[nSLUG] hard disks can't be trusted (as if you didn't already know that)

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 17:27:38 AST 2007

discusses a couple recent studies from Proceedings of the 5th USENIX
Conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST'07), February 2007,
of drive failure rates in actual use.   Google had 8% of drives
failing in 2-3 years, with rates remaining around that level in
subsequent years.  Google's study confirms my experience: when a drive
starts remapping sectors, it should be replaced.  The two big studies
differ mostly in whether the mortality curve is monotonically
increasing or
"bathtub" shaped -- the latter is commonly observed in mortality
studies so it is curious that Google didn't find the effect.

One surprise not mentioned in the ARSTechnica article is that there
isn't much advantage to using server-grade disks.  Google's study is
consumer grade disks, but their overall failure rates aren't out of
line with other studies.

The documented high failure rates ought to convince large
organizations to take a more proactive approach to disk replacement.
Nobody should be keeping important data on a 3 year old disk.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia


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