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Seagate: Our HDDs are reliable, but should be used for designated workloads

Seagate Technology has issued a statement regarding consumer hard drive reliability report published by Backblaze. The company claims that the data published by the cloud-storage provider, which uses consumer-class HDDs and extensive replication mechanisms to store data for its clients, contradicts reliability reports by other customers. Moreover, Seagate notes that its desktop drives are not designed for cloud datacentre environments.

“We always value our customers’ feedback and take it very seriously,” a statement by Seagate reads. “It appears that Backblaze is reporting data from the same sample of drives from last year, which continues to be inconsistent with data received from other customers, and our large OEM installed base.”

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According to Backblaze, Seagate’s Barracuda hard disk drives are considerably less reliable than competing products from HGST and Western Digital on annual failure rate basis. Moreover, their 36-month survival rate is also dramatically lower than that of other HDDs. Backblaze claims that the Seagate drives die off at a consistently higher rate, with a burst of deaths near the 20-month mark.

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What is noteworthy is that despite of the fact that Backblaze uses Seagate’s HDDs in environments they were not designed for, the manufacturer still respects its warranty and replaces the drives. Still, given the fact that the Barracuda belongs to the consumer family of products, Seagate does not replace the failed HDDs with new ones (like in the case of enterprise drives), but ships reconditioned hard drives instead.

“We absolutely stand behind the quality of our products with a best-in-class warranty, and we relentlessly test our drives for the workloads they were designed to support,” the statement claims. “We highly recommend that our enterprise and data center customers use the appropriate class of product to handle the workloads of enterprise environments.”

Backblaze complained that certain hard drives from Seagate and Western Digital, which are designed to be energy-efficient, in the cloud data environments spin down and up very frequently, which theoretically causes a lot of wear out. In addition, vibrations in server racks also have impact on their lifespan.

“As with previous data reported by Backblaze, desktop-class drives and some external drives were purchased and used in enterprise-class workloads – which they were not designed for nor tested to support,” Seagate said.

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KitGuru Says: Contemporary hardware for different use cases is designed differently and is made using different process technologies. While it is nice to have extreme performance and extreme reliability, the majority of consumers demand maximum amount of storage, rapid read speeds and quiet operation at the lowest possible price, which is why, for example, there are no 10K or 15K HDDs optimized for concurrent read and write operations aimed at home users. The same applies to cloud datacentre environments: the drives may not offer absolutely highest performance and capacities, but they are developed with vibrating RAID environments and other datacentre-specific things in mind. Therefore, for the best results, it makes a lot of sense to utilize HDDs that were optimized for particular usage scenarios.

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