Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Seagate or Western Digital

I bought a Seagate 4TB external drive in 2013 and it starting to make repeated clicking noises, which I have read means a sticking read/write head and I need to replace it.  I am sure it is out of warranty; five years is pretty decent for a drive that gets nightly backup activity.  Any reason for a particular drive brand?  I have a Western Digital network drive as well; I am just a bit paranoid of losing 20 years of research and writing.

I found an organization that keeps track of hard disk failures in its systems.  Most of the Seagates are below average in reliability; ditto for the Western Digital drives; the Toshiba and HGST drives are generally better than average.  Some involve large samples.

Curiously, the clicking stopped after running Seagate Tools for Windows.  I am suspecting that this the calm before the click storm.


  1. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID! In 2016 after moving to Texas my internal on my iMac suddenly went out on me. Dragged the whole unit to the repair shop, growling at the fact that the drive was the warranty replacement for the original drive and the original hadn't malfunctioned when Apple demanded I bring it in to be R&Rd. When I brought it in however I learned my backup drive had also failed and they couldn't get it to work without placing it in a new casing. Worse, it was only 500 GB and had stopped updating sometime earlier for lack of space. For want of a $200.00 new 1TB External drive I ended up loosing the last years worth of files, including portions/pictures for a planned 2nd edition to my reference book on the US Nuclear Arsenal. Thankfully most of the pictures I was able to replace from their sources: others files I refound in my phone, my laptop, or in one of various 4GB thumb drives I have collected. But I did loose some files for good.

  2. i've put many years on dozens of western digital reds with no failures. they do a bit better than seagates in the backblaze data, as well.

    really so long as you've got verified backups, and you don't mind a little bit of downtime here and there, it probably doesn't matter what drive you get these days. they can all fail, and they're all unlikely to do so.

    if you're really keen to avoid any downtime and data corruption, some sort of freenas-based NAS with >=5 drives in RAID-Z2 is where serious reliability begins.

  3. Get another drive immediately if you value your data and the drive is ticking. This is not sticking, it is the drive trying to reset the heads looking for the tracking markers because the drive is damaged. Once this starts you are hours or less away from disaster. Always have multiple backup drives so some are offline all the time except for when you are adding more data.

  4. The rule of thumb. 3 backups, 2 different media, at least one off-site. (in case of fire, etc.)

    With 20 years of research on the line I would probably up that.

    Any cloud storage and you give up your 4th Amendment rights. So if you want to go the cloud route, you should encrypt everything beforehand.

    For data that critical I might consider a multi-disk NAS as a good investment. Get mirroring in place - at least.

  5. I see 3 TB drives for less than 100 bucks. 1 TB drives for 60. (I might still by several for a NAS in order to RAID)

    You still want 3 backups. 2 media. 1 offsite.