How reliable are 10TB and 12TB hard drives?

High-capacity hard drives in 8TB, 10TB, and even 12TB capacities are becoming the norm in data centers. But how reliable are they? A dive into the data published by Backblaze gives us an insight.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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How reliable are modern hard drives? What better company to help shed light on this than cloud backup specialists Backblaze, a company with more than 100 thousand hard drives in operation.

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Backblaze's hard drive stats report for Q1 2018 makes very interesting reading for anyone who is interested in hard drive performance. As of March 31, 2018, the company had 100,110 hard drives working for it, made up of 1,922 boot drives and 98,188 data drives, ranging from 3TB WDC WD30EFRX drives all the way up to 10TB and 12TB Seagate ST10000NM0086 and ST12000NM0007 drives, along with 10 Samsung 850 EVO SSDs.

This collection allows it to collect some interesting and informative drive data, especially when it comes to performance.

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​Q1 2018 Backblaze hard drive failure rate

Q1 2018 | Backblaze hard drive failure rate.

So, how reliable have its hard drives been?

The overall Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) for Q1 sat at just 1.2 percent, well below the Q4 2017 AFR of 1.65 percent. Some drives had an AFR of 0 percent (in other words, no drives failed during the period), while the 4TB Seagate ST4000DM000 had the highest AFR of 2.3 percent (out of 30,941 drives the company had in service, 178 failed during the Q1 period).

When it comes to high-capacity hard drives (8TB, 10B, and 12TB capacities), the average AFR was also 1.2 percent, which is a good score. Backblaze, however, does note that "many of these drives were deployed in the last year," and there may be "some volatility in the data," and that the published "Confidence Interval" data can be used to get a sense of the failure percentage range.

Backblaze has also increased its use of HGST 8TB HUH728080ALE600 drives from 45 last quarter to 1,045 this quarter. According to the report, it did this because "as the 10TB and 12TB drives become more available, the price per terabyte of the 8TB drives has gone down," and that this "presented an opportunity to purchase the HGST drives at a price in line with our budget."

Here is Backblaze's lifetime failure rate data going back to April 2013:

Lifetime Backblaze hard drive failure rate

Lifetime Backblaze hard drive failure rate.

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