It’s basically a fact that when it comes to hard drives, whether they are old platter and spindle style or brand new SSD style, you’re best to not trust them on their own. This is what backups are for, of course, and certainly doing that is going to ensure that there’s practically no way you have to require a data recovery company like Hard Drive Recovery Group or our services.

So yeah, having a backup is fine. But what about the idea of avoiding risk by finding out which manufacturers tend to sell the drives that fail the most? I mean, if you had some way of tracking which hard drive companies you should avoid and which ones you should buy from, wouldn’t it make the whole data safety concept a whole lot better?

Well, we think so, and apparently so does, as they actually have a hard drive failure rate study up on their website. Their methodology is:

Backblaze has recorded and saved daily hard drive statistics from the drives in our data centers since April 2013. At the end of 2016 we had 73,653 spinning hard drives. Of that number, there were 1,553 boot drives and 72,100 data drives…

At the end of Q4 2016 Backblaze was monitoring 72,100 data drives. For our evaluation we remove from consideration those drives which were used for testing purposes and those drive models for which we did not have at least 45 drives. This leaves us with 71,939 production hard drives.


Overall Failures Down

Ok, so Backblaze has a freaking ton of hard drives. And certainly, not all of the models are going to be ones that you will typically use in your computers. A lot of their data is based around enterprise servers, which typically contain much more powerful drives. But their results for the year do show, hopefully, that manufacturers are getting better at building robust drives:

The total number of failed drives was 1,225 for the year. That’s 3.36 drive failures per day or about 5 drives per workday, a very manageable workload. Of course, that’s easy for me to say, since I am not the one swapping out drives.

The overall hard drive failure rate for 2016 was 1.95%. That’s down from 2.47% in 2015 and well below the 6.39% failure rate for 2014.

Let’s Talk About Winners

Naturally, everyone is going to want to know what the winners are. And in this case, BackBlaze has three fine examples of failure free hardware:

In 2016, three drives models ended the year with zero failures, albeit with a small number of drives. Both the 4 TB Toshiba and the 8 TB HGST models went the entire year without a drive failure. The 8 TB Seagate (ST8000NM0055) drives, which were deployed in November 2016, also recorded no failures.

So 8TB appears to actually be somewhat of a sweet spot for the company, which is a little surprising considering that these are monster sized drives. But, facts are facts and these guys do run a number of hard drives in their servers, so we’re not talking about small sample sizes.

What is quite interesting about the 8TB size is that the site shows that the drives failed far less as the year went on! Which is odd, but does factor in.

OK, What Should I Be Avoiding?

While BackBlaze really takes a positive angle on their whole study and don’t specifically note failing models in their summary, you can actually read a chart that shows who the losers are. And the top 3 drives to be avoided in 2017 are:

  • Seagate ST3000DM001, 3TB – 26% failure rate
  • Seagate ST320LT007, 2TB – 47.7% failure rate
  • Seagate ST1500DL003, 1.5TB – 90.9% failure rate

Ok, so what the heck was going on with that final drive? That’s a virtually unprecedented failure rate that has officially blown our minds! If you have one, this article is definitely going to help you at some point! The only question is when.

So should you avoid Seagate drives? Are they more susceptible to data destroying situations like hard drive clicking?Well, probably. There are still quite a few other suppliers out there. Apparently, some Seagate customers have taken to suing the company:

A federal judge in California has tossed some claims in a proposed class action filed by consumers accusing Seagate Technology LLC of selling them defective hard drives, but will allow claims over the device’s failure rates and other issues to proceed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the Northern District of California on Thursday dismissed claims that some of Seagate’s 3 TB internal and external hard drives didn’t measure up to Seagate’s promises in terms of the drives’ performance and reliability and most claims for breach of warranty.


So are we saying run as fast as you can from Seagate drives? Of course not. But if you have one, back that thing up! Save this page… it could help you down the road if you’re smart!