Study Tracks Hard Drive Reliability and Annual Failure Rates (AFR)

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On average, hard drives fail after two and a half years, according to new results of an ongoing study published by specialized storage cloud platform provider Backblaze. The Drive Stats report analyzes quarterly and lifetime hard drive reliability and failure rates. The latest edition looks at the first three months of 2023 and shares the average age of failed hard drives by drive size, model, and more to help IT decision-makers shopping for new storage drives for their businesses.

Hardware durability is a critical component of the cloud storage industry. With nearly 250,000 hard drives housed globally across its data centers, Backblaze analyzes and publishes quarterly findings to highlight key trends and data points.

The company began the study a decade ago. It looks at Annual Failure Rate (AFR) by size, model, and manufacturer, and further breaks down the information by average age of hard drive at failure. According to the report’s author, Andrew Klein, the AFR for the first quarter of 2023 was 1.54%, up over the first quarter of 2022 at 1.22%.

“Quarterly AFR numbers can be volatile, but can be useful in identifying a trend which needs further investigation,” Klein wrote.

Annual Failure Rates

The average AFR over the last decade was was 1.4%. Among drives with more than 2.2 million days of use, the drive with the lowest AFR (.28%) is a Western Digital Corporation 16TB model. The drive with the highest AFR (2.57%) is a Seagate 4TB model.

Backblaze hard drives lifetme annualized failure rates.

While the Seagate drives generally showed higher failure rates overall, they also cost less, the report noted. “You could make a good case that for us, many Seagate drive models are just as cost-effective as more expensive drives,” Klein wrote.

View the Drive Stats summary and see the full data set from the study at
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