back to article Hitachi to go it alone on discs after all

Hitachi has done an about turn and decided it won't be selling its struggling hard drive division. The division was formed when Hitachi bought IBM's disk business in 2002 and has made losses for almost every quarter since. In late 2007 Hitachi was trying to sell the business to private equity group Silver Lake. But, updating …


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  1. Rich Silver badge

    A shame

    It's a shame they're struggling with this; I hope they don't throw in the towel.

    I've used IBM/Hitachi disks for years in desktops and servers, and I've always found them to be very very reliable and fast. They also generally run cooler than the Seagate / Maxtor ones.

    If you're in the market then I recommend them!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Looks like

    IBM was pretty smart with this one!

    Buyer beware!

  3. Repo


    Far too many people remember the DeathStar fiasco of 2000/1. It didn't help when Hitachi kept the DeskStar name when it took over in 2002.

  4. leslie

    so long.......

    Heck I though I would never see another IBM deathstar.......

    not that I have use them since the 60gb days, they seemed to have a run of unreliable 60/80gb drives and that drove me away to other firms.

  5. gareth

    its still the deathstar

    i got a 500gb hitatchi and it runs really hot and it generally crap

    seagate barracudas all the way

  6. Mike Groombridge


    never had a problem with hitachi disks in servers and desktops

    but we adopted deathstar for the hitachi travelstar in laptops when on a nearly weekly basis we had a another hitachi laptop drive failure. at one point i had 5 stacked on my desk. after (attempted ) recovery of the data they not used a fresbees. to be fair the replacement disks (again hitachi ) are all still working. (about a year and a half )

  7. Andy Worth

    Just remember.....

    .....that Hitachi drives basically are the one and the same with the old Deathstar ones. They bought the business, which would include the dev teams, the manufacturing plants and everything else - so any problems with the IBM disks would transfer along with the name.

    I remember someone from IBM releasing a comment to the effect that the Deathstar disks (desktop ones) were only designed to be used for 8 hours a day in response to complaints about the mammoth failure rates. This was basically instead of admitting that they had a problem.

    Thankfully I never had one, but when I used to attend/help at LAN gaming parties, I remember a particular period where you could almost guarantee one or two Deathstar drives biting the dust in any single LAN weekend.

  8. Jason Harvey

    Brand X is better

    whatever. I've had drives from IBM, seagate (most recent), WD, Hitachi, Toshiba, Quantum, etc fail on me. Only brand that never failed was Conner. And they don't exist any more. But I do know people that had their conner drives fail. So as it goes with all things man made... it will eventually break. So in the case of hard drives... just make backups. It makes life so much easier in the event of a failure. then there's no problem.

  9. Suburban Inmate


    I'm sorry Mr Corporation, but one drive failure is unfortunate, two is carelessness. IBM/Hitachi have lost my business. End of.

    Incidentally so have all the major record labels, Microsoft, the UK Gov. (I don't pay tax, ha!), American Corporations where possible, and whoever else I can hurt by voting with my wallet.

    As for hard drives, I'm either increadibly smart, increadibly dumb, or increadibly brave. I've been running 4 x Seagate Barracuda 250gb RAID0 for over 2 years now on an NForce5 mobo, with a 160 GB backup drive for the important stuff. Some years ago I had TWO DeathStar drives go titsup on me DAYS out of the warranty. Bastards.

  10. Chronos

    @Mike Groombridge

    The correct terminology for Hitachi 2.5" drives is "Travelstains." Deathstars are desktop drives. Hope this helps.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    How can anyone compete with Samsung - low cost, good performance. They regularly get excellent reviews. The ex-IBM staff and facilities will not be as cost effective as those in Korea.

    Top marks to IBM - selling their Printer division (Lexmark), disk outfit (Hitachi) and Laptop (Lenovo). Any guesses on what'll be next ?

  12. Chris C

    They all suck at some point

    No matter which drive manufacturer you name, they have or will suck at some point in their existence. The only manufacturers that I have not been burned by are Conner and Hitachi, and that's because I haven't used enough of their drives. I've been burned personally or professionally by every other manufacturer I know of -- Fujitsu, Samsung, IBM, Seagate (IDE and SCSI), Quantum, Maxtor, and WD.

    Around 1997, Fujitsu and Samsung IDE drives had a 100% failure rate where I worked. All of those drives had bad sectors during format. WD drives were perfect.

    1997 to 2000, every Quantum IDE drive I saw was crap, though their SCSI drives were known to be top of the line.

    2000 to 2004, every time we built a server, the Seagate SCSI drives had a 33-50% DOA rate. The drives either wouldn't spin up, or would spin up but would not be detected.

    IBM had the "Deathstar" issue.

    WD started to have QA issues around 2000 (I'm sure I'm not the only one with a container full of LOUD 20GB drives).

    Maxtor started having QA problems from around 2002.

    So please, let's not pretend that any drive manufacturer is perfect, or even that one is better than another. They all have had, or will have, problems during their existence.

  13. Nexox Enigma


    I have one of the 60GB drives from 2001, a 60GXP. I had to send it in 3 times in about 18 momths because each one they sent me kept coming up with bad sectors. The last time I sent it in Hitachi had just bought the company, so they handled my warranty. The drive has been spinning pretty much 24/7 since early 2003 without any problems at all. Of course it is massively loud and slow, and it does run kinda hot, but thats what 7 years of hdd development is worth, I guess.

