[conspire] Reliable 1.5TB SATA drives?

Luke S Crawford lsc at prgmr.com
Wed Jul 28 06:25:32 PDT 2010

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

> http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=733
> Luke, that is the WD Caviar Black 2TB drive WD2001FASS.  Are those 
> what you're referring to as "raid edition drives" (with the huge 
> improvement of quality over the Seagate baracudas) ?

No.  'black'  is still 'consumer grade'  with the problems inherent 
to the class (be prepared for a single drive failure to hang your whole 
raid.  Well, WDTLER fixed this for a while, but the last batch of 
wd black drives I got a while back?  wdtler didn't work for them.) 

They are higher end consumer grade drives, and 7200rpm.   
(I mostly compare capacity, cache size RPM, and seek time rather
than the 'green, blue, black'  differentiation)  

> Do you consider this the most reliable 1.5TB+ drive I can get?

No.   If you want reliable, get two of the raid edition drives
and mirror them.   

(seagates word for this is 'enterprise'  and 'enterprise' sata model
numbers end in es... 'raid edition' is what western digital calls them.
re3 or re4.)  

Note, this will be rather a lot more expensive.  Is it worth it for your
data?  you need to decide that.  It's not always worth it.  for my servers,
it's totally worth it, as it means that a bad drive doesn't take out the
raid, which means that I don't need to get paged at 4am when a drive fails,
and it means that customers don't have an outage when a drive fails.

For my home systems, I usually mirror consumer-grade drives.  I think
the redundancy is worth it, as it means I don't need to rebuild my
desktop every time a hard drive dies, but I can save the cash and get
consumer-grade drives, because, well, if one drive fails and hangs
the raid, it's a pretty simple matter to manually fail it out.   And
unlike a server, when I'm not awake, I don't care if my desktop is hung.
it can wait until I get to it.  

Personally, I mirror everything.  especially on Linux where booting
from software raid works everywhere, I think it's cheap and it saves
me a lot of time.  

Other people prefer to just make backups, and rebuild their server from 
backups when a drive fails... It's mostly a matter of "how much is it
worth to you to avoid unexpected work?"  

> Do they come safely padded in retail boxes or only bare in plastic
> bags?

Blacks can be had for cheap in retail boxes.  Like everything else
frys and micro center and the like sell, make sure it hasn't been opened;
and wait for the sales.   

Fry's regular prices on drives isn't great... but their sale prices are
sometimes really great, and they have sales every friday.

(they usually say 'limit one' or 'limit two' on the good prices... and
if you just show up at the counter with eight, they will give you trouble.
But, my experience has been that if you talk to a salesperson, they'll
write it up so that you get all eight or whatever without a problem...
they'll bend the rules for a bit more commission.) 

> Is there any place around here I could buy them with a reasonable 
> assurance that they haven't been mishandled?

Eh, for retail boxes, use the usual rules.  if you get a WD black, 
that's prbably the best way to go... wait for a sale.  

if you do need to buy a bare drive (like you decide to go for the 
enterprise stuff) central commputers has been pretty good for me,
at least for the western digital drives that come in sealed esd baggies.

> Apparently a good price for them is $170.  Frys has them for $190
> (at least on their website).

If you do choose to shop at frys, wait for Friday;  thats when their sales
are.  MicroCenter often also has good deals on consumer drives.

For 'enterprise' drives I either use central computers or 
kingstar computers... http://www.kingstarusa.com/  they are on Kifer
in sunnyvale, and you have to email a sales person to get prices, but
in lots of 4 drives or more they beat out the other local vendors in terms
of price by a large enough margin that I'll talk to a sales person.

While they do have good pricing on supermicro kit, their ram prices are
oddly higher than neweggs. 

Now, most people reccomend that you buy matching drives of different lots
for your RAID mirror.  Personaly, I try to run mirrors with two different
drives from two different manufacturers (one wd and one seagate, usually)
to guard more thoroughly against a bad batch.  (also, it's easier to buy
that way.)  

A mirror of two not very good drives is going to be worlds more reliable
than the most expensive single drive you can find. 

now, uh, if I had syncronized drives (usually a feature on drives and
RAID systems I can't afford)  this would be somewhat different, but I don't,
so I don't think it hurts much performance wise.  

More information about the conspire mailing list