back to article Seagate's spinning rust most likely to crash, claims backup biz

Online backup bods Backblaze have found Seagate hard disks fail much more than other suppliers, although recent improvements have redressed the situation. In a blog the Backblaze blogger Brian Beach says: “As of December 31, 2014, we had 41,213 disk drives spinning in our data centre, storing all of the data for our unlimited …

  1. Vince

    Yes, that's not an analysis that amazes anyone I know. We don't put Seagate stuff into our servers for those very reasons. Our general experience is that HGST and WD are pretty much on a par - across makes and models - and as long as you know the tricks for using the cheaper models and avoiding sending them to premature death, life will be fine.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "We don't put Seagate stuff into our servers for those very reasons"

      I'll back this up. Seagate may be trying to blow off the report but the reality is that their server drives have a higher mortality rate than their consumer ones (this isn't unusual)

      EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Seagate Constellation drives we've had here has failed. Most of the replacements have failed too. In a few cases, the replacements for the replacements have failed.

  2. Richard Boyce

    Warranty is key indicator

    Even consumers will respond badly to a 40% annual failure rate, and many do use the drives 24/7. That sort of thing poisons the value of the brand.

    As usual, check the warranty that's offered with a drive before purchase, particularly with the highest density drives. If the manufacturer offers the minimum warranty, expect minimum lifetime.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Warranty is key indicator

      I would probably recommend that most consumers don't try and cram 45* 7200rpm drives into a singe case

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Warranty is key indicator

        No, but my tower used to be stuffed with drives until I went with an external enclosure for the WD Red 3 TB drives and put the Seagate 3 TB's, other WD Greens, etc. in cartridges for use in off-site backups. And no, those off-site drives, while validated, aren't really expected to restore, just easier than restoring from SpiderOak over Comcast(sic) cable internet.

        I like these reports for the simple fact that they are abusing the same drives I encounter out in the field with SOHO's and SMB's installed kit. Also, do realize that the stat's collected by the drive manufacturers' MTBF are based upon projections, not actual numbers. They are simply a guesstimate which in not the way I prefer doing my engineering. I'll take old(er) equipment over best wild-ass guesstimate period. And, in certain fields, here's looking at you nuclear engineering, really really old is best. No guesses there.

  3. Tascam Holiday
    Thumb Down

    Seagate 3TB

    I've gone through eight of those Seagates (they're the ST3000DM001) in two years (for a lightly-used RAID array). They've proved to be so unreliable I'm unlikely to ever buy a Seagate disc again.

    1. CatoTheCat

      Re: Seagate 3TB

      Same here. Finally had to bite the bullet and replace all drives with WD Greens.

      I won't buy Seagate again for a long time.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        The Seagate PR bods stating it was a 2013 issue that has been fixed I stills zero confidence, the damage is done. If I'd up sized my RAID array in 2013 I'd be pretty pissed off.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        I don't know how the greens perform, but last upgrade of my small NAS saw me switch from Hitachi to WD reds (for capacity reasons). The WD reds get about half the data throughput compared to the Hitchi (Hitachi were 7200). That is despite the special pixie dust that WD claim to put in them for high-performance Raid use.

        1. Vince

          Re: Seagate 3TB

          You'll be wanting the WD Red PRO version if you want 7,200rpm

        2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: Seagate 3TB

          I'm doing a 3 TB Red to 3 TB Red copy right now with both disks in an external eSATA enclosure and no magic in the eSATA adapter. 78 MB/s consistently which isn't bad at all as these things go. Straight disk to disk clone in disk duplicator really nice. Switch to a serious ($$$) controller, RAID 1+0, things improve markedly. Neither of the latter two something my clients always have.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        WD Greens are only slightly better than seagate, in my experience - particularly given their troublesome head parking software. I've seen drives that had 5000 hours on them, with 150,000+ head load cycles.

