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Best Brand of Hard Disks?

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April 20, 2009 6:41:00 AM

These are my impressions about the big three (Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital) hard disk brands:

Maxtor: Affordable

Seagate: Reliable

Western Digital: Fast

Agree or disagree? Are there any other brands out there to consider? I'm thinking more of reliability so far, that's why I'm go with Seagate for my next purchase. Wise?

Oh, and feel free to list another brand here if I missed something

More about : brand hard disks

April 20, 2009 1:06:19 PM

Replace Maxtor with Hitachi or Toshiba (both last longer, and have fewer failure rates). Had an old 80GB Hitachi Deskstar HDD (the deathstar) dropped it off a 4th floor stairwell and it still worked (fell out of my case, the side cover went over too).
April 21, 2009 3:02:12 AM

Ouch IH8U, that's gotta hurt! Hope you didn't lose any data.

Anyways Fuster33, I personally swear by my Western Digital Passport Express. So if you're looking for an external hard drive maybe you should consider that. I've also heard good things about WD internal drives, specifically the Caviar series, but having never owned one yet, I can't say these statements are conclusive.
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April 21, 2009 3:31:15 AM

I know I'm gonna catch some heat for this but I like Seagate. They have had some issues with some of their 7200.11 drives, I have 2 of them and haven't had an issue. I still have a couple 9-10 year old Seagates that still work but are too small to be worth anything.

That said I think Seagate or Western Digital are the best choices. If I were to buy one today I would go with the Seagate 7200.12.
a b G Storage
April 21, 2009 4:02:19 AM

personally id go wd for any hd larger tyhen 750 GB on account that the bricking seagates may still b e floating aqround
a b G Storage
April 21, 2009 10:00:17 PM

The Seagate 7200.12 look like excellent drives. They appear to have fixed the issues that plagued the .11s, and they are FAST for normal single user workloads.
a c 353 G Storage
April 22, 2009 12:16:58 AM

cjl
Have you looked at newegg ratings, started off pretty good, but as # raters has gone up so has the 1/2 egg #'s. currently about 21% for the 500 Gig -12 Vs about 7% for the 640 gig WD. I was going to buy a couple as performance lookd pretty good.

Speaking of longevity, Had to check out some Seagate and Quantum SCSI drives made in 94/95 time frame - All but 3 are still ticking (Only 1 & 2 gig drives) 3 drives have been stored in a Conex since 2003. No enviromental controls and caddie were rusted.
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 1:58:48 AM

WD is both reliable and fast. Especially their larger models like the 640GB and the 1TB Black.
April 22, 2009 10:28:25 AM

I've also heard good things about WD's Caviars... but is it worth getting the Green? Do the low power consumption features affect performance much?
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 12:07:42 PM

Fuster33 said:
These are my impressions about the big three (Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital) hard disk brands:

Maxtor: Affordable

Seagate: Reliable

Western Digital: Fast

Agree or disagree?


Maxtor: Cheap POS
Seagate: Expensive POS
Western Digital: The One HD That Rules Them All! WD FTW!!!!!

We've all got our stories about how this or that brand of drive failed, but after using, replacing, and RAID'ing hundreds of drives over the past 15 years, Western Digital has proven to be the most reliable and best value per GB.

I will give props to the new Seagate 7200.12 line of drives as they have been getting good reviews and ratings, but anything Seagate from the .10 or .11 lines are total crap and the Seagate RMA/Repair service swallows my load!
a c 127 G Storage
April 22, 2009 12:18:08 PM

IMO there's no good reason to pick any HDD but 5400rpm ones anymore. With prices of good SSDs falling, any storage medium requiring high performance like your system drive or data drives used in busy servers should be an SSD. Storage mediums used for mass-storage of large data files like videos, music and disc-images, would best be served by large, low-spinning mechanical disks, like the WD Green drives. Those only consume half the power of normal disks and are still very fast in sequential transfers.

The truth is, any mechanical disk truely sucks when it comes to true performance, rated in IOps. That's also why harddrive makers never specify or market these performance statistics; all they care about is MB/s which is what people are thinking is important. Mechanical harddrives will never be able to meet the demands of high-performance storage.

Judging from that, any modern computer system should have an SSD as a system disk, paired with a large 5400rpm mechanical HDD for mass-storage. Or in terms of products:

Intel X25-M 80GB + WD Green 1.0/2.0TB would be a nice combo at the moment, and prices on the Intel SSDs are falling again on April 26th.
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 6:52:15 PM

chunkymonster said:
Maxtor: Cheap POS
Seagate: Expensive POS
Western Digital: The One HD That Rules Them All! WD FTW!!!!!

