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What is the current view on these hard drives?

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8 hours ago, Brett B. said:

I never experienced Maxtor failures like many others did.  I don't know why.  Sure, a dead one here or there but nothing significant, and I had a ton of them.  I would have no problem using one today.

Likewise my experience doesn't mesh with all the hate that Maxtors seem to get. I don't have the statistics written down or anything, but my gut tells me that Maxtor has actually been the most reliable drive manufacturer I've dealt with. I can't actually remember one I cared about dying, at least not in a sudden and unexpected manner.

I think I've had WD and Seagate stab me in the back about equally, and Quantum perhaps slightly more so. Of course, absolutely nothing compares to Hitachi/IBM.

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6 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

Likewise my experience doesn't mesh with all the hate that Maxtors seem to get. I don't have the statistics written down or anything, but my gut tells me that Maxtor has actually been the most reliable drive manufacturer I've dealt with. I can't actually remember one I cared about dying, at least not in a sudden and unexpected manner.

I think I've had WD and Seagate stab me in the back about equally, and Quantum perhaps slightly more so. Of course, absolutely nothing compares to Hitachi/IBM.

I remember saving up for an external Hard Drives International 80MB SCSI disk for my Mac Classic 1/0.  It was a Maxtor 7080S mechanism that died of stiction not long after the warranty expired. When I opened the case i was very angry to realize HDI had given me a refurbished drive. Maxtor did an advance swap for an up charge plus my dead 7080S on a 7213S (213MB!!!!) that went  on for years after. I think the 7213S might have been a refurb as well. Ultimately I really grew to like Maxtor, their "No Quibble" customer support and some of their older, larger SCSI drives. 

 

TL;DR. Don't buy a hard drive for your Mac from Hard Drives International. Pony up for the LaCie or APS drive instead.  I wouldn't recommend Jasmine either. 

Edited by superjer2000

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On 2/19/2019 at 11:51 PM, Brett B. said:

This is just my own experience here but I have had more dead Western Digital drives than any others by FAR.  That's including everything from the smallest IDE drives up to the present.  Lately it seems like their "Blue" line has the most failures.  Lots of dead Toshibas too...

 

I never experienced Maxtor failures like many others did.  I don't know why.  Sure, a dead one here or there but nothing significant, and I had a ton of them.  I would have no problem using one today.

WD had lots of issues in the '90s (which is why I rated them pretty low until the early/mid '00s) but as far as consumer ATA drives, they averaged about in the middle of the pack in terms of performance and reliability. They occasionally led the industry in capacity, such as the first ATA drive to 1GB or over 40GB.  As I mentioned they tended to die of stiction more than anything in the '90s. In the '00s they were usually pretty fast and reliable except for a handful of bad lots, especially in their low-end drives like the Caviar SE, Green, and now the cheaper of the Blue drives (I think they merged the Green into the Blue line at some point). It's hard to go wrong with one of the Black drives though.

 

Toshiba really only made notebook drives until they started acquiring other manufacturers (notably Fujitsu piece by piece and then Hitachi GST a couple years ago). They were never the greatest but they were usually solid, and really anything is better than a Seagate Momentus or the '00-era TravelStars. Mostly they were an afterthought for me; I tended to use IBM notebook drives almost exclusively (partly for lack of choice as other manufacturers left the market) until the early '00s when I switched mostly to Fujitsu and WD. 

 

Maxtor just was never great. There was a point in the late 80s/early 90s when they weren't bad but then they acquired what was left of Miniscribe and quality went downhill. Hyundai got involved in the late '90s and turned them around to a fair degree but they still were never the top of the heap in terms of reliability. They normally seemed to be to be fast from new, then become slower and slower (from excessive seek errors and read/write retries) until they die completely. Their acquisition of Quantum's hard drive division was a sad day for me and I was not sad when they themselves were absorbed by Seagate a few years later, though sadly I think Maxtor's legacy may be tainting Seagate's modern product line.

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On 2/20/2019 at 6:24 AM, CC_333 said:

@Franklinstein Very nice write up about which drives to use and which to avoid through the decades. Very informative.

 

Anyway, I'd like to say that Seagate drives from the last 3 years or so are junk. I bought two nice 4 TB drives (I can't recall if they were new or refurbished), and used them in a RAID config to backup my file server. Once that was done, I began using it as a backup for other things, but late last year, I made the terrible discovery that, through no fault of my own, the drives simply seized up. After working on unseizing them for a little bit, I heard a loud screech come from both drives. Now all that info (some of it irreplaceable) is lost!

