Very few HDDs are made to handle the continuous usage, heat, and vibration of a Plex server. And that’s a huge problem. Replacing a failed drive takes time and money, especially if you don’t have redundancies in place. Thankfully, a new report from Backblaze reveals which popular HDDs perform the best in a real testing environment; its cloud data center.
Throughout 2021, Backblaze monitored 202,759 HDDs and logged their failure rates. The company found some interesting results—while many HDDs are “reliable,” only three drives have the ultra-low failure rate that Plex customers desire. Additionally, large capacity HDDs (12TB and up) appear to be more reliable (but not necessarily longer-lasting) than lower capacity models.
You can see the drive models tested by Backblaze in the chart below. The AFR or “annualized failure rate” is what we’re most interested in. This stat shows each drive’s failure rate throughout 2021 while still accounting for Backblaze’s environment, where drives enter testing throughout the year. (Backblaze collects this information from its data center, meaning the company uses these drives for real server work. Installing all 200,000+ drives on January 1st would be impossible.)
We’re also interested in the lifespan or “Average Age” of each drive, for obvious reasons. Ideally, customers building a Plex server (or any other server, for that matter) should use drives with a long lifespan and a low failure rate.
The three most reliable hard drives in 2021, according to Backblaze’s data, are the 6TB Seagate ST6000DX000 (AFR 0.11%), the 16TB WDC WUH721816ALE6L0 (AFR 0.14%), and the 16TB Toshiba MG08ACA16TE (AFR 0.91%).
Notably, the Seagate drive has an average age of 80.4 months, while the WDC and Toshiba models last an average of 5.06 and 3.57 months. That makes the 6TB Seagate ST6000DX000 the best HDD for your Plex server, despite its relatively low storage capacity.
But how does the Seagate stack up to previous years’ tests? Here’s the thing; manufacturers often make small changes to their HDDs. These changes can make a drive crappier, as we saw with the WD Blue SN550 last year, but they can also increase a drive’s quality and reliability.
Seagate’s ST6000DX000 drive fits the latter scenario. In previous years, Backblaze found that this drive had a 0.96% AFR. It’s now significantly more reliable with an AFR of just 0.11%. (Yeah, we’re discussing a change of less than 1%. It’s still significant, though, because Seagate manufactures millions of these drives each year.)
Now, I should note that the 6TB Seagate ST6000DX000 is technically a “desktop” hard drive. We usually suggest using dedicated NAS drives for Plex servers, but if the Seagate ST6000DX000 performs this well in Backblaze’s data centers, it should perform equally well with your Plex setup.
You can order the 6TB Seagate ST6000DX000 for $235 at Newegg. If you need a larger drive, the 16TB Toshiba MG08ACA16TE is available at a discounted price of just $350 at Tiger Direct. Unfortunately, the 16TB WDC WUH721816ALE6L0 is only available in Europe.