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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:52 PM   #1
camner
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Hard Drive longevity and replacement strategy

All drives obviously wear out at some point...

I have 3 drives in my MP that are in use essentially continuously, and a number of backup drives that I connect via a Voyager dock.

A few questions...

1. Do folks preemptively replace hard drives after a while, even if functioning normally? If so, how often?

2. For the drives that are used only periodically for backup, can one assume they will last longer because they don't get used very much, or is just sitting around unused actually no better than spinning them?

3. For those drives that sit in a drawer until needed, is there a recommended time interval one should use to spin them up occasionally?

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts...
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 08:22 PM   #2
hfg
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Preemptive replacements probably depends on your tolerance for down-time, as well as the quality of your backup.

My experience with engineering workstation networks indicated that the drives rarely failed when running 24/7. However, when we would shut down the entire system for a 2 week Christmas break (they did electrical maintenance at that time), we would always have a rash of non-startup disk failures after being powered down for 2 weeks. I suspect the lubricant on the spindle bearings was worn out and became sticky when it was allowed to cool down.

I recently replaced a pair of 1TB drives in RAID-0 which had been running for 4 years in my Mac Pro. The modern single 3TB drive I replaced them with is actually faster (higher density, more cache, faster electronics) than the old technology drives in RAID-0. So I got a performance boost as well as preempting a failure which I was slightly concerned about (although I do have a fairly good backup strategy running here).

I would think than new drives would be better for off-line storage with occasional power-ups for refresh than using old drives which had been in service for some time for that same purpose. Just discard the old drives or put them in something non-essential in case of failure.
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Old Dec 2, 2012, 10:31 AM   #3
Weaselboy
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Google released a good study on this here. As I recall the data pointed to about three years as the time to replace if one wanted to be cautious and preemptively replace drives.
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Old Dec 3, 2012, 12:12 PM   #4
ActionableMango
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camner View Post
1. Do folks preemptively replace hard drives after a while, even if functioning normally? If so, how often?
No, I just use a good backup system. In my personal experience hard drives fail in the first year and any drive that has made it past that has lasted until it was long obsolete.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 04:50 PM   #5
camner
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Thanks all for the advice.

There's something that just bothers me about throwing away something that at least on the surface seems in good operating order, but then again, the hassle of losing something far outweighs that.

I think I'll begin the process of replacement.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 05:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camner View Post
Thanks all for the advice.

There's something that just bothers me about throwing away something that at least on the surface seems in good operating order, but then again, the hassle of losing something far outweighs that.

I think I'll begin the process of replacement.
You could think of it like tires on your car ... they seem fine, they roll good, they may even have adequate tread left on them ... but they are 10 years old and have "expired" sitting out in the sun. Do you continue to risk your family with them on the highway going 75mph?

(not that a disk failure is life threatening ... but the principle is the same)
... although, if all your business records are on that disk ... ... ...

Last edited by hfg; Dec 4, 2012 at 05:51 PM.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 06:13 PM   #7
ActionableMango
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Or you could think of it another way.

You are dumping hard drives that have operated faithfully for many years and replacing them with untested hard drives made by companies that are struggling to cut costs in this time of economic downturn.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 10:25 PM   #8
tamvly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camner View Post
Thanks all for the advice.

There's something that just bothers me about throwing away something that at least on the surface seems in good operating order, but then again, the hassle of losing something far outweighs that.

I think I'll begin the process of replacement.
Well, you might consider wiping them and then selling them on CraigsList or E-Bay. Maybe someone else could find them useful.
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