      4. Vince

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        If you're using Green's I assume not in any sort of RAID installation, particularly half-baked RAID like Intel stuff, because if you do, expect them to have premature failure unless you first change the firmware to stop the auto-park. You'll get weird performance and they'll die because they have excessive parks.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        Can only concur - just finished replacing the fourth of four with what I consider premature failure on my NAS, you can bet I won't be buying Seagate either for a long time. Replaced with 5400rpm WD Reds... since speed definitely isn't everything (in fact, no noticeable performance drop from the Barracudas, guess 'cos it isn't having to spend all its time on checksums).

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: Seagate 3TB

      I have not liked Seagate since the dark old Death Star days. I recently bought a Dell laptop (E7440 not a cheap machine) that had 5 Seagate drive replacements. The last one is here on my desk and will not be put into a machine, I used a Hitachi and all is well.

      I would never knowingly purchase Seagate.

      1. ChrisC

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        Seagate might not have the best reputation, but we can't blame them for *every* drive fubar ever perpetrated... IBM were the ones responsible for giving people something other than large spherical orbital weapons platforms to think about whenever they heard the name "Death Star".

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Seagate 3TB

          > IBM were the ones responsible for giving people something other than large spherical orbital weapons platforms to think about whenever they heard the name "Death Star".

          And the cause was something stupidly simple when it got discovered - an uptime counter overflow at 43 days. If that sounds familiar its because its the same bug that used to nobble early Win95 builds.

      2. Gordan

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        Death Star is a reference to Desk Star drive - made by IBM, back when it happened.

        Every manufacturer has had a bad model at some point. For IBM -> Hitachi -> HGST it was the 120GB Deskstar series. I had the next model after that, 125GB Deskstar IDE drives, and all 8 of the ones I had survived 10 years of 24/7 use without any failures.

        But with Seagate, the failure rates aren't specific to just one model - we are talking about many models over many generations of product. With Seagate, a reliable model is an exception.

      3. bjr

        Re: Seagate 3TB

        You are misremembering. The Death Stars were IBM drives (now Hitachi) not Seagate. At the time (15 years ago) the Seagates were the reliable drives and the dogs were IBM and Maxtor (now part of Seagate). In the last five or ten years the Seagates have been junk, I've lost a half dozen and I only have 10 machines so that's an incredible failure rate. The other brands have been fine. I don't buy Seagates anymore. I'm really glad that these statistics are being published. This is a significant sample set so the numbers are very meaningful. It sounds like Seagate has gotten the message and started addressing their problems if the 4T drives are operating reliably. It's possible that they've just gotten lucky with the 4Ts, we'll have to see another years worth of reliability reports to see if they've really fixed the problem or not.

  4. Tezfair

    I think there's more to it

    I wonder if the tests were done from a single factory rather than sampling from different manufacturing plants. Reason I say this is that I prefer Seagate over WD. Not had a failure with Seagate, but i'm always shipping WD's back.

    This is across 2.5s and 3.5s, or OEMs or Enterprise so we tend to avoid WDs now.

    I had a Lenovo edge laptop shipped last week, full of bad sectors, HGST - Z7K500-500. We requested Lenovo swapped the drive rather than RMAing the whole laptop.

  5. Def Silver badge

    Seagate sounds more like a political scandal involving half a kilo of Colombian nose dust, a few scantily clad women of negotiable affection, three overweight Gibbons, and a couple of Panamanian registered boats.

    I'd certainly prefer that over having to use one of their hard drives any day. Except maybe for the bit involving Gibbons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "involving half a kilo of Colombian nose dust, a few scantily clad women of negotiable affection, three overweight Gibbons, and a couple of Panamanian registered boats."

      Sounds like standard corporate entertainment at CES.....

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        For something like a hard drive, a warranty is of little value unless it includes your data. It's not very useful to get a drive replaced under warranty - but still not have the data it held.

        Or as a (printed) advert I recall many years ago put it ...

