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Old March 6th, 2015, 03:38 AM   #1
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Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

It is not news that hard drives fail but what is a reasonable life span for a bench-based external hard-drive?

I have one giving trouble and when I said it was four years old I was told that it had ‘done well’. Perhaps I should add that it mostly sits idle, backing up clips that may be needed some day.
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Old March 6th, 2015, 04:26 AM   #2
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

I have a 160gb external harddrive here that's over 10 years old and still functions well (knock on wood), I think it depends on how intensive you use it, mine is just a backup drive that doesn't get used that much.
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Old March 6th, 2015, 08:46 AM   #3
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Tough to say. In my view, 4 years too short. Especially if it is not on and crunching all the time. The only thing you can do as make sure the drives stay as cool as possible when in use. Some external drives get hot due to the enclosure they are in which is not good for longevity.

I have moved to HGST drives as they are getting the best numbers for long life testing. Other than that it is cross your fingers and always have at least two versions in the digital world.
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Old March 6th, 2015, 12:48 PM   #4
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
It is not news that hard drives fail but what is a reasonable life span for a bench-based external hard-drive?

I have one giving trouble and when I said it was four years old I was told that it had ‘done well’. Perhaps I should add that it mostly sits idle, backing up clips that may be needed some day.
The good news is that HDDs are so much cheaper now that your 4 year-old drive.
If it is giving you any doubt, I would transfer the files to a new drive, and destroy the old one.
Alternatively, you could keep the old one and just use for temporary use.
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Old March 6th, 2015, 06:50 PM   #5
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Interestingly, most hard drives have a MTBF (mean time before failure) of between 500,000 and 1.5 million hours (171 years).

I don't know where they get that data from.. did they have a hard drive 171 years ago that they have continuously tested? :P

Jokes aside... Personally, I replace my drives every 3-4 years. From experience, after 5 years you're risking failure. But then again, I've seen hard drives fail after a week.

Something else to consider: A recent study shows that Western Digital and Hitachi hard drives are far more reliable on average than Seagate drives.
https://www.backblaze.com/blog/best-hard-drive/
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Old March 6th, 2015, 06:57 PM   #6
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Get yourself a copy of SPINRITE from grc.com

$89, download and burn a CD (yes, a CD, its that compact.

Run SPINRITE on your hard disk drives every couple months for maintenance or wait until you are having problems, your choice.

The longest reported time that SPINRITE has run and recovered the contents of a HDD is three months. Personally, I had one that ran for 23 days and was able to recover all the files.

The grc.com website has documentation that can answer all your questions.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 04:08 AM   #7
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Thanks Noa, Tim, Vince, Jody and Ed, your comments were much appreciated.

Perhaps a life of 4 years light use is not that unusual after all.

Interesting reading on Blaze Raid particularly with the large numbers involved in their samples, so thanks Jody.

Ed, SPINRITE sounds very interesting but it poses some problems for Mac users such as myself without access to a PC. Their site is well worth visiting so thanks for that.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 07:28 AM   #8
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Longevity has a lot to do with which drive you are working with. As an example older Seagates were just about bulletproof. I have old 80GB ATA drives that spin up and work perfectly after 10 years. The 1.5TB Barracuda drives ~2009 vintage in contrast had disastrous reliability of which I can attest with more than 60% of mine failing within 24 months and ALL of them failing within 36 months. This was in a backup server and weren't hammered or abused. I went to 2TB HGST drives and I've not had any of them fail in the last couple of years (yet, knock wood).

In my main edit system I change out the rotating drives every 12-18 months. I prefer to not have a failure on that system since it will cost me potential production time. I've augmented that computer with a few SSDs in the hope that I can take some stress off the rotating drives and have them last a little longer. I'm a year into that experiment now.

The biggest thing I would recommend is to monitor the health of the drive. Have a plan for what to do WHEN a drive fails. And I also recommend a 1 strike and you're out policy for mission critical drives.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 04:07 PM   #9
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Hard Disk warranty has changed over past few years standard drives from manufactures was 3years and then about 3years ago they dropped warranty to 2years, I use solid state for C Drive and Western Digital Black for my other drives as they still carry a 5 year warranty they are a bit more expesive but i look at this way if they give 5 years warranty on this drive they is a chance they are more reliable.
There is an open source program out there called CrystalDiskInfo that monitors your hard drives it tells your current temprature, Hard Drive speed, hours been running, errors, bad sectors and much more.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 08:56 PM   #10
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
Ed, SPINRITE sounds very interesting but it poses some problems for Mac users such as myself without access to a PC. Their site is well worth visiting so thanks for that.
I put my Mac HDDs in a dock with a USB connector and plug them into a Windows machine to run SPINRITE.

Steve Gibson is working on the next version of SPINRITE which will be platform agnostic.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 06:27 AM   #11
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

I don't trust hard drives full stop.

I purchased BRAND NEW from Western Digital and it failed on me. Same with Seagate, worked 3 months and started to make clicking noises.

These are JUST BACK UPS.

If you have a good drive that works, stick with it and make identical copies to another when you can pick one up with a discount or whatever. So you have TWO backups.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 12:45 AM   #12
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Thanks again for your replies,

Chris, hard drive health monitoring and a one strike and your’e out is fine if you can identify a strike before it is too late. Are there tell-tale signs that something is amiss before it is too late or is this where Spinrite comes in?

Ed, Spinrite sounds good, what are the basic requirements of a PC needed to run it? It could be worth getting a PC especially for running Spinrite now that as Mark mentions warranty times are getting shorter.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 08:36 AM   #13
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

I also say to have a plan for when a drive fails. In my case that means multiple copies of things on 2 totally separate media servers and an online copy in the edit system. Overkill to some but the bare minimum for me.

It's important to do both - monitor and backup. Drives will fail. Be prepared for when the do and do all you can to see it coming. Sometimes things just blow up and you don't see it coming. Keeps it interesting. ;)

I use utilities that send me emails if they detect any SMART errors. I also pay attention to system performance. If I start getting dropped frames for instance I will look at the performance monitor in windows and see what the drives are doing. I've spotted more than one drive heading south before the SMART utility did that way.

Also enterprise class drives carry longer warranties. I now buy them exclusively.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 12:40 AM   #14
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Manford View Post
I don't trust hard drives full stop.

I purchased BRAND NEW from Western Digital and it failed on me. Same with Seagate, worked 3 months and started to make clicking noises.

This is probably the most important point of this thread. Don't trust hard drives. Backup in several different places. For me personally, my media drive is on a mirrored RAID that gets backed up daily to 2 separate drives, and also gets synced to Crash Plan throughout the day. Even then, data loss is a worry for me.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 02:01 AM   #15
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Re: Hard drive life span? Is 4 years ‘doing well’?

The hard drive on my iMac failed after less than twelve months. Okay, under warranty, big deal.

The Apple agent who fixed it (i.e. replaced the drive, "Fusion" by the way) seemed not surprised.

Nowt vital lost 'cos I use external backed up drives for my video stuff but still food for thought.

Ron
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