How much time does a hard disk last?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_iStock_000002276198_ExtraSmall.jpgBackblaze company that owns cloud data storage service constantly simultaneously uses around 25,000 hard disk drives (approximately 75 petabytes of free space). Its experts decided to hold a special research to find out how durable are hard disk drives.

In the course of four years service administrators recorded data about connecting new hard disk drives and terms of their failure. All disks were assembled in special storage pods – Backblaze Storage Pod — 45 pieces per each. Before installation the system is checked by different tests for failed disks in it.

The company used most common hard disk drives designed for mass consumers and that can be easily purchased in any accessories shop.

Often they installed disks that were preliminarily extracted from cases, which made them external (according to the company they account for around 6 petabytes).

Hard drive manufacturers give a guarantee for 1-2 years. It seemed that modern hard disk drives are quite reliable – around 80% work correctly for over four years under uninterrupted operation conditions.

However in practice uninterrupted operation is less of a threat to HDD than home use with frequent ons and offs, shaking and temperature and voltage fluctuations.

As a result of research, Backblaze experts found out that ‘death rate’ of HDD is the highest during the initial 18 months of operation and accounts for around 5.1% per annum.

After reaching its peak it goes downwards down to 1.4% and again hikes after 3 years of operation, reaching up to 11.8% per annum.

The reason behind it is that at the beginning hard drives fail because of any kind of manufacturing defect. Defect-free HDD serve for several years and then gradually break down due to simple depreciation.


There is also a factor of randomness when failure occurs for unknown reasons.

Research is limited to four years. Although its authors suppose that later on it goes upwards and after 6 years the number of failed hard drives reaches 50%.

Therefore, in theory around half of hard disk drives would be able to pass 6-year threshold. Which is quite good for mechanic devices of consumer class.

Researches did not indulge into calculating average life duration of media because some of them do not live through even for several months at the time when other are capable of surpassing a 6-year threshold.

Despite good results one should not forget about backups. There is no guarantee that your hard disk drive does not have the manufacturing defect, and recovery of lost data often requires a number of complex procedures and sometimes is not possible at all.

Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2015 15:48
Data Recovery Expert

Viktor S., Ph.D. (Electrical/Computer Engineering), was hired by DataRecoup, the international data recovery corporation, in 2012. Promoted to Engineering Senior Manager in 2010 and then to his current position, as C.I.O. of DataRecoup, in 2014. Responsible for the management of critical, high-priority RAID data recovery cases and the application of his expert, comprehensive knowledge in database data retrieval. He is also responsible for planning and implementing SEO/SEM and other internet-based marketing strategies. Currently, Viktor S., Ph.D., is focusing on the further development and expansion of DataRecoup’s major internet marketing campaign for their already successful proprietary software application “Data Recovery for Windows” (an application which he developed).


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