known for being troopers.

This is a very damaging report for Seagate.
I wonder what influence it will have on sales in the following months and what measures they will adopt to mitigate or circumvent the report findings.

There were 3 red flags with Seagate:

1. They bought Maxtor. I had a few Maxtors back in the day and they all failed. YMMV, but they were crap too me.
2. They started manufacturing drives in China. I don't give a damn what statistic say. Anything made in China is most likely low quality, garbage.
3. They reduced their warranties. Seems too me they don't have much confidence in their own product.

There has been a race to the bottom with consumer electronics in general for years now. Everything is being designed with planned obsolescence and little QC. They'd rather churn our tons of product and deal with the defects as they're sent back, VS paying for things to be properly inspected/tested before leaving the factory. Customer satisfaction isn't a priority like it used to be.

SSD's seem like the way forward, but they're going to have to get to at least 500GB for $200 before I'll start buying them. At the rate companies are milking price per GB currently, it'll be about 2~3 years wait for me. The whole limited read/write cycle thing worries me but maybe that will get resolved someday. I don't see the point in buying one for OS and offloading data to a conventional HDD. Sure the OS and apps may boot/load faster, but when you have plenty of RAM, once the system boots, whats the advantage? All your data is being accessed from the same slow HDD. My PC runs 24x7, so boot time means crap too me.

I always use Western Digital hard drives. I trust them plus I really like their RMA procedure. I hate seagate's RMA procedure.

Interesting. I totally forgot about Hitachi. Though these days I am almost completely SSD except for a HDD in an external enclosure used as a "junk" drive. I use a 512GB 840 Pro as my primary drive and a 1TB 840 EVO as my storage.

Interesting statistics. I'm making the switch to SSDs, so would like to see how SSD failure rate fairs compared to HDDs. Seagate failure rates are unacceptable and they should make a recall of all these hard drives. It's people's lives stored in those 1.5Tb hard disks.

Bought a Seagate 2tb drive a few years back that failed within two weeks, not bought from them since... It's weird, because Seagate bought Maxtor many years ago, and I've still got Maxtor drives that work beautifully (I was using a 2005 Maxtor drive until two weeks ago when it got replaced, in fact), you'd have thought some of the reliability would've stuck around...
I think all my newer drives are WD, and I have a Toshiba SSD.

For me personally theses statistics look very strange.
I've been using only WD and Seagate hdds over the years and the fail rate of WD were so high that i changed strictly to Seagate only.
For many years now, all my drives are Seagate and for all my family/relatives/friends systems i suggest Seagate and did not have a single complaint.

That because the drive there ref to is no longer being made by Seagate which know Barracuda Green Drive which was is just as bad as the Western Digital Green Drive.

I had 3 Seagate drives and all of them failed. WD, I think one of them failed. I had a Hitachi Deskstar which didn't fail outright but eventually made noises and performed poorly. Of all hardware I bought, hard drives have the worst reliability of all, followed by graphics cards and then motherboards.

CPUs, on the other hand, are freaking awesome. I would trust my life on them.

Of all hardware I bought, hard drives have the worst reliability of all, followed by graphics cards and then motherboards.

in my case PSU's are the most failure prone for me be it a good brand or a cheap brand (i had 3 die on me(2 in my current main PC and one in my old PC), but this time i got a Seasonic with a 5 year warranty as they always seem to fail a bit after the warranty is up so hopefully i don't have issues this time as i heard Seasonic is reliable). i only had 1 hard drive die on me and that was a IBM 40GB and that was over a decade ago. i never had issues with GPU's or especially Motherboards as i would assume those are rock solid (but i only had got 2 motherboards over the years and they are both ASUS brand). i had at least 5+ GPU's over the years and did not have any issues with them failing (i try to thoroughly blow out the PC about twice a year though(at least once) with the air compressor to get all of the heavy dust off the CPU/GPU etc)

other than the PSU and Hard Drive i mentioned above... just one DVD burner died on me as while it still writes DVD single layer discs fine it fails on dual layers (both discs are Verabtim so they are a good brand) and DVD+RW media. but i got a couple newer DVD burners and they are fine so far. but even the one that did die had quite a bit of use on it and overall i was happy with it. other than that DVD burner the last time i had one fail on me was back in the earlier CD-RW drive days.

