Losing essential data from a hard drive failure can be one of the most frustrating experiences of your life. But, there might be a way to identify if a drive will really fail or last forever. Secure Data Recovery, according to Blocks and Files, found that the average failed hard drive lasted about two years and ten months before dying.
This number was taken from the average operating time of numerous failed hard drives that data recovery specialists received from customers. The specialists excluded drives that failed due to unpredictable events and only kept drives that failed due to normal read and write operations. Select drives were made by six manufacturers, including Western Digital, Hitachi, Seagate, Toshiba, Samsung, and Maxtor.
Secure Data Recovery also found that the expected average lifespan of a failed hard drive was highly dependent on the drive’s manufacturer. Based on a power-on-hours chart he created, there is a nearly 50% difference in power-on time between the best and worst performing brands.
Toshiba fared better, averaging 34,799 power-on hours logged among 151 defective units. By contrast, Hitatchi, a sub-brand of WD, fared much worse, with a recorded average lifespan of 18,632 cumulative hours from 211 failed drives.
Results for the other four drive manufacturers fall between Toshiba and Hitachi, with Western Digital getting an average of 25,676 power-on hours from 936 drives. Seagate racked up 32,298 hours on 559 drives. Samsung logged 19,224 hours based on 123 units and Maxtor logged 29,771 hours based on 27 units.
Secure Data Recovery also recorded the number of bad sectors on each drive. Once again, Hitachi was by far the worst performing manufacturer, with 3,348 bad sectors on the same 211 drives. But the best-performing drives in this category come from Maxtor, with only 228 bad sectors found. Fortunately, the rest of the six manufacturers weren’t as bad as Hitachi, with Toshiba having 1,884 total bad sectors, Samsung 529, Seagate 2,671, and Western Digital 628.
Despite the significant variation in power-on hours and sector errors between drive manufacturers, we cannot take these results at face value. Results would be much more accurate if Secure Data Recover had an even distribution of failed drives from all six manufacturers.
As a result, the lower disk counts from Hitachi, Toshiba, Samsung, and especially Maxtor should be taken with a grain of salt. Seagate and Western Digital, on the other hand, have the most registered drives, so their numbers will be the most accurate. But in general, it seems that Hitachi and Seagate are the most unreliable manufacturers of all.
If you have a hard drive from any of these six manufacturers, the average life expectancy is just under three years if your drive is prone to failure. However, if the drive doesn’t die during that period, it will most likely stay healthy for many years. If you want to learn more about HDD reliability, check out our previous coverage of Backblaze.