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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability | Hard Disk Quality and Reliability ]

Hard Disk Quality and Reliability Specifications

There are a number of different specifications used by hard disk drive manufacturers to indicate the quality and reliability of their products. Some of these, such as MTBF, are frequently discussed (but not always all that well understood). Others are obscure and typically of interest only to hard drive aficionados. All are important to those who care about hard disk quality--which should be anyone who stores data on a hard disk. :^) In this section I discuss the most important of these specifications, what they mean, and perhaps most importantly, what they don't mean! You'll also find some discussion of specifications in the section on quality and reliability issues, particularly temperature specifications and noise specifications.

Note: In addition to the hard-disk-specific numbers explained in this section, hard disks usually come with a number of environmental specifications that dictate how they should and should not be used in order to operate reliably. These are essentially the same as those provided for power supplies, so instead of repeating them I will refer you to the power supply section. The only caveat about applying the power supply environmental specifications here is that hard drives are more sensitive to altitude than most components and can fail when operated at altitudes over 10,000 feet; see here for the reason why.

Next: Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)


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