Backblaze publishes its hard drive obituary for Q2 2018


We're into the third quarter of 2018, and that means it's time for yet another Backblaze quarterly report. It's interesting to see the results of the cloud backup outfit's abuse of hard drives from every vendor—though Backblaze itself cautions readers from reading too much into its data. The latest report includes results from 98,265 hard drives including Backblaze's first-ever reliability results for 14-TB spinny disks.

The vast majority of the drives the company has in service are from Seagate. That's not a new development; despite the dark shadow that Backblaze's first report cast over Seagate's brand, the backup folks overwhelmingly prefer that manufacturers' drives. HGST is the next-most-prevalent disk provider, followed well behind by Western Digital and then finally by a scant 190 Toshiba disks.

The new 14-TB drives that Backblaze just added are actually from Toshiba, though. The spinners use conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology instead of the slower shingled method (SMR), meaning they should be just as fast as any other 7200 RPM-hard drive. Backblaze only has 20 of the 14-TB drives so far—not enough to show up in the chart above—but the company says it's pleased enough with their performance that it has ordered an additional 1,200 units.

Backblaze notes that while the quarterly results are surely interesting, the most salient data it has concerns lifetime failure rate. The chart above displays reliability data on a great many hard drives and actually paints Western Digital in the worst light. Two of that company's drives (Red 3 TB and Red 6 TB, respectively) have an annualized failure rate greater than 4%. It should be noted that that figure refers to a combined total of only 614 drives, though.

The backup provide also remarks that the overall failure rate for all of its drives has dropped to 1.8% after including the last quarter's information. That is apparently the lowest overall failure rate the cloud storage service has ever seen.

Backblaze brings up an interesting detail in its analysis. Studying two Seagate drives—one targeted at consumers, and one targeted at enterprise customers—the company finds that reliability is apparently an extremely minor concern when choosing between the two versions. Instead, the company comments that other factors like price and performance are more important when establishing a comparison.

Further, the company is still using spinning disks for all of its storage. In its last quarterly report, Backblaze found that the speed benefits of SSDs for its servers simply weren't worth the extra spend. If you'd like to pore over the latest report's data yourself, you can head over to the company's site for the crunchy numbers.

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