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Hard Drive Power-On rating

Posted on 2014-10-16
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Last Modified: 2014-11-02
If hard drive reliability is important: how does "power-on rating" account into it?

I looked at a couple seagate drives rated at 2400 hours.

Does this mean that it's only good for 2400 hours spinning? connected to power? or continuous? any thoughts?

We configure power settings in our on-boarding process and want to know if this is significant. I suppose this is the age-old argument of do we leave the hard drive spinning (wearing down the bearings) or spin-down/up (wearing down the electronics/spin up count). This might be a consideration for hardware longevity

Currently, we ask clients to keep their systems on and we do not touch the disk idle power settings. This becomes even more significant with servers and NAS.

The best thing I've found is "...The 2400-hour specification, which represents only 100 days of continuous operation, assumes that drives are used eight hours per day, five days per week..." - Toms Hardware
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Question by:scsyeg
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by:noxcho
ID: 40384978
It is about spinning. Keeping drive simply on but idle does not do anything to a drive if there is no hit nearby.
But as every mechanism the drive has spinning parts and moving parts. And they have presumably some lifetime before they fail.
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by:garycase
ID: 40385092
Interesting that Seagate is now publishing those specs ... and that they're so low.

Note that the drive warranties are far longer than that spec ... I wonder if they'll balk at replacing drives under warranty that have exceeded that.    I have MANY drives with well over 30,000 power on hours ... but of course the SMART data doesn't show the difference between power-on and spinning.    I suspect this spec is, as noted above, actually "spinning hours".   But I'm VERY surprised it's so low.

Note that WD, Hitachi, and others do not publish a "power on hours" spec.   But many drives are shown with availability specs of 24 x 7 and have 3-5 year warranties ... which would imply tens of thousands of power-on hours.
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by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 40385457
2400 hours would be a pretty poor drive in light of the Seagate drives I have been using 10 hours a day for more than 10 years.  I have to suspect that they dropped a zero in that figure.

Still, the Seagate warranties have been getting shorter.  Five years, then three, then two, now one.  Perhaps they are building drives now to the same standard as PCs ... if it lasts for two years, it's obsolete and should be replaced.
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by:garycase
ID: 40385577
I had the same "dropped a zero" thought -- but if so , they dropped it in all of their drives, as they all show 2400 - 4800 ratings.    None of these really make sense, so I've really got no idea why they've added this to their spec sheets ... unless the goal is to provide a basis for refusing warranty support on drives with more than the "spec'd" number of hours.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40385612
Produce more and sell more. If you make things too good then soon you make overproduction and novody buys from you anything. Seems Seagate understood this :)
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by:nattygreg
ID: 40386009
The way of the world, I see that on any Hard drive, I'm not buying that, but they are testing the waters to see if we bite, if we do it will be the norm across all manufactures.

Buy WD or Hitachi

I have hard drives still working from dos days, image a harddisk with only 1200mb harddisk space still working
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Author Comment

by:scsyeg
ID: 40386822
I have 2 of the above drives and they are both at ~8000+ hours and ~900+ startups as per CrystalDiskInfo.

The drives are rated for 300,000 load/unload cycles. I think that something about our understanding of "power-on rating" is wrong. I may just call seagate and ask.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40386828
Share with us what they answer to you.
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scsyeg earned 0 total points
ID: 40387060
As per Seagate Tech Support:

"Power on hours" is the designed length of time the drive is intended to function before it starts experiencing issues. This does NOT mean the drive will be dead after that many hours. Several variables could cause the drive to last longer as well as fail earlier. Also, the stand-by mode is NOT considered in the POH. It only references the time that the drive is being fully accessed and used.

Also, they will honor the warranty up to the amount of years, regardless of hours running.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40387268
So my answer was correct. The drive spins when it gets i/o requests.
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by:garycase
garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 40388655
"...  The drive spins when it gets i/o requests. " ==>  Not that simple.   Clearly the drive will indeed spin up if it's not currently spinning and gets an I/O request.    But it has to be "commanded" to spin down afterwards -- otherwise it simply continues to spin.    Windows, Linux, etc. all provide the ability to set a spin-down timer value, which is how long after the last I/O the OS will wait before spinning down the drives.

Note that drives also have a spin-up spec ... i.e. how many times they can be spun up before you are likely to develop problems.    So you wouldn't, for example, want a drive to spin down after every I/O ... as you could then get thousands of spin-ups per day, and exceed the rated spin-up threshold.

I think the Seagate specs are disappointingly small ... but clearly in real life drives last FAR longer than that.    I've got a couple dozen Seagate drives in my servers that have over 40,000 power-on hours on them, and they're all still going strong.
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Author Closing Comment

by:scsyeg
ID: 40417975
I called Seagate and asked them directly what a Power-On rating is (the main section of my question).
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