How Long Your Hard Drive Is Likely To Last

How Long Your Hard Drive Is Likely To Last

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.

How long do disk drives last? [Backblaze via ExtremeTech]


  • You forgot to mention that a backup is not a backup unless it is (at least occasionally) verified.

    Working for various companies the proportion of times when unverified backups proved to be faulty exceeded 50%. An unchecked backup is just a problem waiting to happen.

    (Also: The backup should be physically separate from your main backup, and if possible encrypted and itself redundant. Cloud storage can work, as long as the volume to be backed up isn’t too large. Remember that backup media themselves are subject to failure.)

    • A backup isn’t a backup if your client keeps their photos on an external hard disk and deletes the originals off their PC…

      • Oh god, this. Idiots who think that moving the ONLY COPY somewhere is a backup, when in fact portable drives are more likely to fail due the abuse they cop.

        I’ve seen that on countless occasions and it just doesn’t make sense from a logical perspective. I totally understand that people aren’t all great with computers – I respect that. But the term backup is not exclusive to technology and the WHOLE IDEA is that the data is safer because it’s in two places at once.

  • Does that mean that if your drive is only spinning eight hours a day you can expect that it would have an 80% chance of surviving 12 years?

    • or similarly i use my harddrives as archives
      so pretty much spinning for a year while its being filled up
      then left to collect dust

  • one thing is there anything os SSD and how long was the drive running for ect and was there a brand comparison so many questions.

  • I suppose my biggest concern is: if I run a desktop as a media centre – it has an OS Drive and a Media Drive – The computer is almost always turned on and the media is accessed through a Sony Media Centre Device. Would only Media drive or both OS and media drives be worn by this use

  • What a waste of time. Where is the BRAND breakdown?
    There’s little point in knowing this information if you can’t use it to make an informed purchasing decision.

    • I think it serves as more of a PSA to the misinformed. The amount of people who aren’t aware that a certain percentage of HDDs fail is astronomical.

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