Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Drives are getting bigger, but are they more reliable? That's a hard question.
I saw this in the early 2000s about cheap China hard drive failure. I think it was in a magazine. The ending remark was that they are getting better in quality. I bought one two years ago and it's ready to die. So, are they better? it does seem that smaller capacity drives from the 1990s last longer.
In this excerpt from Answercast #99 I look at the quality and size of hard drives today compared to what we used in the past.
Yea, a lot of people feel that way; that the smaller drives actually are more robust, I guess, and failure-free.
I have to admit.. I guess - that's probably true. It's probably, in the long run, more reliable to have five drives of 10 GB instead of a single 50 GB drive.
I've heard of people doing that kind of thing. Unfortunately, it's not practical.
I do believe that the technology has improved. In other words, the underlying technology that's being used to make these hard drives is getting better. Unfortunately, I also believe that instead of the improvement in technology making them more reliable, they are instead making them more "capacious" - I guess would be the way to put it.
In other words, they're making the hard drives bigger. Let's face it; ten years ago, you didn't have the 3 TB drives that you can purchase off the shelf now for a couple hundred bucks. And in fact, you wouldn't be able to, in any practical situation, put together 3 TB worth of storage using any technology that was available in the 1990s. Not in any practical sense.
I remember being at Microsoft in a small data center where we had racks and racks of hard drives. I think the rack had about 7 bays, with about 7 or 8 drives per bay. Do the math; those were 4 or 2 GB drives. Even that doesn't get close to what you now get in a single drive.
And when you increase the number of drives as we did then, you still increase the probability of failure. Each individual drive may last longer - but as a collection, adding up to that much storage then, it was still pretty likely that one of them was going to fail relatively soon.
So, it's a tough question to answer.
I do think that things, in general, are better. But I think they're better in ways that we don't necessarily appreciate as improved reliability.
Now, all this is really to say there is a solution. There is a very good solution to this problem.
And you know what it is: backup!
The fact is, regardless of whether it's technology that fails frequently or infrequently the number of failures per GB of storage probably has not changed that much - and it's non-zero. By that I mean - you know that sooner or later that hard drive is going to fail... regardless of what size it is.
That means that unless you're protected, you're going to lose what's on it. And you know that hard drives are gonna fail at the worst possible time.
I strongly recommend that regardless, or perhaps instead of, of making assumptions about hard drive longevity, instead make the opposite assumption. Assume that it's going to fail; assume that it's going to fail soon and prepare for that - because the only thing about that statement that is perhaps a bit of a stretch is the "soon" part.
A hard drive will eventually fail.
You don't know, when so be prepared for it happening soon. Make sure you've
got the appropriate level of backup so that when a hard drive fails, it's
nothing more than an inconvenience and never ever, a catastrophe.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 99- Are bigger internal memory or RAM sticks faster then those with less capacity?
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