“Used” enterprise drives for occasional backups?

I’ll keep this one simple and brief.

  1. Have you ever purchased used or “renewed” enterprise drives at a low price?

Yes? Continue to question #2.

No? Close this page and power off your computer or phone.

  1. Did these drives see 5+ years of service (40,000+ power-on hours) before you purchased them?

Yes? Continue to question #3.

No? Delete your forum account. (Or keep reading, whatever you prefer.)

  1. In the time that you owned them, how soon until they failed? (If any at all?) How long did you own them for? Did you use them as 24/7 NAS drives, or as “occasional backup” drives that only spin up weekly or monthly to receive backups?

I’m browsing eBay and Amazon, and I can’t help but notice “used” HGST helium-filled drives selling for very low prices. I know there has to be a catch.

Some of these drives supposedly have manufacture dates of 2020 and 2018. (This means that if they were in datacenters, they could have seen 4 or 6 straight years of nonstop usage.)

I realize there is the “bathtub curve” of failure rates, but those usually reveal an increase in the failure rate after 5 years. Doesn’t this mean that purchasing these used or renewed enterprise drives carries a risk of them suddenly failing within one year, or even sooner, just based on the constant wear they had as datacenter drives?

If they are to be used for weekly or monthly backups, does that lessen chance of failure, simply because they will not be spinning 24/7?

What has your experience been?

Is it worth it, since this will save as much as 70% in cost when compared to a brand new drive?

IMHO refurbished drives are less a lottery ticket than used drives.

From my understanding, whether they are labeled “used” or “renewed”, they have all seen 3-5 years of service as datacenter drives.

None of the ones I found are listed as “refurbished”. Even if I explicitly search for the keyword “refurbished”.


This is what makes it more confusing.

One reviewer claims only 9 power-on hours. Another claims zero.

Yet a few others claim they already have 35,000 hours, 45,000 hours, and another said 4 years of use.

So who to believe?

  1. Used enterprise SSDs only. Spinning drives, I buy new.

What’s the value of a backup if one worries about the reliability of the drives it’s on?

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I can follow the idea of getting a crapton of cheap storage and using e.g. RAIDZ3 to account for failure.

In my DC some servers have a lifetime of 10 rather than 5 years and I have drives that are just as old and happily spinning along.

No statistically relevant data, sorry. I did not keep notes when swapping a failed drive. We just monitor, swap what fails, and carry on.


I have 8 drives fitting your description. 12TB SAS HGST, around 40k hours. Currently in use as an offline replication target spun up once or twice a month. They were sold as used datacenter drives for sub €95/each including shipping. 2 year untested seller warranty . Only downside so far is that they are louder than my bought as new Toshibas MG09’s.

I’ll let you know when they start failing I guess.

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Won’t be an issue for a one-a-month cold storage backup.

@neofusion How many hours did you add to that? How long have you owned them since purchase?

They’ve been spinning for around 10-12 days since I bought them. I ran tests to see how they behaved before I replicated data to them. The system is currently off.

I’ve had them for ~2 months, so still too early to draw any definite conclusions.
I see it as an experiment.

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I don’t like buying drives on the wrong side of the bath tub.

So I don’t.

Bad enough chasing drive failures normally.

Please explain - I can’t find the meaning…

You need to understand that @Stux is an “interesting” person.

Not only is he obsessed with traffic lights, but apparently he shops for HDDs at the local bath and beauty store. :man_shrugging:

Click me for bathtub fun!

He’s referring to the “bathtub curve”, where the failure rate of HDDs is highest when brand new or very old, yet they’re relatively safe and stable in between. The graph looks like a bathtub. Therefor, the best drives to acquire are those that have enough lifetime hours to get them just past the “first side of the bathtub”, but not so old that they are on the “other side of the bathtub”.




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Seems that “manufacturer recertified” might be the best of all worlds?

  • The company (WD, Seagate, Toshiba) puts their name behind the product.

  • There are supposedly minimal runtime hours.

  • They receive personal attention before being recertified, such as burn-in and stress tests.

Is this too good to be true?

Seagate enterprise X16 Exos (16 TiB) for $140, “manufacturer recertified”.


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The best is always a new drive; manufacturer recertified is a lesser compromise than a used drive, but still a compromise.


Not for someone’s wallet. :laughing:

That’s a compromise :grimacing:

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I took the plunge!

If anyone is interested, I purchased a couple Seagate Exos X16 “Manufacturer Recertified” 16 TiB drives (enterprise, helium-filled). Price per drive was $139 USD, free two-day shipping + taxes.

They have the Seagate logo in the left corner, exactly as presented in the product page.

Here is the SMART info, for those who are curious.

Exos X16 SMART info
Model Family:     Seagate Exos X16
Device Model:     ST16000NM001G-2KK103
Serial Number:    <REDACTED>
LU WWN Device Id: 5 000c50 0e54d752b
Firmware Version: SN04
User Capacity:    16,000,900,661,248 bytes [16.0 TB]
Sector Sizes:     512 bytes logical, 4096 bytes physical
Rotation Rate:    7200 rpm
Form Factor:      3.5 inches
Device is:        In smartctl database 7.3/5528
Supported OS:     FreeNAS, TrueNAS Core, Windows Vista
Unsupported OS:   TrueNAS SCALE
ATA Version is:   ACS-4 (minor revision not indicated)
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.3, 6.0 Gb/s (current: 1.5 Gb/s)
Local Time is:    <REDACTED>
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82)	Offline data collection activity
					was completed without error.
					Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0)	The previous self-test routine completed
					without error or no self-test has ever 
					been run.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection: 		(  567) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities: 			 (0x7b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
					Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
					Suspend Offline collection upon new
					Offline surface scan supported.
					Self-test supported.
					Conveyance Self-test supported.
					Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003)	Saves SMART data before entering
					power-saving mode.
					Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01)	Error logging supported.
					General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time: 	 (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time: 	 (1425) minutes.
Conveyance self-test routine
recommended polling time: 	 (   2) minutes.
SCT capabilities: 	       (0x70bd)	SCT Status supported.
					SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
					SCT Feature Control supported.
					SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   076   075   044    Pre-fail  Always       -       37621818
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0003   096   096   000    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       3
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   010    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   069   061   045    Pre-fail  Always       -       8722102
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       21
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   097    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       3
 18 Head_Health             0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
187 Reported_Uncorrect      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
188 Command_Timeout         0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
190 Airflow_Temperature_Cel 0x0022   072   050   040    Old_age   Always       -       28 (Min/Max 28/28)
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       4
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   028   040   000    Old_age   Always       -       28 (Min/Max 0/28)
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Pressure_Limit          0x0023   100   100   001    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
240 Head_Flying_Hours       0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       21h+25m+34.947s
241 Total_LBAs_Written      0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       125829120
242 Total_LBAs_Read         0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       31377590334

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
No self-tests have been logged.  [To run self-tests, use: smartctl -t]

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

I did not touch the disks at all, except to power them on and run a SMART dump.

Does this seem legit at first glance?

Quick overview:

  • Total head flying hours: 21

  • Power cycle count: 3

  • Load cycle count: 4

  • Total errors: 0

I’ve only bought used He10’s for my NAS. The current set is now at 27-48kHours. I had a few early failure(s), all replaced with zero fuss as part of the 5-year warranty (goharddrive.com). The latest drive addition had 17kHours when I put it in.

I expect longer runtimes on used He10’s going forward. Hence I bought a complete replacement batch at $79 ea (w/5 year warranty).

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