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How long do hard drives actually live for?

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40hz:
Intel has published a good paper on the differences between enterprise and desktop disk drives. 10-pages of good reading for any who might be interested. (Copy attached. It's small.)

enterprise_class_versus_desktop_class_hard_drives_.pdf (84.77 kB - downloaded 618 times.)

IainB:
@40hz: Thanks for that. It's all an education for me.
Because I have some problems (identified by HDS PRO) with the HP ENVY 14 laptop hard disk (see here) I was looking at the Performance and Health weighting factors that are applied. The HDS website has a good description here - Health calculation | Hard Disc Sentinel, and differentiates between server disk drives and desktop disk drives.
...The hard disk has 100% condition initially. All critical health-rated S.M.A.R.T. parameters (if they are available, it depends on the manufacturer) decrease this value. These attributes have a pre defined weight and a maximum limit value (the latter defines the maximum degradation in health value for the attribute). The overall health percent value is calculated by multiplying the remaining percent values (100 – degradation %).

Currently, Hard Disk Sentinel has two different such methods. By using the default method, the weights and limits (see below) are lighter. If the more strict, recommended for servers option is used the values are much more strict, the problems may reduce the health much drastically. ...

--- End quote ---

So, presumably a conventional approach to answering the question "How long do hard drives actually live for?" would be to differentiate between the two types (server disk drives and desktop disk drives) in some similar manner, and analyse and assess the statistical life expectancy and performance correspondingly.

xtabber:
Intel has published a good paper on the differences between enterprise and desktop disk drives. 10-pages of good reading for any who might be interested. (Copy attached. It's small.)
 (see attachment in previous post)
-40hz (November 13, 2013, 08:59 PM)
--- End quote ---
This paper is some 5 years old, which is an eon or two in high tech.  If your focus is on performance, you are more likely to be using SSDs than HDDs today.

If the main thing you care about is reliability, there really is little difference, which is why most of the big cloud companies don't bother with enterprise drives any more.  Google led the way after noting that failure rates were pretty much the same for both types.  Let's just say they had a VERY large sample to test and compare.

Hard drive failure rates are reported as predicted statistical distributions - MTBF or AFR - look those up if you are having trouble sleeping at night and counting sheep isn't working - which means that you only have a projected probability of a drive failing at any time.  That probability goes up as the drive ages, but it remains just a probability.  

Your 4 year-old drive will have a much higher probability of failure during the next year than a 1 year-old drive, but either of them could fail tomorrow, which means that you should be just as well prepared for failure in a brand new drive than in an older one.

40hz:
So, presumably a conventional approach to answering the question "How long do hard drives actually live for?" would be to differentiate between the two types (server disk drives and desktop disk drives) in some similar manner, and analyse and assess the statistical life expectancy and performance correspondingly.
-IainB (November 13, 2013, 09:50 PM)
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Pretty much. It all comes down to MTBF and probabilities, so there isn't a fixed answer. Just degrees of confidence with varying odds.

Most modern drives are pretty reliable regardless.

40hz:

This paper is some 5 years old, which is an eon or two in high tech.  If your focus is on performance, you are more likely to be using SSDs than HDDs today.
-xtabber (November 13, 2013, 10:21 PM)
--- End quote ---

I was primarily addressing enterprise or datacenter use. In that environment reliability always takes precedence over performance in all but a few very special situations.

SSDs are generally not considered suitable for full scale deployment in a datacenter settings at this point in time.

Also, although the Intel paper may be a few years old, the engineering considerations and operational concerns it addresses are still just as valid today as they were when it was first published. Product specs may change. But vibration, heat, 'wear & tear' and entropy are still unavoidable concerns no matter what.
 8)

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