Class-Action Lawsuit Against Seagate Built On Questionable Backblaze Reliability Report

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lhsbrandon

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I can tell you from my own experience that Seagate drives do in fact have poor reliability. I work in a school with hundreds of computers and I have had many Seagate drives fail especially laptop ones. I had a new hybrid drive of theirs fail after 2 months of use.
 

amk-aka-Phantom

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It was almost universally agreed a long time ago that Seagate's excuse of their drives failing due to "not being designed" for these workloads is rubbish. It doesn't matter what tech they allegedly lacked, competitors' drives of the same tier and pricing turned out to be more reliable, and that's all a buyer needs to know.

Backblaze's testing was great precisely because it wasn't aiming to mask the drives' faults by some artificial "workload intentions" - they took the drives, trashed them with heavy workloads and saw which came out in top. Should we also stop paying attention to SSD reliability benchmarks or the Skylake Prime95 bug or proper cooling because "typical consumer workloads" will not trigger any of these issues?
 

koga73

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Seagate aquired Maxtor... that should say something about their reliability. Personally I have never had much luck with Seagate nor Maxtor. Now I only buy WesternDigital and have had virtually no problems.
 

SinxarKnights

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I don't see how they have a case. Unless they got proof the drives are defective/damaged when it comes off the assembly line as with the 7200.9/10 drive debacle.

It is impossible to say where the actual failure point is, if I had to guess I would say almost all of them are damaged in shipping, mishandling by resellers or misuse by the end consumers.
 

Ghan_04

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I'm not sure that this is lawsuit-worthy, but I can say that I have been burned by Seagate drives in the past. I used 3 x 3 TB Barracudas + 1 spare in a NAS, and boy am I glad I had a hot spare. I had one drive fail followed by another shortly after the RAID had rebuilt. I have since switched to 4 TB HGST drives at the recommendation of the BackBlaze report and haven't had an issue yet. I've been running the HGSTs quite a bit longer than the Seagates already as well.
 

PaulyAlcorn

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It was almost universally agreed a long time ago that Seagate's excuse of their drives failing due to "not being designed" for these workloads is rubbish. It doesn't matter what tech they allegedly lacked, competitors' drives of the same tier and pricing turned out to be more reliable, and that's all a buyer needs to know.
It isn't only the workload, which is beyond the scope of the warranty, it is also about the method of connection. I have tried in vain to find the spec that states what amount of weight can be placed upon a SATA connector, and then vibrated for a few years, without failure. That is precisely the scenario these drives are placed into.

Unfortunately, the standards committee's that I have spoken to on the issue are unable to provide an answer - as this is not within the design of the connector. It is not designed to do it, period.

The SATA connector is not an acceptable means of mounting your HDD. That is what the fastener mounts are for.

There is virtually no way to know which drives were installed into which revision of the chassis, of which there have been five. This obfuscates the results to the point of being what they are; by and large, useless.
 

Nexxterra

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All hard drives fail, Since 2007 we have used Seagate almost exclusively in all our servers (at times up to 40 servers) and I can say that I sleep way better knowing I have chosen Seagate!
Of course, that said... Every drive we have that fails is a Seagate!
 

Nashten

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I had a Seagate HDD, a 2TB Barracuda model. It failed 3 times within its warranty period. I purchased it, then 3 weeks later, the motor in it started to go and it made a really loud buzzing. The second time some 5 months after the replacement, the motor started to fail again, then it stopped responding altogether. The final time it failed 8 months later, the motor (surprise!) started buzzing and it got slower and slower until it didn't respond.

I have 2 Western Digital Black drives, 1TB models, in the same computer since 2009! And they're still running and performing well! (They are FAEX models.)

I left the Seagate in my drawer and just got a WD 2TB after. No problems at all, after 2 years.
 

aqw409

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I have a 3tb seagate drive in my computer I use for my steam library and backups. (of many backup sites) and I haven't had the drive fail on my once. Its been in constant use for almost 4 years straight. I have however had 2 WD drives both 2 tb fail on me for no reason. And I don't have a preference like most people towards my parts as long as the company is known. Just saying.
 

