Hard drive failure rates demonstrate importance of permanent archiving

The median lifespan of a hard disk drive is about six years.

Hard disk drives are still the default in many consumer PCs and some older Macs. Manufacturers utilize HDDs because of their high capacities and low costs, and these drives typically serve end users well for while.

However, HDDs are unstable compared to durable media such as Blu-ray Disc. The moving mechanical parts in HDDs and their low resilience to wear and tear mean that they can fail after only a few years, and sometimes sooner if there's a manufacturer error.

Backblaze releases comprehensive study about HDD failure rates
Online backup company Backblaze recently unveiled the results of the extensive testing that it performed on more than 25,000 spinning HDDs over the span of four years. Most of the tested drives were internal HDDs from consumer machines.

Backblaze's study revealed that HDDs essentially go through three phases of failure risk. During the first year of use, the greatest risk to the drive is manufacturer error. HDDs fail at a 5.1 percent rate over this time​ span. If it makes it past 12 months, the HDD's annual failure rate actually decreases to just over one percent, since the only relevant threats at that stage are the random failures that affect relatively few drives.

However, the HDD enters dangerous territory after four years of use, at which point the annual failure rate spikes to more than 11 percent. The mechanical movements of the HDD read/write heads eventually cause the drive to wear out. Backblaze estimated that 80 percent of HDDs make it to the four-year mark and that the median HDD lifespan is approximately six years.

Backing up HDD assets with data archiving solutions
While most HDDs may last a while, their proneness to failure and deterioration means that users must be careful to protect data along the way.

"Because there's a 5.1% chance that your drive will die in its first year, you should either back up your data regularly – or, if you're feeling dangerous, not keep any valuable data on that drive until it's worked out any kinks and survived to the 18-month mark," stated Sebastian Anthony in his commentary on the Backblaze experiment.

Making regular archives of HDD data is essential, and consumers can turn to DIGISTOR REWIND to keep everything secure over the long term. Using a Blu-ray burner, users can move files, photos and videos from their Mac or PC to a high-capacity recordable Blu-ray Disc for safekeeping. DIGISTOR's solutions ensure permanent archiving of all critical digital assets. 

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