No physical storage medium lasts forever, and hard drives in particular can die rather unexpectedly. But how long can you expect your drive to live? Five years? Fifty? Backblaze has crunched some numbers to find hard drive failure rates.
The online backup service analysed 25,000 "consumer grade" hard drives that have been consistently spinning over the last four years, noting when each drive failed. The majority of them were internal hard drives, but a portion were also taken out of their external enclosures and mounted in Backblaze's data racks.
They found that hard drives have three distinct failure rates: in the first year and a half, drives fail at 5.1 percent per year; in the next year and a half, drives fail less — at about 1.4 per cent per year; but after three years, failure rates skyrocket to 11.8 per cent per year.
The good news is that 80 per cent of hard drives last at least four years. The bad news is 20 per cent of them don't. Backblaze doesn't have data beyond the four years measured so far, but extrapolated data predicts a median lifespan of over six years for most hard drives.
It's another good reminder to keep backing up your data.