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Old Feb 2, 2008, 04:38 PM   #1
bilbo--baggins
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Desktop vs Enterprise (server grade) hard drives?

A few years ago I noticed on Western Digital's web site that their enterprise hard drives stated that they were not recommended for desktop computers. I cannot remember if I read, or whether I just presumed, that it was due to the way that the caches were optimised for the different types of data access that occurs on a server compared to a desktop computer.

When Apple announced the Time Machine, they specified that if included a 'server grade' hard drive - known to most people as an enterprise hard drive. People asked what the difference was - and the simplistic answer was 'more rigorously tested' and 'longer mean time before failure'. This response would suggest that if you want the most reliable drive going - buy an enterprise drive.

Surely if there was no disadvantage to buying an enterprise drive other than the cost, surely a lot more people would be doing this? Does anyone have more information about performance in a desktop situation comparing desktop vs enterprise drives?
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 01:47 AM   #2
JT3Jon
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I too would LOVE to have an answer on this topic! My brother swears that all his past computer problems were caused by using an enterprise drive in his Dual 2.5 PPC G5. I have an enterprise Maxtor running as a data drive. Could this cause potential problems?
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 04:21 AM   #3
ncc1701d
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Hopefully nanofrog can give a better answer than me, but from what I've researched, the enterprise drives are faster under a raid configuration, but as a stand alone drive, you're better off with something like the caviar black. The ironic thing is, I think the Enterprise drives are on average cheaper than the normal ones!
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 08:11 AM   #4
zmttoxics
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Enterprise can go either way... Last I checked Seagate ES drives came with bigger warranties. Typically they tend to be louder and faster (the complete opposite of say a WD Green drive). They are meant to be used to RAID setups were there is lots of redundancy and noise isn't a factor - but speed is.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 09:33 AM   #5
ncc1701d
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It is possible to get WD "RE4-GP", the equivalent of the "green" enterprise. I believe the enterprise WD's are 5 year warranty.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 10:33 AM   #6
nanofrog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JT3Jon View Post
I too would LOVE to have an answer on this topic! My brother swears that all his past computer problems were caused by using an enterprise drive in his Dual 2.5 PPC G5. I have an enterprise Maxtor running as a data drive. Could this cause potential problems?
On modern systems, not really. See below for details.

In your brother's case, it was a PPC system, and there were differences in the hardware, OS, and drivers. Any fault in just one of those areas could cause all kinds of hell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ncc1701d View Post
Hopefully nanofrog can give a better answer than me, but from what I've researched, the enterprise drives are faster under a raid configuration, but as a stand alone drive, you're better off with something like the caviar black. The ironic thing is, I think the Enterprise drives are on average cheaper than the normal ones!
Enterprise drives have additional sensors (i.e. fly height adjustment, vibration,...) and some differences in it's firmware (recovery timing settings, aka TLER in WD drives; other makers call it something else). But in a consumer model, it's 0,0 (read, write, in seconds), while an enterprise model is 7,0. These timings are a result of how the recovery methods occur.

The combination of these two differences results in higher reliability, which makes a difference in the specifications. In WD's case, the UBE (Unrecoverable Bit Error) is the same for both consumer and enterprise models @ 1E15. But most consumer drives it's 1E14. That order of magnitude makes a difference.

Then you have MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure; expressed in hours). In enterprise units, it's 1.2 - 1.4 Million hrs, while consumer models are typically ~800K hrs. Big difference here, and it's needed. Enterprise drives are designed for 24/7 operation, and expected to last at least 3yrs non-stop.

With WD, you can actually adjust these values via the TLER utility.

As per speed, enterprise drives are actually slower than their consumer counterparts by a small margin, as it has to analyze the sensor data. This cost is minor though, as it prevents things like heads smacking the platters in a high vibration environment. Not so with a consumer drive. It's just damaged if such an event occurs. It's all about reliability with RAID drives. Speed comes from parallelism of drives, which is either the logic board (software based RAID) or the hardware RAID controller (i.e. Areca, Atto,... which are proper cards).

And enterprise drives are also more expensive in most cases. For example, here in the US, a 1TB Caviar Black can be had for ~$95USD, while the 1TB RE3 is ~$150USD.

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Enterprise can go either way... Last I checked Seagate ES drives came with bigger warranties. Typically they tend to be louder and faster (the complete opposite of say a WD Green drive). They are meant to be used to RAID setups were there is lots of redundancy and noise isn't a factor - but speed is.
For SATA models, the noise is similar (say 2 - 3dBA difference) to the consumer models based on the same platters. If there's a lot of vibration, then it can get loud, but that's actually the case. Rubber drive isolators can help immensely, and that's how I keep mine from driving me nutz.

15k rpm SAS OTOH.... think Hornet's nest in a box.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 10:36 AM   #7
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I work with 20-40 disk FCAL arrays. There are no rubber stoppers on those drive sleds. I just avoid staying in the server rooms for too long.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 10:49 AM   #8
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I work with 20-40 disk FCAL arrays. There are no rubber stoppers on those drive sleds. I just avoid staying in the server rooms for too long.
Yeah, I've run into that often. But with home oriented enclosures, it's usually possible via 3rd party offerings or mods.

For my current home system, I use a Lian Li case, which was designed to use rubber O rings to mount the drives.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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Yeah, I've run into that often. But with home oriented enclosures, it's usually possible via 3rd party offerings or mods.

For my current home system, I use a Lian Li case, which was designed to use rubber O rings to mount the drives.
Ya, my Antec P182 does that too, but I only have 4 disks in that box. I don't have a home array at the moment. I am waiting to buy a house before I build another home server setup. The ladyfriend is not fond of the noise level as it is with my 2x2 xeon IBM x336 and my 2x1 opty 252 (soon to be 290s for 2x2) Sun W2100z. I had to take my Sun Blade 2500 to work.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 11:07 AM   #10
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Ya, my Antec P182 does that too, but I only have 4 disks in that box. I don't have a home array at the moment. I am waiting to buy a house before I build another home server setup. The ladyfriend is not fond of the noise level as it is with my 2x2 xeon IBM x336 and my 2x1 opty 252 (soon to be 290s for 2x2) Sun W2100z. I had to take my Sun Blade 2500 to work.
Hmm... Can you say Addict?

Of course, this is coming from someone with 8x SATA in RAID5 + 4x 15k SAS in RAID5 in one system, a second active system used for a ZFS pool NAS, and a few other sytems just sitting unused ATM (ancient; one is a 486 ).
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 12:23 PM   #11
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Addicted? I wouldn't think so. SGI collectors are addicted. I don't have any fridge sized computers that aren't fast enough to run a modern web browser.


Being the unix engineer / administrator that I am, it helps to have a working test platform that mimics work. Plus the IBM x336 is my arcade machine.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 01:27 PM   #12
nanofrog
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Addicted? I wouldn't think so. SGI collectors are addicted. I don't have any fridge sized computers that aren't fast enough to run a modern web browser.


Being the unix engineer / administrator that I am, it helps to have a working test platform that mimics work. Plus the IBM x336 is my arcade machine.
We're not addicted in our minds, but to the rest of the world,...

I think of it this way: outsiders see the systems lying around, but haven't a clue what they really are, what they're capable of (i.e. fridge size beast vs. laptop, where the laptop can eat the fridge for breakfast before the coffee kicks in).

But Yes, SGI collectors are beyond hope (cough, cough, ... Tesselator.... cough).
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