We've all got our stories about how this or that brand of drive failed, but after using, replacing, and RAID'ing hundreds of drives over the past 15 years, Western Digital has proven to be the most reliable and best value per GB.

I will give props to the new Seagate 7200.12 line of drives as they have been getting good reviews and ratings, but anything Seagate from the .10 or .11 lines are total crap and the Seagate RMA/Repair service swallows my load!


Actually, the .10s are quite reliable, although they are also quite slow compared to modern drives. The issues that have recently plagued seagate are due to changes introduced on the .11 line.

As for the comment about 5400rpm drives, SSD costs are still nowhere near low enough to be worth it as a system drive. You can currently buy a pair of velociraptors (300GB each) and run them in RAID for the same price as an 80GB Intel X25-M. Will they be as fast? No, but they certainly aren't slow, and you get 600GB for the price of 80. Besides, my games wouldn't fit on 80GB.
a c 127 G Storage
April 22, 2009 7:21:13 PM

Then for you the SSD is still a too high price. If you *can* fit your system disk on 80GB, however, or able to buy two 80GB and team them in RAID0 to one 160GB drive you would have a significantly improved experience regarding speed and responsiveness. If you don't find that important then why invest in an expensive system anyway. If you want a system with a budget of around $1000 a SSD feels mandatory to me. Unless you're a gamer and want to focus on GPU instead, or have other special demands, most users will be better off shaving money off their basic components to save enough money to fit an SSD in the budget. Generally, that should give you a better system for the money.

So if it was:
Phenom II + cheap mobo + DDR2 + SSD
versus
Core i7 cpu + core i7 mobo + DDR3 + HDD

which would you pick if both choises cost the same? I'd opt for the SSD honestly.
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 7:33:21 PM

SSD vary greatly in performance. not to mention not very many task outside of booting windows require awesome HDD performance. You could easily do 2 150GB velociraptors in a raid 0 and get very close to the performance of a good single SSD.

I'd go HDD with the core i7 personally
a c 127 G Storage
April 22, 2009 7:43:24 PM

Have you ever worked on a system with a modern SSD? If you've experienced the instant-in feeling an SSD can offer you, you'd probably not want to go back to working on a slow mechanical drive. Maybe watch some youtube to get yourself convinced. ;) 

And i suggested a good SSD, the Intel X25-M, not some flaky SSD with JMicron controller, those suck. You may want to update the firmware of your X25-M, but other than that its performance is unrivalled by any mechanical disk.
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 7:52:52 PM

sub mesa said:
Have you ever worked on a system with a modern SSD? If you've experienced the instant-in feeling an SSD can offer you, you'd probably not want to go back to working on a slow mechanical drive. Maybe watch some youtube to get yourself convinced. ;) 

And i suggested a good SSD, the Intel X25-M, not some flaky SSD with JMicron controller, those suck. You may want to update the firmware of your X25-M, but other than that its performance is unrivalled by any mechanical disk.

While it is true that you can't equal the performance of an X25-M with velociraptors (at least not easily), you also can't call RAIDed velociraptors slow. I have a pair of 300GB Velociraptors, and the system is basically instantly responsive for anything I want to do. It might not be quite as fast as a SSD, but it definitely has a noticeable leg up over a standard hard drive. This is also helped by the 12 gigs of RAM of course, but a decent amount of the speed is definitely the drives.

Oh, and I would argue that for system responsiveness once Windows has already started (as opposed to boot time), you're better off investing in more RAM. It will give a noticeable improvement for far less money than an SSD.
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 7:53:34 PM

I prefer WD personally.
a c 127 G Storage
April 22, 2009 8:19:24 PM

cjl said:
While it is true that you can't equal the performance of an X25-M with velociraptors (at least not easily), you also can't call RAIDed velociraptors slow. I have a pair of 300GB Velociraptors, and the system is basically instantly responsive for anything I want to do. It might not be quite as fast as a SSD, but it definitely has a noticeable leg up over a standard hard drive. This is also helped by the 12 gigs of RAM of course, but a decent amount of the speed is definitely the drives.

Well its known that HDDs including the velociraptor prefer sequential I/O over random I/O - when you install an OS cleanly it will boot very fast on a HDD, but after you've been working with it for months and installed and removed all kind of applications and files, fragmentation will cause non-sequential access to the storage medium, and SSDs can handle those incredibly fast but HDDs have to reposition the head or "seek" alot of times, which is very slow. That's where you'll start noticing the real performance difference.

