Skip to main content

The average life span of your hard drive will shock you

If you’ve ever had a hard disk drive (HDD) fail on you, you’re certainly not alone. It turns out that this is actually a lot more common than most people think.

According to research carried out across a sample of over failed 17,000 hard drives, the failure occurred after only two years and 6 months. Does that make the HDD one of the weakest components inside your PC?

A hard disk drive that showcases the inner components.
Benjamin Lehman / Unsplash

Cloud storage and backup company Backblaze released an interesting report about the average time it takes for an HDD to fail. Backblaze examined a total of failed 17,155 HDDs of varying sizes and models. Based on that sample, it came to the conclusion that, among the drives that failed, the average life span was only two and a half years.

The company was able to run this study on its own failed drives that were previously used in its data centers. This includes models from Seagate, Toshiba, or Western Digital (WDC). In total, 72 different models were included.

Backblaze recorded the power-on hours of each drive, along with their failure dates, serial numbers, capacity, and SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) raw data. The study excluded all failed boot drives, drives with data errors or inconsistencies, and drives with no SMART raw attribute data.

In addition to exposing the short average life span of an HDD, the study also finds that Seagate drives are the most susceptible to failure, while WDC models saw the least casualties.

The massive Seagate 12TB ST12000NM0007 turned out to be the fastest to break, reaching an average age of 1 year and six months and a total of 2,023 failures. The only HDD to break down even more often was the Seagate 4TB ST400DM000 (5,249 failures), but it also lasted a lot longer on average — 3 years and 3 months.

Overall, Backblaze found that the average annualized failure rate (AFR) of its active HDDs was 1.4%, meaning that 1.4% of all of its HDDs failed each year. By the end of the first quarter of 2023, Backblaze was monitoring a total of 241,678 drives, but this also includes SSDs. To calculate the AFR, it excluded boot drives and drives used for testing, which resulted in 237,278 drives with a 1.4% yearly failure rate.

Should you be worried if you’re still using an HDD, given that once they fail, they seem to only last for such a comparatively short time? Not necessarily. Backblaze doesn’t have any HDDs in sizes that are typically used by consumers (1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 5TB), and it seems that the smaller the HDD, the longer it can last. The tests also only included failed HDDs, and as the AFR tells us, not that many of them fail each year to begin with.

Many people also no longer use HDDs, having switched to SSDs as their prices continue dropping. Still, it’s always a good idea to back up your data.

Editors' Recommendations

Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
Western Digital’s $55 solid-state drive gives new life to your aging PC
western digital wd blue sn500 ssd

Western Digital

One of the simplest ways to get extra performance and squeeze more life out of an aging PC is by upgrading the storage to a more spacious or faster solid-state drive. This is especially true if your system relies on a slower hard disk drive. Though solid-state drives, or SSDs, are generally more expensive than their hard drive counterparts, Western Digital is making the upgrade more affordable for consumers with the launch of the WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD, which starts at $55 and uses the faster NVMe technology, rather than the cheaper SATA-based SSDs.

Read more
Google Assistant now lets you set custom Routines to help optimize your life
google home uk

Ever since the A.I.-powered Google Assistant stole the show at CES 2018 in January, it's been proving a force to be reckoned with in the smart assistant realm. Google added to Assistant's arsenal with the rollout of Routines in Spring 2018; now Routines have been made even more useful with the introduction of Custom Routines, which let you trigger several actions at once at a predetermined time.

Routines help Assistant users string together a number of actions with just one command. They're similar to Apple HomeKit Scenes, or IFTTT (if this, then that) commands. For example, when you say, "Hey Google, I'm home," you'll be able to trigger Assistant to turn on the lights, share home reminders, play your favorite music, set your thermostat, and more. And if you can use four words to do what would normally require multiple commands (or physical actions), why not take advantage?

Read more
Future SD cards could be as fast as an SSD — and hold more than your hard drive
sd express ultra capacity announced sduc

SD Express - Revolutionary Innovation for SD Memory Cards

Future SD cards could operate as fast as a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), while others could hold more than data than your current computer. The SD Express will allow up to 985 megabytes per second, while the SD Ultra Capacity has the potential to hold a whopping 128 TB of data. The SD Association unveiled both new card formats on Wednesday, June 27.

Read more