The average life of a 4TB HDD

Hey guys, I was thinking about getting a 4TB HDD to hold all of my things, I am starting to have some storage problems and need to upgrade. I have heard that larger HDDs die pretty quickly. I was wondering if this is true or not. How long will it last, I don't want to have to worry about replacing it for a few years at least.

Its sort of a wash. Some people have drives that will last them for years others will die after a few days. It is pretty difficult to say. Usually however, over 1TB you start seeing diminishing reliability. It would probably be better to get multiple 1TB drives than one single big one. 

You could always get a few 1TB drives and run them in RAID 10 or 5. You could also get two 4TB drives and run them in RAID 1 to get better reliability.

This may sound stupid, but I am pretty new to the computer community so, what is RAID exactly?

Edit: I looked it up, I guess I will probably just get two 2TB drives and put them in RAID 1. I don't think that I will run out of space, but if I do, would it be possible for me to get two more 2TB drives and put them in RAID 1 separate from the other two?

Keep in mind, RAID is not a backup. If what you care about is the safety of your data, RAID is not a solution, ever. So get your big 2TB HDD, and then get an offsite or at least offline place to replicate your important files to.

The thing is though, the data that I need to store is important, large, and I am going to be reading and writing to the drive very often. Basically what I am storing is a large library of HD video. I torrent and watch a lot of anime. (Some people frown upon torrenting, but anime falls in a sort of grey area, kinda like music.) So a lot of data is going to get written to the drive, and it is going to get read a lot as well when I watch it. Price is also an issue, if it wasn't I would just get several large SSDs and call it a day, haha. But, as it is, I can get 4TB of HDD space for the same price as 1TB of SSD space. I need a pretty full proof way of storing large amounts of data and keeping it on hand without having to worry about some sort of drive failure and losing it all. Two 2TB HDDs in RAID 1 seems like it would be the most reliable way to achieve that. What about RAID 1 would be unreliable in keeping my data safe?

hmmmmmmm depending on what your budget is look into a drobo OR if you cant afford a drobo look into a docking bay i have a friend that leaves a hard drive in his docking bay all the time and only turns it on to back up his files its just a idea is all

I don't really need one of those, I have plenty of 3.5" drive bays in my RIG, it would be more efficient for me to just stick the HDD in there. My issue is keeping my data safe against drive failure, while keeping it on hand, with heavy use. Thanks for the suggestion though.

If it's just torrented anime, then all you need to do for backup is keep a list of the torrents you download on google drive or something. Normally "important" files would irreplaceable if lost. RAID 1 might save you from having to download everything again when a drive goes bad. Or try RAID 6 if you're really really paranoid.

I mentioned this as well below, but by "important files" I meant files that can't be replaced. If you had your photo collection or home movies in RAID 1 and both drives failed at the same time because of a power spike or fire or coincidence, you would be screwed.

I keep a list, of course, I just don't want to have to redownload everything. My connection isn't the best, if I lost a few TB worth of data it would take me months to redownload it all. Raid 1 seems like the best option for now. When I can afford it, I will just get some SSDs, but for now, that is pretty much out of the question.

Currently, I use a 4tb external for computer imaging since I run my desktop in a RAID 0 array. My RAID consists on 2 Seagate Hybrid 750 GB then I have a another drive thats 1TB. I use it to stream movies and tv shows to XBMC and for a downloads drive to keep all the downloading off the RAID array since writing is what kills the HDD more. I only power it up at the end of every month and it is on for less then 5 hours. I have noticed that HDDs over 1tb have less life compared to dives with less than 1TB. Hell I have a 160 GB running for my parents and its still being run to this day. I date the drive back when BTX was a thing which is about 6-7 years. My opinion is to just get an external. When your not using it, unplug it. When you want to use it, plug it in.

Maybe you've already considered this, but I'll lay it out anyway just in case it's helpful:

You could get 2x 4TB WD Reds, or for a few pennies less (on Newegg at least) you could get 5x 1TB drives and do RAID 5 (and get about 4TB usable storage). You would have a few benefits that way. If a drive fails, it's cheaper and faster to replace. 1TB drives should be more reliable than their 4TB brothers as well. Just make sure you burn in the drives (stress test) before building the array, to weed out possible duds. With RAID 5, you can still only handle one drive failure, but like I said, you can replace failed drives more quickly and cheaply. You might even feel like ordering a spare or two so that you have replacements ready immediately.

