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When are Hard Drives too old?

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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:37 pm

SMART is not reliable enough to consider a drive that passes all the tests as safe.

In 2007 or so Google did a study called Failure Trends In a Large Disk Drive Population. They found that 36% of the drives in their study failed suddenly without any SMART warning at all.

The abstract notes the following:

Google Study wrote:Our analysis identifies several parameters from the drive’s self monitoring facility (SMART) that correlate highly with failures. Despite this high correlation, we conclude that models based on SMART parameters alone are unlikely to be useful for predicting individual drive failures. Surprisingly, we found that temperature and activity levels were much less correlated with drive failures than previously reported.

Section 3.5.6 of the report states:

Google Study wrote:Figure 14 shows that even when we add all remaining SMART parameters (except temperature) we still find that over 36% of all failed drives had zero counts on all variables. This population includes seek error rates, which we have observed to be widespread in our population (>72% of our drives have it) which further reduces the sample size of drives without any errors.

It is difficult to add temperature to this analysis since despite it being reported as part of SMART there are no crisp thresholds that directly indicate errors. However, if we arbitrarily assume that spending more than 50% of the observed time above 40C is an indication of possible problem, and add those drives to the set of predictable failures, we still are left with about 36% of all drives with no failure signals at all.


My emphasis. Get those backups done!
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby Rockrooms » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:39 pm

bluedot wrote:Solid State Drives (SSD's) have no moving parts to fail. Anything with a platter, its time will come when you need it the most.

I work on film, and these #$@% drives are my personal nightmare. SSD all the way.

They might not have any moving parts, but the cells have a limited number of writes which is why over provisioning, having good wear leveling firmware and leaving plenty of space tend to increase the lifetime. SLC will generally be more durable than MLC/TLC or QLC.

In a previous career we had a "disk henge" of failed drives from the various server labs. A couple of factors that seemed to make them fail more often was the amount of start / stop cycles rather than those which were running continuously. The other major killer was heat, once we had an aircon failure in one of the server rooms and ambient air temp reached 50C for a while before things were brought under control. After a few days we had a large number fail. Similar servers in terms of spec / disks / age in other labs were fine.

I've got disks from 10 years ago that still running fine (mostly just pulls from machines that then had ssd replacements) when powered up, whilst others failed within a year.
I've had mixed results with SSD reliability, some early firmware wasn't great or didn't do wear leveling properly, if at all. One problem with SSDs is that you might find you can't actually erase data when they run out of writes and require physical intervention.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:48 pm

Do any brand names come to mind for a more reliable SSD? Taking into account all the points raised about their issues.
I’ve been using Samsung and Crucial.
For regular hard drives I used to use Seagate until the failure rates really increased so switched to Western Digital Black for everyday use and Western Digital Green for back ups.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby wireman » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:13 pm

It is quite hard making the right choices, my NAS has WD Red drives but now I discover that these might use SMR, something that was not originally disclosed but I think happened later than when I obtained my drives.

I have US-based colleagues that use Glacier backup and Crashplan but I think they have more than the average amount of data.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby manwilde » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:17 pm

All my projects and software installers are backed up, but I really have to get serious now about the whole system. Haven´t been able to find out the HDD´s elapsed working hours, still have to perform more tests, but anyway I had been thinking about the whole thing for a while given the system´s age, and after what I´ve read here I feel even more compelled to take care of this.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:41 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Do any brand names come to mind for a more reliable SSD? Taking into account all the points raised about their issues.
I’ve been using Samsung and Crucial.

I seem to remember Pete Kaine from Scan suggesting Samsung Evo 850/860 were some of the most reliable drives in his experience. I've had an Evo 860 in my laptop for a while now with no problems.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:08 pm

So Backblaze seems reasonably priced compared to the others but if you change a drive or remove a connected USB drive they delete the old drives information after 30 days. Their accounts are for 1 computer only. But what killed it for me is that backups are really slow with a fast internet connection so it won’t work here.
Back to finding the best physical drive options to replace the aging ones. Cost of doing bizness and all that.
That being said I can’t remember the last time I had to resurrect an old project so perhaps it’s just a vanity thing saving all the old projects? Ahh, yes - here’s his legacy, a dusty old hard drive thingy. Too bad we don’t have those connectors anymore. . . . . .
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby The Elf » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:36 pm

NAS, NAS, NAS... Work out how much storage space you need and quadruple it. Buy one of the simpler NAS enclosures and populate it with drives to that capacity. That should keep you going for a while.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:10 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So Backblaze seems reasonably priced ... But what killed it for me is that backups are really slow with a fast internet connection so it won’t work here.

