Backblaze publishes latest figures for its lifetime HDD failure rates


TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Backblaze added 4,403 hard drives to its lifetime HDD reliability chart and reported an increase in their annualized failure rate, which now stands at 1.73 percent as compared to 1.70 percent in its last quarter.

The latest data accounts for HDDs that were in service as of September 30, 2019, with Backblaze skipping a quarterly report this time. The reason behind it, says the company, was the increasing number of data integrity checks that could have potentially dragged future HDD failures into this quarter.

"In late June, we decided to increase the rate of the shard integrity checks across the data farm to cause the checks to run as often as possible on a given drive while still maintaining the drive’s performance. We increased the frequency of the shard integrity checks to account for the growing number of larger-capacity drives that had been deployed recently."

Nevertheless, Backblaze says that for a given drive model, the number of drive failures over its lifetime should not increase and that it's possible that "the shard integrity checks did nothing to increase the number of drive failures that occurred in Q3."

Even though it found the quarterly failure rates to not "vary wildly from previous quarters," the company didn't feel comfortable publishing them at this time and only put out the following chart:

The latest figures see a drop in drive count of the Seagate 4TB (ST4000DM000) model as well as its AFR percentage. Though it still remains the highest at 2.67 percent, dropping by 0.05 from its previously reported AFR value of 2.72 percent.

Meanwhile, the HGST 12TB (HUH721212ALN604) model, which was the least failing drive as per the last report, saw a minor bump of 0.10 percent to its AFR, increasing it to 0.47 percent. Its 4TB (HMS5C4040BLE640) sibling is now the least failing drive by the narrowest of margins.

For the next quarterly stats, we can expect the Q4 chart as well. Backblaze says that it will now internally track two different groups of drives. One group will comprise of disks that "went through the wormhole," referring to models that were subjected to its accelerated shard integrity checks, while the second group will consist of drives put in service after these checks were reduced.

The company will "compare these two datasets to see if there was indeed any effect of the increased shard integrity checks on the Q3 hard drive failure rates."

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TS Booster
Here we see that Seagate still has higher rates of failure across the board. Crazy to see that this is still an issue they struggle with.


TS Addict
Right after WD bought HGST I purchased a 2TB (lowest failure) HGST and stuck it in the wife's machine. I believe it lasted a month or so. She was backing up her CDs and LP wav files on to it so all her old DVD and CD storage (about 4 years work on playing and editing LPs and ripping the 3000 or so audio and video CDs she owns) organized and web researched for covers and icons. She was just about done when it failed. I still haven't heard the end of that one and it has been years. Note: She was storing stuff with Microsoft on her Zune account before that. That went well until...well Microsoft.


TS Booster
The problem is with Seagate's 3.5-inch SATA desktop drives, though. In my experience, their portable 2.5-inch drives are actually pretty reliable.