Who makes the most reliable hard drives?

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Backblaze is back again, this time with updated hard drive statistics and failure rates for all of 2016. Backblaze’s quarterly reports on HDD failure rates and statistics are the best data set we have for measuring drive reliability and performance, so let’s take a look at the full year and see who the winners and losers are.

Backblaze only includes hard drive models in its report if it has at least 45 drives of that type, and it currently has 72,100 hard drives in operation. The slideshow below explains and steps through each of Backblaze’s charts, with additional commentary and information. Each slide can be clicked to open a full-size version in a new window.

Backblaze has explained before that it can tolerate a relatively high failure rate before it starts avoiding drives altogether, but the company has been known to take that step (it stopped using a specific type of Seagate drive at one point due to unacceptably high failure rates). Current Seagate drives have been much better and the company’s 8TB drives are showing an excellent annualized failure rate.

Next, we’ve got something interesting — drive failure rates plotted against drive capacity.

The “stars” mark the average annualized failure rate for all of the hard drives for each year.

The giant peak in 3TB drive failures was driven by the Seagate ST3000DM001, with its 26.72% failure rate. Backblaze actually took the unusual step of yanking the drives after they proved unreliable. With those drives retired, the 3GB failure rate falls back to normal.

One interesting bit of information in this graph is that drive failure rates don’t really shift much over time. The shifts we do see are as likely to be caused by Backblaze’s perpetual rotation between various manufacturers as old drives are retired and new models become available. Higher capacity drives aren’t failing at statistically different rates than older, smaller drives, implying that buyers don’t need to worry that bigger drives are more prone to failure.

The usual grain of salt

As always, Backblaze’s data sets should be taken as a representative sample of how drives perform in this specific workload. Backblaze’s buying practices prioritize low cost drives over any other type, and they don’t buy the enterprise drives that WD, Seagate, and other manufacturers position specifically for these kinds of deployments. Whether or not this has any impact on consumer drive failure rates isn’t known — HDD manufacturers advertise their enterprise hardware as having gone through additional validation and being designed specifically for high-vibration environments, but there are few studies on whether or not these claims result in meaningfully better performance or reliability.

 

Backblaze’s operating environment has little in common with a consumer desktop or laptop, and may not cleanly match the failure rates we would see in these products. The company readily acknowledges these limitations, but continues to provide its data on the grounds that having some information about real-world failure rates and how long hard drives live for is better than having none at all. We agree. Readers often ask which hard drive brands are the most reliable, but this information is extremely difficult to come by. Most studies of real-world failure rates don’t name brands or manufacturers, which limits their real-world applicability.

 

[Source:- Extremetech]

WD My Passport Wireless Pro review: A portable hard drive made for mobile streaming

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We had only two real complaints about WD’s original My Passport Wireless media-streaming Wi-Fi hard drive: short-ish battery life, and an inability to charge other devices. WD has remedied both shortcomings with the all-new My Passport Wireless Pro. This is a thoroughly improved and much more capable product.

If you’re new to wireless media-streaming hard drives, they’re basically a marriage of Wi-Fi hot spot and battery-powered USB storage. In this case, you get a dual-band 802.11ac hot spot and either 2TB ($230) or 3TB ($250) of storage. Log onto the hot spot the My Passport Pro creates and you can stream music, video, or photographs from it to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also use it for like a NAS box or even a direct-attached USB 3.0 portable hard drive.

Unlike its very thick predecessor, the My Passport Wireless Pro could easily be mistaken for a portable optical drive (you remember those, right?). Except that this enclosure sports a micro-USB 3.0 connector, a USB 2.0 Type A port (for charging other devices from the drive’s battery), and an SD memory-card slot (for transferring files—automatically on insert, if you so choose. You can push a button if you don’t.) The new model weighs in at nearly a pound–that’s four ounces heavier than the original–and we’re pretty sure it’s attributable to the 6400 mAh battery.

WD

The Wireless Pro’s two USB 3.0 ports and SD card slot are visible in this side shot.

Setup

The new Passport Wireless Pro is even easier to set up that its predecessor. With my iPad, all I had to do was select the My Passport network, join using the password prominently displayed on a sticker on the front of the unit, and then open Safari. The browser headed directly for the setup routine without my having to type in the URL for its configuration page. It also walked me through the process of connecting the parent network to pass through the Internet connection. Smooth. Easy. Good job WD.