CPUs, on the other hand, are freaking awesome. I would trust my life on them.

Yeah, i doubt anyone complains about those as those failing have to be rare assuming they are cooled properly.

There's nothing surprising about it. Seagate drives suck, and they have always sucked. I try one about every five years, and I always regret the purchase.

jwmcpeak said,
There's nothing surprising about it. Seagate drives suck, and they have always sucked. I try one about every five years, and I always regret the purchase.

Seagate hard drives didn't always suck. Their problems started with the 7200.11 series. All of the different sizes experienced an increased failure rate over the 7200.10 series. The 1-TB 7200.11 had the highest failure rate. I had four of them. All four failed within six months. Every model and every size drive is different and has differing failure rates. Note that the chart only shows WD Blue drives, their low end. WD Black drives have a 5 year warranty. Outside of one DOA, I have never had a WD Black drive fail in under 5 years. The latest models also have increased data transfer rates (HD Tune), something that Seagate had excelled at.

Other than the Seagate 7200.11 series the other worst hard drive was the old IBM 40-GB Deskstar, with a very high failure rate. Even when the 40-GB Deskstar didn't fail it often sounded like a jet engine turbine. What a piece of garbage that was.

seeprime said,

Seagate hard drives didn't always suck. Their problems started with the 7200.11 series.

/shrug

In my 10+ years in IT (and the ~1,000 of workstations I've deployed), I've seen far more Seagates fail than any other brand. They've never been reliable. Ever.

I have a 1TB WD for almost 5 years now, that I use daily to store downloaded videos and other stuff. That hard-drive has seen so much write/read/delete operations, I'm amazed it has survived so long! And it's still perfect, no errors, nothing.

The important key to keep the hdd in good shape and last longer is to have good cooling directly to it. I have been using all Seagate hdd in all my computer, and never have any issue.

LogicalApex said,
Google debunked the cooling myth with HDDs years ago. Their results suggested that excessive cooling is actually bad for HDDs.

It depends on the temperature, some drives can run at 70-80°C if the chassis has poor ventilation or too many of them are crammed next to each other and they will die much sooner if not cooled properly. Years ago I built several computers with Maxtor drives in it, drives that had even crazier temperatures even when installed alone, all of them kept dying except the ones where I made sure the HDD trays always had a fan in front of them (most of those drives still work nowadays). That study isn't representative of the problem since it was performed on servers-grade hardware, it only lists temperatures that are still in the average working range and doesn't offer details on higher temperatures (50 is still an average temperature for a desktop drive).

Edited by francescob, Jan 22 2014, 4:44pm :

MDboyz said,
Yeah but the key word in that research is 'excessive'. They probably means sub zero cooling or so. I do not think fan cooling the hdd is bad.

Reading the study would be helpful as they have a sample size far larger than anyone on here... By excessive cooling I was meaning anything that isn't keeping the drive from the most extreme of temps. None of our homes are as hot as a data center with 50K servers in it...

Overall our experiments can confirm previously reported temperature effects only for the high end of our
temperature range and especially for older drives. In the
lower and middle temperature ranges, higher tempera-
tures are not associated with higher failure rates.
This is
a fairly surprising result, which could indicate that data-
center or server designers have more freedom than pre-
viously thought when setting operating temperatures for
equipment that contains disk drives. We can conclude
that at moderate temperature ranges it is likely that there
are other effects which affect failure rates much more
strongly than temperatures do.

