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  1. #1
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    Hard Drive Reliability, for preservation of data, what kind to buy?

    to all (including windows secrets newswriters - a possible topic to cover)
    I realize this is not a software question, and not exclusively related to windows

    HOWEVER
    I am researching purchasing some new external hard drives for backup use.
    I am a veteran computer user, owning some drives that are 7 or 8 years old, stuffed into external usb-interface boxes, and these OLD drives have been very reliable.

    BUT, in researching newer ones to get, the reviews on vendors sites are NOT great. Even the "more" reliable drives have about a 10 to 15 % negative rating, and the reviewers are not just bashing the product; these individual users explain how these products have failed in normal everyday use.

    Since our DATA is the most crucial part of what we all want to preserve, the BACKUP and storage of this data should be able to be done on something that is RELIABLE, and i don't consider a product as reliable if it has even more than 5% of negative reviews (a negative review to me is one where the data failed, NOT if the case looks ugly, or the included software isn't great, etc

    Can the writers of the newsletter look at this as a possible future topic; or do other readers have suggestions as to how we can more easily find info on what is a RELIABLE disk to buy?

    any feedback appreciated
    nick

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Nick,

    A couple of things to keep in mind about user reviews.
    1. Unhappy users tend to post more than happy users, basic human nature.
    2. You don't know the technical expertise of the poster. They could have caused the problem them selves and are blaming it on the vendor.
    3. Then of course there is the competitor factor. Are competitior posting false reviews or just some one who is unhappy with the vendor posting multiple bad reviews, etc.
    4. Were the drives bought new or refurbished, usually not mentioned.

    There probably more but you get the gist. I trust professional reviews on technical sites like PCWorld, CNet, Tom's Hardware, etc. These are done by professionals who know what they are doing.

    Personally, I've been using mostly Western Digital disks for the past 25+ years with only 1 drive failure and that was an old SCSI drive in the mid 80's. I basically don't give my drives a second thought. I follow a rigiorus backup plan and that along with my experience gives me all the confidence I need to be worry free. That's not to say that some totally unforseen set of circumstances could combine to get me but then nothing in this world is 100% guarenteed, dispite claims by many to the contrary.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I trust HDs from the major manufacturers. In general HDs are very reliable. The technology is very mature. I would be somewhat hesitant right now only because of the problems at the manufacturers in the Far East (flooded plants, etc) Once they have retooled and rebuilt, there shouldn't be any problems. For now you may have to spend more than 6 months ago.

    As RG mentions how often have you written a review on a product you were happy with? That's why I trust the professional reviews more as well. Look at almost any product, there is generally a review by a professional reviewer, then reviews by consumers. I trust the professional reviews more than the consumer reviews.

    I have read more problems with SSD drives than with traditional platter drives. The technology is new and still doing through it's growing pains. Platter drives have been around forever. Yes the electronics have been updated, the size of the drives has increased, but the basic technology has been around forever. Stick to the big 3 or 4 and you will likely not go wrong.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by aoz View Post
    I am researching purchasing some new external hard drives for backup use.
    I am a veteran computer user, owning some drives that are 7 or 8 years old, stuffed into external usb-interface boxes, and these OLD drives have been very reliable.
    any feedback appreciated
    aoz,
    My 2 .. Is as follows
    1. Stick to a major brand ...I use Hitachi DeskStars #7K1000.C 3.5" 1TB 3.0GB/s 7200RPM 32MB Cache (have many, 6 or so) . Don't get any HD's that have some "goofy" software packaged with them. Nothing but trouble waiting to happen.

    2. Stick with (For now) with 2TB or smaller ...Imaging and OS, software problems with larger..

    3. Your overlooking "Imaging" as an alternative .. You can Image all your data and store it on a external HD ...Then remove it and store it to someplace safe.. Use several HD's and "swap-em-out" just to be extra safe.

    4. There are Imaging programs that are Free and work great!

    If you want more "Info" on Imaging" post back or start a new thread in "Security & Backups"

    Regards Fred
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2012-01-29 at 14:19.
    PlainFred

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  5. #5
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    This series should give some food for thought, based on components returns rates from an Etailer in the EU, here's the most recent: http://www.behardware.com/articles/8...s-rates-5.html

  6. #6
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    Early Hitachi DeskStars were known as "Hitachi DeathStars" because they were notoriously unreliable. I have 3 Seagate drives that had a major flaw in the firmware and it took a lot of digging to find the fix on their web site. Even the big guys get it wrong.
    If you are relying on the data run the disks for at least 6 months before commiting your data to long term storage.

    cheers, Paul

  7. #7
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    #1 Avoid the flaky software that comes bundled with most external drives: Purchaser should have their
    own back up regimen already worked out, but most importantly, you should know what you are getting into with such software before you buy.
    #2 Ensure the external drive has it's own power source. Drives with their own independent power sources are more reliable.
    Miniaturized drives are alright for on the fly hard copy backups, but shouldn't be relied upon for the bootable recovery of images.
    #3 Look for drives with standard USB cables, not miniaturized versions.

    1 TB drives tend to be reliable for all sorts of data types, while larger 2 to 3 TB drives are best suited to very large media files types. (movies/video)

    Some of the best and most reliable drives are actually internal drives mounted exteriorly through USB interfaces. Speed in most instances is a convenience. Little or no crapware associated with this configuration and fast enough to get the job done.

    NAS drives can be a decent option too depending upon your needs.

    If you want speed get internal drives and mount them inside your computer on the SATA controler.
    Internal drives tend to be more reliable than external drives. If you have a decent case and a newer system that will alow 2 or 3 extra drives, go for it.

