This week, Backblaze released its quarterly hard drive reliability stats. When they did, we had a number of folks reach out because of a recent feature on STH. Specifically, we said Farewell Seagate Exos X12 12TB Enterprise Hard Drives that failed next to one another. That drive happens to be in Backblaze’s data as a standout, and not for a good reason.
Backblaze 2021 Seagate Exos X12 ST12000NM0007
We took the charts from Backblaze’s 2021 stats. The source for all of this is here. When you look at the drive stats for the Seagate Exos X12 ST12000NM0007 you can see a pattern:
The Seagate ST12000NM0007 is not always the least reliable drive in every slice of the data, but it is certainly near the top for most of these. We actually did not even think of this when we first saw Backblaze’s data, but we had a reader point out that the model was the same as what we just covered in our recent anecdotal piece.
Of course, there is a lot more going on here, and these drives were in a much smaller array than what Backblaze uses. We also have more of these drives running perfectly fine so we are in no way saying these drives have some sort of mass failure. At the same time, it seems notable that these stories keep coming up. Even Backblaze saw the data and worked with Seagate to phase out this model in 2020.
Something was apparent if you read some of the comments on our piece from a few weeks ago. STH readers were citing mass failures, where half of the storage arrays would fail and be replaced by a different disk. Backblaze’s data does not suggest an AFR of 30-50% or anywhere near that. At the same time, it is notable that we had several users anecdotally remember the drives as ones with higher failure rates, we saw a strange failure, and Backblaze has these drives as high-failure rate devices. These seem to not be in as bad of a position as the 14TB Dell-Seagate ST14000NM0138 drives at Backblaze, but these 12TB Exos X12’s seem to have a lot of stories that indicate AFR that greatly exceeds the 0.35% on its spec sheet. One has to wonder about that spec given these anecdotal experiences.
Since no organization, not even Seagate, has a complete picture of failure percentages (many drives are scrapped without data going back to the OEM like ours were) it is very hard to get an accurate view of reliability.
At this point, these are probably not drives we would pay a premium for or look to find more of given the data that is out there. It is also the case where we will likely replace these drives with different drives as we did with the failure a few weeks ago, just to help with diversity. For our readers, this is probably worth noting if you have this drive model installed and something to keep an eye on for the future.