While alot of mechanisms are built into Windows and storage drivers and HDD firmware/controller to negate the bad non-sequential performance of mechanical harddrives, their ultimate weakness cannot be overcome: they have to physically move stuff in order to access data, that can never perform on the same level as other parts of your computer system, which are fully electronic aside from optical drive. Optical drive will die too, since it has the same problem and is not reliable at all. Good SSD's however, offer both fast and extremely reliable storage which excells mechanical disks in multiple orders of magnitude. The waiting game is for the intelligent controllers to make use of all the potential. Don't be surprised to see 2000MB/s and 100.000 IOps+ SSD solutions coming soon, using PCIe as interface because SATA is way too slow. A PCIe adapter offering ~1000MB/s is already being sold, i can lookup the source if you would like me to.

Quote:
Oh, and I would argue that for system responsiveness once Windows has already started (as opposed to boot time), you're better off investing in more RAM. It will give a noticeable improvement for far less money than an SSD.

More memory than what applications use (remember many are still 32-bit so use maximum of 2GB per process) is only used as file cache, remembering previous data that came from the HDD in the internal memory. While this is useful, i don't think a difference between 4GB or 12GB is really that significant, unless you use applications that use alot of memory themselves. Your memory can't and won't read-ahead future accesses, and you'd need more memory than your storage space to pre-cache everything, which is not efficient at all. Its far better to invest in an SSD IMO.

Do you have any sources for your claims, like benchmarks or tests?
a b G Storage
April 22, 2009 10:48:56 PM

sub mesa said:
Well its known that HDDs including the velociraptor prefer sequential I/O over random I/O - when you install an OS cleanly it will boot very fast on a HDD, but after you've been working with it for months and installed and removed all kind of applications and files, fragmentation will cause non-sequential access to the storage medium, and SSDs can handle those incredibly fast but HDDs have to reposition the head or "seek" alot of times, which is very slow. That's where you'll start noticing the real performance difference.

While alot of mechanisms are built into Windows and storage drivers and HDD firmware/controller to negate the bad non-sequential performance of mechanical harddrives, their ultimate weakness cannot be overcome: they have to physically move stuff in order to access data, that can never perform on the same level as other parts of your computer system, which are fully electronic aside from optical drive. Optical drive will die too, since it has the same problem and is not reliable at all. Good SSD's however, offer both fast and extremely reliable storage which excells mechanical disks in multiple orders of magnitude. The waiting game is for the intelligent controllers to make use of all the potential. Don't be surprised to see 2000MB/s and 100.000 IOps+ SSD solutions coming soon, using PCIe as interface because SATA is way too slow. A PCIe adapter offering ~1000MB/s is already being sold, i can lookup the source if you would like me to.


True, though with native command queuing, the Velociraptors are not slow at random IO either. With a queue depth of only 2, I can get 80MB/s throughput on 2kb random reads from my velociraptor array as measured with ATTO. For comparison, my data drive (a WD 1TB Caviar Black, hardly a slow drive in its own right) only manages 17MB/s on the same test. This shows just how superior a Velociraptor array is to a standard drive at random IO, the area at which SSDs excel. Again, it isn't the same speed as an SSD, but they certainly are not slow. They are also quite reliable - for all the claims that hard drives are the weak point in a system, I have not found that to be the case. From my experience, an average hard drive will easily outlast an average high performance video card for example. In fact, hard drive reliability isn't an issue (other than a few bad models, like the 7200.11 series from Seagate) from my experience - I almost always replace them out of obsolescence before they crash. I have an old 6GB Quantum Fireball that still works just fine for example, but I have absolutely no use for it now.

As for PCI-E SSDs, they are a gimmick at best right now, as booting from them or installing a main OS to them is not supported. SATA 6GB/s is more likely as a good interface with 600MB/s capability.

sub mesa said:

Quote:
Oh, and I would argue that for system responsiveness once Windows has already started (as opposed to boot time), you're better off investing in more RAM. It will give a noticeable improvement for far less money than an SSD.

More memory than what applications use (remember many are still 32-bit so use maximum of 2GB per process) is only used as file cache, remembering previous data that came from the HDD in the internal memory. While this is useful, i don't think a difference between 4GB or 12GB is really that significant, unless you use applications that use alot of memory themselves. Your memory can't and won't read-ahead future accesses, and you'd need more memory than your storage space to pre-cache everything, which is not efficient at all. Its far better to invest in an SSD IMO.

Do you have any sources for your claims, like benchmarks or tests?


