HDDs might be getting less reliable, but that could be OK

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandr Grechanyuk)

Cloud storage giant Backblaze has revealed its latest hard drive failure rate figures, and it’s not looking too good for the future of the hard drive.

The figures, covering the three months that led up to June 30, 2023, comes from 240,940 hard drives used to store data across the company’s portfolio, and excludes a further 357 storage hard drives due to not meeting reporting requirements and 1,316 boot HDDs. More than 4,000 HDDs were added to the figures compared with the previous quarter.

Overall, HDD annual failure rate increased from 1.54% in Q1 2023 to 2.28% in Q2 2023. This illustrates a trend of increasing failure rates, up from 1.37% for 2022 as a whole, 1.01% for 2021, and 0.93% for 2020.

HDDs are apparently more prone to failure

In terms of reliability, the company’s oldest storage drive is the Seagate ST4000DM000 which is 8.8 years old. The model with the oldest average age across the fleet is Seagate ST6000DX000 at 8.2 years old. Two other Seagate models also made the list of the six drive models that reported zero failures in Q2 2023, alongside a pair of Toshiba models, a WDC, and an HGST.

While the previous quarter looks to have been a bad period for HDD failure rates, there are a number of factors at play, not least an aging fleet.

Where the figures really come into their own, though, is a quarter-by-quarter view of failur e rates by drive size. A look at the previous 12 quarters shows a distinct longevity among smaller drives compared with larger models (specifically 8TB and 10TB models), which look to become significantly less reliable as they get older.

Looking forward, the Backblaze team continues to keep an eye on the annual failure rates of its HDDs, however there is currently no overwhelming evidence to be concerned. It’s also worth noting that short snapshots such as quarterly reports can be misleading, and waiting to take a look at the year in full offers a much more holistic approach.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!