Biggest single hard drive you'd feel safe buying today?

Coldblackice

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 14, 2010
Messages
1,129
What's the biggest single hard drive size you'd feel comfortable buying today (assuming no RAIDing)?

I need a good storage hard drive, and I'm wondering whether to buy one 2-3TB drive or 2-3 1TB drives. I wince at the size of drives these days and how much data is getting stored onto a single point of failure. This probably means it's time for me to move into the RAID mentality, but I procrastinate the hassle of setting up and continually maintaining them.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Messages
9,269
First, consider Enterprise-grade drives. They have 2-3 orders of magnitudes less chance of encountering unrecoverable read errors (URE); they are designed to operate 24/7 within close proximity of many other drives in the same chassis; they have 2-3 times more unload cycles; they are designed to tolerate higher temperatures better than consumer-grade; they come with a minimum of 5 years of warranty.


XLSX PDF Western Digital Flyer

The reason I am presenting this using a perspective based soley on the length of warranty included is because ultimately at the end of the day it comes down to business expenses and operating costs. If your drive is out of warranty and dies, you have the choice to do nothing about it or to pay the full price for the drive again*

*This does not factor in constantly changing prices determined by the market's supply and demand or advances made in technology that may lower the value of drives in this study

However, if your drive dies while in warranty, you get a free replacement at no cost.

In my presentation, I take the cost of the cheapest drive out from that of other drives; I subtract the length of warranty of the cheapest drive from the warranty length of other drives; and I bring the two results together to calculate that by choosing an Enterprise-series drive, for the extra money you would pay to buy this drive instead of the Green drive, you are basically paying 24.14 USD per year for an additional 3 years of warranty.

Then I present a scenario where if your drive dies on the same day your warranty expires and you were to replace the drive at the full cost of the drive, how much money it would cost you in these conditions because of having selected a Green drive instead of an Enterprise drive. Basically, we're taking the drive with the greatest duration of included warranty and finding out how many times you would have to buy a drive at full cost after its warranty had expired. This is a worst case scenario, but not a terrible one as a major factor for decision making.

If you are looking for a reliable drive (based on technical specifications) that will cost you the cheapest, you have to perform a cost analysis such as the one I have done for you. Sometimes it pays to spend a little extra to gain a tremendous more in potential savings.

In my cost analysis, over a 15-year cycle you could save around 400 USD on drives if you choose an Enterprise drive over a Green drive.

Even if you don't do a RAID, consider your situation and long-term use. If you're anticipating for a project to last a specific time, you can use that to your advantage to buy a cheaper drive. If a project that requires temporary resources is expected to last only a couple years, then by all means I think a WD Green drive would be appropriate (unless RAID is required). Another factor is that even after the purpose of temporary resources expire, you may have computer equipment (servers or NAS) where the hard drive could find fulfillment (extra cost savings by delaying or eliminating purchases, using what you already have).

Lastly, don't choose Western Digital simply because of my presentation and cost analysis. Consider Hitachi / HGST drives as well -- I've heard lots of good things about then, but I don't have any experience using them. Seagate still makes me feel irked. Do your research and read what other people have to say as well. :)
 
Last edited:

SirMaster

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 8, 2010
Messages
2,122
What's the biggest single hard drive size you'd feel comfortable buying today (assuming no RAIDing)?

I need a good storage hard drive, and I'm wondering whether to buy one 2-3TB drive or 2-3 1TB drives. I wince at the size of drives these days and how much data is getting stored onto a single point of failure. This probably means it's time for me to move into the RAID mentality, but I procrastinate the hassle of setting up and continually maintaining them.
Just don't do this. When you buy a drive, buy 2. One should be kept as the backup of the other.

The RAID mentality is wrong, backups are far more important than RAID. You shouldn't even be thinking about RAID until you first have a backup.

RAID won't save you when you accidentally delete/overwrite/corrupt a file, or if the file system becomes corrupt due to bugs or other hardware issues with the system.

RAID happens because you need increased performance or because the downtime associated with restoring from backup is too large and you wish to lessen (but not eliminate!) the chance of having to restore from backup.

No size disk is acceptable as a single point of failure if you don't care to lose the data stored on it.
 

Kelvarr

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2001
Messages
4,226
Just don't do this. When you buy a drive, buy 2. One should be kept as the backup of the other.

The RAID mentality is wrong, backups are far more important than RAID. You shouldn't even be thinking about RAID until you first have a backup.

RAID won't save you when you accidentally delete/overwrite/corrupt a file, or if the file system becomes corrupt due to bugs or other hardware issues with the system.

