Seagate and Western Digital are the two biggest players. I only use them these days.
As DrWho says, heat is the killer.
Download the excellent HDDSentinel program - you can run it for free for 30 days, and in my experience for much much longer (I paid for it in the end because it was so useful to me and as a programmer I appreciate the work that went into it) and keep an eye on the temperature.
Also it gives you visibility to the S.M.A.R.T. data that your hard drive has but you can't normally see. Don't get caught out by bad sectors.
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I agree with DrWho, Most are reliable with a few exceptions. Aside from archiving I run 500gb or less (IMMO the most reliable sizes) for OS installs. SSD's give a little more latitude in high stress environments (ie. High heat factory) but I always keep a backup image.
Up until '06 I'd only run Seagate and WD, with two failures, one of each. Recently another Seagate got retired - it was starting to look a tad flaky according to S.M.A.R.T.
Got a deal that year on a couple of Samsung 1.5TB drives; they've been running with nary a hiccup and generally better throughput than the faster Seagates and WDs.
YMMV, but, barring overall bad reviews on a particular model, I'll be buying Samsung drives in future.
Samsung & Western Digital
I'm a system builder and have been using the Samsung 1tb F3 Spinpoint HD103SJ drives for three years now without a single user failure. Before the flooding in Thailand I was getting them for $49 each, they currently cost 3 times that much. They are the fastest 7200 rpm drives in real-world applications. They also work well in RAID arrays. I also use 10,000 rpm Western Digital VelociRaptors and their Black Edition Caviar drives with great success over the past 12 years. I had several drive failures with IBM, Maxtor and finally Seagate. I will no longer use vendors that don't offer reliable products. For my own systems I use Corsair Force series SSD's for system drives with the Samsung F3's for storage and backup. After getting used to sub-10 second boot times and instant application loadings I can never go back to mechanical hard drives. The TRIM feature in the latest SSD drives is wonderful and another thing I'll never want to be without.
A discussion of hard drive brand reliability reminds me of the adage - generalities are always wrong about specifics. In my system builder days I saw success and failure with every brand that seemed to be related to the design maturity. The latest and greatest were somewhat problematic, but eventually design and production issues leveled out. Others have mentioned IBM's Deathstar, which for awhile was a decent moniker, but I standardized on IBM (now Hitachi) builds with great success because of their reliability in service. Without recent experience, I would imagine that Samsung would be a good bet because of their attempt to grow their market. I would expect any drive manufacturer to quickly react to any design or production flaws. The real area for reliability has always been the server market. Most of us would not buy a Dell, IBM, EMC branded drive simply because you really can't. Those drives are produced by major manufacturers to the server maker's requirement, but they are not materially different from consumer drives except for harder qualification testing. Today I suspect all brands provide fine performance with Samsung the edge on price/performance. As one said, we will know five years from now <G>.
I definitely would not rely on SSD drives for data, once a SSD drive fails the data is gone, no one can recover it. At least when mechanical drive fails there is a greater chance that the data can still be recovered, even if you need to take it to a data recovery place. A SSD drive is good to run your operating system and your applications, but do not rely on it to save your data.
SSds gradually taking over from regular spinning drives
We have Samsung 740GB, Seagate 500GB and 1TB, Hitachi 500GB and 1TB. All are 7200rpm SATA II with 16MB cache. The Seagate 1TB is approx. 8MB/sec.faster according to HD Tune. All are 3 years old or more and have been reliable in use. The Seagate 500GB is 6 or 7 years old and still running fairly quiet. All have been used in the past for Windows XP or 7, but are now used as data storage.
Over the last year we replaced first one then another and another with a small SSD (120GB Sandisk, 96GB Kingston and 64GB Kingston, all SATA II). These have also been reliable. Performance is definitely improved on all 3 PCs when using the SSDs. Another Kingston 96GB SSD was replaced by the faster Sandisk, and I hope soon to use that Kingston SSD to replace the 5400rpm drive in our laptop. You can make even the most basic dual-core laptops fly with an SSD ! And, if the laptop has a card reader slot, grab yourself a 32GB or larger SDHC card for extra storage. And, don't forget you can use the regular hard drive you removed from the laptop as external storage if you just get a 2.5-inch external drive case.
