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Should I be worried hard drive lifespan?

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Anonymous
a b α HP
a b G Storage
May 5, 2011 6:32:38 PM

Hard drives always die, it's a matter of WHEN they will die, I have important files on a hard drive and no backups, in a 4-year old computer, when it's ultra outdated, I will use it as server for no real purposes- just experimenting an learning, or getting to the point it will be running 24/7 sorta, sometimes.

So what is the life span of a hard drive? , I have a Western Digital something something, not a Black, Blue or Green, just a SATA 3.0Gb/s hard drive that came with my PC which is a pre built HP, never again will I buy pre built garbage.

And also, what is MTBF???
a c 371 G Storage
May 5, 2011 6:51:45 PM

There are many reasons a hard drive can fail. I've got hard drives that were DOA. I've had some die after a few weeks or months. I've also had some that lasted almost 10 years.

The point is if you value your data, always have a backup plan! As a side note, RAID is not a backup.
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a c 289 G Storage
May 5, 2011 7:05:49 PM

MTBF stands for Mean Time Between Failures. If you ran a million systems, on the average the uptime between failures would be the MTBF. It's meaningless for you for two reasons: One, you are running one or two computers, so your sample is so small that it won't hew to the statistical mean. Two, and I may be wrong, hard drives don't have a MTBF, because they don't have a TBF. A system can fail and come back up. A failed harddrive is a paperweight, or maybe a target for skeet shooting.

Hawkeye is entirely right. I run my home system as if I expect a failure every week. I don't get them anywhere near that often, but when I do, I have backups.
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a c 415 G Storage
May 5, 2011 7:12:56 PM

According to the Google study on hard drive failure rates, something like 6 to 8% of drives fail every year. There's some variation in specific years, but it looks like it's consistent enough to be taken as a general rule - so there doesn't seem to be a specific "life span" - it's more a case of the drive being more likely to fail as more time goes by.

MTBF = mean time between failure, but those vendor-quoted numbers don't seem to jive with real-life experience. For example, WD claims 1.2 million hours MTBF for it's Enterprise-class drives, but that equates to well over a century. Nobody in their right mind would expect an average hard drive to last a century.
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Anonymous
a b α HP
a b G Storage
May 6, 2011 3:50:56 AM

Why isn't RAID 1 a backup?

What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive?
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a c 371 G Storage
May 6, 2011 12:03:26 PM

Quote:
Why isn't RAID 1 a backup?

What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive?


RAID 1 like all raid (except RAID 0) is for redundancy. If one drive fails the system can continue to run. If you get a virus or mistakenly delete a file using RAID 1, it effects all drives since they are clones of each other. Only a backup can correct that problem.

A good backup depends on what you are comfortable with for your data. You can back it up to an external drive and take that drive offsite, or perhaps put it in a fire safe in your house. It could just be backup that you keep on several drives in case of those drives goes bad. I have a small network in my house, so I keep a copy of my backups on a NAS, and on a secondary computer.
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May 6, 2011 4:12:16 PM

RAID-1 is not a "backup" in the strictest sense... if someone deleted your "My Documents' folder... or your house burned up/down(?!), or your computer was stolen...

It is, however, a great idea. I had a machine running RAID-1 from 2004 to 2010. Over those six years I had two drive failures (both replaced under warranty) and never lost a byte of data.

Bottom line. Storage is cheap. RAID-1 is good. RAID-5 is better. Separate your system and your data (that's another story) Take good backups and fear no evil...
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May 6, 2011 4:14:52 PM

Quote:
What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive?


In the best of both worlds, SSD for the Operating System (for speed), AND Hard Drive for storage. Image the OS drive, backup the data drive.
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Anonymous
a b α HP
a b G Storage
May 6, 2011 5:15:06 PM

I don't have critical data on my hard drive, just a couple of thousand family pictures, some games and software, though certainly I don't wanna loose it.

Another question, if my hard drive fails, what exactly would be a hard rive failure, does it stop spinning or something and will it be reparable?