Additionally, you’re asked if you want to download the Plex media server in order to stream media files from the My Passport Wireless Pro. Plex is optional, as the Twonky DLNA server is already included. But Plex has a slicker interface, offers a choice of proprietary or DLNA serving, and it provides clients for nearly every operating system (but not the 32-bit Windows 7 on my older Acer laptop. Go figure.)

Note that Plex requires signing up for a free account. Twonky does not, and it does a pretty decent job streaming movies and audio to client devices.

The addition of the Plex media server lets the My Passport Wireless Pro support more devices, more easily than the Twonky DLNA server, which is still included as well.

Battery life and performance

As to those extra four ounces of battery. Wow. The My Passport Wireless Pro more than doubles its predecessor’s four-hour run time, delivering 9 hours and 10 minutes in our test. And that was with the drive in performance mode; there’s also a battery-save mode that squeezes out about an extra half hour to forty-five minutes. If you don’t need to stream on battery power, that kind of juice can go a long way to charging other USB devices.

Used as a direct-attached USB hard drive, performance was a slightly below average. AS SSD rated the drive as reading 10GB sequentially at 120MBps, and writing it at 113MBps. Our 20GB large-file copy tests came up with almost exactly the same rates; however, speeds dropped significantly with our 20GB batch of smaller files and folders: to 75MBps reading and 55MBps writing.

The My Passport Wireless Pro performs well as a USB 3.0 hard drive. The 20GB file and folder write performance will increase significantly if you re-format the drive from exFAT to NTFS.

Small-file write performance improved significantly after I re-formatted the drive from exFAT to the NTFS files system that the other drives in the chart used. That said, exFAT formatting can’t explain the slow reading of the 20GB batch of files and folders, where exFAT and NTFS generally perform the same. If you’re planning to use the drive with a Mac, on the other hand, you’ll want to leave the drive formatted as exFAT: Macs can read NTFS-formatted drives, but they can’t write to them.

Streaming performance

Streaming was a mixed bag of easy and not so easy. This wasn’t the Wireless Pro’s fault, but the uneven implementation of streaming protocols across platforms. In all cases (Android, iOS, OS X, Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows Phone) I was eventually able to stream 1080p video, though in some cases it required switching apps on the client devices and/or switching between Plex and Twonky. Streaming 2160p files (4K UHD) didn’t work, but that’s no surprise: Streaming those files over most ethernet connections can be iffy; besides, there’s not a lot of 2160p content out there.

The issues I did encounter were with the Windows Media Player (LAV filters) and Twonky server streaming to 32-bit Windows 7, which stuttered continually even when I lowered the resolution to 720p. I’ve never had problems with that laptop and other implementations of Twonky so that’s a bit of a puzzler. Additionally I continually received connection errors when I tried to stream from Plex to a Windows Phone. Although it did display thumbnails of the movies, I was never able to stream to that device.

I also encountered issues with oddball codecs, but you’ll do fine if you stick with the common ones–MPEG-1, MPEG-2, h.264, WMV, and the like–and your clients use modern 64-bit operating systems.

Recommended

The My Passport Wireless Pro ameliorates every complaint we had about its predecessor. It has a lot more juice, it can stream one way or another to every portable device out there, it’s easy to use, and it has the ability to charge other devices. That’s as good as it gets in portable Wi-Fi drives.

 

 

[Source: Macworld]

Paragon Hard Disk Manager review: Total control of your Mac’s storage devices

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For many Mac owners, the built-in Disk Utility is all they’ll ever need. After all, Apple’s software handles the basic task of formatting HFS+, FAT32, and exFAT volumes and partitions, along with the occasional need for one-click verification and repair of native OS X disks. (And with macOS Sierra, the RAID tools make a return.)

However, there are plenty of valid reasons for wanting to do more with your drives, and not all are exclusive to technically inclined users. A few examples would be optimizing OS X, Windows, and Linux file systems, performing a secure wipe, or backing up data in a more effective manner than Time Machine.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager offers total control over storage volumes for Mac, Windows, or Linux.