    I have another 250gb deskstar thats been powered on for 31k hours (3.5 years) and I've only owned it for about 4 years. It's still going strong.

    I've personally had IBM, WD, Maxtor, Seagate, and Fujitsu drives die on me over the years - so far Samsung is the only brand that hasn't, probably just because I haven't had any of them for more than a couple years.

    Harddrives die, that's why we have raid5. And active cooling. Keep your data redundant and your drives cool, and you should have reasonably good results.

  14. Stuart Elliott

    RE: Brand X is better

    Correct, I've had nothing but good Hitachi drives, my major bugbear was about 4 years ago, with Fujitsuck IDEs we built about 90 PCs in the space of about 2 weeks, and 12-18 months later 75% of the drives had failed.

    Seagate never did anything for me either, we had a spate of about 4-5 drives go in a couple of our servers in about 3 month period, vowed never to use them again, but I recently reneged on my thoughts, and the Cheetah 15K SAS drives we have now are sweet as a nut (at the moment).

  15. Toby Harman
    Paris Hilton

    MTBF means...

    And drives all have a stated MTBF. This mean that it is EXPECTED that drives should fail.

    Yes, there've been issues with manufacturer A or brand B and bad models/batches of drive have been made by everyone.

    But remember, all these things are expected to fail at some point!

    Paris... because she never fails....

  16. Tim Bates

    RE: Brand X is better

    I'm with that concept too... All HDD brands have bad runs.

    Of course it seems Samsung and Hitachi are the 2 most reliable in what I've seen.

    Laptop hard disk failure rates are exagerated for Hitachi/IBM too... Because nearly every laptop manufacturer use them nearly all the time.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Brand X is better - until next week

    Funny to hear that most folks are recommending Samsung disks - there's been a lot of traffic on some of the forums about how (a) they're LESS reliable than your current WD, Seagate, HDS kit, and (b) that the companies customer service is <0, which makes a bad problem worse. Just bought a 500GB SATA for a relatives PC, and it's okay - other than the odd burst of mouse-like squeaking it makes.

    I've had two disks fail on me, one IBM (pre-HDS) and one Fujitsu. Got to say that I quite like the HDS laptop drives - they're quiet and pretty quick. That said, the old 20GB TS is now running a bit hot - maybe it's just about to die?

    Best disks that I've had were two Maxtor 80GB's - gave 'em a good thrashing for ages, until finally I got repeated "S.M.A.R.T. predicted failure" events. So I replaced them with a pair of Seagate 250's and put the Maxtors into a Linux test server and a USB crate - where they're still going strong 2 years later.

    Wonder if we'll still be having this discussion when we've moved to memory storage or holographic cubes?

  18. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Bad Blocks?

    All disks have bad blocks, you just don't see them because they are mapped out. If you have a drive that cannot do that automatically, you may like to try re-mapping all the bad blocks using a suitable utility (normally provided by the drive manufacturer, but you could try mhdd). Of course, back your data up before trying to rescue the disk.

    Once the badblock map is written, new bad blocks are normally caused by head contact with the platters, so don't jog your computer.

    All of the IBM Ultrastar (and other IBM server disks back to Redwings) I have used have automatically re-mapped bad blocks. I'm not saying that I have never had to replace Ultrastar disks, but it has generally been because of electronics or motor or actuator failure. What I have found is that they mostly fail when they are stopped or started. Keeping them running 24x7, I have seen the run for literally years at a time (in the case of years without stopping, they were Spitfire 1GB SCSI disks - and the OS was AIX).

    The Deskstar 'click-of-death' problems were a problem with the voice-coil motor failing to perform the head-preload during power up. The click was the head being moved to the end-stops. Deskstars were not the only disks with this type of problem. If you google click-of-death, you will find that other manufacturers have had similer problems in the past.

    The underlying story is that you can have it cheap, big, or reliable. Currently cheap and big appear to be more important (to us!) than reliable. And the other thing is that the more expensive server members of a disk family are probably worth the money.

  19. Quirkafleeg

    WD GreenPower

    There's a recent discussion on the Linux kernel list about problems with Western Digital GreenPower drives: too-frequent head loading & unloading. Looks like nobody at WD thought to test with anything but Windows? is the start of the thread.

  20. tempemeaty

    That which does not spin fails less...hopefully...

    Solid State Hard drives can't come fast enough.

  21. David

    MTBF - means something very different with disks.

    In most fields, a MTBF of say 20,000 hours would mean the average life expectancy would be 20000/24=833 days, or 2 years and a couple of months.

    Now look at data on hard drives and a MTBF of 1,000,000 hours is not uncommon. That is 157 years! But anyone who has handled 10 or more hard drives over a long period will know their average lifetime is nowhere near 157 years.

    The 1,000,000 hours MTBF is only achieved if the drives are replaced (working or not) at the end of their service life, which is typically 5 years for a SCSI drive, and less for non-SCSI. So on average a SCSI drive will fail every 157 years, if you replace them in 5 years.

    Most people do not realise the above. Check Seagate's web site. Other manufacturers will have similar methods.

    For most users, a more meaningful rating would be the mean time before failure if you swithced them on and did not replace until they died. I tend to throw drives when either they stop working, or their capacity is so far below current capacities they are not worth having. I don't suppose I am too untypical. Used in this way, average lifetimes are certainly less than 10 years.

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