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How long does a hard drive last?
Backblaze has kept up to 25,000 hard drives constantly online for the last four years. Every time a drive fails, they note it down, then slot in a replacement. After four years, Backblaze now has some amazing data that detail the failure rate of hard drives over the first four years of their life.
It seems that hard drives have three distinct failure “phases.” In the first phase, which lasts 1.5 years, hard drives have an annual failure rate of 5.1%. For the next 1.5 years, the annual failure rate drops to 1.4%. After three years, the failure rate explodes to 11.8% per year. In short, this means that around 92% of drives survive the first 18 months, and almost all of those (90%) then go on to reach three years.
Extrapolating from these figures, just under 80% of all hard drives will survive to their fourth anniversary. Backblaze doesn’t have figures beyond that, but its distinguished engineer, Brian Beach, speculates that the failure rate will probably stick to around 12% per year. This means that 50% of hard drives will survive until their sixth birthday.
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