Buy Used Hard Drives for your RAID

Some of the common conceptions of data storage seem to have been blown out of the water.

Two things I found interesting:

In their study they found that there was no correlation between disk failure rates and utilization, environmental conditions such as temperature, or age. This means that high disk utilization or age of the disk have no significant impact on the probability that it will fail.

They observed that older disks had a much lower failure rates then newer disks, where the newer disks in general were less expensive.

Which makes me think that buying used HDDs off Craigslist might not be a bad idea.

One could buy cheap 15k RPM low latency disks from a few years ago and forget about the storage capacity in exchange for FAST seek time.

Of course it depends on how many disks you need.

Update: If it’s true that disks don’t fail because of heat or excessive use then renting 3rd generation hardware with used disks would actually result in higher uptime.

Update 2:

Before being put into production, all disk drives go through a short burn-in process, which consists of a combination of read/write stress tests designed to catch many of the most common assembly, configuration, or component-level problems. The data shown here do not include the fall-out from this phase, but instead begin when the systems are officially commissioned for use. Therefore our data should be consistent with what a regular end-user should see, since most equipment manufacturers put their systems through similar tests before shipment.

No. If Google didn’t see a non-trivial percentage of hard drives failing their burn-in progress they wouldn’t run this test.

  1. Hi!

    If you would like some old disks Kevin, I have some RLL drives I would pass along to you if you need them :)

    I still have a rack full of old VA 2U machines, I doubt they will ever die. What I have found over the years is that drive failure centers around power loss over time.


  2. Personally, I’d be a little concerned about how much noise and electricity consumption you’ll end up with for the same amount of storage.

    There’s a reason those drives are available used, and you’ll need a lot of 9-gig SCSI drives to add up to a pair of new Seagate SATA drives.

    FWIW, the last time I bought drives, I got Seagates, and they came with a 5-year warranty. Best of all, I haven’t needed it.

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