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The future of our HDs?

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RubiX³

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
This is more of a discussion than a question, although I'd like to get some opinions.
This weekend, I was upgrading a Tivo - the second one I've done. I pulled the 40 gig maxtor out, and put in 2 160gig 7200 RPM ata133 Maxtors - for a total of 242 hours of digital quality storage, up from 35. Now, I started thinking: I'm sure most of you have noticed how the warranties of new HDs (120 gigs and up, I think), especially Maxtor HDs, has dropped to a year.

I remember back in the day reading about the new "20" gig hds that were coming out. I remember seeing many articles on the reliability of such a large drive. That turned out ok - I've been running a 20 gig Maxtor for 5 years now without a hitch.

In fact, my luck with HDs has always been great. Even my first one - a 1 meg Amiga drive for 100 bucks. I've NEVER lost one through any fault but my own.

Now, the way a Tivo system (linux based) works is very simple. Thing is, it REALLY works a HD. It is CONSTANTLY writing high quality digital video. To those of you who don't have one or know about them, they're always recording. example: You turn on the TV and start watching "live" TV. Meanwhile, the Tivo is recording so you can pause and rewind. Once you change the channel, it quickly deletes that segment and starts recording the new channel. Remember, digital quality too. A non digital Tivo can store 60 hours on a 40 gig drive, whereas a digital Tivo can only store 35. If you have two leads plugged into the Tivo, you can record two things at once, or watch something else while recording something. Remember, in that situation, it's still recording whatever it is you're currently watching. Tivo stays on 24/7, unless you put it in standby mode. But it's meant to be left ON.

Not to mention how HOT it gets inside those steel beasts, even with an extra fan.

Imo, this puts the amount of work we put our HDs computing to shame. Unless you are editing LARGE videos 24 hours a day, that is. I'm wondering how many of these Tivos are going to crash out on people in the near future? I have a feeling there's going to be an OUTBREAK of them. Remember your first VCR? Mine lasted about 15 years. How long will our large (160+) HDs on our machines last?

It would follow the latest trend: the lack of quality we've gotten these latest few years with our hardware has been unacceptable (imo). Quantity over quality. I'm talking about little things (and in some cases, big things) that should've been noticed. My Vcore/Vdimm fluctuates at certain settings. How rushed was this board that they didn't notice a fluctuation above 2.9 vdimm? "But Rubix³, most people don't need 2.9vdimm." Screw that, we're overclockers, and this board was made for us (note: I take my hat off to you modders). My Plextor 708A DVD combo drive screws 1 of 3 CDRs (but records DVDs fine). From what I've read, I was damn lucky I didn't have problems with my Asus 9800XT.

Dropped warranty to one year? Something tells me we're in for something. I've got 2 160s in my system now, and they're running like champs. Granted, I want raptors, but I'm satisfied. But I've been throwing everything on DVDs lately. I've always taken great care of my HDs, but I have a feeling it's going to start pouring soon. The Tivo was just an example that impacts those who wouldn't know the first if it were to break down.
 

Drec

Member
Joined
May 23, 2004
wow i didnt know Tivo put such a pounding on them drives. you maybe right, they may not last to long under those circumstances...but from my experiances..some drives work for years and years..and some take a **** on you after a weeks use.
 
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RubiX³

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
Although the thought of a watercooled Tivo is inspiring and original, I'm not too worried about heat. I'm more so interested in the Tivo as a test for the reliability of those HDs.
 

Dukeman

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Location
Rocky Mountian High
Actually it isn't as big an issue as first believed. Even though the warranties have dropped from 5 or 3 years to 1 year the spec'd service life of most drives is still 5 years and the MTBF has not been lowered so their reliabilty should not be less.

Also, while the Tivo is writing and reading all the time, the drives have been built to do this. Actually many 5400 RPM drives are capable of 6 or more input or output streams simultaneously from products like Tivo.

The Tivo does not request a lot of random activity on the drive. It tends to write and read sequentially which means the actuator is not getting much of a workout and the media is just spinning like it would in anyone's system. Heat on the other hand and rotational vibration from two drives in the same box may play more havoc on the drive's well being than day to day operation.

