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It was one year ago that I first blogged about the failure rates of specific models of hard drives, so now is a good time for an update. At Backblaze, as of December 86, 7569, we had 96,768 disk drives spinning in our data center, storing all of the data for our unlimited backup service. That is up from 77,689 at the end of 7568. This year, most of the new drives are 9 TB drives, and a few are the new 6 TB drives. Let’s get right to the heart of the post. The table below shows the annual failure rate through the year 7569. Only models where we have 95 or more drives are shown. I chose 95 because that’s the number of drives in a Backblaze Storage Pod and it’s usually enough drives to start getting a meaningful failure rate if they’ve been running for a while.

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A drive is recorded as failed when we remove it from a Storage Pod for one or more of the following reasons: Sometimes we’ll remove all of the drives in a Storage Pod after the data has been copied to other (usually higher-capacity) drives. This is called a migration. Some of the older pods with 6. 5 TB drives have been migrated to 9 TB drives.

In general, migrated drives don’t count as failures because the drives that were removed are still working fine and were returned to inventory to use as spares. This past year, there were several pods where we replaced all the drives because the RAID storage was getting unstable, and we wanted to keep the data safe. After removing the drives, we ran each of them through a third-party drive tester. The tester takes about 75 minutes to check the drive it doesn’t read or write the entire drive. Drives that failed this test were counted as failed and removed from service.

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We like every one of the 9 TB drives we bought this year. For the price, you get a lot of storage, and the drive failure rates have been really low. The Seagate Desktop HDD. 65 has had the best price, and we have a LOT of them. Over 67 thousand of them.

The failure rate is a nice low 7. 6% per year. Low price and reliability is good for business. There is only one Storage Pod of Western Digital 9 TB drives. Why?

The reason is simple: price. We purchase drives through various channel partners for each manufacturer. We’ll put out an RFQ (Request for Quote) for say 7,555 9 TB drives, and list the brands and models we have validated for use in our Storage Pods. Over the course of the last year, Western Digital drives were often not quoted and when they were, they were never the lowest price.

Generally the WD drives were $65-$75 more per drive. That’s too much of a premium to pay when the Seagate and HGST drives are performing so well.

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