Who knows about the most reliable hard drive brands? A cloud storage vendor, that’s who. And, by “knowing” online backup firm Backblaze means they have usage data from 27,134 storage pods and that’s just for 2013. Step inside for insider info which vendor has the most reliable hard drives.

“Running a truly unlimited online backup service for only $5 per month means our cloud storage needs to be very efficient and we need to quickly figure out which drives work,” writes Backblaze’s Brian Beach. “We are willing to spend a little bit more on drives that are reliable, because it costs money to replace a drive — we are not willing to spend a lot more, though.”

Hard Drives by Manufacturer Used by Backblaze
Brand Number
of Drives
Terabytes Average
Age in Years
Seagate 12,765 39,576 1.4
Hitachi 12,956 36,078 2.0
Western Digital 2,838 2,581 2.5
Toshiba 58 174 0.7
Samsung 18 18 3.7


So, why does Backblaze have so many Seagate drives when that brand is so obviously failure prone? Seagate is cheap and, this is important, not all Seagate drives are crap. Further, as noted by Brian Beach above, it is a matter of balancing reliability against cost and deciding which brand provides the most value.

Most Reliable Hard Drive Redux

And, as you can see in the graphic above, Hitachi drives are generally the most reliable and have the lowest annual failure rates at Backblaze, followed by Western Digital drives. Seagate drives tend to be the least reliable, but it’s obvious from the above that their 1.5TB configuration skews the overall result.

Fundamentally, if you don’t want to worry or, more realistically, worry less about hard drive failure, then the 3TB Hitachi drive is the most reliable hard drive you can buy. Western Digital’s drives perform well, too.

Another obvious takeaway is that you should avoid the 1.5TB Seagate drives. But the value sweet spot? Perhaps you should have a look at Seagate’s 4TB model. Then again, that size won’t come cheap…

What’s your take?