Backblaze Hard Drive Reliability Report Shows HGST Drives Lead, Seagate Still Has Issues

Seagate HDD 4TB
In April 2013, cloud storage provider Backblaze kicked off what would immediately become a tradition. Each year, the company analyzes an incredible amount of data collected over the course of the year to give the rest of us an impression on which hard drive vendors come out ahead, and which fall behind. In other words, it's a polite way of analyzing which vendor "is more likely to lose your data".

In Q4 of last year, Backblaze had 91,243 hard drives in operation, a number which excludes boot drives and a few others that couldn't meet the company's criteria of having at least 45 drives of one model in use during the period monitored (to give more accuracy to the results).

As seen in the table below, there are some clear differences between makes and models, and unfortunately for Seagate, some of the biggest offenders reside in its camp. With the most common drive SKU in its lineup, ST4000DM000, Backblaze has determined the annual failure rate to be 2.89%, which is much higher than the failure rate for the thousands of other drives the company in its storage portfolio.

Backblaze Q4 HDD Failures

Things get a bit worse for Seagate when you realize that some of the other offending models are iterations of this original. Granted, Backblaze only had 392 copies of the ST4000DM000 drive in use, but a 9% annual failure rate was determined (9 drives died out of those 392 in Q4). Another iterative release, ST4000DM005, also isn't off to a great start with 1 of the 60 drives in use having perished.

Seagate might have the worst failure rate here, but WDC had some hitches with four of the 437 WD60EFRX in use having failed in Q4. Overall, Hitachi walks away from this with a grin, as its failure rates are all under 0.50%, despite thousands of drives being used.

In terms of optimizing for its business, Backblaze looks to have completely purged 3TB models, replacing them with some 10TB, and many 12TB models. That should give us some juicy information to pore over this time next year!