        There was a picture of lighthouse, out at sea, with waves crashing all around it. The advert was for a particular brand of Tv that I don't recall. But the message was that the staff of the lighthouse would prefer a reliable TV rather than a good repair service !

        My view of hard disks is the same : I'd rather have confidence that the data I store can be retrieved, rather than an assurance that I'll get a replacement blank drive when it breaks.

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge


          I have relative confidence that my HDD will store my data, and I know I will be able to get my data back, as I have a good backuo system in place.

          My wife has a couple of Seagate HDDs in Raid 0, and had terrible backup till I took care of it.

          So, the thing is: get a drive that is ok and have a good backup system on place.

          So you can't use many Seagate drives, or WD green drives (unless you want to tamper them, as you have to stop them from parking every few seconds).

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Confidence

            "So, the thing is: get a drive that is ok and have a good backup system on place."

            And use Raid1.

            Raid0 (striping) guarantees you lose everything if one drive in the set goes down. The odds multiply upwards as you add more drives (ie, 5% failure rate on any one drive => 10% overall chance of data loss 1.05 * 1.05)

            Personally I prefer to use at least mixed batches of drives in a raidset, if not mixed models/manufacturers.

        2. ChrisC

          I gave up on sending knackered drives back for warranty replacement several years ago, after realising that the cost to send the drive back to the warranty centre somewhere in mainland Europe was, by the time the drive had failed a year or so after purchase, not far short of the cost to buy a replacement drive of the same capacity. And since, in this particular instance, I had to buy a replacement drive there and then anyway in order to continue whatever project I was working on at the time, I decided from that point on not to bother.

          So now when I'm looking for a new drive, I tend to wait for some deals to come up on external enclosures and pull the bare drives out of those. Even paying the high street premium to pick up the enclosures from a bricks and mortar supplier, it still usually works out cheaper than ordering the same capacity drive as a bare unit online, and every now and again you end up with a nice surprise when you crack open the case - e.g. opening up a WD Elements enclosure to find a Caviar Black inside, at a time when the online price for a bare Black of that capacity was significantly higher than the high street price I'd paid for the enclosure... Being able to add to my collection of spare USB cables and DC adapters is a bonus too.

          1. Woodnag


            I do the same, but research the SKU to see what drives are inside. Look for 5400, low power, no auto park/power down, and ideally HGST.

  6. Aitor 1 Silver badge


    I have one of those terrible seagate 3TB drives, inside a USB3 enclosure.

    I am in my second drive as I had to RMA the first one.. and the one I have is marginal at best.. VERY slow access time for small files..

    I use it for backups, so really not many problems with it, as I don't have anything there I dont have elsewhere, but still terribly slow, and if you put it at 100% after a few hours it starts to mark sectors as defective, have read errors, etc. I RMAd the first drive, and the new one (really new, I checked the SMART data) has exactly the same issues.

    You an recheck all the sectors and they are marked as ok.. but it is very slow.

    If you put it inside an enclosure, if they get to 100% load for some time they will be marked as defective for sure.. I don't know if something heats up inside, the firmware is wrong or the head positioning is inaccurate.. but they are, in my opinion, not fit for purpose.

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    It used to stand for redundant array of inexpensive disks. The first one was made out of drives that were so far out of warranty that they were expected to fail. The idea is that redundancy allows the use of cheap drives. If you have done your calculations correctly, and can tolerate the drop in performance when a drive is replaced, then the cheapest disks could be the right answer for you.

    The manufacturers preferred RAID to stand for redundant array of independent disks, and charged extra for drives 'designed' for RAID. For some use cases, that is the right solution.

    Blackblaze mentioned their disks experience vibration. My own 3TB Seagates rest on the foam the came with, and none have failed yet (doesn't matter if they do, as I can live with the down time of a restore from backup). If Blackblaze kept their disks like mine they would need a much bigger data centre. Replacing cheap drives killed by vibration could be cheaper for them.

