Drive Service Company's Top and Bottom list of Hard Drives
as of 06-19-02
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Here is the current list of top brands, and worst drive models. This is based on the models we see the most, and conversely the drives we see the least. We are in no way paid to recommend any particular brand or another. This is merely a statistical analysis based on the numbers of drives we see come through our doors for drive failure and data recovery. In no way does this guarantee that the top listed drive won't fail tomorrow or that what we feel is the worst one won't last you many years. This is really just a very simple guide for you to use in making a good decision about what drive to buy or to stay away from! If you continue reading, you will find my own diatribe about the latest in the industry and a few things you may or may not be aware of.

Top brands: 1 being best

    1. Seagate (models since 1998 only) Cheaply made, but getting much better. I never thought I would be putting Seagate back on the top of the list but.... Seagate now has the fewest failures of all the drives made now. They do make cheap consumer models, but they also have a much better line of drives that cost a little more. Your drive, is not the item you want to try to save a buck on!

    2. IBM - Notebook and desktop drives. There are issues with electro-mechanical failures and or head crash on their high speed IDE drives 40GB or greater. The 40, 45, 60 and 75 gb drives are really starting to go bad now, especially the drives manufactured in late 2000 and all of 2001. These can go without warning, so please keep them backed up! We have been seeing a lot of the 75gb drives come in now as well as the 45's and 60's. There is a class action lawsuit ongoing about the 75gb drives. A new development.. Hitachi has recently purchased 70% of the IBM hard drive division. I can't wait to see how many of these we get in the future! ( Hitachi is known for failures). Yet another thorn in the side of the consumer! I should mention that their SCSI line of drives is a good product still.

    3. Fujitsu (Desktop drives only) Their 10, 15, 20 and 30gb desktop models have been failing left and right with either servo loss or electronic failure. Notebook drives are only so-so but are no longer manufactured. They have had so many returned drives, that they have stopped making drives all together.

    4. Maxtor (We are seeing more and more of these as failed) see below. You get what you pay for. Do not use these in server or business applications! If you do, keep them backed up like there is no tomorrow! These are consumer drives only!

    5. Toshiba (notebook drives only). Good engineering! Generally good all the way around, but can develop bad heads in some models. As always, just keep it backed up.

    6. Quantum. Has had a bad batch of drives with a defective chip incl. the Fireball CX,LA,LB,LC and KX series. Maxtor now owns Quantum (got them at a good price too!). We have been seeing a large number of the Quantum ASxxxx series drives come in with missing outer servo, especially the 40gb drives, similar to the problem Fujitsu has. This is an unrecoverable situation! Beware.

    8. Samsung also known as Trigem in E-machines (Inexpensive, you get what you pay for!) Cheaply made, consumer use only but do a religious backup!

    7. Western Digital (They still haven't learned, their drives are still failing left and right). Cheaply made. Especially the 'EB' series. The 20gb AB and EB series are horrible. Again, I urge you not to use these in business applications. These have servo problems too which are starting to surface.

Worst Models Ever: 1 being worst
    1. Western Digital AC1XXX, AC2XXX and AC3XXX series except AC31000 (Prone to severe head crash).
    2. Quantum Bigfoot Series (any model) Prone to many severe failures. Cheap drives that never should have been made. These were used heavily by Compaq, to keep their costs down!
    3. Quantum Fireball CX,CR,LA,LB,LC,KX All have defective spin chips and will fail without warning! Quantum was bought by Maxtor 07-01.
    4. Conner CFS850A and CFS1275A (Some of the most RMA'd drives of all time).
    5. Hitachi Notebook drives of any kind (Almost always head crash or lose servo or suffer from misalignment) Don't use them! If you have to, backup! Used exclusively (because they got a good deal) by Dell! If you order a Dell, request a different drive or go elsewhere.
    6. Fujitsu Notebook drives of any kind are prone to head crash, desktop drives are bad now too, sorry. Again, they have stopped making drives and now barely support what is left out there.
    7. Samsung drives of any kind (Either head crash, or stiction (heads stick to the platters)) Cheaply manufactured.
    8. Toshiba MK2103MAV and MK2101MAN 2.5" drives (Prone to severe head crash, heavily RMA'd)
    9. NEC drives of any kind (Poor engineering causes many failures, no longer making desktop drives)
    10. JTS any model (Prone to head crash, cheap drives, now out of business)
    11. Maxtor 7850, 71336, 71260, 72004 (All had defective head stops, heads fly off platters and break off)
    12. Maxtor 10GB, 20GB, 30GB any model are crashing at an alarming rate! Severe electrical problems as well. These are consumer drives at best. Back them up now! Do not use for business applications.
    13. Seagate Elite 9GB SCSI (Poor engineering promotes severe head crash).
    14. Seagate 32140A (Prone to severe head crash, heavily RMA'd drive).
    15. Seagate 5xxx series (Prone to head crash and or broken head wires).
    16. Micropolis (Almost always head crash, what else is new? They have been out of business now for 5 years).

