Smaller capacity hard drives are more susceptible to failure as they age, study finds

PriyaWalia

Posts: 17   +1
In brief: A research report on hard drive failure rates for 2022 confirms the age of a drive is a key indicator for foretelling possible failure. The report examined 230,921 HDDs, and only an 8TB Seagate (model: ST8000NM000A) had zero failures.

A quick peek at the most recent report from cloud storage provider Backblaze concludes that larger drives—12TB, 14TB, and 16TB—fail less frequently than smaller capacity versions. During the past year, the annualized failure rate (AFR) for HDDs increased significantly from 1.01 percent in 2021 to 1.37 percent in 2022, according to Andy Klein, chief cloud storage evangelist for Backblaze.

The cloud backup firm had 236,608 HDDs in use at the end of 2022, including 4,299 boot drives and 235,608 data drives. Backclaze excluded the boot units and 388 of the data HDDs from the analysis because they had either been used for testing or had a fleet size of fewer than 60 units. That left a total of 230,921 HDDs studied.

"In our Q2 2022 and Q3 2022 quarterly Drive Stats reports, we noted an increase in the overall AFR from the previous quarter and attributed it to the aging fleet of drives, but is that the case?" Klien asked.

It appears the answer is yes.

Klein observed that every size (apart from 16TB drives) showed an increase in AFR between 2021 and 2022 when higher capacity HDDs—12TB, 14TB, and 16TB—were compared against smaller ones—4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB. The AFR for small drives stood at 2.12%, significantly higher than the 1.37% increase for all HDDs in 2022. Additionally, even though smaller units only made up 28.7% of drive days in 2022, they were responsible for 44.5% of drive failures.

However, Klein notes that although smaller drives failed more frequently last year, they are also older. The oldest hard disc examined, a 6TB Seagate (ST6000DX000), had an average age of 92.5 months. Its AFR in 2021 was 0.11 percent, while in 2022, it was 0.68 percent.

Backblaze's table grouping AFRs by vendor showed Seagate and Toshiba as the two with the highest failure rate. However, most of the Seagate units were significantly older than the other HDDs examined. The firm expects to replace the older drives with 16TB and larger hard drives in 2023, which means that its 4TB drives and the 6TB Seagate drives are probably on their way out.

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FF222

Posts: 311   +298
In the study the smaller capacity drives indeed have a higher failure rate, but they are also on average older than the higher capacity ones. So, the statement/conclusion in the title in unsubstantiated. Really, the stats show nothing conclusive other than hard disks fail more frequently as they get older.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 480   +280
Having worked a long time ago in storage, it was anything over 2tb had a higher fail rate. The larger they got the quicker they failed.
But you have factors like how much has been written, time running etc.
Hard drives dont like to change temp, so shutting systems down isnt good.
As far as age is a factor, I would say age tells you what year, and maybe what batch?
Seagate were top dog then were the worst you could find, always being sent back, but telling someone that they should steer clear of Seagate drives they argued that they had one 5 years or more old still going strong, but their argument was moot, because it came from a time when Seagate knew their stuff, but newer batches sucked.
And as much as I would never touch a Seagate again, I can't big up Samsung or WD without seeing what their latest and greatest are handling.
I thought I saw on here an article recently about HD's that can write x amount of TB before failure, but if it isn't doing petabytes like Samsungs 970 pro I think it was at the time, whats the bragging about?
And then you have to wonder which sites are being paid to change data so we don't see true figures.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,304   +349
After the HDD crisis due to flooding in Thailand years ago, I never bought another Seagate. I already use SSD at the time so HDD is always used only for media storage. most of the time I went with WD Blue and I noticed that many of them went from 7200rpm to 5400rpm as drives getting bigger.

it's probably not a direct correlation but I really like lower speed HDD than a high speed ones. it's quieter and generates less heat. although I must admit 5400rpm came with their own disadvantage, such as this CVE:

https://nvd.nist.gov/vuln/detail/CVE-2022-38392
 

Endymio

Posts: 2,009   +2,116
A research report on hard drive failure rates for 2022 confirms the age of a drive is a key indicator for foretelling possible failure.
In other news, water is wet and the sun is forecast to set in the west tonight.
 

Aus spot

Posts: 158   +158
I normally look forward to these updates, but there’s no detail, and as everyone has said the conclusion/title doesn’t help the cause.
 

fb020997

Posts: 22   +8
Based on my experience, Seagate hdd are more likely to fail than western digital

I’ve seen an awful lot of 320-500gb laptop and 500gb-1tb desktop seacrap spinning rust die on customers’ PCs. Lots of SMART errors and corrupted sectors. More often than not on drives under 5k hours of life but 5-6 years old, strangely enough.
 
Same here. Only WD after having several bad results with Seagate. Swore Seagate off.
I bought "WD Black SN850 1Tb" recently. It died literally after several hours in my computer. It was showing only in BIOS and with some several bytes capacity.
 

takemaru

Posts: 24   +4
I bought "WD Black SN850 1Tb" recently. It died literally after several hours in my computer. It was showing only in BIOS and with some several bytes capacity.
There is always a small chance, that a faulty/failing product slips through quality control. That's what warranty is for.
Only the Seagate 500G/1.5Tbyte drives come to my mind, which had a significantly higher failure rate, than the rest in recent years. "Seagate, sie geht nichts"