Computer Hardware

Difference Between Enterprise and Consumer Hard Drives (Part 2)

April 27, 2021 • 29 min read

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Consumer vs Enterprise Hard Drives: Is an Enterprise HDD Worth It?

There is an age-old debate about SSD vs HDD, which you can read about here. However, if you've already decided on the HDD route for your particular needs we have one more question for you: do you know the difference between an enterprise-level and consumer-level hard drive (HDD)?

Don't worry if you don't know the answer. We've got you covered. In this second part of our blog post, we will take a deeper dive into the differences between consumer and enterprise hard drives, and evaluate whether an enterprise HDD is worth it.

What is An Enterprise HDD?

Four hard drive selections from popular brands, Image Source

You may already have an understanding about consumer hard drives from our previous post. When thinking about consumer vs enterprise HDD, though, let's take a closer look at an enterprise level hard drive.

An enterprise HDD is a variation of the consumer HDD models with a focus on longer lifespans, reliability, and even larger storage capacities at the cost of temperature control and noise reduction.

Typically, an enterprise HDD is not used as a standalone hard drive, but as part of a collective unit to operate entire servers with efficiency and regularity. This is not always the case, but it is a consideration when evaluating the worth of an enterprise HDD.

What’s the Difference Between a Consumer Hard Drive & Enterprise Hard Drive?

Desktop PC being assembled with hard drive being installed, Image Source

The next obvious task is to explore the differences between a consumer HDD and an enterprise HDD.

We have already mentioned some specific features that set apart a consumer HDD from an enterprise HDD, but there are other differences to discuss:

  • A consumer HDD is designed for PCs and laptops
  • An enterprise HDD is engineered for servers
  • An enterprise HDD may have higher RPMs and reading and writing speeds
  • An enterprise HDD has extra features for RAID (redundant array of individual disks) configuration
  • An enterprise HDD typically has a much longer warranty

If you are looking to purchase a hard drive for your PC or laptop, then an enterprise HDD may not be the best choice for you.

If you are looking for a hard drive to run a server, though, then it is worth weighing all the pros and cons presented by an enterprise HDD. For example, if reading and writing speeds are important to your business and this decreased downtime is worthwhile, then an enterprise HDD may be worth looking into.

Having a backup of all your files and storage is incredibly important. Being able to set up a RAID configuration with your enterprise HDD needs to be high on your priority list to truly consider it as an option. Your server having multiple back-ups will go a long way to reducing downtime if something fails while giving you the peace of mind that everything on your server is safe, no matter what.

Since an enterprise HDD has been designed to run indefinitely they usually have substantial warranties, typically in the 3-5 year range. To get the most out of your enterprise HDD, you need to be willing to invest in upgrading your server hard drive system within the range of your warranty. If you cannot imagine spending the cost of an enterprise HDD every 3-5 years for each hard drive you need, then an enterprise HDD might not be the best fit for your needs.

A quick follow up question to the conversation about warranty might be about how long a hard drive like this might last if the warranty can be up to five years.

How Long Do Enterprise Hard Drives Last?

Interestingly enough, the average lifespan of any hard drive, consumer HDD or enterprise HDD, is about three years, although many consumer level hard drives can last longer if not continuously used. If this is the case, then it may be a question of how much you are willing to spend on your first investment of a hard drive since the warranty will keep replacing them for you once they begin to fail regularly.

This information can be deceiving, though. A company called Backblaze produces quarterly and annual reports on various server-related technology.

In these studies, Backblaze has discovered that an enterprise HDD is slightly more likely to fail than a consumer HDD. However, a consumer HDD and an enterprise HDD do not run at the same capacity at all times.

A consumer HDD is typically rated for a maximum workload in the range of 50TB per year whereas an enterprise HDD is rated for a maximum workload around 500TB per year! When you take this into consideration, these rates are actually skewed heavily in favor of the reliability of the enterprise HDD!

Consumer vs enterprise HDD decisions truly come down to the amount you are willing to spend, how much you plan on using it and how much reliability matters to you. A consumer HDD is more than feasible for your own personal desktop or laptop. It may even be an option for creating and controlling your own personal server.

Is An Enterprise HDD Worth It?

Is paying more for an enterprise level HDD worth it? Image Source

If you are looking for a long-term, tried-and-true solution for a more robust server, then an enterprise HDD is the best solution hands down.

They are more reliable, have better warranty coverage if they do fail, and have been designed to carry heavy workloads while staying on indefinitely.

All in all, an enterprise HDD is worth it for bigger projects. If you are willing to spend more money for more peace of mind, then they may be worth it for smaller projects or even personal use, but probably are not necessary.

It also depends on how important the data being stored on it is to you. If you are running deep learning research on your system you most likely don't want to see a hard drive failure wipe out any data or results. Enterprise level hard drives are definitely recommended for any business or organization with a demanding workload. Personal laptops or home systems can stay focused on consumer level hard drives since much of your work can be backed up on cloud based networks/drives.

If you are looking for an enterprise HDD we have a generous selection over on our product page. If we had to give our top recommendation, though, it would be the Seagate Exos X18.

Seagate Exos X18 hard drive

The Seagate Exos X18 is a top-of-the-line enterprise HDD that does not wreck your budget. It has every feature imaginable for your personal projects (if you are looking to replace a consumer HDD) as well as the ability to perform optimally for larger, server-based projects too.

18TB with the capacity for a 550TB workload annually coupled with a 5-year warranty, this enterprise HDD is one of our favorite picks.

Get More Helpful Insights in Other Articles

In general, an enterprise HDD is more expensive and geared towards larger projects; but the higher price tag shouldn't disqualify it from being a great option for other projects. If you are in the market for an enterprise HDD, definitely take a look at the Seagate Exos X18.

These other Seagate Exos hard drives are also great alternatives: You can find other articles and comparisons on the SabrePC blog. Keep a lookout for more helpful articles that will be on the way soon. If you have any questions or want to suggest some other topics for us to focus on, please feel free to contact us.

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