ned Productions Consulting

Technology musings by Niall Douglas
ned Productions Consulting
(an expert advice and services company based in Ireland)

Sunday 29th July 2012 8.36pm

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As I need to configure a ZFS software RAID-Z redundant storage pool for my cloud before I emigrate to Canada (i.e. buy a new 3Tb hard drive), I was very pleased to find a hardware vendor that publishes the return rates of the products it sells which is very, very rare anywhere on the internet. Turns out those 2nd gen Sandforce SSDs are seeing a 10-15% return rate which is astronomical, and it's not like that technology is remotely new yet they keep fobbing off consumers with SSDs that just don't work. I have one of those 2nd gen Sandforce as my boot drive for my PC and the bloody thing likes to corrupt its internal state slowly over time, so from time to time it starts to lock up 5 mins after power on. A hard factory reset fixes it, but obviously you lose your Windows install. Also, Sandforce 2nd gen can't handle the PC being suspended at all, so I have to hibernate. Also, it can't do TRIM properly without registry and driver hacks, so performance dives over time. Nowadays, I would only ever buy Intel or Samsung SSDs, the risk of data loss and the hassle isn't worth it. I have to say the Samsung 830 main drive in my cloud node has been flawless, and exceptionally swift too.

Also, turns out that if you bought a Seagate Barracuda XT hard drive (any size) during the past eighteen months, expect a 7-10% chance of it dying soon, by far the worst model series of any hard drive :). Meanwhile, the much maligned WD Caviar Green is seeing just a 2% return rate, but only for the 2Tb model. The 3Tb Caviar Green is more than twice as likely to be returned. Who is consistently the least returned HD vendor? Samsung, who sees just ~1.5% of their drives returned. Yeah, who would have guessed! And yes, since the Thailand floods hard drive return rates have approximately doubled, so quality is considerably down (which I think we all suspected).

If you were to guess these ratios from the noise of people's pet opinions on the internet, you'd get totally different results from the above. In fairness, Samsung used to make crappy drives some years ago which failed a lot, but in the past three years they've gone from worst to best in class. At almost the same time, Hitachi went from most reliable in class to worst, again totally contrary to received wisdom.

I would have bought a WD Caviar Green 3Tb, however their new cheaper WD30EZRX model runs twice hotter than the previous WD30EZRS (, and hotter means more power consumption. It's also a four platter design, where more platters usually means more power and much more failure (e.g. twice as much failure, as mentioned above). What I really want is a three platter design (i.e. latest gen 3Tb drive technology), so that means either the uber cheap 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda 3Tb ST3000DM001 at €122 ex VAT or the just released and untested 5400rpm WD Red 3Tb WD30EFRX at €151 ex VAT, some 24% more expensive. The former draws 5.08w/19.14w at idle/boot, the latter 3.84w/13.71w.

I guess less heat and less power consumption for €30 the choice is clear really.