I'm looking to buy a 1TB or 2TB hard drive (actually 2 of them) for a Home NAS. Reading several comments online about failing drives within a year after purchase, I'm obviously trying to avoid this.

I'd like these drives to last at least 5 years. I don't care as much for speed as for reliability.

How can I make sure that I pick a reliable hard drive?

For what it's worth, some extra details:

  • these hard drives will be used in a Synology 212j
  • will be used mostly for family photo backups, but also documents and media streaming

These disks will probably be set up in RAID1 (depends on the answers here), and the most important files will have offsite backup.

  • 3
    Hardware fails. Everyone will have drive failures. Every vendor has at least some failures. You must make backups. You should always have at least 3 copies of anything you consider important. Plan for failures. Hoping that you will get lucky and get the good stuff just isn't a good ideal.
    – Zoredache
    Apr 25 '13 at 22:13
  • Past that, you should probably be getting something intended for use in a home NAS (eg Western Digital RED).
    – Zoredache
    Apr 25 '13 at 22:15
  • research, research, research...... read reviews from people who actually bought them (newegg, toms hardware, etc...) Don't get anything brand new, sense the reliability over the long haul has not been set. And use RAID 1.
    – Logman
    Apr 25 '13 at 22:22
  • @Zoredache: That's like saying cars break down, buy a bike just in case. I'm not looking for a backup strategy. I'm looking for an indication of reliability, to base part of my choice on that factor. So with that analogy, what car is least likely to be back in the garage soon.
    – Bertvan
    Apr 26 '13 at 7:31

StorageReview.com has a reliability survey that it's user submit their data to. It can be skewed because users who have problems are probably more likely to submit results but it's one of the few surveys that I know. They have good overall reviews of drives.

But at the end of the day expect failures and backup data.


Well, the only advise I could give you: buy your HDD from knows dealers (newegg for example.) Buy it with warranty. Use RAID so if drive fails, you could do rma for repair and won't loose the data...

  • 2
    Are there any drives that do not come with warranty? Why would known dealers sell more reliable drives than others?
    – slhck
    Apr 25 '13 at 21:58
  • @andrew - I wish the data that would get lost would come with a warranty. ;)
    – Carl B
    Apr 26 '13 at 0:37
  • @slhck - and to note, warranty is not guaranty. They will replace if defective in the warranty period, they do not guaranty that it will not fail.
    – Carl B
    Apr 26 '13 at 3:46

We all wish for that magic to know what is best. You can keep a eye on your hard drives with software like 'HDD Health'. There are probably others, but I like HDD health. It's free (for personal use) and easy to use. It uses the SMART attributes to visualize the health of your drives. See: www.panterasoft.com for more. Cliff


How can I make sure that I pick a reliable hard drive?

I would review the warranty periods of the manufactures. While Seagate and Toshiba have two years Western digital and their sister company HGST have five years. For me, this indicates the manufacturers comfort to maintain profits without having to dish out replacements past a certain period. This is not to say that nothing will fail in the warranty time frame, just that it is less likely and the company feels that their risk is far less during this time frame.

These drives need to last for years.

Years = 2? 3? 5? 100? Most likely they will last as long as you need them, but you do need a plan for failure to protect those non-replaceable files (pictures, tax forms or whatever is critical to you) where there is a guaranty (Corbonite or something like that).

It may be worth noting that reliability is subject to the user and environment the drive are exposed to.

Situations that could cause failure:

  • Vibration during read/write activity - this could be from a wobbly table that moves when someone walk by to earthquakes.
  • Heat - excessive heat build up is never good for any component in your system
  • Shock - Fido runs by and pulls the cord and the drives drop to the
  • Power surge - That electric spike of death for unprotected components.
  • Manufacturer defect - it happens

I am sure there are more and some of these can be managed out with proper placement, fans and so on.

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