RAID happens because you need increased performance or because the downtime associated with restoring from backup is too large and you wish to lessen (but not eliminate!) the chance of having to restore from backup.

No size disk is acceptable as a single point of failure if you don't care to lose the data stored on it.
If I want to backup a 9x1.5TB RAID6 array, what is the best option to do so? Create another RAID6 of the largest drives I can buy? Grab few 6TB drives and mirror? Leave them all independent? Setup something like snapraid/flexraid where I can pool them together, but they are individually accessible?
 

Coldblackice

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 14, 2010
Messages
1,129
First, consider only Enterprise-grade drives. They have 2-3 orders of magnitudes less chance of encountering unrecoverable read errors (URE); they are designed to operate 24/7 within close proximity of many other drives in the same chassis; they have 2-3 times more unload cycles; they are designed to tolerate higher temperatures better than consumer-grade; they come with a minimum of 5 years of warranty.
Ah, interesting. Good to know, thanks.

Just don't do this. When you buy a drive, buy 2. One should be kept as the backup of the other.

The RAID mentality is wrong, backups are far more important than RAID. You shouldn't even be thinking about RAID until you first have a backup.

RAID won't save you when you accidentally delete/overwrite/corrupt a file, or if the file system becomes corrupt due to bugs or other hardware issues with the system.

RAID happens because you need increased performance or because the downtime associated with restoring from backup is too large and you wish to lessen (but not eliminate!) the chance of having to restore from backup.

No size disk is acceptable as a single point of failure if you don't care to lose the data stored on it.
What workflow/setup/software would you recommend for something like this?
 

evilsofa

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
10,078
I need a good storage hard drive, and I'm wondering whether to buy one 2-3TB drive or 2-3 1TB drives.
3TB drives in general should be avoided; there was some issues with that generation of technology. 2TB and especially 1TB are old technology now. 4TB drives from HGST are very reliable HDDs. The new 6TB and 8TB HDDs should be even better in theory but it's too early for reliability data yet.

I wince at the size of drives these days and how much data is getting stored onto a single point of failure.
Then don't have a single point of failure. Have a backup.

No version of RAID is a backup. Not even RAID 1 mirroring.
 

cyclone3d

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Messages
13,662
If I want to backup a 9x1.5TB RAID6 array, what is the best option to do so? Create another RAID6 of the largest drives I can buy? Grab few 6TB drives and mirror? Leave them all independent? Setup something like snapraid/flexraid where I can pool them together, but they are individually accessible?
offsite backup service
 

Armenius

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
22,819
Updated my post with a cost analysis
I like what you did here. Hard drives are the one area other than power supply that I won't skimp on when it comes to initial cost. I went through a period where I was buying cheaper drives because I believed it wasn't worth it, but the failure rate shocked me.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Messages
9,269
I like what you did here. Hard drives are the one area other than power supply that I won't skimp on when it comes to initial cost. I went through a period where I was buying cheaper drives because I believed it wasn't worth it, but the failure rate shocked me.
I was the same. I use to buy WD Green drives because they were insanely inexpensive and was highly ignorant (did not care to do research or think about thinks, I was a broke teenager). It wasn't until there were multiple WD Green drives in the same chassis in close proximity to each other that they were dying one after the other in a mere few months. :( I think I had to RMA all but one drive (I had like 4-5 drives in there).

Consider this:






:eek:

I'm surprised that there aren't more hard drive failures in laptops. It seems like wizardry that they work as reliably they do today. Vibrations . . . :eek: :eek: :eek:

(EDIT: Also, someone mentioned 3TB drives. When I had a workhorse beast of a computer for photography, I chose 2TB drives because my research was turning up a lot of negative reports about 3TB drives which made me suspicious of anything larger than 2TB + my budget didn't allow for expensive 4TB drives from a couple years ago. :S Again: research thoroughly in the model of drives and vendors!)
 
Last edited:

notarat

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
2,116
What's the biggest single hard drive size you'd feel comfortable buying today (assuming no RAIDing)?

I need a good storage hard drive, and I'm wondering whether to buy one 2-3TB drive or 2-3 1TB drives. I wince at the size of drives these days and how much data is getting stored onto a single point of failure. This probably means it's time for me to move into the RAID mentality, but I procrastinate the hassle of setting up and continually maintaining them.
3.5"
 

jrweis

Gawd
Joined
Sep 25, 2004
Messages
567
I have 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB WD Black drives in my current computer and all working without any problems. The new 6&8TB HGST Helium filled drives look like they will be good for the long haul but are too new to be sure!
 

