"What Hard Drive Should I Buy?" Backblaze Hard Drive Failure Study

Regardless of how you look at the data, the truth of the matter is hard drives fail. Some sooner than others which is the good news/bad news aspect illustrated by this fairly exhaustive, more so for the Seagate drives apparently, 27,000+ drive study by cloud storage provider Backblaze. While this is certainly worth a full read since Backblaze talks about specific models (hint: if you want the most reliable, pick Hitachi) the take-away point that anyone with music stored on a hard drive should take away is—Back Up Your Music!

I'm in the process of upgrading my own storage and backup requirements since I've outgrown my current drives capacity of a measly 1TB (x 4). For reviewing purposes, I've got one NAS with AIFF versions of all of my music and another working copy with all FLAC (DSD resides on both). Each NAS are backed up to other drives and currently my Synology NAS is setup as a RAID array. Can you say overkill?

I've already got a new QNAP HS-210 2-bay NAS outfitted with a pair of 2TB Western Digital Red hard drives (WD20EFRX) for a total of 4TB of storage for my new AIFF library. This data will get backed up to a 4TB La Cie USB 3.0 drive which is en route as I type. Once this is all sussed, I'm going to reformat the Synology NAS and remove the RAID array so I can get 2TB of storage which I'll use for the FLAC library.

Read the entire Backblaze hard drive study here.

philipjohnwright's picture

No mention of an offsite copy of your music.....

Drive failure is one thing, coffee / wine / beer spills, theft, fire, pestilence, & plague are all threats that can only be mitigated by off-site data. (Ok mayve not the last two)

Michael Lavorgna's picture

....the fact that I have 4 copies of my library including a RAID array. Three copies would suffice under "normal" conditions with one being an off-site copy as you suggest.

firedog55's picture


Are you going to review the QNAP HS-210? I'm thinking it might be a good solution for me. 


Michael Lavorgna's picture

I've been using it now for a few days having transferred my AIFF library to it over the weekend. So far it works like a charm - simple, very quiet, and nice looking (for a NAS).

AudioDoctor's picture

I have a ~5 year old Firewire400 500GB external drive here with a HItachi drive inside it that still runs perfectly.  How do I know it is a Hitachi?  I opened it up when I lost the power supply in a move to see if I could put it in a new external enclosure only to find out it was not a SATA drive.  New power supply and it is humming along quietly and time machining the small SSD in my iMac.


Where did I get this wonder of an external drive, OWC of course.



deckeda's picture

Backblaze's decision to concentrate on lower-cost consumer disks--sometimes "green" ones--has somewhat skewed this against Seagate since they bought so many of them and I'm sorry but despite what they said, they DID employ the wrong kind of disks by using green drives in the enterprise, right? Still, there doesn't seem to be much argument that the green drives from Seagate (especially) are a bad idea for long term use. And that the MTBF rating is worthless when taken out of context.

Our challenge is in predicting the future (heh) since not too long ago, IBM / earlier Hitachi drives had a bad rep and "all" of Seagate's were "stellar", and had the last of the once-ubiquitous 5-yr warranties. Thanks to the floods in Thailand and brand consolidation (reduced availability/competition, both) you can kiss long consumer warranties goodbye.

The WD Red line, intended for SOHO NAS usage, is an interesting product. Not as robust or expensive as a traditional enterprise drive but clearly tougher than "green" drives. In other words, a normal drive?

What's both funny and sad is that these players are still doing spinning disks with nearly-stopped storage capacity growth and the burgeoning SSD market has seen price drops and larger capacities from "all them little RAM chip makers" (and resellers) competing against each other.

Until Western Digital buys one or two of them, that is.

peterdlederer's picture

For whatever it's worth, I noticed Bryston used OWC drives in their digital equipment. Given the nature of their warranties, I took that as a good omen  :)