Finally, Tivos have been around for more than 3 years and I haven't heard of a large fallout of the units which would be expected if these machines were chewing through drives' service lives.

My two cents...
 

hafa

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2003
Location
A tiny dot in the middle of the Pacific
Dukeman said:
Actually it isn't as big an issue as first believed. Even though the warranties have dropped from 5 or 3 years to 1 year the spec'd service life of most drives is still 5 years and the MTBF has not been lowered so their reliabilty should not be less...

So if the MTBF has not been lowered and the drives are spec'd with a service life of 5 years, why are the drive companies committing public relations suicide by dropping the warranty to one year? It just makes no business sense.

I would speculate that quality has dropped to the point where they cannot afford to maintain a three-year warranty. There are no other logical reasons that I can think of to reduce the terms of a warranty...
 

Randyman...

Member
Joined
May 8, 2004
My TiVo HDRV2 is still chugging along with the stock 40Gig (about a year), and an additional 120Gig (about 6 months now).

I think the two "30 Minute Live TV Buffers" will be VERY close in proximity on the HD, but once you start PLAYING a show from the "Now Playing List", the TiVo is CONSTANTLY seeking to the "Live TV Buffers" AND the currently viewed pre-recorded program (can record 2 shows, and watch a 3rd). LOTS of head activity there for hours on end (as long as you watch pre-recorded programs). Not much you can do besides use it until it dies. I LOVE my TiVo, and it LOVES me! Once the HD's die, I will give them a transplant, and let it keep going!

I have a IBM 30Gig that is pretty old (About 4 years). It is kinda loud, but works just fine. I use it as a OS HD image drive in a removeable caddy that slides into the front of my PC and interfaces via USB (with a IDE-to-USB card) for the "Eject" feature of USB.

I AM weary of sudden HD failure, so I back often up to other drives, and the really important stuff goes to another HD AND DVD-R. I feel fairly secure, and I have not had a true HD failure to date (Knock on wood!). My "new" system is less than 5 months old, and the HD failure is always in the back of my mind.

Later :cool:
 

Dukeman

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Location
Rocky Mountian High
hafa said:
I would speculate that quality has dropped to the point where they cannot afford to maintain a three-year warranty. There are no other logical reasons that I can think of to reduce the terms of a warranty...

Warranty is a cost of doing business. The longer the warranty the more liability the company has since it has to maintain a certain amount of replacement drive capacity. No matter how good the quality most drive models suffer about a 1.5% annual return rate (ARR). Not all of these are acually bad drives and not all of these failures are quality related but they all have to be replaced under warranty.

The longer a drive is under warranty the longer a company has to maintain engineering resources for compatiblity and firmware issues as well as repair lines. With businesses looking at their bottom line from quarter to quarter, a 12 quarter liability is just not acceptable any more for drives that have been commoditized.

The drive companies can not allow quality to suffer because the OEMs will not qualify a poor design or a low quality product across the board. To many players are still in the market to allow any one of them to make a concious decision to build lower quality drives and expect to survive.

It may not be good PR but if the drive companies came out with a 20000 RPM SATA drive with 16 MB cache and a 90 day warranty, we'd still snap em up and they know it.
 
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Dukeman

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Location
Rocky Mountian High
Randyman...

I love my DirecTv DVR with Tivo too. I think the buffers on the drive and the cache in the Tivo system help reduce head thrash to the point that it is not a real issue. And I don't care because even though I know how it works, it still magic to me :santa2: .
 
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RubiX³

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
Randyman... said:
I AM weary of sudden HD failure, so I back often up to other drives, and the really important stuff goes to another HD AND DVD-R. I feel fairly secure, and I have not had a true HD failure to date (Knock on wood!). My "new" system is less than 5 months old, and the HD failure is always in the back of my mind.

Later :cool:

I totally agree, and am in similar shoes. It's definitely a "play till it dies" scenario. It's just a question of when.

Although Dukeman, the HD use in Tivo is an issue. It works HDs harder than ever before (even with minimal head thrash) , and imo, is an excellent test of reliability. I love my Tivo too - I didn't even watch TV (besides HBO :D ) before I got Tivo.