Backblaze shares the most and least reliable hard drives of 2018

Greg S

TS Evangelist

For the past five years, Backblaze has published quarterly and annual reports on hard drive failure rates. The annual hard drive failure report is now out for 2018, including statistics on more than 100,000 hard drives. Continuing forward, we will dig in and see what the most reliable hard drive of 2018 was.

To eliminated any outliers, models with less than 50 operating drives can be ignored. There are models shown with zero percent failure rates, but this is a result of small sample size, not an indication of superior reliability. Backblaze suggests only considering drives with more than 50,000 drive days of operation and those with at least 500 drives in the sample.

Compared to 2017, hard drive failure rates are significantly lower. The annualized failure rate for 2018 sits at 1.25 percent, down from 1.77 percent. In 2016, the average failure rate was 1.95 percent, showing that improvements in reliability are steadily being made.

The average hard drive size is the most drastic change between recent years. Backblaze removed Western Digital 4TB drives to replace them with 12TB HGST and Seagate units. Just over 1,200 14TB drives were also added to their data center for the first time. Average capacity grew from 4.5TB in 2016 up to 7.7TB for 2018.

Showing data for just one year is not necessarily a completely accurate picture of how they will fair in the long term. After all, most data centers and individuals want hard drives to last more than a few months. Below is the data aggregated from 2013 through 2018 of all the drives that Backblaze has had operational.

Over the five and a half year span, Seagate makes the most reliable drive. Seagate's 10TB model maintains a failure rate under 0.5 percent with a sample size of more than 1,200 drives, accounting for more than 500,000 days of operation. HGST is next in line with failure rates under 1 percent across all models sampled. Toshiba's newest 14TB helium filled drives had a few premature failures, but the failure rate is expected to go down now that a few defective units have been taken care of.

Western Digital is under represented in much of the data because Backblaze is now buying HGST branded drives instead due to pricing and availability. However, Western Digital is unfortunately the big loser here. The 6TB WD drive had 71 failures out of 458 drives giving it an almost 4 percent failure rate.

Image Credit: Lead via Shutterstock

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toooooot

TS Evangelist
A drive like that costs 550 dollars. And for a mechanical device 3 year warranty is unacceptable. SSD for 550 would work with three year warranty but not HDD. Hard drive manufacturers pretty much say: our quality is mediocre and we simply dont care what happens to our drives after several years.
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
It looks like the 8tb drives became the sweet spot of reliability per tb.

Last year I believe it was the 4tb ones, 3tb was the oddest of them all with the biggest failure rates.
 

JamesSWD

TS Maniac
The WD drive failures are the most alarming. I've used WD's and their Black drives for over a decade, in constant duty service, without any failures. But I've also not needed to buy any drives since that flood or whatever that wiped out their Asian facilities years ago. After that, their drives, and others, took a dive in reliability...but I would have thought that all that would have been rectified by now. I'm wondering if WD has cut corners on their drive quality & reliability since then.
 

Bullwinkle M

TS Addict
For the 2.5" SATA SSD catagory, Crucial MX500 is a complete failure as a USB boot drive

At 1.7 Amps, these drives cause random reboots, lockups, BIOS problems and Garble my Acronis DVD's Boot screen into unreadable garbage as well as cause backup restorations to fail

Samsung Pro series at 1.5 Amps "sometimes" (rarely) cause similar malfunctions and 0.5 Amp laptop drives never cause a problem

So, I guess it depends on what you mean by "Failure"

ALL of these problems disapear when powering the SSD's directly from the power supply instead of the Motherboards USB power
 

Bats Dude

TS Rookie
The WD drive failures are the most alarming. I've used WD's and their Black drives for over a decade, in constant duty service, without any failures. But I've also not needed to buy any drives since that flood or whatever that wiped out their Asian facilities years ago. After that, their drives, and others, took a dive in reliability...but I would have thought that all that would have been rectified by now. I'm wondering if WD has cut corners on their drive quality & reliability since then.
Perhaps you'd like to purchase my 500 gb WD Black that failed the night I installed it? Or maybe the two 500 gb WD Blues that failed in less than five days that I now use for doorstops? WD is garbage!
 

JamesSWD

TS Maniac
Perhaps you'd like to purchase my 500 gb WD Black that failed the night I installed it? Or maybe the two 500 gb WD Blues that failed in less than five days that I now use for doorstops? WD is garbage!
So...are you're admitting that you don't know how to properly install hard drives...or that you didn't comprehend my post in the proper context?

And why would you use brand new failed drives as doorstops when you could have just exchanged them for working replacements? Seriously...I want answers.
 
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veLa

TS Evangelist
Western Digital is under represented in much of the data because Backblaze is now buying HGST branded drives instead
Yeah well Western Digital owns HGST. Let's not pretend the cash doesn't end at the same corporation.
 
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nismo91

TS Evangelist
Had seagate 1TB quit working after I used it for my PC and then CCTV recording device for total of 7 years (which is acceptable). when I opened it, both disk platter had a 5mm scratch shaped like a ring in the middle of the disk.

now I wonder if most of the drive failure starts at the head and actuator instead of the circuitry or the disk itself.
 

texasrattler

TS Evangelist
Does Backblaze realize that HGST is owned by WD and since 2018 WD phased out HGST branding n everything is now being sold as WD drives. WD has owned HGST since 2012 but due to regulations couldnt do much untill 2015.
WD also owns SanDisk for the past year or so.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Always interesting to see these, but the data would mean a lot more if they had a nearly equal amount of drives for each size across brands.

Glad to see the Seagate 10 TB drives are doing good, only four failures out of 1,210 drives is pretty dang good. Maybe Seagate has stepped up their game...
 

Ivangela

TS Rookie
The WD drive failures are the most alarming. I've used WD's and their Black drives for over a decade, in constant duty service, without any failures. But I've also not needed to buy any drives since that flood or whatever that wiped out their Asian facilities years ago. After that, their drives, and others, took a dive in reliability...but I would have thought that all that would have been rectified by now. I'm wondering if WD has cut corners on their drive quality & reliability since then.
Perhaps you'd like to purchase my 500 gb WD Black that failed the night I installed it? Or maybe the two 500 gb WD Blues that failed in less than five days that I now use for doorstops? WD is garbage!
I have multiple WD Blacks ranging in size from 1 to 4 TB. They've been in daily use for years without a problem. Why would anyone be buying a half gig platter drive anyway, lol
 
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Apogee777

TS Enthusiast
The WD drive failures are the most alarming. I've used WD's and their Black drives for over a decade, in constant duty service, without any failures. But I've also not needed to buy any drives since that flood or whatever that wiped out their Asian facilities years ago. After that, their drives, and others, took a dive in reliability...but I would have thought that all that would have been rectified by now. I'm wondering if WD has cut corners on their drive quality & reliability since then.
There was only 1 type WD drive involved, ignore the WD figures - it was probably a bad model - all my WD HDD's are the most reliable in my personal system.
 

Michael Block

TS Rookie
SHOCKED BY BACKBLAZE RESEARCH & STORY: Amazon reviews for best drives in the first chart (hms5c4040ble640 4.0 of 5, 13% 1 star; md04aba500v 3.7, 18%; st6000dx000 4.1, 15%; st8000nm0055 3.4, 23%). No wonder server farms replicate RAID (Redundant Arrays of ILL DRIVES).