SirMaster

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 8, 2010
Messages
2,122
If I want to backup a 9x1.5TB RAID6 array, what is the best option to do so? Create another RAID6 of the largest drives I can buy? Grab few 6TB drives and mirror? Leave them all independent? Setup something like snapraid/flexraid where I can pool them together, but they are individually accessible?
So you have 10.5TB capacity.

I think a reasonable way would be to buy 2 6TB disks. Pool them with a simple pooling software and then copy over your data once in awhile as often as you think its good for you.

If you want to improve on that then add redundancy to the backup too. SnapRAID is a fine system for backup arrays IMO since the data on changes once whenever you sync/update it.

To improve upon that look at ways to keep deleted files and versions (only if something like that is important to you).

If you only update your backup say once a week it may be easy enough to just eyeball the changelist before applying the sync changes as as to not delete things that you didnt want deleted.

Beyond that you can get even more sophisticated with the software and use more advanced file systems like ZFS with snapshots and things to even more easily facilitate the syncing (zfs send/recv and snapshots).

For the majority of people just wanting to keep some data safe like home photos and home movies or ripped or downloaded movies and stuff just get a big external disk or 2 and sync all your files to them once in awhile and store them somewhere as safe as you can.
 

silk186

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 26, 2008
Messages
1,618
I've only ever had one drive fail on me. A few months ago a 1tb Seagate from 2008. I don't really think it matters all that much, if it doesn't fail within a few weeks it is unlikely to fail for years. This is of course for typical home use. Servers and such are a different matter.
 

GeorgeHR

Gawd
Joined
Oct 14, 2006
Messages
840
What's the biggest single hard drive size you'd feel comfortable buying today (assuming no RAIDing)?

I need a good storage hard drive, and I'm wondering whether to buy one 2-3TB drive or 2-3 1TB drives. I wince at the size of drives these days and how much data is getting stored onto a single point of failure. This probably means it's time for me to move into the RAID mentality, but I procrastinate the hassle of setting up and continually maintaining them.
As others have said - you need a backup more than a RAID.

Cost is a complex issue. For business: labor costs dwarf parts costs. If I have a hard drive fail, I have $500/hour in lost business income until we get it fixed. We used to use 2TB hard drives before we moved to SSDs. But our backups are 2TB WD Green drives.

But hard drive failures are so infrequent that we don't consider them an issue. We use 2TB and 4TB WD Green drives without any concerns.
 

SirMaster

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 8, 2010
Messages
2,122
First, consider Enterprise-grade drives. They have 2-3 orders of magnitudes less chance of encountering unrecoverable read errors (URE); they are designed to operate 24/7 within close proximity of many other drives in the same chassis; they have 2-3 times more unload cycles; they are designed to tolerate higher temperatures better than consumer-grade; they come with a minimum of 5 years of warranty.
Are enterprise-grade disks *really* better though? URE notwithstanding, (although in my actual experience, consumer disks like WD Red actually operate at less than 1 URE in 10^15 bits and nowhere near 1 in 10^14. I've scrubbed over 150TB in my array with 0 UREs.)

https://www.backblaze.com/blog/enterprise-drive-reliability/

For their extreme cost it's a lot better to just buy 2 consumer disks for the same price as 1 enterprise disk and maintain a backup copy.
 

wdeydwondrer

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
441
I have 3 tb drives currently, but wouldn't have a problem getting as big as I could afford. IMO the quality/reliability of the drive would be more important than just strickly size
 

D4rkn3ss

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 30, 2010
Messages
2,594
+ 1 on WD REs, crazy punishment they can take. enterprise HGSTs are also good.
 

aaronspink

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Messages
2,122
Are enterprise-grade disks *really* better though?
In most cases? No. Unless there is an actual physical difference in the design vs the consumer counterpart, it mostly comes down to different firmware versions (or even the same firmware with different flags set).

Now there are some enterprise drives that do show some significant physical differences, but a lot of the different drives are just marketing doing segment differentiation and charging more for the exact same drive.

URE notwithstanding, (although in my actual experience, consumer disks like WD Red actually operate at less than 1 URE in 10^15 bits and nowhere near 1 in 10^14. I've scrubbed over 150TB in my array with 0 UREs.)
Most of the URE spec rates are just BS. Remember, its perfectly legal to underspec a drive but illegal to over spec it. It isn't uncommon for a company to spec a consumer device with the exact same QC/design/implementation as an enterprise device at a much lower level than the enterprise device.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Messages
9,269
There are some who also think Backblaze studies are flawed and untrustable.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/trust-backblazes-drive-reliability-data/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/17/backblaze_how_not_to_evaluate_disk_reliability/

And in my cost analysis, I looked strictly at warranty and nothing else, meaning I never factored in UREs, load/unload cycle counts, RAID capability, or R/W performance. Because I purposefully left those factors out, it means my presentation is strictly end-of-day operating expenses and costs (which is generally the most important factor if you're not spending cash simply to spend it -- it's smart).