 

I think I better get the main drives (also Seagates, but definitely new; I bought them at Micro Center in LA a couple years ago) backed up ASAP, but I don't have the cash to afford new drives right now :mad:

I was greatly dismayed at the gradual downfall of my once favorite hard drive supplier. Sadly they've been crap since about 2003. Seagate bought Conner in about 1997 in part because Conner had a huge new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in China that they were lusting over, and I'd be willing to bet that most of the problematic drives built since then have a site code of China rather than the traditional Singapore or Thailand. Also their restructuring following the acquisition of Maxtor around 2005 could have involved some ill-advised cost cutting measures.

Anyway I'll still use the occasional desktop drive if I have one sitting around but I first run extensive tests and even then still won't put it in a critical system. Unless a notebook is an easy to disassemble unit (so not an iBook or AlBook) I refuse to use the Momentus drives because they are terribly unreliable.

 

For modern machines I recommend a WD Black drive or one of the Red NAS drives if you're doing anything remotely critical. For a notebook I'd probably prefer SSD, anything except Samsung; I've heard too many horror stories about systems with Samsung SSDs (particularly in the Microsoft Surface) where they just stop being recognized. 

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Part of the problem with reliability is likely to be that modern drives (after about '00 or so) are able to do so much defect management transparently and automatically; the OS usually doesn't know the hard drive is juggling bits while around managing a defect, and the drive never tells the OS about it until it's an unrecoverable error. Sometimes the drive notifies the BIOS if the computer is set up to monitor SMART status, but other times you don't know there's a problem until data disappears one day. To keep ahead of sudden drive failures, I recommend using a SMART monitor if you can find one for your OS. Some BIOSes on PCs have one built-in, and at least Linux Mint usually can display statistics in the Disks tool, but you may have to look for one for Windows or Mac. With SMART the most important parameters are Reallocated Sectors and Pending Sectors; the others can be inaccurate or misleading depending on each drive's specific recording of some such as Spin-Up Time or Power-On Hours. Any Reallocated Sectors number greater than 1 or 2 is cause for concern, especially if the number goes up suddenly. You can keep using the drive, but back it up and keep an eye on it. A number greater than 10 and you may want to decommission the drive or use it somewhere unimportant, and anything more than 100 you should pretty much consider getting rid of it. Sometimes you can run a heavy drive exercising utility or multi-pass erase-with-verify and the drive will be able to map out any potential bad sectors before they turn and thus prolong the drive's usable life, or the program may expose an ever-growing reallocation list and give you good cause to scrap the drive.

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I would suspect that a drives speed would start slowing down noticeably if too many sectors were remapped just from the heads moving to the spare track. I always use SMART and check my drives using CrystalDiskInfo once in a while. Even if a drive has failed SMART sometimes they still operate but at slower speeds.

 

Hard drives even when they do have major QC issues with a particular model tend to only affect a small amount of drives (15% failure rate for IBM deathstars). So there are still many drives out there that work fine even if the line had known problems.

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Just wanted to add: Backups.

 

Backups!

 

(backups)

 

All good advice in terms of checking on disks and ways people can monitor to make sure their disks are healthy, but, that's not a replacement for backing up your data.

 

(backups)

 

 

Re modern Seagate: I've had some trouble with a couple of their externals from early on in the USB 3 era, like, a series of 2TB "expansion" disks I bought all behaved oddly when inside their original enclosures, but have all since worked fine in other computers as bare SATA drives. Also, I use Seagate Desktop drives in my main server and there was a batch of disks I bought in 2010 that all went bad from 2017 to today, but all the replacements for those have been running strong.

 

Otherwise, I've had mostly good luck with my modern disks. Since I started buying USB-based internals, I've only ever had two die - one was a 750GB WD MyBook, on that one the bridge board went bad so I was able to pop it into a SATA computer, and a XIMETA NetDisk, which died after, gosh, probably close to 7-10 years of being run constantly. I don't remember whose mechanism was in that drive, internally.

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On 2/21/2019 at 4:54 AM, Franklinstein said:

anything except Samsung

Interesting, those are some of the highest rated and supposedly most reliable SSDs out there.  I have had good luck with one I have... it's probably 4-5 years old and working great.  

 

I have NOT, however, had good luck with Sandisk SSDs.  Two for two failures with that brand so far.  Will probably never buy another.

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On 2/18/2019 at 8:26 AM, Franklinstein said:

As much as I like the SCSI2SD and other flash-based media, I love listening to old hard drives operate. My favorites are the square silver Barracudas with the multi-step spin-up. The Seagate Elite 23 is also a really cool hard drive: a full-height 5.25" 23GB hard drive from the mid-90s. It took about 30 seconds to get the platters up to speed but it had surprisingly good performance once it was ready to go.

 

The ST410800 sounds like a washing machine in operation.  I like it.   It's a full height 5.25" drive (size of two optical drives stacked on each other) and has ~8 (9?) GB capacity.   It was quite revolutionary in its day.    Then several years later, a ton of them turned up on the used and "refurbished" market, and many sellers were not very forthcoming about the physical dimensions of the drives.

