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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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