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Disclaimer: I work at a company that makes hard drives. Don't forget about their sensitivity to rotational vibration, most often induced by coupling from other drives. Maybe it's not important in this particular application, but it can be a performance killer. To avoid it, 'vibration absorption' is not always the name of the game :) This link has some good background info, and a reminder that there are actual hardware/firmware reasons why enterprise & near-line drives are more expensive than consumer drives: http://enterprise.media.seagate.com/2010/05/inside-it-storag...

It sounds like they've got enough redundancy that a single drive failure (or even an entire pod) isn't an issue - they use cheap drives and simply swap them out when they fail.

I wish Google's hard drive failure analysis [1] included failure rates and failure scenario statistics for different models, vendors and consumer/enterprise classes too.

[1] http://research.google.com/archive/disk_failures.pdf

Knowing Google, I'm pretty sure that their drive population was consumer-grade - I think they mentioned that in the paper. It was interesting that the paper lamented the usefulness of SMART in predicting failures, because one of the things that enterprise/nearline drives buy you is much much richer SMART diagnostics. I wonder what their results would have been with drives that had better diagnostic reporting. I'm also curious if folks that are building 'cold-storage' on the cheap have looked into using DVR drives, they might have some useful characteristics for this application.

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