I saw this in the early 2000s about cheap China hard drive failure. I think
it was in a magazine. The ending remark was that they are getting better in
quality. I bought one two years ago and it’s ready to die. So, are they better?
it does seem that smaller capacity drives from the 1990s last longer.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #99 I look at the quality and size of hard drives today compared
to what we used in the past.
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Drives getting more reliable
Yea, a lot of people feel that way; that the smaller drives actually are
more robust, I guess, and failure-free.
I have to admit.. I guess – that’s probably true. It’s probably, in the long
run, more reliable to have five drives of 10 GB instead of a single 50 GB
I’ve heard of people doing that kind of thing. Unfortunately, it’s not
Technology is improved
I do believe that the technology has improved. In other words, the
underlying technology that’s being used to make these hard drives is getting
better. Unfortunately, I also believe that instead of the improvement in
technology making them more reliable, they are instead making them more
“capacious” – I guess would be the way to put it.
In other words, they’re making the hard drives bigger. Let’s face it; ten
years ago, you didn’t have the 3 TB drives that you can purchase off the shelf
now for a couple hundred bucks. And in fact, you wouldn’t be able to, in any
practical situation, put together 3 TB worth of storage using any
technology that was available in the 1990s. Not in any practical sense.
I remember being at Microsoft in a small data center where we had racks and
racks of hard drives. I think the rack had about 7 bays, with about 7 or 8
drives per bay. Do the math; those were 4 or 2 GB drives. Even that doesn’t get
close to what you now get in a single drive.
And when you increase the number of drives as we did then, you still
increase the probability of failure. Each individual drive may last longer –
but as a collection, adding up to that much storage then, it was still pretty
likely that one of them was going to fail relatively soon.
So, it’s a tough question to answer.
I do think that things, in general, are better. But I think they’re better
in ways that we don’t necessarily appreciate as improved reliability.
Now, all this is really to say there is a solution. There is a very
good solution to this problem.
And you know what it is: backup!
The fact is, regardless of whether it’s technology that fails
frequently or infrequently the number of failures per GB of
storage probably has not changed that much – and it’s non-zero. By that I mean
– you know that sooner or later that hard drive is going to fail… regardless
of what size it is.
That means that unless you’re protected, you’re going to lose what’s on it.
And you know that hard drives are gonna fail at the worst possible time.
I strongly recommend that regardless, or perhaps instead of, of making
assumptions about hard drive longevity, instead make the opposite assumption.
Assume that it’s going to fail; assume that it’s going to fail soon and prepare
for that – because the only thing about that statement that is perhaps a bit of
a stretch is the “soon” part.
A hard drive will eventually fail.
You don’t know, when so be prepared for it happening soon. Make sure you’ve
got the appropriate level of backup so that when a hard drive fails, it’s
nothing more than an inconvenience and never ever, a catastrophe.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)