Latest Backblaze reliability data shows carnage for 3TB Seagate drives

Online backup provider Backblaze made headlines last year with a reliability study based on over 25,000 mechanical drives. Unlike previous publications in this vein, the report listed failure rates for specific makes and models. The data confirmed a lot of the anecdotal evidence that suggested Seagate drives were less reliable than the competition. Now, there's a new dispatch with updated stats through the end of 2014.

The most interesting trend pertains to 3TB units. Drives with that capacity suffered higher failure rates regardless of the manufacturer, and there's a familiar face in the spotlight.


The vast majority of the 3TB Seagate failures are tied to a single model: the Barracuda 7200.14. That drive's annual failure rate jumped from under 10% at the end of 2013 to over 40% a year later. There's no indication of why those 'cudas are failing at a dramatically higher rate, but the sample size is pretty big. Backblaze has over 1,100 examples with an average age of 2.2 years.

Although the 3TB contenders from HGST and WD also suffered higher failure rates over the past year, the overall percentages are much lower—especially for HGST. Drives from that manufacturer, which is owned by Western Digital, continue to be the most reliable in Backblaze's storage pods.

The numbers for Seagate's newer Desktop HDD.15 4TB provide some salvation for the company's battered reliability rep. Across over 12,000 units, the HDD.15's failure rate is now only 2.5%. The average age for those drives is less than a year, but they're failing less frequently than the 3TB 'cudas did at the same point in their lives. Perhaps the HDD.15's slower 5,900-RPM spinde speed is a factor.

Updated reliability stats on 17 different drives are available in the full report, which is worth perusing. Do Backblaze's experiences continue to jibe with what TR readers are seeing in their own systems?

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