Storelab, a Russian player in data recovery, recently released a long-term study comparing hard drives from a number of different vendors. The controversial report offers interesting data and provides a snapshot of HDD reliability and defect reasons.
Reliability is hardly what consumers think most about when they decide to buy a storage product. Capacity, price, and speed receive most of the attention. The fact of the matter is that reliability is just assumed. This makes potential customers an easy target for marketing departments.
Furthermore, few people actually know what specific hard drive they get when buying an OEM PC because vendors tend to screen the identities of individual components. Many customers also get lulled into a false sense of security by warranty periods. A five-year warranty does not guarantee five years without hard drive failure, it just means you get a new drive should it actually fail. Statistical surveys of hard drive reliability are as rare as independent, long-term tests, but we found at least some insight through this analysis that we're discussing today.
Practical Relevance and General Validity
The Russian company Storelab, an Eastern European market leader in professional data recovery, is known for analysis and professional guidance published on its website. Storelab recently published the results of a long-term study based on its own operations and the observed failure rates of certain hard drives from leading manufacturers.
Storelab found some interesting results, and although the study is not large or scientific enough, it provides a useful insight into the hard drive market. While the hard drives from one manufacturer lasted 3.5 years on average, comparable models in capacity, features, and price from another manufacturer only lasted 1.5 years. Consumers might "only" lose their home photos and video (no small event when it means a decade of memories erased), but in the commercial sector, unexpectedly high failures can paralyze companies and destroy months of work. Even if safety measures have been taken to secure the data, premature drive failures mean increased costs due to labor, replacement, and interrupted operations. For these reasons, Storelab decided to publicly evaluate the failure data it had collected in order to demonstrate which manufacturer reaches the lowest failure rates.
We want to point out that Storelab's data consists exclusively of hard drives sent in for data recovery. This says nothing about the total number of claims handled directly by the retailer or manufacturer. But it does allow for detailed analysis of actual errors. It also needs to be said that drives sent in for data recovery have not necessarily been treated badly. An advantage of this analysis is the long-term factor, which usually only plays a minor role in market statistical surveys. With this all in mind, let's take a close look at the company's results!