With WD Greens instead of Reds, the 5x 1TB option ends up being about $5 more expensive by the way, at least on Newegg. But for at most $40 more I'd go with the Reds.

Yeah that is also a valid option. Well, I think that I am going to go ahead and use two 2TB drives in RAID 1 for now. Later on when I get some extra cash together I can add another two and buy a large external for an extra backup. If I have some trouble with it, I will try out your suggestion with five 1TB drives in RAID 5. Getting a few spare drives seems like a good idea too.

Also, what program would you recommend for the stress test?


I'd be interested to hear what others have to say about burn-in software on Windows. I just use badblocks on Linux.

If you can swing having a spare around, I'd definitely go for it. With only one redundant disk, it can be very nerve-racking waiting for a new one to come, and then rebuilding the array. It's like, crap one of these just died, I really hope the other one makes it long enough to copy the whole disk over at least... I've pulled my hair out too many times like that; I feel much safer with dual parity.

I have my storage in a separate machine running FreeBSD (so I can take advantage of ZFS among other things) and I have a growing collection of anime as well. I back up irreplaceable stuff, but I can't justify backup for TBs of anime. So, I settled for redundant disks, like you're planning on doing. I started out with a mirror because as you can tell, drives aren't cheap. I saved up after that to get two more drives, and moved to raidz2 (double parity, like RAID 6), so I can now suffer any two drives failing and still be online. If I had gone with another mirror instead and spanned the storage pool across the two arrays, I'd have to hope that both drives in the same array don't fail. I know it's really paranoid, but I'm on Comcast with data caps, so downloading everything again really would suck.

I don't have data caps, but my internet speed isn't the best. Compound that with a the terrible leech:seed ratio on most anime and it takes forever for me to torrent anime. I already have a pretty big library, about 700GB worth. I only have about 50GB left on my HDD. I ordered the two 2TB drives earlier so I will copy the library to those once I get them installed and on RAID 1. Copying that much data should work as a sort of stress test shouldn't it?

Whatever gave you the idea that 1 TB or more loses reliability? How come huge data clients I swap drives for are using 3 and 4 TB then? How Come I see comparable loss rates for years now when 320 GB or 500 GB drives where used for the same amount of time?

You assumptions are based on what 2 drives? Lets just say I see that in the first 10 minutes of work.

Drives fail. Drives are most likely to fail in the first month of operation. If they go through that without any hitch they will run for years. Also drives wear down from headparking. WD greens for instance are good for low access only. Not in a NAS as the headparking of those drives are far to aggressive with 7 seconds, Unless you use a tool called WDIdle3 to change it's headparking time. Another bad thing for drives are systems that power on and off a lot. It's actually better to let a drive on for 24 hours than to let it boot a few times.

It is pretty much proven that the larger the HDD the less reliable, that doesn't mean that you won't get drives that last years. I think that Logan and Wendel were discussing it a bit on The Tek awhile back. I also did some research on it. The larger the hard drive the more movable parts inside, more space means more platters, means more spindles and heads. The more parts there is, the increase in the chance that a part will fail. I just don't feel like taking a chance on it, I hate nothing more than losing a ton of data.

The amount of parts are the same. I most cases the amount of platters are even the same. The design of HDD's have changed little and especially on moving parts it has stayed the same. Sure more platters means more moving parts but HDDs 8 years ago with a lot of space also used 3 or 4 platters.

I deal with 200-300 drives which I fix or dump on a daily base. There is no change in error rates now compared to drives 8 years ago when I started the job when you compare them with the same age and same amount of platters. It has more to do with bad series like the infamous IBM Deskstar 75GXP aka deathstars or the Seagate 3 TB drives from China or the last 2 Maxtor series. That impacts error rates, but keep a bad series out it's still the same.

Drives generally get less reliable at higher capacity.

This is a known-issue. This is because of how storage works.

A single 1Tb drive is at the same size at a 3Tb drive. So on the 3Tb drive, it is a lot more dense. So to remain the reliability, the need to use better quality parts. You will normally see those quality parts in some specially series like the WD black etc etc.


As technology progress, we learn how we can better store data in a dense environment keeping the reliability.


I would recomend the WD 2 TB red. Got 6 of those running 24 / 7 in my server + 2 in my current PC. Never had any problems for about 1,5 years. They are made for this kind of "work" so a "tailored" drive like the red in Raid 1 would be great for your needs.