Backblaze releases raw data on all 41,000 HDDs in its data center

Cloud data backup provider Backblaze has popped the cork on files containing raw data collected over three years on the reliability of more than 41,000 hard disk drives (HDDs) in its data center.

Over the past 16 months, Backblaze has offered up studies and observations on the  drives. The studies include information such as failure rates and the effect of temperature on drive performance.

Today, the company offered links to downloads of the raw data files, allowing anyone to pore over the information in order to draw their own conclusions.

Information on drive statistics is contained in two files, one containing the 2013 data and one containing the 2014 data. The company plans to release 2015 results when they're available.

"You may download and use this data for free for your own purpose, all we ask is three things 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you accept that you are solely responsible for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to anyone, it is free," Backblaze wrote on a page dedicated to the new data.

The online service provider uses all consumer-class HDDs and has said those drives not only keep its costs down but are as reliable as expensive enterprise-class drives.

Backblaze stores customer data on more than 41,000 hard drives ranging from 1TB to 6TB in capacity. Each day, the company takes a snapshot of each operational hard drive. The snapshot includes basic drive information along with the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) statistics reported by the drives. The daily snapshot of one drive is one record or row of data. All of the drive snapshots for a given day are collected into a file consisting of a row for each active hard drive.

The data also includes which drives have failed and after how much time and data was written to them.

In January 2014, Backblaze released what was arguably the most important information: which vendor's hard drives last the longest. The results are based on a study that lasted three years.

At the end of 2013, Backblaze had 27,134 consumer-grade drives spinning in Storage Pods. A storage pod is an array of RAIDed disks made up by either 2.5- or 3.5-in. hard drives used to store customer data. Each Pod holds up to 180TB in a 4U rack-mounted configuration.

The results from three years of use were revealing: Western Digital's drives lasted an average of 2.5 years, while Hitachi's and Seagate's lasted 2 and 1.4 years, respectively. Even so, some of the individual Hitachi models topped the reliability charts.

Two months ago, Backblaze released data on the highest capacity drives available -- 6TB models from Seagate and Western Digital.

"There are lots of smart people out there who like working with data, and you may be one of them," Brian Beach, a Backblaze distinguished engineer, wrote in a company blog. "Now, it's your turn to pore over the data and find hidden treasures of insight. All we ask is that if you find something interesting, that you post it publicly for the benefit of the computing community as a whole.


Lucas Mearian

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