I just tried my first SSD. It is terrific! I installed it in a less than one month old laptop and it runs much cooler and screams with ten second or less boots.
I don't know where folks get the if an SSD fails all is gone because when a mechanical drive is toast all is gone too. While the data could be recovered from a mechanical drive for $10k of forensic data retrieval most folks won't spend that, not even a thousand to retrieve it from the platters directly. If it fails I just load the image from the last week or day (depending on when in the week it failed, I do images on mine on Saturdays, when done for the night, and it works while I sleep so no time involved other than under a minute turning the dock on and clicking create a system image) and restore the image to the replacement drive whatever the technology of the drive. Critical data like banking and financial datum are backed up after each session to a thumb drive in less than one minute. It can then be restored, and has been, to the restored system image so all that can be lost are a few spam emails. Important ones can be requested again. How so fast? Automated USB flash drive syncs of any specified/selected once critical data is easy with today's flash drive and portable software today.
Regardless of the stigma attached for some to using MS products, I stopped buying Ghost in 2003 ans switched to Acronis. I stopped using Acronis with Windows 7 and use the Win 7 backup and restore center "Create a system image" and the repair/boot disk creator for the boot CD which works perfectly for restoring whole disk images and is free. Want to backup critical data daily to a USB flash drive? MS has a freebie that works great: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en...ng=en&id=20034 Open source free: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows...-drive-backup/
Or you can pay for it like this: http://www.usbflashbackup.com/index.htm Don't buy that, it was just a quick search for an example. Find one with the level of automation and security you are comfortable with for your portable critical data daily backups. A 1 GB old USB flash drive backs up the last ten years worth of data onto it after every work session in under one minute. Twice we have had to upgrade our software and both times all accounts and data were restored from that USB drive in under a minute.
Data longevity comes only from backups, duplication, and a little self discipline. All drives will fail eventually. It is not if they will fail, but when. SSD or mechanical.
Ok folks, if you have no backups of system images, or at the least data, or both, and back up copies of programs and activation keys, and burned ISO images of your downloaded software, or archived the executables on another drive or DVDRW, and have a printed out list of your passwords in your safe or safety deposit box along with your last will and living will, well then you are going to lose every time life takes a very bad turn for you, in every way.
I keep images on two external 1 TB mechanical drives that are in two drive docks, one on each main desktop computer desk that are only turned on once a week to make images. I do not want daily mirroring as then any infections or data flaws will be in my back ups too. I keep my 275 GB of music from 2500 ripped original CDs to 320Kbps MP3 on my main computer drive for the access and network access (I am listening now) and on another 320GB drive for backup that is never turned on. It is kept in a static wrap and bubble mailer like all my 8 or so spare drives. I also have clones of each major drive on three spare drives (Notebook, and two Desktops) so I can get the clone and immediately be up and running in case of a failure. I restore the last image to the clone so the clone needs only the basics. I do take them out and test them and do all the Windows updates at least every six months.
Folks I image the SSD drives just like the mechanical drives. When I installed the mechanical drive I restored the image from the mechanical drive to it so I did not have to do all the installs, removal of crapware, and updates, from using a factory restore for the new drive. My laptop is less than a month old and my desktops are sold before they are more than 18 months to two years old. I take the hard drive from the new computer and put it in my old computer I am selling and factory restore it so none of my data can be recovered from it since none of my data was ever on it. I take the old drive and use it for the new computer once I cloned it to a new drive ready to install when it fails. I then do not have to physically destroy the drives or sell my old computers sans hard drives. As well my fast reliable drives continue to give service, I have a clone ready so no shopping panic with a failure, and no data panic as the image is then restored.
