Which Internal Hard Drive is the Best Bang for Buck?

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Photographers are data hogs. We go through terabytes upon terabytes of storage as our cameras continue to produce higher image quality. And, if you work with video, it gets even worse.

Over the years, I’ve heard plenty of anecdotal evidence why one brand of hard drive is better than the other. As a pattern of usage, I have found myself with more Western Digital and Hitachi drives (Hitachi, which is now HGST, makes the G-Technology drives that photographers love so much) over the years. Overall, I have been satisfied with the performance of these drives and have yet to experience a hard drive failure (*knock on wood) that wasn’t caused by dropping a drive or computer.

Backblaze, the cloud storage company, has put together a detailed account of the types of hard drives it uses along with the failure rates of particular drives and brands.

Backblaze Hard Drives

Backblaze uses over 25,000 hard drives to keep its cloud service running. To that end, it is important for the company to buy drives that are affordable and reliable.

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As you can see from Backblaze’s chart, Western Digital and Hitachi drives by and large have been more reliable.

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Backblaze points out, however, that one of its go-to drives is the Seagate 4TB drive, which has a 3.8% annual failure rate. Additionally, the chart doesn’t tell the full story, as there are certain other Seagate drive models that Backblaze is very fond of.

The failure rate of the Hitachi Deskstar drives, however, is untouchable by the other drives. As Backblaze notes:

If the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives. They have been rock solid, and have had a remarkably low failure rate.

The Seagate and WD drives are cheaper and the reliability is good enough on certain drives from each brand to make them preferred drives for Backblaze’s cost/benefit analysis.

Backblaze says its current buying trend is the 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD.15 (ST4000DM000) and the Western Digital 3TB Red (WD30EFRX). Additionally, Backblaze recommends staying away from the Western Digital 3TB Green drives and Seagate 2TB LP drives because of their poor reliability.

If you are building your own RAID array or simply replacing/adding spinning drives in your Mac or PC tower, Backblaze’s experience should offer some empirical evidence to aid in your hard drive purchase decision.

[Backblaze via No Film School]

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Comments

  1. Jared says

    I’ve had great success with Seagate (so far), and have seen lots of failures with Western Digital in the past. It looks like they’re much better now.

    • Alex B says

      Except all drives were subjected to the same conditions, and the failed seagate drives were replaced under warranty still had a higher failure rate. My N1 data agrees with this. I’ve never had an issue with Hitachi drives, but terrible results with Seagate.