External Hard Drive Reliability Survey

7 responses to “External Hard Drive Reliability Survey

  1. FWIW, I’ve never had an external drive fail (guess I’ve jinxed things now I’ve said that!).

    Currently running:
    4x LaCie
    2x Seagate
    2x Maxtor

    I’ve retired a few external over the years as they became too small for current usage (anyone want to buy a 500MB SCSI drive?!?).

    • Tony, glad to hear it. You are the exception though. I’ve had LaCie, Freecom and Maxtor external drives fail on me, some after a couple of years, others after three months. Judging by the number of drives you’re running now, I’m guessing you are backing up too; I hope so.

      Have a read of my thoughts on backing up:
      https://photothisandthat.co.uk/2009/12/30/storage-for-photographers/

      I’m so glad we don’t use SCSI any more!!

      • LaCie drives always come in for a bashing for reliability, tho’ as Martin says it appears to often be the power supply that fails and not the actual drive (maybe that’s why the Rugged drives appear better as they’re bus-powered).

        Hard drives go through phases of what’s reliable and what’s not. So keeping up with the current trends is tricky, so I avoid all that and buy what I fancy and ensure I have backup of the important stuff.

        So far (touch wood) I haven’t lost any data to drive failure, only extreme operator stupidity!

        For photos I follow the mantra: if doesn’t exist three times, it doesn’t exist.

        When funds allow I’ll buy into something like a Drobo (remember folks, a Drobo isn’t a backup it’s a drive with redundancy built in).

        SCSI was great, it was so much fun learning all the weird, arcane SCSI voodoo rules – not!

      • LaCie used to be top of the hill and charged accordingly in the old days of SCSI. I’d much rather they went back to those days and used proper components and charged accordingly. I think their issues are that they randomly pick the cheapest internal hard drives they can find (so I’ve been told and cannot independently verify) rather than working with one manufacturer and also use nasty circuitry which seems to be the main reason they fail so much. In my case I’ve always been ok with power supplies but have had circuitry issues.
        I’d be very careful about Drobo – the forums are full of horror stories of people loosing their stuff. In my opinion it’s too complex a system and as a result more can go wrong with it. My preference is to only use RAID 01 (mirror) for my work.
        The three times rule is a great one and one which I go by too 🙂

  2. If 80% of your respondents are using Lacie then their reliability is looking pretty good. If only 5% use Lacie then it’s terrible. From your survey I’m not sure there’s any way of knowing which is true.
    I’m currently running 10 Lacie externals between 0 and 5 years old and none have yet failed, though two power supplies have.

    • Hi Martin. You are absolutely correct. Problem is that mechanics of putting together this survey won’t let me get too deep into complexities of how many drives didn’t fail and so on. The point was just to get a general overview of how the different brands are coping.
      You have been fortunate with LaCie as I’ve had nothing but grief when using their products; the only LaCie drive that has never gave me issues is the Rugged. Someone from LaCie even confirmed that it’s their portables that work well and that they have issues with desktop models! I for one stopped using them a few years ago.

  3. I’ve also never had an external drive fail, and have used only LaCie drives for some time. I’m with Martin in that I’ve had a few power supplies for them fail.

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