PaulyAlcorn

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Well said. There is an expiration date on every single storage device created in the history of mankind, be it a cave wall, papyrus, or tape - we just don't know when it is :)

 

owsleyskid

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I don't know about using it as evidence in court, but I always check their latest post when in need of HDDs. It's a side-by-side reliability comparison of many different consumer-grade drives all tested in the same environment. I've been using 1TB HGSTs for years, based on their reports. I'm using them in RAID 1 in consumer-grade Synology NAS boxes in a small office environment. Never had a problem.
 

ardoon

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I don't normally comment on articles, but this one annoyed me quite a bit.

The Backblaze report is hardly "questionable" as the author of the article claims. It's well sourced, with a huge sample size (40K drives), and the initial report has been followed up several times with further information - one of them even with the raw data so you can do your own number crunching. Subsequent reports have dispelled the concerns that their chassis revisions, drive sourcing (drives removed from USB enclosures vs. outright purchased bare), and other anomalies.

Additionally, I see zero mention on Backblaze's site that they've switched to NAS or Enterprise drives, simply that they've tested them. The author of this Tomshardware article may have misinterpreted their followup posts, badly.

Where a lot of the consternation about the Backblaze reports come from is that people assume the testing is somehow flawed by using the drives in their environment. That's anything but true. The flaw is how people interpret it.

I work in automotive part reliability and testing, previously I worked for Raytheon doing testing for clients such as NASA.

Backblaze's methodologies are not too far out of whack for what gets done with automotive testing. Parts are subjected to the worst scenarios, under 24/7 load, totally outside of their design parameters. Think taking a Toyota Corolla and driving it at maximum speed around a street circuit for 96 hours straight. Way outside of typical usage, and way outside of what it was designed for.

The failure rates are calculated. *Then* a decision is made what to continue using - often it's not the part that fails the least that is chosen, but all factors are considered - cost, manufacturing time, materials, etc. Reliability is just a factor. But when it all comes down to it, if you have two identically priced parts, and one is more reliable than the other, even completely outside of their design parameters - you're going to go with the more reliable one.

Backblaze has done much the same. The drives in their data center all are subjected to the same workload. They fail at different rates. Why not make decisions based on that? It's stupid not to for Backblaze, and they're showing their methodology for us to get a glimpse at what they do. If end users make decisions based on that as well, that's their own issue.

Finally, Backblaze's data is the only set of data like it out there. No other company (including Google) has had the balls to outright state what drive brands and models have been more/less reliable for them. They're too busy avoiding upsetting the drive manufacturers to actually give the rest of us data. So while the Backblaze data may not equate directly to the hard drive I stick in the next PC I build, it's better than completely blind or anecdotal evidence, as was the world before Backblaze released their data.

It's the same reason Goodyear advertises on NASCAR. People think it's good enough for NASCAR races at 200mph, it's good enough for their Chrysler around town.

If anything, the article should be titled "Questionable Class-Action Lawsuit Against Seagate Built On Backblaze Reliability Report" rather than the current way, though I'm in no way qualified as a lawyer, but I am for reliability testing. Keep up the quality writing Toms. I think some editorial review is order on this article.
 

xrodney

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I have 3 of those mentioned drives already dead and 4th is showing smart issues within 1-2 years since purchase.
I have also 5 different seagate models, some older 4 years and they all shows nearly perfect conditions, so for me its 100% death rate for this specific model and none for others.
 

Xaltar

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I once swore by Seagate but after 3 failed barracuda drives in the space of 2 months, all just outside their warranty I have since switched to WD for my mechanical drives and use SSDs for non storage drives. I don't know if it was a bad batch of drives or some other factor at play but I am not taking any more chances with Seagate until I stop seeing articles like this. I still have a 40gb PATA Seagate Barracuda that works flawlessly after over 10 years of use but 3 drives failing within days of their warranty being up, the loss of countless files and photos I will never get back and the fact that not one of the drives failed in the same way as the other led me to believe that Seagate is not the manufacturer it once was and that the client's data is no longer sacred to them.

That said, all manufacturers have bad luck from time to time and with years of using Seagate drives for my own systems and for clients with not a single defect related failure I can't believe they could have lost the plot so badly. Maybe I was insanely unlucky or maybe there was a bad run of drives, either way, back up your data :p
 

PaulyAlcorn

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The Backblaze report is hardly "questionable" as the author of the article claims. It's well sourced, with a huge sample size (40K drives), and the initial report has been followed up several times with further information - one of them even with the raw data so you can do your own number crunching. Subsequent reports have dispelled the concerns that their chassis revisions, drive sourcing (drives removed from USB enclosures vs. outright purchased bare), and other anomalies.
The results of that test have been questioned by multiple sources over the course of years. I have seen no data that lists the enclosures employed on a per-failure basis during the test period. If such is presented, I would be happy to review it. As of my last contact with the company it indicated there is no failure data on a per-chassis level during the period in question.