Source: Google HDD Study

I highly recommend you read it instead of just commenting. It has a lot of interesting information on HDD failure issues. The overall information that you can glean (if you need a TL/DR version) is that age is the most important factor in HDD failure rates. Drives fail most often when they are very young and very old.

But as you can see just right before the part you evidenced it says "In the lower and middle temperature ranges". If you look at the ranges you can see that those are still in the working temperature range of an HDD. Only 60°C and above is out of the working range and many drives can reach that temperature just by the lack of ventilation even when mounted in a case with no other drives installed.

Used to use Seagate a while ago but had some issues... Now using WD and haven't had a reason to look back!!

Personally I always buy Seagate or sometimes Hitachi; the WD drives I've had have been incredibly unreliable. My brother has had the exact opposite experience and only buys WD.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Personally I always buy Seagate or sometimes Hitachi; the WD drives I've had have been incredibly unreliable. My brother has had the exact opposite experience and only buys WD.

The best thing I can say about Seagate is their customer service is excellent when you're under warranty. Not sure about WD though, since I've never had to use their customer service, which I suppose is a good thing.

macoman said,
Didn't know Hitachi were so good, my next hdd will be from Hitachi. I currently have WD and not issues so far.

Always check the reviews on Amazon and Newegg before buying any HDD, just because a brand is statistically better than another it doesn't mean that there can still be models that are complete garbages (e.g. some WD greens or those self-bricking Seagate series).

francescob said,

Always check the reviews on Amazon and Newegg before buying any HDD, just because a brand is statistically better than another it doesn't mean that there can still be models that are complete garbages (e.g. some WD greens or those self-bricking Seagate series).

I always check on reviews and that's why I went with WD, however I was just checked now Hitachi and for my surprise it is owned by WD.... that's great! lol

DeskStars are crap as well. We call then DeathStars at work. Junk HDs....

Never really had a problem with Seagate myself. WDs are solid drives for the most part. I keep good backups anyway.

Edited by techbeck, Jan 22 2014, 3:47pm :

Yup. What cracks me up is people like to blame the hardware for their loss of data and they don't have any backups. Even when hardware fails, not necessarily an issue with the hardware itself.

I know those were extremely terrible when IBM was doing them. I thought Hitachi had improved them greatly though.

That said I still use Western Digital and rarely have problems with them. I have some WD drives running 5+ years.

Mind, the "Death Star" name came from when they were made by IBM (and the drive heads had a propensity to crash into the platters)

techbeck said,
DeskStars are crap as well. We call then DeathStars at work. Junk HDs....

Uh.

That, and that name, happened to the 75GXP series in 2001. This was now 13 years ago, before Windows XP was released.

Much has happened since then. Besides fixing the problem a long time ago, IBM doesn't even own Hitachi anymore, but Hitachi has been sold to Western Digital.

I think it's time to move on to grand new frontiers at your work. Did you notice that Windows Vista was released a while ago? ;-)

Northgrove said,

Uh.

That happened to the 75GXP series in 2001. This was now 13 years ago, before Windows XP was released.

Much has happened since then. IBM doesn't even own Hitachi anymore, but Hitachi has been sold to Western Digital.

Ive always had problems with them. Doesnt matter what year or who now makes them.

adrynalyne said,
The Deathstar was the only HDD I have had fail on me. This was back in the IBM days though. Click o' death....

Haha. I was trying to remember if I had ever come into contact with an IBM Desk Star until I read your reply and saw Click o' death. That brought back the memories. We used to use Dell Computers for our client machines at an old Job and they all had IBM Desk Stars. My biggest dread was when a client would call and say the machine was having problems and you could hear the machine in the background with the hard drive clicking away. The answer to the next question of "Do you have a good backup?" was always a pain point as well. Ah the memories.

techbeck said,

Ive always had problems with them. Doesnt matter what year or who now makes them.

I've had several Hitachi with no issues. Both Seagate and Western Digitals I've had good and bad experiences with.