Lastly for those not following or have difficulty with images. I use images as they are faster. But the clones offer something with drive docks most are not used to having. Direct drag and drop access to the old files as they are not compressed and require no program to read them or work with them. When I already have a computer running and connected to the dock I can then turn the dock on with a primary drive on it, access the data on it, and copy whatever, and then turn the dock off with no conflict unlike when both are installed inside the computer.
Stating the obvious, that heat is the enemy of all electronics, not just hard drives is disingenuous. You see the hard drives contribute a lot of the heat inside a computer case. SSDs almost none. Many folks also use portable external drives in cases. Man do they get hot in there, much hotter then in external open air drive docks like the eSATA/USB 2.0 Thermaltake docks I use. SSDs really drop the heat down in a case.
Using SSDs with older computers and operating systems can be problematic. I will only use them in newer systems like my new laptop. I would not wait for a failure to get a spare drive. If you get a new drive or even a used one of equal specs to the one in the unit you run now, clone it and put it up, and have another drive that you copy the images made weekly to and use for storage to each computer with a dock you go a long way to peace of mind. Your clone drives and storage drives don't need to be SSDs, in fact the storage drive can be a slow drive as it is not accessed for speed. The standby clone drive needs to be the same specs or close as the one it will replace in a failure or what is the sense?
SSDs can be backed up too, exactly like mechanical drives. Mechanical drives can lose everything too.
SSDs run much cooler, so everything in the computer case can run cooler, and much faster to boot, if you'll pardon the pun.
Backups are what save the day, not reliability. Have a perfect drive and system and let it roast in a house fire and see what happens. My clones are kept in the safe which is water and fire resistant long enough for them all to survive. The only drives out and exposed are the image and storage drives in their docks, and the ones inside each computer. The USB thumbdrives are in my pocket and my wife's purse. If it/they is/are destroyed then I/we will likely be dead and will not care at all.
It isn't that hard or expensive. Have one computer? A drive dock and two extra drives are all you need for a bulletproof system. A drive dock is 30 bucks. A spare drive may already be laying around for the 500GB - 1TB image and storage drive kept in the dock most of the time when not using another for weekly/as needed use, and one for a clone drive which must be the same size or larger than the one in the computer to restore images later if need be is all you need.
Getting sticker shock with today's hard drive prices since the flood? I already had all my drives and just bought two used ones for my old and new Laptops a good Seagate 500GB 2.5 and a WD Black caviar 620GB for 20 bucks each both like new and perfect. I kept my old laptop drive and put in the used drive that was wiped and factory restored from the disks I always make and keep until time to sell, but has none of my data to be forensically recovered in it, and kept my old drive for a clone or main.
See once you have your drives and clones no price fluctuations or availability of compatible hardware issues can come up. You are done!
Yes, an SSD is the way to go as a primary operating system boot drive. Nothing beats the speed increase you can get from it.
Even a Windows XP based computer will see real gains in speed, if it's installed and run properly.
The only problem with an SSD is that it is still too expensive to purchase 4 or 6 TB to use as storage. Regular high capacity mechanical drives, in this instance, will do just fine. The lifespans of many "high quality" SSD's have come to match that of their mechanical counterparts.
I did say "high quality", not cheap low quality SSD drives.
So yes, solid state drives used as primary operating system bootable drives are more than ready for prime time.
Remember, your operating system is a means to an end, not the end in itself. If you want to preserve the data you generate
and the programs you install, you must be the one to back them up. Not Microsoft, not the hardware manufacturer, YOU the user.
3 Star Lounger
You said, "high quality", not cheap low quality SSD drives.
What brands do you recommend, would Crucial m4 be high quality??
I've been reading the performance tests, reviews and monthly ratings on Tom's Hardware for the best SSD's for the money rated every month. The current generation of Sand Force SSD's offer the best performance and except for manufacturer badging are nearly identical. I've been using the Corsair Force 3 and Force GT's with great success. Mushkin and Adata are also consistently at the top of the charts. Intel drives currently have about half the performance of the latest Sand Force-based drives but still cost more. I've been avoiding OCZ products after a few dismal experiences with their now-defunct RAM and reading the user reviews on Newegg. Nobody should have to do firmware upgrades to get a "new" product to function properly (or at all).