I'm not referring to the difference between 4 and 12 gigs here - my system is far from typical. I was saying that there is a fairly significant difference from 2 to 4 gigs for example, and a smaller difference from 4 to 8. I have 12 gigs because of some of the applications I run, not because of system responsiveness (and it is not uncommon for me to be using 7+ gigs at a time). Also, 32 bit apps can use 4 gigs per application when in a 64 bit OS, not 2 gigs. I'm not claiming that the difference between 4 and 8 gigs for example is more significant than installing an SSD (it isn't). However, it is a hell of a lot cheaper, and gives some of the same gains, depending on your usage pattern. Basically, it's a better choice because it's cheaper, not because it is faster.
a c 127 G Storage
April 22, 2009 11:12:39 PM

cjl said:
True, though with native command queuing, the Velociraptors are not slow at random IO either. With a queue depth of only 2, I can get 80MB/s throughput on 2kb random reads from my velociraptor array as measured with ATTO.

ATTO tests sequential throughput and not random or non-sequential I/O. Sequential I/O is done in chunks, chunks of 64KiB or 128KiB usually, but ATTO tests it in all chunk sizes; but it's still testing contiguous read and write speed, not random I/O performance, rated in IOps. And the truth is, that all HDDs are slow at random I/O.. no HDD can do more than 100-300 sector-size random IOps and probably around 110-140 or something. SSD's can do 30.000 IOps and some advanced storage products on PCIe can do over a hundred thousand. That's means its about a thousand times faster in random I/O than a mechanical HDD, including 15K server disks.

Quote:
As for PCI-E SSDs, they are a gimmick at best right now, as booting from them or installing a main OS to them is not supported. SATA 6GB/s is more likely as a good interface with 600MB/s capability.

Since the SATA 6Gbps standard has already been surpassed in todays storage (1000MB/s) its actually already outdated. With PCIe interface we can scale high-performance storage to GB/s and hundreds of thousands of IOps, simply not possible with SATA. Maybe we won't use harddrives but rather add-on PCIe-controllers with their own flash memory chips and advanced controller. An interface should never be the limiting factor; that means there is no opportunity for innovation and improvement because they are stuck with an old interface they cannot change. That's why interfaces should grow ahead of their time. That also means USB2 is outdated many years already, and USB3 should already be built-in in current systems looking at what USB is used for now.

Oh and why wouldn't booting be supported? It'll just be a hardware RAID-controller, it will require drivers, but it should be bootable. There is no obvious reason why it cannot be bootable.

Quote:
Also, 32 bit apps can use 4 gigs per application when in a 64 bit OS, not 2 gigs.

Only when they have been specially compiled to use more than 2GB memory, known as the IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE compile flag. Many applications like games are not compiled with this option, so they are limited to 2GB adressing on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
a b G Storage
April 23, 2009 6:19:56 AM

I generally go with WD since I've only had one that developed bad sector a few years ago.

The longest lasting HDD I've ever used was my IBM Deskstar 75GX 60GB way back from 2000. I finally decided to retire it in 2008 fear that it will actually die and take my data with it.
a b G Storage
April 23, 2009 6:48:27 AM

I also have a still working 45 GB Deskstar. But for the desktop, I am pretty much sticking to WD.
a b G Storage
April 23, 2009 6:41:54 PM

WD seems to have the edge in reliability right now. If you have any interest in speed just get the WD Black series.

I've spent a lot of time reading the customer reviews on newegg. It is interesting that you will find people who buy drives, the drives fail, and they complain that this is the worst brand ever. The trouble is you find these reviews for ALL of the brands. Any manufacturer is capable of making good drives, and of making drives that will fail. You want the lower percentages, and WD seems to provide the lower percentages of failures right now.

The lesson is of course DO NOT RELY ON ANY INDIVIDUAL HARD DRIVE. The more important your data is, the more places and types of media you should have it backed up on.
a c 100 G Storage
April 23, 2009 9:53:16 PM

Most everyone should have 2 drives, a smaller (maybe not for gamers) drive for the Operating System (Windows, Linux etc) and a second one for mass storage including Windows backups.

I have a WD 300GB Velociraptor and a 1TB WD Green.

I was surprised to fill up my Velociraptor with all my games though. In retrospect I think I would have used a 2x1TB RAID 0 solution. Hard to say.

Seagate's coming out with a new mass storage series "Barracuda LP" aimed at mass storage. Very quiet, low power. The maximum 95MB/second isn't too bad for a main drive either depending on usage.

4GB is generally optimal. If you have 1GB of RAM, upgrading to 3GB or 4GB would have more benefit than getting a faster hard drive.

I like Western Digital if I had to choose. My next main drive will be an SSD but not for 2 years.
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