Let's say I send it to a data recovery company to get my pictures,
what would happen to my windows license, how will I deactivate windows to reuse the license, how about my games, if I used a one-time serial to install them on the PC how would I get them back, same goes for a Sony Vegas or 3Ds Max license, how would I get that stuff back?
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a c 371 G Storage
May 6, 2011 5:43:30 PM

Hard drives can fail in several ways. The motor can stop working, the heads can crash, the magnetic coating on the platters can deteriorate,... In the end, it will be cheaper to have a backup plan in place then it will to use professional services to recover data (costs can be in the $1000's).
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a c 415 G Storage
May 6, 2011 11:38:17 PM

Quote:
Why isn't RAID 1 a backup?


For the reasons listed by other posters. RAID 1 only protects against disk failure, it doesn't protect against accidental deletion of files, corruption of files, power hits to your computer system, theft of the computer system, disasters, etc. etc.

If your data is important, then you really need to protect it against all those risks, and that means you need to have a backup strategy first, before you worry about RAID. And then you discover that once you have the backup strategy in place you don't really need RAID for data protection - the real benefit of RAID is to eliminate the downtime that would otherwise be needed to restore your data from a backup in the event of a disk failure.

It turns out that for most home users, it's more important to protect the data against all risks than it is to eliminate downtime - most home users can suffer some downtime without any serious effects, but boy are they pissed off if their precious photos are gone! I see posts all the time from users who are pleading for any way to get their files back, but sadly in a lot of cases it's too late - those files are gone and no amount of money is going to get them back again.

So for most home users RAID is superfluous, at least in terms of data protection (although some may still use it for performance reasons - hopefully they understand what kind of performance it can and can't buy you).

What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive? said:
What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive?


The three most important aspects of a good backup strategy are:

- more than one copy of the backup. This is typically done by alternating backups to different sets of media - backup to disk 1 this week, disk 2 next week, then back to disk 1 for the third week, etc. This means that you're not SOL if one of your backup disks (or other media) dies.

- more than one generation of backup. This means keeping some backups for a longer period of time - for example you might choose to keep the first backup of a month for a whole year (if you have enough disk space available for that). This protects against accidental deletion or corruption of files that you don't discover right away.

- keep one backup offsite. This protects from risks such as theft or disasters (fire, for example).

If you follow these guidelines, it really doesn't matter what media you use for backup, whether it's DVD/BluRay, tape or hard drive. Hard drives are generally preferred because they're reusable, fast and don't require the kind of manual effort to swap discs that DVD or other optical discs typically do. I personally use "green" hard drives because they're cheap, reliable, and perform plenty fast enough for backups.
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Anonymous
a b α HP
a b G Storage
May 7, 2011 6:21:59 AM

How about your windows license, and one-time serials used for installing games or software?
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a c 415 G Storage
May 7, 2011 9:16:26 PM

It's always valid to re-install software following a hard drive failure. You need to make sure you have all your license keys safely recorded somewhere so that you have them if you need to do this.

The install program may complain (for example, if your system crashed with Photoshop installed you wouldn't have had the opportunity to deactivate the license key so that you can use it in another install). In that case you need to contact the vendor and explain what happened so they can reset the key for you.
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November 27, 2012 12:28:12 AM

Quote:
Why isn't RAID 1 a backup?

What would be a good backup, an SSD or an enterprise class hard drive?


Why do you say that RAID-5 is better?
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a c 288 G Storage
November 27, 2012 9:46:39 PM

It's an old thread but there is a general misunderstanding about MTBF.

AIUI, an MTBF of 500,000 hours means that in a population of 500
drives, say, it is expected that there will be 1 failure every 1000
hours.
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Anonymous
a b α HP
a b G Storage
December 5, 2012 6:05:04 PM

fzabkar said:
It's an old thread but there is a general misunderstanding about MTBF.

AIUI, an MTBF of 500,000 hours means that in a population of 500
drives, say, it is expected that there will be 1 failure every 1000
hours.


Old, thread but I am still here haha
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