[conspire] Reliable 1.5TB SATA drives?

Luke S Crawford lsc at prgmr.com
Sat Jul 24 16:23:33 PDT 2010

Mark S Bilk <mark at cosmicpenguin.com> writes:

> What is the most reliable brand and model of 1.5TB SATA 
> hard drive available today at a reasonable price?  High 
> speed is not important.  Tale of -- not woe, but 
> significant annoyance -- follows:

Hard drives are unreliable.  Hard drives from all brands are

The trick with drives it to plan on them failing (because very many
of them will) and to send them back to the manufacturer at this 
first sign of trouble.  

When dealing with consumer grade disk, I think the best thing to do is
to exercise it right after you bought it, and if it doesn't perform
up to your expectations, take it back right away.   (this is also good
for enterprise grade disk, but the quality control differences are
rather large, so it's much more important for consumer grade disk.)

at a minimum, run all the smart tests, and time a dd that fills the disk
with zeros.  

After that, if it ever fails a smart test, consider the drive
dead. send it back for service.

That said, if you want to pay extra, the 'enterprise' disks (from any 
brand)  /will/ get you a boost in quality control.    (note, they 
do have firmware that is somewhat, uh, unfortunate for single disk use...
consumer grade drives keep retrying, potentially forever when they 
have an unrecoverable error, while enterprise drives return a failure,
which means they don't hang your raid, but there are cases, I would imagine,
where a consumer grade drive would be able to recover data the enterprise
drive would not.) 

now, after all that 'brand doesn't matter' I personally avoid samsung... 
I had a spate of bad drives from them.  I 4 out of the 5 samsung drives 
I bought (2 of them enterprise grade)  died within the first 6 months... 
though this is a small sample size, and may just be chance.   Personally, 
I use mostly western digital these days, though this is not due to a 
perceived quality difference, but because the western digital enterprise 
drives cost less than the seagate enterprise drives.  

> stopped the clicking, but after warming up a bit from a 
> couple hours of data transfer, in a 78deg F air-conditioned 
> room, some of its files became unreadable.  Letting it 
> cool down and remounting it fixed that, but by now I'm 
> convinced that Seagate's former excellent quality control 
> has severely deteriorated.  I've used only Seagates for the 
> last ten years and had no problems with them, but two 
> failures in two days, one right out of the box, is pretty bad.

Personally, I listen to smart rather than tech support.   

Note, SMART won't tell you /before/ a disk has failed, but the moment
the disk fails a smart test, treat it as if the disk is bad.  Smart
is a pretty good tool for telling you /after/ a disk has failed.

> Western Digital's Elements external USB drive is only 
> warranteed for 1 year, so I think I should go with bare
> drives and put them in a fan-cooled USB or eSATA enclosure.
> But the drive has to be good, hence my initial question.

do you care about the data or the drive?  if you care about the data and
not the drive, the warranty shouldn't matter, as that doesn't help your data.

If you care about the drive and not the data, then the quality of the disk
matters a lot less, you just need a good procedure for quickly determining
if a disk is bad or not, and for quickly dealing with that problem.

SMART, I think, is an essential tool for quickly determining if the
drive is bad (like I said, it doesn't tell you before a drive has failed,
but it's a great tool after.)  

Luke S. Crawford
http://prgmr.com/xen/         -   Hosting for the technically adept
http://nostarch.com/xen.htm   -   We don't assume you are stupid.  

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