    Probably the most important thing here is knowing what your needs are, the rest is just reading and researching hardware.

    Reviews
    User reviews can be pretty subjective, but they can also point out commonalities that are shared amung many users.
    You have to read between the lines in many instances.
    Professional reviews who have their hardware heaped upon them by manufacturers hoping to get some good PR and adverts can also be pretty subjective. Look for professional reviewers who purchase their products anonymously, will likely provide a fairer performance & company tech support review.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-01-31 at 20:32.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Early Hitachi DeskStars were known as "Hitachi DeathStars" because they were notoriously unreliable.
    Paul T ,
    My Recommendation for "Hitachi DeskStars" ( 7K 1000C) comes from my actual experience with them ...My HP Pavilion PC ( Vintage 2007 ) Had that Hitachi model. (OEM) installed.
    Since then i have added 5 more of the same type (different size's) ...They have been up and running ( various iterations) since then .. So either you can chalk that up to "dumb luck" or they are in fact reliable... your choice...Also i would be willing to wager that i use my PC Stressing the hard drives more than the average user with constant "Recovering and Imaging", testing software.. As of now i have 5 OS's running in that same box..Just passing on my experience with that model ( still available) Regards Fred
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    PlainFred

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  9. #9
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    Fred, I did say "early". They fixed the issue fairly quickly and replaced failed drives free, but if you were one of the unlucky ones.....

    cheers, Paul

  10. #10
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    The Dismal Science

    As a part of your research, I suggest you read THIS LINK.

    You picked a heck of a time to go shopping, that's for sure. If you wait a bit I think you might find that the price will subside, just as the flood waters have. Production will rise to meet the demand and the rest of the story is so boring that they call economics 'The Dismal Science'.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    You might think it worth reading this PDF about the British Library's Data Preservation Strategy.

    Any data recording medium is going to become obsolete, sooner or later (often sooner). Think of 8" and 5" diskettes, and probably 3" diskettes very soon (not available on most PCs now). Also new PATA drives will soon be difficult to obtain. DDS tapes? Mainframe tape drives? CDs? One could keep on going...
    BATcher

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  12. #12
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    I've found that newer drives are much more reliable than older ones were. For personal use, I prefer WD Caviar Green drive in external USB/eSATA enclusures. But quite frankly, I doubt any brand is so unreliable that it wouldn't serve the same purpose.

    More important than drive brand and the anecdotal reviews on the Internet, is a good backup scheme. Judging from your comments, I'm guessing you already practice this, but others can learn to never rely on one single drive for backups. As reliable and redundant as a $100k + SAN is, Enterprise IT depts don't trust that as a single solution. Implementing an elaborate disk to disk backup system is just as critical as redundant storage. Home users relying on consumer level drives should be even more conscious of the need to rely on more than a single disk.

    Quote Originally Posted by BATcher View Post
    You might think it worth reading this PDF about the British Library's Data Preservation Strategy.

    Any data recording medium is going to become obsolete, sooner or later (often sooner). Think of 8" and 5" diskettes, and probably 3" diskettes very soon (not available on most PCs now). Also new PATA drives will soon be difficult to obtain. DDS tapes? Mainframe tape drives? CDs? One could keep on going...
    Drive type isn't so much an issue these days. As storage media changes, simply move the data. You'd need to anyway due to the media "aging out". I haven't lost a single bit of any files in the 20+ years I've owned computers. What used to be a big problem was the data type. In other words, data that was stored in the format that only specific software could read. If/when that software became obsolete, too often there was no way to port it to a new format. This was more of an issue for corporate environments that used main frame systems with custom written software, but many small businesses and home users were affected because of the proliferation of small database programs that people could easily write custom interfaces for. Today, most things can be saved in common formats that have been universally supported for many years.
    Last edited by Doc Brown; 2012-02-13 at 11:33.
    Chuck

  13. #13
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    How many fans are you running in that case, Fred????

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRon View Post
    How many fans are you running in that case, Fred????
    Doc,
    Hello... In that case there were
    1. Power Supply fan
    2. VGA Board fan
    3. CPU fan
    4. Rear main fan

    Since then i have finally upgraded to a new "Corsair 650D" case...and switched out all. See This Thread Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  15. #15
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    Meanwhile back at the ranch

    To return to the OP, you correctly recognized that ‘DATA is the most crucial part of what we all want to preserve’, but it appears that you have all of your eggs in one basket. Having multiple drives in a single case is risky business so far as data preservation is concerned, no matter how much of a showpiece it may be.

    Redundancy is one form of insurance. An external drive with the bundled data backup (or straight copy) software seems to be derided by various sources, who may not appreciate the distinction between preserving systems and maintaining a real-time independent copy of data. An external data drive gives you a literally arm’s-length copy of the data, and most individual users’ data is a drop in the bucket relative to the capacity of the drive. The computer version of Britannica contains the full 32-vol print edition plus mulitimedia extras for computer. Most of us have some distance to go for our personal output to compare with that, yet the uninstalled DVD is 4.5 GB in size. If you trust the cloud, then save stuff to the cloud; it’s just another remote drive. Giant corporations trust it, but they're harder to kick around than most of us.

    Your concern about reliability may be missing a different point, in that manufacturers themselves report that an extremely high percentage of returned drives reported as ‘failed’ contain data that is fully recoverable (probably by using a Linux utility, if nothing else). Just because a drive has ‘failed’ doesn’t mean the data is lost, but it may take some knowhow or time or money (which is to say all three, at one stage of the game or another) to recover it. It helps to learn a little about data recovery for everyday use, because professional services in that area can be expensive, and a lot of it is very easy.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2012-04-18 at 02:50.

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