Additionally, I see zero mention on Backblaze's site that they've switched to NAS or Enterprise drives, simply that they've tested them. The author of this Tomshardware article may have misinterpreted their followup posts, badly.
As of the latest Q3 2015 report, several drives have been added to the Backblaze environment that were not there previously. The HGST Megascale, which is designed for light-duty enterprise workloads, the WD Red models, which are geared to NAS deployments, the Ultrastar He8, which is enterprise, and the Toshiba MD04ABA-V Series - which is a surveillance drive designed to be employed in multi-drive enclosures. The majority of new drives that are not listed in the 2013 year are designed for a more appropriate use-case than the desktop drives employed in the past. This is with the exception of the Seagate ST6000DX000, which is a desktop drive. It is clear the company is testing/employing more varied drive types that are fit for heavy use-cases.

I work in automotive part reliability and testing, previously I worked for Raytheon doing testing for clients such as NASA.
Backblaze's methodologies are not too far out of whack for what gets done with automotive testing. Parts are subjected to the worst scenarios, under 24/7 load, totally outside of their design parameters. Think taking a Toyota Corolla and driving it at maximum speed around a street circuit for 96 hours straight. Way outside of typical usage, and way outside of what it was designed for.
If you test aircraft and vehicles without first mounting the engines to the body of the vehicle, or the wings of the aircraft, I daresay many might question your results.

Backblaze has done much the same. The drives in their data center all are subjected to the same workload. They fail at different rates. Why not make decisions based on that? It's stupid not to for Backblaze, and they're showing their methodology for us to get a glimpse at what they do. If end users make decisions based on that as well, that's their own issue.
No, they have not. They do not have a controlled test environment - drives are subjected to different mounting conditions, some of which are not just questionable, they are downright in violation of every requirement for drive mounting. The company admits its early chassis revisions suffered problems with vibration, thus it redesigned them. If those designs were bad enough to merit a redesign the data should have been redacted.

Finally, Backblaze's data is the only set of data like it out there. No other company (including Google) has had the balls to outright state what drive brands and models have been more/less reliable for them. They're too busy avoiding upsetting the drive manufacturers to actually give the rest of us data. So while the Backblaze data may not equate directly to the hard drive I stick in the next PC I build, it's better than completely blind or anecdotal evidence, as was the world before Backblaze released their data.
I agree wholeheartedly that the industry as a whole should be more forthcoming with failure data. However, I disagree with the notion that in the absence of good data we should accept bad data .
 


Most schools have hundreds identical units with identical parts, if for example 70% of all the schools computers run Seagate drives and you see 70% of all hard drive failures are Seagate's then you have an acceptable normal ratio, its obvious your going to be seeing more of one manufacturer if there the predominant manufacturer.

Laptop hard drive failures especially in schools CANNOT be included into failure statistics - students and staff dont look after there laptops and the fastest way to kill a hard drive is to drop them or jar them - not the manufacturers fault or problem.

I'm not defending Seagate in any way shape or form, I personally don't buy Seagate hard drives and everyone has there preference but we must not bad mouth a product because of end user faults or bad statistics
 
This article reads like an editorial, not a fact based article.

I use backblaze in my own drive purchases. I don't care what the chasis looks like. I care how drive fail compared to other drives, and I pick the drives that have the fewest failures.

While not a fan of class actions of any kind (pay the lawyers, punish the business, do nothing for consumers except raise prices to pay the lawyers) this article seems one of the most unbalanced I've read on Tom's.
 

larkspur

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It's a typical garbage class-action lawsuit that'll be thrown out. Too bad the courts have to bother with this. The author's assertion is correct - the backblaze data is tainted by their use of a terribly-designed 1.0 chassis. It may be useful to some folks but certainly won't hold-up in court. What is interesting though from the backblaze data is that through Q3 2015, WD drives had the highest failure rate in 2015 at ~8% (3% higher than Seagate)...
 

