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Where Do Hard Drive Heads Come From?
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The dimensions of the head are impressive. With a width of less than a hundred nanometers and a thickness of about ten, it flies above the platter at a speed of up to 15,000 RPM, at a height that’s the equivalent of 40 atoms. If you start multiplying these infinitesimally small numbers, you begin to get an idea of their significance.

Consider this little comparison: if the read/write head were a Boeing 747, and the hard-disk platter were the surface of the Earth:

  • The head would fly at Mach 800
  • At less than one centimeter from the ground
  • And count every blade of grass
  • Making fewer than 10 unrecoverable counting errors in an area equivalent to all of Ireland.

    All the elements of the head are fabricated very much the same way as processors are. They are formed from wafers, using photolithography and deposition of appropriate materials.
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  • -8 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 20, 2008 9:03 AM
    "It’s in charge of production of 80% of the magnetic heads used in Seagate hard disks. Springtown has a sister plant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that provides the remaining 20%." coupled with "Springtown, home to the plant where over 30% of the world’s hard disk read/write heads come from."

    Thereby I must conclude that at least 37,5% of the worlds harddrives have seagate read heads ? if that's true, how come hitachi and western digital drives don't fail like their seagate brothers, if it's the same read heads?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 9:09 AM
    western digital produce their own heads and so do Hitachi. So it's not the same heads. The other brands use TDKs. Plus, I really wouldn't say that Seagate drives are more prone to failure, but I guess you had a bad experience...
  • -7 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 20, 2008 9:15 AM
    ye I know somewhere it said the rest of the bunch use tdk heads - but that just means that seagate drives must be so common that they are in more than a third of every computer worldwide. Which is unlikely really, since they're hardly the choice for datastores, and aren't really the obvious choice for end users either.

    Anyway, ye I have bad experiences with them, but not limited to one drive. What is the worst part of seagate imo isn't the fact that they're failing more than wds - it's that they don't have anything resembling support. You can contact htem, but they'll just say 'that's normal behavour' until the drive fails completely. Then it's your fault it failed.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 10:38 AM
    Well thats easy to work out
    Delorean Made in ? questionable build quality?
    20% made in USA = 80% left
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 11:15 AM
    I hate WD drives! Not only have I had a bad experience with several WD Drives I had a very bad experience with WD when I tried to get them to make good on one of them. One of them failed under warranty which they replaced only to find out later that they replaced it with an other drive that failed and that they repaired. This drive all so failed and when I called them one of there managers there in word or less told me that I used up my quota and would not make repairs even though it was still under their warranty. This guy told me basically to get lost stating how long did I expect a drive to last. Well my reply was at the least through the warranty period. Even though this happened a while ago I don’t buy WD’s any more and I just cant recommend them. I have used Seagate drives and have had no trouble with them. Since I never had a problem with seagate I cant comment on there customer service. Stay away from Western digital I got burnt bad.
  • 0 Hide
    LATTEH , November 20, 2008 11:27 AM
    well at least a little bit of it is made in the US thats better then nothing...
  • 3 Hide
    fadirocks , November 20, 2008 11:40 AM
    t1cvrtI hate WD drives! Not only have I had a bad experience with several WD Drives I had a very ...etc

    Umm so far I had so many HDs from all manufacturers, 2 hitachi, 3 maxtor, 3 seagate, 5 WD, 2 Fujitsu
    out of all only 1 WD totally died because my friend tripped on the wires and let the bird fly!! and Fujitsu had horrible unrecoverable sectors but then that was after 5 years of abuse

    Out of my clients: #1 cause of HD failure is User like moving laptop around while hibernating/shutting down the system, dropping the laptop while working and using unprotected or limited protected power source!
  • -1 Hide
    szore , November 20, 2008 11:48 AM
    I had a problem with several WD HD's. I had RAID array, several drives and I dropped my computer while it was running. WD replaced all of them by UPS within the week. They even up graded an old 36 gig 10,000 RPM raptor to the 76 gig model for nothing. While I am not crazy about WD, I have had a few problems with them in other situations, they did replace 4 drives for me within the week.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 20, 2008 12:04 PM
    t1cvrtI hate WD drives! Not only have I had a bad experience with several WD Drives I had a very bad experience with WD when I tried to get them to make good on one of them. One of them failed under warranty which they replaced only to find out later that they replaced it with an other drive that failed and that they repaired. This drive all so failed and when I called them one of there managers there in word or less told me that I used up my quota and would not make repairs even though it was still under their warranty. This guy told me basically to get lost stating how long did I expect a drive to last. Well my reply was at the least through the warranty period. Even though this happened a while ago I don’t buy WD’s any more and I just cant recommend them. I have used Seagate drives and have had no trouble with them. Since I never had a problem with seagate I cant comment on there customer service. Stay away from Western digital I got burnt bad.

    When you get a drive from wd it'll be a repaired drive yes. But that's within their right. And so far I've never seen a repaired drive fail.
    Anyway, do you have a transcript of the warrenty issue you describe? I would like to see it before I believe it.

    fadirocksUmm so far I had so many HDs from all manufacturers, 2 hitachi, 3 maxtor, 3 seagate, 5 WD, 2 Fujitsuout of all only 1 WD totally died because my friend tripped on the wires and let the bird fly!! and Fujitsu had horrible unrecoverable sectors but then that was after 5 years of abuseOut of my clients: #1 cause of HD failure is User like moving laptop around while hibernating/shutting down the system, dropping the laptop while working and using unprotected or limited protected power source!

