HDD Average Life Span Misses 3-Year Mark In Study of 2,007 Defective Drives – Slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: An analysis of 2,007 damaged or defective hard disk drives (HDDs) has led a data recovery firm to conclude that “in general, old drives seem more durable and resilient than new drives.” The statement comes from a Los Angeles-headquartered HDD, SSD, and RAID data recovery firm aptly named Secure Data Recovery that has been in business since 2007 and claims to have resolved more than 100,000 cases. It studied the HDDs it received in 2022. “Most” of those drives were 40GB to 10TB, according to a blog post by Secure Data Recovery spotted by Blocks & Files on Thursday.

Secure Data Recovery’s March 8 post broke down the HDDs it received by engineer-verified “power-on hours,” or the total amount of time the drive was functional, starting from when its owner began using it and ending when the device arrived at Secure Data Recovery. The firm also determined the drives’ current pending sector count, depicting “the number of damaged or unusable sectors the hard drive developed during routine read-and-write operations.” The company’s data doesn’t include HDDs that endured non-predictable failures or damage by unexpected events, such as electrical surges, malware, natural disasters, and “accidental mishandling,” the company said.

Among the sample, 936 drives are from Western Digital, 559 come from Seagate, 211 are Hitachi brand, 151 are Toshiba’s, 123 are Samsung’s, and there are 27 Maxtor drives. Notably, 74.5 percent of the HDDs came from either Western Digital or Seagate, which Secure Data Recovery noted accounted for 80 percent of hard drive shipments in 2021, citing Digital Storage Technology Newsletter data shared by Forbes. The average time before failure among the sample size was 2 years and 10 months, and the 2,007 defective HDDs had an average of 1,548 bad sectors. “While 1,548 bad sectors out of hundreds of millions or even billions of disk subdivisions might seem minuscule, the rate of development often increases, and the risk of data corruption multiplies,” the blog said. “We found that the five most durable and resilient hard drives from each manufacturer were made before 2015,” says Secure Data Recovery. “On the other hand, most of the least durable and resilient hard drives from each manufacturer were made after 2015.” One of the reasons for this may have to do with HDD manufacturers “pushing the performance envelope,” adds Ars. “This includes size limits that cut ‘allowance between moving parts, appearing to affect mechanical damage and wear resistance.'”

Secure Data Recovery also believes that shingled magnetic recording (SMR) impacts HDD reliability, as the disks place components under “more stress.”

“What this study shows is not the average working life of a hard disk drive,” notes Blacks & Files. “Instead it provides the average working life if a failed disk drive. Cloud storage provider Backblaze issues statistics about the working life of its disk drive fleet and its numbers are quite different.” A recent report of theirs found that SSDs are more reliable than HDDs.

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