Lifespan of a spinning hard drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by garyleecn, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    so, I know that the SSD's lifespan only has to do with the amount of data writing to it. But how about regular HD?

    is the lifespan of a spinning hard drive only related to the number of hours it's spinning? in other words, does it matter if it's being written, read, or as long as it's spinning (even if no read/write at all), the hour counts to it's lifespan?

    thanks a lot
     
  2. Daisy81 Suspended

    Daisy81

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    #2
    I'm not an expert but I think the motors do have a limit to how long they can spin. However I have a 500GB 7200 RPM drive that has been in use and outlasted my Core 2 Quad system I built back around 2008. Spinning drives can last a long time.

    I have heard that power cycling the machine is a time where a mechanical drive is prone to failure.

    I don't think there is a limit to how many times the disk can be written to.
     
  3. garyleecn thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    so as long as the drive is spinning, no matter weather anything is being written or read, it consumes the lifespan of the drive?
     
  4. Daisy81 Suspended

    Daisy81

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    #4
    To an extent but from I understand it's a lot easier on the drive to stay in motion.

    That doesn't mean it's bad to put computers to sleep or let drives go to sleep. Spinning drives usually last a very long time.
     
  5. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #5
    The tests I have seen do not differentiate between an idle spinning HDD vs one in use. However the below graph shows the general trends:

    http://media.bestofmicro.com/4/T/302141/original/ssdfailurerates_1024.png

    (1) Both HDD and SSD failure probability increases over time
    (2) SSD is generally more reliable but in some cases might exceed HDD failures
    (3) Major differences in reliability between brands and models of both HDD and SSD
    (4) By the 4th year, HDD average failure rate can exceed 20%
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #6
    I have a drobo DAS that's been chugging away for about 3 years. I'm not terribly worried but I did buy applecare to make sure nothing bad happens in the first three years and it does occur, it will be on Apple's dime.
     
  7. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

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    #7
    Oldest one I have in use at the moment is a 160gb Seagate from ages ago it is in one of my backup servers shows no signs of dying off any time soon. I have had other spinners that have died with months of purchase again Seagate 7200.11 series pieces of junk only have one of about half dozen of them that have survived the journey. As far as I can tell it is the luck of the draw on the spinners as to whether they will survive. SSD never managed to have one of them die on me yet oldest of them is a 40gb SSDNow from Kingston which was in use for literally years powered on all the time now lives in second backup server that gets turned on once a week for my backups, it shows no sign of dying off either.
     
  8. e93to macrumors 6502a

    e93to

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    #8
    My family has had more than 10 computers since 2000 or so, but only one of them had failed hard drive.

    A laptop from 2005 still works (used everyday between 2005-2010). Another laptop from 2007 still works, and my dad uses it regularly. Laptops from 2010-2012 still work perfectly. My own mid 2009 MBP, which I use everyday for several hours, still works. And, last but not least, my desktop computer from 2002 with 2 hard drives still works. I used it everyday between 2002 and 2012 until it no longer turned on. However, this turned out to be an issue with power cord, so using another computer's cord allowed the computer to turn on. I used the computer last month to export some playlists from iTunes.

    So which one failed? A laptop my mom purchased in 2001 or so had hard drive fail in 2003.

    From what I've heard, hard drives should have 5-year life span (I guess non-stop operation?)

    I've heard
     
  9. shiekh macrumors member

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    #9
    I understand that an SSD is more likely to suffer unrecoverable corruption, and this may be a thing that changes in the future; but it was enough to have me stay with spinning hard drives for now.

    I imagine an enterprise hard drive will last a good bit longer that a cheaper drive. I recently took apart an enterprise drive that had been running for 5 years (motivated by a SMART error) and the platters looked to be in very good shape but I could feel a little play in the drive bearing (compared to another of the same model that had a damaged controller board).

    For me a laptop is the exception as it gets bumped around in use, and then a spinning hard drive is more vulnerable.
     
  10. Daisy81 Suspended

    Daisy81

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    #10
    The only drives I have ever had fail on me where laptop spinners back before the days of shock detection.
     
  11. dimme macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I have a mac mini server running 24/7, going on 10 years now.
     
  12. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

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    #13
    My main laptop is running a 40 GB Hitachi Travelstar from about 11-12 years ago. I have an ethernet switch running another Hitachi that's 10 years old. I have a couple spare 3.5" drives from a long time ago that work, though I don't know how old they are. Probably greater than 7 years. I have only had failures with Seagate drives. Western Digital, Hitachi, and Toshiba of various generations all have been fine.
     
  13. siddharth3.14159265 macrumors newbie

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    #14
    ssd's are affected only by writing on them and hard drives are going to be affected equally by reading and writing but if you are talking about reliability and agility ssd's are better because they are not mechanical and if you are talking about predictability then hard drives are better. but, an ssd would age much better than a hard drive.
     