Crucial drives are competitive in the SSD market (and they actually manufacture the internal memory chips themselves as part of Micron) and I've read reviews of them getting near the Sand Force performance mark. Two Corsair 120GB Force GT's in RAID 0 will saturate the SATA 3.0 6GPS pipeline in benchmarking for speed. You can also use indexing and compression with no noticable hit in performance in Windows 7 Ultimate/Pro 64-bit. Tom's had a very good article on that as well.
3 Star Lounger
Use to buy Mushkin mem yrs ago -- good for oc'ing but been a crucial customer for yrs now.
I guess quality is reading reviews.
I've used a few Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR120GB-DX SSD's in customer builds and they may be the best SSD for the $$$ at the moment. Newegg has had them on Shell Shocker deals a few times for $119 and at that price can't be beat. When I do my own next build that's most likely going to be the system drive. I always read customers reviews to get an idea of potential problems with anything. If n00bs don't have issues with a product experienced users won't either.
Reliability is as important as speed !
Many brands of SSD use "Sandforce" controller software, and there were some nasty bugs in early versions of Sandforce 1200-series controllers used in SATA II drives. After a few days/weeks users would wake their computers from Sleep mode and a few seconds later would get a Blue Screen of Death. Upon rebooting, the computer no longer recognised the SSD drive at all - everything was gone !! Eventually, Sandforce worked out the bugs (even the early firmware updates didn't fix the problems!). This seriously damaged some brands' reputation, OCZ being a case in point.
Intel and Kingston, among others, didn't use Sandforce controllers so, while their performance wasn't as fast, they performed reliably with very few problems. Using Kingston V+100 96GB models in our two Windows 7 desktops, they go from the "Starting Windows" logo to ready-to-use desktop in about 30 seconds. Both PCs have a bunch of programs loading at Startup with 77 or so "processes" running. Sandisk, always a good name in flash memory, waited until the Sandforce controllers were totally reliable and then released a great SATA II SSD called the Sandisk Ultra with real top-shelf performance and reliability. It boots and loads programs and games a few seconds faster than the Kingston, with even better performance on small files or Excel work, plus it's really fast loading and saving large image files for editing.
However, the newer, faster SATA III drives are now predominant for top performance, but only if you have SATA III on your computer !
If not, you'll still get top SATA II level performance from these newer SSDs and they'll go way faster when you connect them to SATA III ports. Based on experience, I recommend the latest Sandisk Extreme model (just check out those positive reviews at newegg.com and everywhere else). You can get a PCI-e plug-in SATA adapter card that gives you a couple of SATA III ports on it for around $20 - $30 if you need that SATA III blinding speed.
Don't forget a couple of important things before installing Windows on your SSD. Go into the computer's BIOS setup screen and change the SATA operating mode to AHCI. On some BIOS the setting may just be "Enhanced". Install Windows plus video/graphics drivers, then run Windows Experience Index (WEI). Windows will recognize that it's an SSD and will turn off Scheduled Defragmentation, Indexing, and maybe Superfetch (I can't remember for sure). These tweaks help ensure long term performance and reliability for the SSD.
Last edited by starvinmarvin; 2012-03-30 at 14:48.
Reason: spelling error
Leaving Indexing and Superfetch alone with a SSD. You can enable AHCI on an existing Win 7 installation by doing this registry mod: Here is how to set AHCI up without doing a reinstall
In the right pane, right-click Start in the Name column, and then click Modify.
In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.
On the File menu, click Exit to close Registry Editor.
Install the AHCI drivers, reboot into BIOS and set the drive/storage controller to AHCI. Reboot and you should be good to go.
As far as Sandisk goes their products are abysmally slow compared to those from Adata. I do a lot of A/V editing and use large USB 3.0 flash drives to transfer data between machines. The Adata's over over 4 times as fast as the Sandisk's. They also have much better construction (aluminum vs plastic). I haven't used an Adata SSD yet but their benchmarking score are very impressive.