If there’s anyone who knows what makes these file systems tick, it’s Paragon Software. Founded over two decades ago, the company makes it easy to format, read, and write NTFS or ExtFS volumes on a Mac with the simplicity and performance of native media. Now they’ve gone one step beyond those drivers with an all-in-one storage utility that makes Apple’s Disk Utility look positively feeble by comparison.

At your service

Making its debut on the Mac after years of services as a suite of Windows tools,Paragon Hard Disk Manager is an impressively solid OS X debut for a first version. Functionality is divided across two tabs: Disks and Partitions, where the majority of storage management tools reside, or Backup and Restore, used to create snapshot-based archives.

Hard Disk Manager is compatible with OS X Mavericks 10.9 and later, including support for the latest macOS Sierra courtesy of a free update. At first launch, HDM installs a few required under-the-hood “auxiliary components,” then displays a warning if System Integrity Protection (SIP) is enabled.

Introduced with OS X El Capitan 10.11, SIP prevents Mac software from gaining root privileges—great for combating potential malware, but a hindrance in the case of a utility like HDM. Senior contributor Glenn Fleishman explained how to manually disable SIP in a post last year, but HDM provides a one-click, Terminal-free method using bootable media that doubles as an OS X Recovery disk.

As a safeguard, HDM doesn’t immediately run most tasks, instead queuing them up awaiting further confirmation from the Apply Operations button before proceeding; there’s also an option to undo tasks from the queue. It’s great for preventing potential mistakes, but the extra clicks do tend to slow things down a bit.

To make the most of HDM, you’ll want to create a bootable OS X Recovery disk and disable Apple’s System Integrity Protection (SIP) for OS X El Capitan and later.

Disks and partitions

Like Disk Utility, Hard Disk Manager’s Disks and Partitions tab displays a list of all mounted volumes. But unlike Apple’s dumbed-down approach, HDM provides more detailed disk maps, which represent partitions and logical disks as color-coded bars based on the file system in use: Purple for HFS+, light/dark blue for FAT16/32, aqua blue for NTFS, teal for exFAT, green for ExtFS, or orange for free space.

Needless to say, this approach is vastly superior to Disk Utility, which displays information by content type, like an iOS device. There are two ways to use the utility—you can wipe or copy an entire disk and edit sectors by clicking the gear in the upper right corner, or act upon individual partitions from their respective settings below.

Hard Disk Manager also displays partition information as a list at the bottom of the window, with available options only a contextual menu away. Oddly, this method doesn’t work from the graphical drive map, one of my few quibbles with an otherwise excellent utility.

Although HDM can format, partition, and otherwise work with non-native NTFS or ExFS volumes, you’ll still need Paragon’s replacement drivers installed to access files. Also, despite the name, HDM works equally well with solid-state storage (SSD), USB flash drives, and Apple’s hybrid Fusion Drives as it does with traditional platter-based disks.

Whether you need to format, partition, check file system integrity, or securely wipe one or more volumes, Paragon Hard Disk Manager is ready to serve.

Backup and restore

One of Paragon’s pride and joys is its Snapshot technology, which allows users to create an exact sector-level copy of the operating system and all user data. Compared to Time Machine and other Mac-native backup solutions, Snapshot offers improved performance, with system recovery times in minutes rather than hours.

The Backup and Restore options are laid out in a straightforward manner, and the Create New Archive wizard detects mounted OS X or Windows operating systems automatically, or you can manually select one or more partitions from the disk map. There’s currently no way to schedule backups as part of a regular routine, but Paragon plans to introduce this functionality in a future update.

HDM saves archives as Paragon Virtual Hard Drive (PVHD) images by default, which supports incremental imaging. This approach minimizes the time and storage space required for subsequent backups of the same volume(s). The installation also includes a VMDK mounter utility for those who prefer this format.

Paragon maintains a nice balance between ease of use and more advanced features, although novices will want to spend a little time getting accustomed to the unique UI before they start tinkering with existing volumes.

Hard Disk Manager uses Snapshot technology for sector-based backup and recovery that’s faster and more reliable than Time Machine.

Bottom line

If you’re longing for the more robust features of earlier Disk Utility versions or want complete command over connected storage devices, Paragon Hard Disk Manager is the way to go.

 

[Source: Macworld]