  14. garyleecn thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Thanks for all your inputs.
    So just to be clear, I'm struggling wheather to have a SSD as 'cache' to my synology, and here's my situation.
    1. I have as much as 500g-1tb (don't ask) fresh data coming in everyday, and they need to be processed (such as extract)
    So, the fresh writing would be as much as 2tb a day
    2. I have some HDD's that are in a raid5, but by design of synology, they each carries a swap and system image (raid1). That means even if every bit of writing and reading is on the SSD, HDD's will be spinning and maybe have some bit/s of read/write. More importantly my personal data (photo, documents) are on the HDD raid.
    3. I'm not worried about SSD's life, since most of them have a 3/5 year warranty, if I write them out, I can just get a warranty replacement.

    So, my question is, if I put a SSD in the box and have all 2tb read/write on the SSD, since all HDD's will still be spinning, would this SSD cache help to improve the lifespan of my HDD's?


    Thanks again ;)
     
  15. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

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    #16
    My guess is that in an academic, theoretical sense they will last longer, but not noticeably. They'll either still be going fine when you stop using them, or fail on you anyway, but maybe a few minutes later.
     
  16. cynics macrumors G3

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    #17
    Too many variables to give an actual answer. But no, the hours spinning isn't the only metric used for HDD longevity. Load and unload is used by WD, as well as MTBF (mean time between failure).

    Macs use WD Cavier Blue HDD or similarly rated (300,000 load/unload with 2year warranty). To put that in perspective their NAS rated drives (Red) is rated for 600,000 load/unload cycles with a 3year warranty. The WD Red have 1 million hour MTBF.

    Regardless of HDD or SSD if you have anything important you should have a back up.
     
  17. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

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    #18
    A couple of them all my important files are in main copy, a backup and second backup in case the first fails as well.
     
  18. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #19
    Yup, I use Time Machine running on a Drobo RAID array, and I also use Carbon Copy Cloner, so I also have a copy of that which I take offsite.
     
  19. Algus macrumors regular

    Algus

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    #20
    The 500 MB drive in my Performa 637 still works. They will fail over time but unless you're doing something crazy, their lifespan should far surpass the effective life of the computer.

    Just make sure to do backups. Strange things happen.
     
  20. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

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    #21
    Indeed they do I have seen some strange **** in my many years of working/playing around on these things...
     
  21. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    #22
    It really depends on how the drive fails. HDDs can be susceptible to impact damage and dust sneaking by the drive's air filters and into the drive chamber causing a head crash, and as time passes mechanical wear may begin to show up. SSDs have none of these problems, but can still just drop blocks once in a while just like a bad sector on a hard drive, or simply drop completely out of sight for what seems to be no apparent reason, but it's often power related.

    We had an SSD on one of our systems just drop out of sight one day. Disk Utility couldn't see it, Scannerz couldn't see it, nothing could see it. It was like the unit was completely unplugged from the unit. That seems to be how SSDs die, which is why, as far as I'm concerned, a backup of an SSD isn't an option, it's mandatory (it should really be mandatory all the time anyway, but people just seem to keep putting it off). Hard drives usually give some tell-tail signs like noises or bad performance when they've got problems. Sure, an HDD can just drop dead too, but it seems to be the less likely way for them to go. SSDs can also just wipe themselves of data once in a while but still be usable.

    SSDs are still, really, sort of a new thing, and I don't think they've really been around long enough for enough people to say with any degree of certainty why they fail or what the exact symptoms (if any) leading to a failure are. I have an old Titanium 667MHz with a Seagate that was put in it shortly after getting it. It's still working, although as you can guess it rarely sees any use any more.
     
  22. WorkerBee2015 macrumors member

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    #23
    In all probability, the interface card or the onboard regulation of the SSD probably failed. We use Scannerz in our lab to test drives because it can test anything. We put it in an older Mac Pro, the type you can configure, and then put drives we think are having problems into one of the drive bays and we can test pretty much anything with it...Linux, BSD, OS X, Windows, etc because it only cares about the hardware. It won't necessarily identify the OS for stuff like Linux but it will report it as something like an "unidentified OS" or something like that.

    In any case, if nothing at all is showing up that tells me that the drive for all practical purposes is just plain dead. The problem you're describing could happen to either HDDs or SSDs. When an SSD blanks out, Scannerz will still pick it up, and it can often scan it as well, there's just nothing left on the disk anymore.
     
  23. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    #24
    The most likely things that will kill an HDD will be:

    • Excessive heat
    • Impact damage
    • Stray particles entering the drive chamber causing a head crash
    The following can also occur, given enough time:

    • Component wear out (it takes a very, very long time for this to occur)
    • Electronic component burn out/failure (it rarely happens unless there's an inherent bug in the design, and if there is it usually occurs early)

    Unlike an SSD the HDD will not start re-allocating blocks once a certain number of writes has occurred.
     
  24. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    #25
    Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
     

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