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I love the ST4 Elite series. It came to Seagate the same way the rest of their best hard drives did (including the original Hawk, Wren, and Barracuda series): through the acquisition of Control Data Corporation's disk drive division, though I'm not sure if they kept the original CDC design team on for the entire evolution of the series. Full-height 5.25" hard drives were pretty common in the '80s (I have a Miniscribe and a Priam example, maybe a Maxtor) but they fell out of fashion in the '90s. Seagate kept them on because there was really no comparison in terms of single-disk capacity: if you want lots of space in one place, you need an Elite. With the march toward smaller, quieter and more power-efficient drives, not to mention the steadily increasing storage capacity of the smaller drives, the Elite was finally discontinued in 1998 after they hit an impressive 47GB. They were surprisingly high performance drives, considering the massive number of platters and heads contained, but the high 5400RPM spindle speed and generous caches no doubt helped.

 

Another odd yet excellent hard drive was the antithesis of the ST4 series, ST5 series. It was named the Decathlon, Medalist SL, or Medalist Pro (not to be confused with the later ST3 Medalist Pro models), depending on the age of the drive. These were ostensibly 3.5" drives but they had a slightly smaller footprint, allowing their use in smaller-than-usual cases or simply to improve airflow/reduce power consumption in normal systems. These were also very high-performance drives for the time with their fast narrow or wide SCSI or Ultra ATA interfaces and 5400RPM spindle speeds. Capacity was comparable with contemporary standard 3.5" drives, starting at about 550MB and growing to 2.5GB in the last model released in 1997.

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A hard drive that's kind of fun to use is the Quantum BigFoot. These 5.25" quarter-height drives were built for the same reason the Elite series was: the larger 5.25" platters means you can get more data in one place than in a contemporary 3.5" drive. However, the BigFoot was built to the low end of the consumer market, not the top of the data center market. As such it shipped with a pathetic 3600-4000RPM spindle speed and a legacy ATA-2 controller. These drives usually shipped in super-cheap "value" computers from the likes of HP or Compaq. They were extremely slow in operation, a little louder than other drives of the era, but they generally didn't have any reliability concerns and they lived in a 5.25" bay, freeing up 3.5" drive bays for normal hard drives without having to use those adapter kits. When I would occasionally acquire one I used to use them as secondary drives for file repositories or back-ups.

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My HP Performa 5040 has a BigFoot, and I really enjoy listening to it spin up and spin down.

 

I think it is developing some bad sectors, but it appears to still be fully functional for now with a reformat.

 

It's a little over 2 GB.

 

c

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I had a bunch of those Bigfoot drives back in the day.  They are pretty cool.  Still have one - think it's a 2.1GB model.  I will probably never actually use it but I keep it around as a curiosity.  

 

I have several old full height drives of the ST-506? interface too - a couple Connors and a Maxtor I think.  At least one of them was working when I messed with it late last year.  They all sound pretty cool when they spin up.

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Yeah, they are neat. Mine is 2.1 GB as well, so we both probably have the same model.

 

If you ever want to get rid of it, let me know :)

 

c

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On 2/21/2019 at 1:46 PM, Unknown_K said:

Small external USB boxes probably have a worse time of it because of vibrations and heat then a drive mounted in a PC tower.

They were 3.5" disks, and very generously rubber shock mounted, but they were lay-flat and there was no ventilation.

My theories have always been that either they or the bridge boards overheated. I tossed all the bridging and enclosure stuff away and added the usb cables and power adapter stash to the group of western digital mybooks I ultimately started buying instead.

On 2/26/2019 at 3:21 AM, Franklinstein said:

 the Elite was finally discontinued in 1998 after they hit an impressive 47GB.

In 1998 the largest 3.5" disks I know of were 9, maaaaaybe 18 gigs. 47 in a single disk, and all those platters and respective heads probably made it fast enough for desktop video, high end workstation, and server tasks.

 

The main change is that the next year, with DV video compression, the added speed of the "Elite" over a normal disk was less important. That and at around that time the idea that SCSI was definitely better than the newest ATA implementations for everything, had been thoroughly debunked.

 

On 2/26/2019 at 11:46 AM, Brett B. said:

I had a bunch of those Bigfoot drives back in the day.  They are pretty cool.  Still have one

I've always liked the idea of those. It sounds like the idea was basically as an upgrade for slow-big storage, which is a neat market to try to address.

 

I had one briefly years and years ago (like probably close to 20 years ago) that I used in a machine I got at a swap meet, but, unfortunately it was dead or dying.

 

I know Why(TM) but I'd love a drive tweaking those same knobs to that same kind of extreme today.

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