  8. Gordan

    "PLEASE! They're using consumer drives in enterprise gear, says firm"

    Except all the other drives in the comparison were also desktop grade drives. It is a like for like comparison. Seagate has yet again been shown to be really crap on reliability.

    Their 4TB drives look good - after 1 year in service. But it remains to be seen how they fare after 2-3 years in service, compared to other brands.

  9. PiltdownMan

    Seagate 3TB Consummer Drive Failures

    I'm just a lowly tech, not a data centre, and I have had 3 Seagate 3TB drives fail last year. One was only 6 months old.

    OK, they were all replaced with "Remanufactured" drives, except the 6month old model, but my confidence was shot. I now run them in a Hardware Mirror set (which is good, so long as they don't fail at the same time!).

    HGST or WD FTW.

    I purchased 2 HGST Green (5400rpm) 3TB drives for another project and got 2 x 7200rpm drives supplied instead. Cool (well, not so cool, but cool!) (still Mirrored though!)

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Seagate 3TB Consummer Drive Failures

      you should always be running in a RAID, and have backups if your data and uptime is of any importance.

      From what I have seen the Barracuda line does have a much higher failure rate then the Constellations.

      The batch of WDs we got failed, then the replacements failed.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    7200 is fast?

    I thought that 15000 was fast.

  11. Brian Allan 1

    Seagate vs. Western Digital

    We stopped installing Seagate drives several years ago due to very high failure rates. We've had very good luck with Western Digital drives. They may cost a bit more up front but saves us maintenance $$$'s in the long run!!

  12. roman iwasjuk

    seagate drives

    I was at a tech conference not that long ago where seagate had a booth - all of us were complaining about drive reliability - and they pulled the same line - how the drives were desktop drives not enterprise drives...maybe I'm showing my age but even desktop drives USED to carry some sense of reliability...

    I still have numerous old ata and scsi drives from seagate that are still working reliably (old system needed for archive purposes but we can't be bothered to try to upgrade it to new hardware - only referenced occasionally for historical data) - and these drives are now over 15 years old...

    On the other hand we've got a whole box of dead seagate drives that all failed just after the warranty period...many of them while under warranty and we just couldn't be bothered to get them replaced...

    we've even seen some drives that appear good - yet they corrupt the stripe set of the raid array they're in...

    I sometimes wonder whether maxtor bought seagate or if it was the other way around - as drive quality has slipped big time ever since that purchase....

    We've now shifted over to WD drives where we need any sense of reliability....and avoid seagate wherever possible...

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: seagate drives

      I was at a tech conference not that long ago where seagate had a booth - all of us were complaining about drive reliability - and they pulled the same line - how the drives were desktop drives not enterprise drives...maybe I'm showing my age but even desktop drives USED to carry some sense of reliability...

      Yeah, that is a pretty poor excuse. Lets face it from purely environmental point of view enterprise deployment (generally 24/7, stable cooled, humidity controlled data centre) is lot easier on the drive mechanics and electronics than constant temperature/humidity fluctuation along with many start/stop (power on,spin up/spin down,power off,park) cycles.

  13. Christina Binning


    I returned an external HD to Seagate that failed a couple of years ago and that from a rural area where mail either in or out at the time was none reliable. Had telephoned head office etcet for an order number. That was a chore. Postage is a chore at the best of times because I'm not well off. That's an understatement. Midway through the wait I phoned to enquire what the delay was. She's apples. Your order's processing now. In the mail. So many weeks later I get a unit back, a Recertified external hard drive - that is nothing like the one I purchased originally but has the physical appearance of a small military tank made of plastic and weighs a ton. I cart it around with me (moving house twice) and I suffer depression. It is one the reasons on a lengthy list of items of electronic equipment that require my attention because they don't work or fail, whichever is the most inconvenient primarily and crucial first. It would cost a small packet of money to post back yet again. In a nutshell, to say what's wrong with it, it reliably cuts in and out and off connected to my system, as it did this morning when I dug it out of its box and connected it, as it has every other time I have gotten around to 'giving it a go' since it came back from the fixers/replacers. I came online this morning to google and have a gander whether anybody is complaining about Seagate's equipment or their service. This is a lot of money down the drain for a lot of people represented by these comments.

