Regardless of whether we’re interested in IT technology or not, we as photographers have to deal with computer hardware more and more intensively. The constantly increasing resolution and the jump from 12 bit to 14 bit RAW files doesn’t only require increasingly faster processors and more RAM but also more and more storage space.
Of course, besides price and storage space, reliability also plays an essential role when buying a hard disk drive. After all you want to keep the risk that archived photos may be lost due to a defect, as low as possible. Unfortunately, internet reports on the reliability of hard disks drives made by different manufacturers are often contradictory. Even after hours of reading test reports and browsing forums you’ll end up none the wiser than before.
Backblaze, the operator of a data center with more than 50,000 hard disks, has now published the failure rates of different models manufactured by HGST, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital.
The bar chart and the chart are self-explanatory, but you should keep in mind two things: a) some models are so-called Enterprise HDDs which aren’t for retail sale, and b) the hard disks are used completely differently in a data center than on a home computer. The HDDs are in permanent operation, but in comparison to HDDs in computers they’re read or written to relatively rarely.
The most reliable and most expensive drives are manufactured by HGST. For reasons of costs, however, Backblaze primarily uses hard disks made by Seagate which fare relatively well in terms of reliability, but which on average are considerably cheaper.