Cloud storage provider Backblaze has been updating its storage pods with bigger capacity hard drives, and as more time passes, it's able to provide a more general review of overall reliability. What Black Blaze has seen so far is that 8TB, 10TB, and 12TB HDDs don't fail as often as lower capacity drives.
There are some caveats that go along with that finding, the first of which is the larger capacity drives have not been in use as long as some of the lower capacity models. However, they're no longer brand new, either. Backblaze began inserting 8TB models into its storage pods over a year ago, and has upped the ante with even more capacious models.
Some might also take issue with how Backblaze calculates certain statistics, such as "drive days."
"Each day a drive is listed in a daily snapshot file it counts as one drive day. For example, if there are 35,000 drives listed in a daily snapshot file that equals 35,000 drive days," Backblaze explains.
Quibbles aside, Backblaze is one of the more extensive resources for HDD reliability, because of the number of drives it employs and its willingness to share certain stats with the public. In its latest reliability report, Backblaze notes a quarterly failure rate of between 0.38 percent and 1.29 percent for five different 8-12TB models, and a 0 percent failure rate for one of HGST's 12TB models (HUH721212ALN604). There are only 79 of those drives employed though, compared to more than 25,000 of Seagate's 12TB model (ST12000NM0007) that saw a 1.29 percent failure rate.
The lifetime stats are even more impressive:
"The failure rates of all of the larger drives (8TB, 10TB, and 12TB) are very good: 1.21 percent AFR (Annualized Failure Rate) or less. In particular, the Seagate 10TB drives, which have been in operation for over 1 year now, are performing very nicely with a failure rate of 0.48 percent," Backblaze says.
In addition, the overall failure rate of 1.71 percent is the lowest ever in Backblaze's tenure. The previous low was 1.82 percent, back in the second quarter of this year.
The takeaway from all of this is that larger capacity hard drives continue to look reliable, based on Backblaze's past and present stats. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if a larger capacity HDD does die, there's the potential to lose a whole lot of data in one fell swoop. If you're using two 4TB drives and one of them gives up the ghost, at least the data on the good drive isn't lost.
Either way, it's a good idea to back up your data no matter how many drives you're using. It's also good practice to have multiple backups, including one that is off site in case of a fire or flood.
Head over to Backblaze to read the full report.