    I've had 4 500gb wd drives break, and a raptor drive break - but in the same timespan (4 years) I've seen at least 10 seagate drives break, two of which happened within the last 6 months), and some 25 maxtor drives. Granted most of our work computers have maxtor or hitachi drives .... but still - only 2 hitachi drives failed in the same time 25 maxtor and 10 seagate did...
  • 5 Hide
    matthieu lamelot , November 20, 2008 12:17 PM
    neiroatopelccWhich is unlikely really, since they're hardly the choice for datastores, and aren't really the obvious choice for end users either.


    You really have a bad opinion about Seagate, don't you ? ;)  FYI, they have a 66 % market share in the "enterprise disks" sector, Hitachi and Fujitsu each fighting for half of the rest. And globally, they have a 33 % market share, so, yes, their heads are found in one third of all disks sold every year.
  • 0 Hide
    computerninja7823 , November 20, 2008 12:39 PM
    i cant say anything bad about seagate except the fact that i have used them and seen the get some pretty bad drive errors!....but western digital on the other hand has been good to me! i have a 250 gb WD drive and it was given to me by my aunt out of her old computer, and that drive was one of the first 7,200 rpm sata drives that WD made and it lasted between me and her about 3 or 4 years maybe more...at any rate i have installed windows on that drive and partioned it so many time and with out errors!
  • -3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 20, 2008 12:45 PM
    matthieu lamelotYou really have a bad opinion about Seagate, don't you ? FYI, they have a 66 % market share in the "enterprise disks" sector, Hitachi and Fujitsu each fighting for half of the rest. And globally, they have a 33 % market share, so, yes, their heads are found in one third of all disks sold every year.


    Where do you get those numbers? Link plz. At work I'm only aware of two server models running 'custom hp branded' seagate drives. Everything else is hitachi. And I don't believe we've explicitly asked for hitachi (I just operate the stuff, I don't order it). Perhaps you're right though, and it just so happends that the eonstor and hp equipment we have doesn't have seagate drives. I wouldn't know, since I only frequent my own serverrooms.

    But no. I don't like seagate. I could live with em in the past, but now that they've taken over maxtor, I don't trust them at all. After all maxtor is the single worst harddrive maker to still operate (not counting quantum since they dont exist anymore).

  • -2 Hide
    matthieu lamelot , November 20, 2008 1:15 PM
    My most recent source is Seagate, and I don't have a link. In case you doubt, Google brings up these links, which show the lines haven't moved a lot since Maxtor acquisition :
    - http://blog.fosketts.net/2008/10/02/western-digital-fujitsu-seagate-hitachi/
    - http://www.theinquirer.net/en/inquirer/news/2006/12/13/seagate-biggest-hard-drive-vendor-in-cosmos
  • -3 Hide
    Pei-chen , November 20, 2008 1:20 PM
    What is "Making fewer than 10 unrecoverable counting errors in an area equivalent to all of Ireland" mean to me? Does it mean a set percentage of the data I stored is not readable?

    BTW, should HDD be mounted horizontally or vertically?
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 2:07 PM
    Man, with all of those complex processes for HD creaton I start wondering why manufacturing SSD drives is more costly? Doesn't make sense.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 2:19 PM
    To neiroatopelcc
    What is this you want to see a paper trail?
    Why would any one want to make up such a story?
    As for WD right to replace a drive with a repaired one, try reading my post again. I did not have a problem with that. My problem is it failed again and they would not make good on it. I all so did not like there attitude when I called them about it.
    If you’re so in love with WD then my advice to you and only you is to keep on buying from them. That is you right and I respect that I don’t how ever respect your suggestion that I made such a think up! Why would some one want to do such a thing? In your post you did not even take time to invent some made up motive for me to do so! So keep on making love to WD. People like you will never believe anything until they catch there disease. So for you keep on buy WD drives and I think you will learn the hard way. For every one else this is my experience for your benefit it up to you to decide what you want to do. Paper trail, go check out the men’s room for your paper trail!
    I would like to know if any one else has had a bad experience with WD as in all fairness this could have been an isolated incident but even so I’m not happy with them.

  • 3 Hide
    ScepticOne , November 20, 2008 2:59 PM
    Everyone probably had a Bad/Good experience with one brand or another. I'm lucky with WD and unlucky with Maxtor. Would I recomend one over the other? Nope!!! Many of My friends have Maxtors running for YEARS in their computers without problems.FWIW, I also have an eight year old Seagate running in My computer flawlessly.
  • 2 Hide
    bounty , November 20, 2008 3:00 PM
    At work, let me guess... you standardize on one brand of server? Then why is it so hard to think, maybe a manufacturer mainly uses brand X hard drives? They probably get a deal for exclucivity, or buying in bulk. Plus less support/certification that a drive will work with their RAID controllers etc. Well, other server, san, nas brands standardize on other brands.
  • -1 Hide
    zcubed , November 20, 2008 3:15 PM
    hard drives are very fickle regardless of manufacturer. ive had about 9 drives in the past 5 years. in that time i have had 2 western digital drives. both of which died within a year of use(not heavy use mind you just back ups of other drives every month). all my other drives have been seagates. the IDE ones i bought second hand(for external storage) and so they have many years on them and still work great. the sata ones are still going strong as well even after much abuse in raid 0 and media streaming drives. the experience varies from person to person. i have good experiences with seagates and enjoy the 5 year warranty so i stick with them. others prefer western digital or others. sometimes its just a game of chance and luck.
  • 0 Hide
    pip_seeker , November 20, 2008 3:28 PM
    10TB drive... CRIKEY. You'd have to shut down operations for a week to defrag that monster.
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