 Compiling this list was not easy, as there are problems with many other drives as well, but this will indicate the worst and most commonly failed ones. Many very old drives were not included in this list, as these are mostly out of use now, but you will find several that are mostly out of use. I suspect that over the next few years, we will be down to one drive manufacturer! For a long time, I was a big supporter of IBM drives and recommended them at every turn, but now not so. They too have had enormous numbers of drives returned to them recently, and I am sure that is what spawned the Hitachi buyout. I have noticed over the last couple of years that manufacturers have stopped putting little mini in-line fuses on the electronics of the drives. I often asked myself why they were doing this, as the fuses could not cost 1/2 cent each. I have since found out! This is a little known fact that is not limited to hard drives alone unfortunately, but also incorporated into cars, electronics of all sorts, and everyday things that we the consumer use. This little known fact is called "built-in obsolescence"! This is a very little discussed problem in today's society, but we all face it at some point or another. There have been known problems with ATX power supplies over the last 2 years and on up to today. The power supplies have been shorting out, due to lousy cheap parts, and in the process, burn out the motherboard, and just about any and all other devices attached to it including the hard drive. I am sure you know someone this has happened to. The problem would not be so bad if the same model drive could be used to take the printed circuit board from and get the fried drive up and running long enough to get the data off. Here is the problem: For a given model of drive, there can be 20 different revision levels all of which have different codes and other things that differ. Getting the drive matched exactly to the tee is a big challenge, and believe me, the manufacturers are of no help at all in the effort. You will have to call us to get the data from the drive for you. So, you see that if they left the fuses in, they would sell fewer drives over time! The concept of built-in obsolescence is not a new one. It is what drives our economy. It really upsets me to know that an electrical engineer can and does make chips and components that fail specifically on a given date or thereabouts, that a chemical engineer can and does make plastics for your car for instance that disintegrate just as the warranty is up! I understand that if they did not do this, people would be out of work... but, give me a break, not in our hard drives too! This is the most important part of the computer!

Whatever you do keep a good backup! Make believe that tomorrow when you turn your computer on, it is not going to come up. If that were the case what is it you would want off the drive today while you still have access to it? Back it up! Whatever you do, never use a second drive as a backup device, unless you have your data on yet a third media as well. If the power supply blows, you lose them both, and then what? I usually suggest backup of data only, no program material, to CD-R (not CD-RW..too unreliable). A product called 'NTI Backup Now' is a great tool for this. If you keep most all of your data beneath a single data directory using sub-folders to keep it all separate, it is easy to back up.
 You may ask why the same models are on the best and worst list? Since there are only so many brands out there and of the ones sold today, it was necessary to list them in this way.
 Other tidbits include: Quantum has sold it's entire drive line to Maxtor (mostly owned by Hyundai). Western Digital has discontinued their SCSI line, and is looking to get out of the drive business all together.

There is one more very important item I need to mention to you all. Very recently, an IBM engineer let slip, a white paper on one of their drives that actually told the truth about how long an IDE drive should last and under what conditions. In this paper, it said that current IDE drives are really only designed to be in operation from 6-8 hours per day! I have always known this to be true! IBM very quickly changed the white paper, and also stated that they stand behind their drives whether it is on for 8 hours or 24 hours per day. Do you want to take the chance? Most if not all of the current large capacity IDE drives, no matter who makes it, are not meant to be left on 24 hours a day. I am sure that none of you reading this are aware of that and may be quite shocked to hear this. These drives should not be put into servers, or be assigned any other industrial use duty! But, you might ask, "What am I supposed to use for heavy duty business use?". The answer is, use what we have used for years in server applications and that is SCSI! SCSI drives are meant to run and run and run without a hiccup. They are made much better than IDE, using better liquid-cooled motors, better parts, and usually better everything! So, the next time you are deciding what to use in a server that you are building, think twice about it. These days, IDE drives are consumer drives at best, and should be used for no other reason. If this list helps one person avoid troubles, I am happy I made it for you.

Thank You,

Mark Cooper

President
Drive Service Company
The Data Recovery Specialists!
E-mail: mark@driveservice.com

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Last updated on 06-19-02 © 2002 Drive Service Company
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