updated 03:52 pm EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Research on 34,000 hard disks finds no correlation between failure and temperature
The operating temperature of a hard drive does not directly affect the failure rate, according to research by backup cloud service BackBlaze. After analyzing over 34,000 drives, the company found there to be no overall correlation between failure and temperature when looking at the data as a whole, but some drives were found to be affected by heat.
As part of the research, the company discovered the drives do operate at different temperatures, with almost nine degrees centigrade between the coolest and warmest averages per model of drive. BackBlaze typically uses 45 drives in each of its custom Storage Pods in the data center, with the spread of models in individual pods and in varying locations of the data center being "somewhat random," leading engineer Brian Beach to believe the environment is not a contributing factor, and that the temperatures stemmed from the drive's action. The majority of drives were held within the range of 15 degrees centigrade and 30 degrees centigrade, a relatively comfortable working temperature range far below the typical manufacturer maximum of 60 degrees.
While for the most part the drives did not correlate between failure and temperature, there were some drives that seemingly did. One Hitachi Deskstar drive and three Seagate Barracuda drives were considered significant in Beach's mathematics, with the 1.5TB Barracuda and Barracuda LP seemingly being the most significant. While both typically ran cooler than average, the two drives suffered failure rates of 11 percent and 34.6 percent respectively when ran above the average temperature, with respective rates of 7.9 percent and 15.6 percent below.
A graph of failure rates for the Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB drive showed relatively even amounts of failure at 24 degrees and below, with the rate almost doubling to over 13 percent at 25 degrees, rising again to the hotter end of the table.
Beach advises that, aside from the one specific drive, it does not matter whether a drive is slightly warmer or cooler than average, for the most part. "As long as you run drives well within their allowed range of operating temperatures, keeping them cooler doesn't matter."
BackBlaze has performed a considerable amount of research on the large number of desktop drives it uses as part of its service. Previously, it has provided feedback on reliability by manufacturer and average drive lifespans.