Interesting - I've not checked for a while but when I was initially populating the backup (which did take a couple of weeks) there was an option in the client to use all available upstream bandwidth, which I turned on and it did exactly that.

The Elf wrote:NAS, NAS, NAS... Work out how much storage space you need and quadruple it. Buy one of the simpler NAS enclosures and populate it with drives to that capacity. That should keep you going for a while.

+1 for NAS. I'm using a Synology 4-bay unit with SSDs. I'm waiting until I've fully migrated all my data over in form I want it from the old NAS (which isn't a straight copy but involves quite a lot of manual re-organisation of folders etc) but at that point I'll be setting up the Backblaze integration on the NAS itself such that it doesn't matter which computers are using the NAS, it's the NAS itself that gets sync'd into Backblaze, which solves the 1-computer-per-account thing.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby CS70 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:14 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So Backblaze seems reasonably priced compared to the others but if you change a drive or remove a connected USB drive they delete the old drives information after 30 days. Their accounts are for 1 computer only. But what killed it for me is that backups are really slow with a fast internet connection so it won’t work here.
Back to finding the best physical drive options to replace the aging ones. Cost of doing bizness and all that.
That being said I can’t remember the last time I had to resurrect an old project so perhaps it’s just a vanity thing saving all the old projects? Ahh, yes - here’s his legacy, a dusty old hard drive thingy. Too bad we don’t have those connectors anymore. . . . . .

Again from the backblaze dataset, it seems that Hitachi ones are pretty good. Probably the specific model, however.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby The Elf » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:22 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:...it's the NAS itself that gets sync'd into Backblaze, which solves the 1-computer-per-account thing.
As long as one computer sees the NAS as its local drive then that restriction needn't be an issue.

The Backblaze/Synology integration is limited to their B2 service, which charges by the GB, so make sure you do the maths before committing. For myself it would be inordinately expensive!
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:53 pm

The Elf wrote:
Eddy Deegan wrote:The Backblaze/Synology integration is limited to their B2 service, which charges by the GB, so make sure you do the maths before committing. For myself it would be inordinately expensive!

Ah, that I didn't know... no, certainly I wouldn't pay per Gb. Using the NAS as a mapped drive could work though I think. I'll be looking into options when I'm ready!
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:10 pm

The Elf wrote:NAS, NAS, NAS... Work out how much storage space you need and quadruple it. Buy one of the simpler NAS enclosures and populate it with drives to that capacity. That should keep you going for a while.

Did somebody say NAS? :D
So if I do a pruning I will still need at least 40TB times 4 or even 3. That still means a big-ass NAS with large HDs inside. I’m probably missing something but a RAID never appealed to me because I know I’m going to make 2 more copies of all data by hand. A RAID will do one copy automatically so I still have to make 1 more copy. ( Can you tell I’ve had hard drive failures in the past? )
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby merlyn » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:32 pm

I would think RAID could be part of a reliable system that's unlikely to lose any data. You're talking about RAID 1 -- mirror. If you want 1TB of storage you buy two 1TB drives and RAID 1 writes to both. It's effectively one drive that has a much lower probability of catastrophic failure -- it's pretty unlikely that both physical drives will fail at the same time.

Still, it's not a backup. So in the 1TB example you need three 1TB drives -- two in the array and one backup. RAID may be able to do this by rotating the drives. Could be worth looking at.
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Re: When are Hard Drives too old?

Postby manwilde » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:13 pm

merlyn wrote:Still, it's not a backup. So in the 1TB example you need three 1TB drives -- two in the array and one backup. RAID may be able to do this by rotating the drives. Could be worth looking at.

Excuse my ignorance, but why is it not a backup?.
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