There is no way of denying that all hard drives eventually die. However, if you were to ask me which ones last longer and are the most reliable, this I can answer with some authority.
Before I get into it, though I must say one thing. The information I am going to share here is going to involve hard drive manufacturers who have been mass producing them for as long as the public has had access to hard drives. Sound fair enough?
A Little Bit Of History
Let’s slip back in time for a moment and see what changes have taken place in the market. The first hard drives that became available to the public were in 1957 and they were produced by IBM. IBM made them until 1997 and they were joined by smaller manufacturers. You may also recognize a few of their names: Maxtor, Lacie and Quantum. Seagate soon got into the picture along with two other bigger players known as Western Digital and Toshiba.
Before the smaller manufacturers either went out of business or were bought out by a larger corporation, the hard drives being fed into the marketplace were solid. In other words, not only were the hard drives of the day well built but they were reliable. You could tell that the manufacturers were proud of their product and truly cared that their customers had something of value – a hard drive with superior craftsmanship. This was the case regardless of whether the hard drives were being made for enterprise or personal use.
Fast Forward To Today
Ah, yes. That was then. Now we have a considerably different landscape to work with. Sure, there are a lot of great products out there from all three of the current hard drive manufacturers. However, one particular manufacturer’s product seems to spend a lot of time in our lab. This means that the hard drives being made are a tad short on reliability and the failure rate is rather high.
When we launched our business we leaned towards the Seagate family of hard drives. That was until they chose to purchase the Maxtor family of products. At first, we were pretty confident that Maxtor would bring something great to the product line of Seagate as the Maxtor drives were well made. Well, as sometimes happens in corporate takeovers, things change. Even when the suits in the head office claim that all that will be different will be the name stamped on a product, costs associated with manufacturing tend to force the level of quality to a much lower level.
That was what happened to Maxtor after the Seagate takeover. The quality of their products started to slide off the scale. Up to this point, we were seeing far more Western Digital drives in our lab. Well, the tables have turned and it’s now Seagate that eats up a lot of our time in data recovery situations. The numbers don’t lie, either.
I see 4 out of 5 failed drives in our lab that are all Seagate branded.
The Top Offenders List
Okay, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. Now, remember, this is based on my hands-on experience on our data recovery labs. This covers well over ten years of data recovery from easily thousands of hard drives that have passed through our doors.
The list of top offenders when we are talking about failed hard drives looks like this:
1 – Seagate
2 – Western Digital
3 – Toshiba
The last spot on our list – Toshiba – is actually the safest and most reliable of the current three hard drive manufacturers. There is also a subsidiary of both Western Digital and Toshiba – Hitachi. These drives happen to be the absolute best in my mind. That is because there are truly a solid and indestructible hard drive.
Again, this list is purely based on our experience but you don’t have to just take our word for it. There is actually some further data you can examine to see where our list measures up again the hard drive failure stats from 2017 according to Blackblaze.
Even in this collection of data, Seagate holds the top spot for hard drive failures at 29.08% on an annual basis. Western Digital sits at second place with 8.87% annual failure rate and the winner (the manufacturer with the least amount of hard drive failures) is Toshiba with an astounding 0.00% flawless performance rate. The final spot is held by HGST which happens to be a Hitachi subsidiary of Toshiba.
As I’ve stated, the hard drive landscape has shifted considerably since the public first gained access to hard drives. What is interesting to note is that the brand name of many products these days – and this can be applied to just about anything – does not always hint at the quality that is contained within that product. Yes, there was a time when quality was the top priority for mass-produced consumer products.
Unfortunately, things have taken a real dive in that department.
After all, you are spending good money on the things you expect to work for a reasonable length of time. Cheaper components manufactured offshore at a fraction of the cost of domestic items may present a cheaper sticker price, but sometimes a cheaper made product is just that – cheap.
When that product is electronics and computer hard drives in particular, you expect to get a fair lifespan out of them with little or no trouble. Sure, every hard drive dies eventually, but if your data is as valuable to you as you say it is, you will want to use reliable equipment to store it. You will also want to protect it with reliable backup systems.
Yevgeniy Kapishon is a data recovery engineer at ADRS® Aesonlabs Data Recovery Systems, blogger and a hardcore techno enthusiast living in Toronto, Canada. In his free time, he likes to wander and explore the back alleys of his neighborhood with his best friend aka Cat by the name of Benjamin.