    I certainly feel better than I did before I came googling. I thought in my isolation I must be the only person alive who couldn't see their way clear of their busy lives to go through the rigmarole and expense of returning their drive or drives. Sounds as if there's a litter of us.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In 1991 my first hard drive failed just out of warranty. A Seagate ST125. 20Mb of dog slow 8 bit IDE from a Commodore PC10-III. It cost NZ$800 to replace, though I did upgrade to 40Mb because I wanted to show off.

    WDC all the way since then, failures = 0. Except for a foray into SSD with OCZ that went wrong pretty quickly and after 2 warranty replacements I binned it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Commodore PC10-III ???

      Wow!! That's reminded me I still have mine in the loft !!

      I wonder what state that's in...

  15. Stuart Halliday

    Seagate for me.

    WD keep failing on me.

    As long as you keep vibration & heat down you're laughing. Oh maybe use a decent SMART tool monitoring them? Cables and RAID Controllers do go faulty.

  16. Sergey 1

    No more Seagate for me

    Being used to decent drives, I haven't RAIDed the family photo collection, and now it's 0xDEAD

    Now WD NAS keeps everything, but it's a little too late :-/

  17. ben_myers

    Warranty is Meaningless

    A warranty on a drive does not cover down time, time to replace a drive, time and expense to send it back for another (which, in Seagate's case is a "recertified" drive). I'll take reliability over warranty any day. Reliability comes from the track record of models of drives built earlier than the drives one is buying right.

    The experience of BackBlaze squares with my own less formal experience. Seagate drives are the least reliable in the 3.5" world. Toshiba gets the laurels for unreliable 2.5" drives, IMHO.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seagate drives all packaged poorly in transit in the UK

    Having recently ordered a number if Seagate drives from 3 separate Authorized Seagate Distributors I am now under the opinion that no Seagate drives can be trusted. ALL of the drives have been supplied without adequate packaging. The drives are simply placed into a plastic clamshell case and then packed LOOSE within boxes that are too large and shake around in transit within the box. The packaging failure is as follows:

    - Seagate (or is fulfillers?) have started shipping the plastic clamshells in boxes that used to be inly used for SSD's. The end-caps that hold the clamshells closed and stop then within the single drive box seem to no longer being used. The drives shake around inside these boxes. The indiviual drives are then being placed into much larger boxes. There often seems to be SOME attempt to hold these in place using thin plastic film. In every one of my last 5 shipments of 28 * 6TB Enterprise SAS drives this film was either not used or did not stay in place in transit meaning all of the drives have shaken around inside the larger box in transit. Non of the major UK Seagate partners seem able to resolve this (including all of the big names) as the drives are coming from a single fulfiller. I have made Seagate aware of this and they agree that the shipment packaging is inadequate BUT say that they have no control over the distributors and that they can only tell them how to ship drives- not enforce it. Given the high reported failure rates I would :

    - report all poor Seagate drive packaging direct to Seagate

    - Consider avoiding Seagate all together

    It seems that Seagate have lost the plot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seagate drives all packaged poorly in transit in the UK

      That may just be the disties. I had a WD Purple delivered last week, wrapped in the usual anti-static bag, which was placed in <and I kid you not> an A4 zip lock plastic bag. No padding, no box, no wrapping, nothing. The disty reckons it was 'safe' because it was delivered by their own courier.

      Yes, right. Have you seen delivery guys deliver IT equipment?

      Conversely, from another disty I have 18 WD Reds delivered. They were is what I assume to be WD bulk packaging, a two piece foam box, 2' cubed with slots for the drives. Then wrapped in 20' of bubble wrap.

      Much happier with that.

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