Seagate 3 TB Hard Drive Purchasers Plagued by Off-the-Charts Failure Rates
If you own a Seagate 3 TB hard drive, be warned: recent reports indicate that some models may have an extraordinarily high failure rate. That could mean massive data loss, including such sensitive items as personal photos, contacts, emails, music, and more.
Online-backup company Backblaze conducted a recent study of the hard drives they use to safeguard their customers' data, and its results were astounding. While most of the drives it uses fail less than 5% of the time after three years, the Seagate 3 TB models it purchased failed at a 32% clip. Moreover, it removed an additional 62% of the offending Seagate 3 TB drives from storage pods that included a bad drive. Of those removed drives, an additional 75% failed basic data-integrity tests. Seagate's 3 TB hard drive had by far the worst fail rate of any drives they used, and it may be because the drives themselves are defective.
Backblaze purchases thousands of drives for use in its storage clusters, so it's working with a robust sample size. Most of the offending drives were purchased between late 2011 and the end of 2012. And as soon as they were put into service, the problems with the drives began to manifest themselves. In 2012, 2.7% of Seagate's 3 TB drives failed, followed by another 5.4% in 2013. Then, in 2014—just two years after the initial purchase—an astonishing 47.2% of the drives failed. Needless to say, this is not normal.
Backblaze investigated whether other factors unique to their environment might be causing the high failure rate. The short answer: no. It found other models faired just fine in its setup, controlling for the specific storage pods the drives were placed into, whether they were purchased as external or internal drives, and whether the Backblaze system itself might have contributed to the failures. That left only one theory that could explain the high failure rate for Seagate 3 TB drives: the drive itself.
Even more worrisome, Seagate reduced the consumer warranty on its 3 TB drives to just one year. At the same time, Seagate sold its 4 TB drives, which did not exhibit the same high failure rate, with a much more favorable three-year warranty. Did Seagate know something was wrong? Some commentators have even speculated that the off-the-charts failure rate was due to a firmware bug in this drive model.
We are actively investigating the issues concerning these drives. If you own a Seagate 3 TB drive (model numbers ST3000DM001 or STCA3000101), external or internal, please contact us using the form at right. You may also contact Noah Schubert directly at 415.788.4220.