Another thing is that a lot of claims tend to lack factual backup and are mostly speculation and theory. There's nothing out there that gives 100% factual statement that Enterprise drives versus others are indeed the same everything. Coming to theory, some aspects you can assume logically, such as firmware-based limitations to create different series of drives limiting features such as TLER and maximum unload/load cycle counts. (Note -- I am not disagreeing or agreeing with any claims.)

According to http://www.wdcare.com/en/plans/, only a limited set of part numbers are eligible for having their warranty increased by an additional three years.
 
Last edited:

Logan321

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 9, 2003
Messages
1,900
Not sure where you got your price numbers from, but from my local supplier NCIX, a 4 gig WD Enterprise drive is $310.67, and a 4 gig WD Red drive is $209.99 (in Canadian dollars). So the 3 year warranty vs a 5 year warranty is a fairly minor cost difference, but the advantage of the Red drive is if you are dealing with a budget now, you get 3 of the 4gig Red drives for the same cost as 2 of the Enterprise.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Messages
9,269
Not sure where you got your price numbers from, but from my local supplier NCIX, a 4 gig WD Enterprise drive is $310.67, and a 4 gig WD Red drive is $209.99 (in Canadian dollars). So the 3 year warranty vs a 5 year warranty is a fairly minor cost difference, but the advantage of the Red drive is if you are dealing with a budget now, you get 3 of the 4gig Red drives for the same cost as 2 of the Enterprise.
amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Perform...F8&qid=1427480797&sr=8-2&keywords=4TB+WD+SATA

http://www.amazon.com/WD-Enterprise...480766&sr=8-2&keywords=4TB+WD+Enterprise+SATA

http://www.amazon.com/Red-4TB-NAS-H...id=1427480777&sr=8-1&keywords=4TB+WD+Red+SATA

http://www.amazon.com/Purple-4TB-Su...F8&qid=1427480797&sr=8-3&keywords=4TB+WD+SATA

http://www.amazon.com/Green-4TB-Des...F8&qid=1427480797&sr=8-1&keywords=4TB+WD+SATA

These links are in the XLSX, the PDF, and half-visible in the image on the far-right.
 

Logan321

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 9, 2003
Messages
1,900
The price on the enterprise drive you linked is $250 now, so there's a $70 price difference between the end and red. Might be you just lucked into an exceptional sale for your comparison.
 

Cerulean

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Messages
9,269
The price on the enterprise drive you linked is $250 now, so there's a $70 price difference between the end and red. Might be you just lucked into an exceptional sale for your comparison.
ha, nice. :D showing 249 USD shipped for me now
 

Aesma

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 24, 2010
Messages
1,850
I've stopped buying single hard drives a decade ago, after some bad experiences I started buying them in pairs, one backing up the other.

I'd go with the biggest drive (is it 10TB now ?) if it wasn't that expensive, so I buy the biggest that is cost effective, and at least 4TB. Just bought 20 HGST NAS 4TB in fact (a whole 19 drives RAIDZ3 vdev with one spare).
 

Kelvarr

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2001
Messages
4,226
So you have 10.5TB capacity.

I think a reasonable way would be to buy 2 6TB disks. Pool them with a simple pooling software and then copy over your data once in awhile as often as you think its good for you.

If you want to improve on that then add redundancy to the backup too. SnapRAID is a fine system for backup arrays IMO since the data on changes once whenever you sync/update it.

To improve upon that look at ways to keep deleted files and versions (only if something like that is important to you).

If you only update your backup say once a week it may be easy enough to just eyeball the changelist before applying the sync changes as as to not delete things that you didnt want deleted.

Beyond that you can get even more sophisticated with the software and use more advanced file systems like ZFS with snapshots and things to even more easily facilitate the syncing (zfs send/recv and snapshots).

For the majority of people just wanting to keep some data safe like home photos and home movies or ripped or downloaded movies and stuff just get a big external disk or 2 and sync all your files to them once in awhile and store them somewhere as safe as you can.

I should specify that my super-important documents and photos and whatnot are backed up on CrashPlan. The majority of the 10.5TB is media...both MP3 and DVD/Bluray rips. While they are not CRITICAL, it would really suck to lose the data and re-rip.
 
Top