Hard Drive Failure Rate and High Temperatures

Old 2 Comments on Hard Drive Failure Rate and High Temperatures 81

Over the years, there have been a few studies on this topic. One study by Google found that temperature was not a very good predictor of failure. In another study done by Microsoft and the University of Virginia, we were told that there was actually a correlation. According to a new study done by Blackblaze, an online storage firm seems to confirm the original study done by Google. This data is coming from a data center with about 34,000 drives.

According to their blog post:

All Drives: No Correlation

After looking at data on over 34,000 drives, I found that overall there is no correlation between temperature and failure rate.

To check correlations, I used the point-biserial correlation coefficient on drive average temperatures and whether drives failed or not. The result ranges from -1 to 1, with 0 being no correlation, and 1 meaning hot drives always fail.

Correlation of Temperature and Failure: 0.0

They found that different drives generally ran at different temperatures, which is not surprising because we see different spindle speeds among drives and other factors. They claim that their storage pods are distributed “somewhat randomly” around the data center, and therefore their averages are from drives all in the same environment.

Despite their general conclusion, out of the 19 drive models they tested, there were three which did see a correlation between drive heat and drive failure. The first two, the Seagate Barracuda 3.0TB and Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 showed only a small correlation. The third, the Seagate ST31500541AS, is shown on a graph that shows the failure rate increasing significantly with temperature.

Conclusion

I don’t see this as being as clear cut an answer as Blackblaze is trying to lead us to believe.  We are talking about a spinning mechanical drive, not much different than the motor in your car. Some are certainly engineered to better withstand load and heat, but in general higher loads lead to more heat, and more heat leads to more wear. It’s unfortunate that we generally have to wait until these drives are near EOL before we can judge the reliability of them.  Studies like this are always welcome, and it appears that most modern drives are generally able to operate at temperatures approaching 35*C without issue.

 

Author

Nicholas Fusco

Nick Fusco is a young IT Consultant and "geek"! As a contributing author on GBD, he covers all things tech and writes reviews for a variety of products and services.

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2 Comments

  1. Martin Lehner June 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Great post! I’ve always wondered about hard drive failure and heat, and the more studies I see, the less of a correlation between the two.

  2. Geek Brain July 3, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Makes sense since they didn’t get the drives REALLY hot… looks like almost all of them ran at under 30C. I wonder what would happen if they were at 50C?

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