Patrick_39

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I am new to this site (well signing up at least, as I just did to comment here) but I have a strong opinion on Seagate I wanted to let people know. Now, I am not defending these 3tb models only because I have never worked with one before... that being said, I have 4 1 TB Barracuda Seagates that I have personally abused for the past year... By abuse... I mean... Things I do will break 99% of the junk on the market. Maybe I would have to say that Maxtor's division (or virtual partition of Seagate) maybe produced the 3tb drive... which would explain everything. If even applicable. Not to mention these Seagate Barracuda drives were crammed in a little box in raid for video recording before that. More Abuse... These hard drives have had the WORST possible lifespan and yet one has yet to fail... Maybe Seagate is lacking in professional grade applications... But as far as the average consumer / enthusiast is concerned I have heard very little bad about Seagate. I am sure you get 1-2 defective drives... and you also have to account for dodo brains who are either too rough with hard drives with handling or shippers who are too rough with packages. More than likely that would be culprit than "defective design"... There was an interesting test on Linus Tech Tips on Youtube about how noise... like sound... can drastically effect hard drive performance. Environment is of more concern to me than the fear of purchasing a hard drive and having it fail. I got into computers around 2002... you can say what you want... its been my passion... and I always liked having a seagate hard drive come with my many different computer configurations. I never liked seeing Maxtor, or Western Digital.... those companies scare me the most with failiures. My original 80 Gig Hdd became obelete before it died... meaning I never got to the end of its life... it would probably run today... Laptop hard drives could be a different story too though... I would stick to their 3.5" application.... I heard Intel these days is king of the SSD... I drool every time I see one... And the M.2 is a great concept too. Crazy time now to buy local storage for your machines... so many options avail. I remember when IDE was the shit XD AGP 8X
 
The newer HDDs are not nearly as reliable as the old ones from the 90s and even 00s. I have no less than 12 HDDs laying around in a tote on a shelf (WD, Seagate, Hitachi, Toshiba) and they all still work. They vary in size from a 3.5" 4.3GB from an old 1997 Dell D333 Pentium II PC to a 320GB 7200RPM 2.5" laptop drive, and most were made in Malaysia.

In the past four years, I have lost three hard drives, the most recent being a WD Blue 500GB laptop drive made in Malaysia. Compare that to only two HDDs dying in the previous 16 years combined. Engineering and QC is definitely not what it used to be. At least not in my 20 years of PC building and upgrading experience (and yes, I know this is an anecdotal example).
 

SlayerOfKings

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So I have to ask, how much did Seagate pay you to write this one sided hack job? Totally agree with TSnor that this article is an editorial not a factual news article.

Seagate have been been garbage for years. They led the way in slashing warranties because having respectable warranties on their drives was costing them a fortune.

 

firefoxx04

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The writer is so butt hurt. Seagate drives failed where others did not. Get over it. If you look at their most recent report, you will see that seagate is actually doing better than western digital while HGST drives remain king.

This read more like a hate article for Backblaze. The people running backblaze have a lot more going on than the writer of this article does. They have a great business model. Cheep cloud storage built on top of redundancy. They never claimed to have a best case scenario for their drives.. the important thing is that their study includes many different models that were tested in the same implementation.

Seagate for a while had TERRIBLE failure rates. Whether or not it is something they need to answer for is up to the courts. I personally have not had any trouble with 1TB or 2TB seagate drives. I dont think that their study is enough to cause a class action suite, but their study does indicate a that seagate drives (in the past) fail more than most.
 

larkspur

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Uh oh, here come the fanboys! The article presents facts. And the facts are that a law firm has a class-action lawsuit going against Seagate that specifically references a non-scientific "study" as evidence. Is the backblaze information useful? Sure, but is not admissible in court and therefor the lawsuit is garbage. Feel free to prefer any HDD manufacturer over another. Feel free to hate Seagate or WD or whoever you want to hate. The facts are this lawsuit is based on inadmissible "evidence" that will quickly be rejected by a judge. If the experiment (study) lacks the information needed to make it repeatable then it does not meet the qualifications of a scientific study. That's the only thing that matters on whether a judge will consider the backblaze reports or not. Also - did you even look at that picture of the chassis they were using? Wow - no wonder backblaze has revised it multiple times! It's a HDD death-trap!
 

Charlie1953

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I will never ever buy another Seagate HD. Reliability? Non-existent. Before converting over to SSD I used Western Digital and never had problems with them. I still use WD as storage drives.
 
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