18 stories

Longest Lines of Sight on Earth

1 Share

The table below shows the Longest Lines of Sight on Earth by distance. Azimuth of view is also indicated.
If DONE? is “yes” click to see the pictures, otherwise you might be the first to capture it!

Want to try yourself? Don’t forget to check our reccommended cameras!

Country From To km. Azimuth done?
Kyrgyzstan Dankova (5.971 m.) Hindu Tagh (6.436 m.) 538 170º
Colombia P. Cristóbal Colón (5.776 m.) Alto Mora (3.264 m.) 506 206º
China Kongur Tagh (7.649 m.) – (5.017 m.) 500 117º
Colombia P. Cristóbal Colón (5.776 m.) Cerro Paramillo (3.730 m.) 484 211º
Russia Elbrus (5.642 m.) – (2.727 m.) 483 231º
Russia Elbrus (5.642 m.) Kiliç Tepesi (3.078 m.) 474 230º
India Kanchenjunga (8.586 m.) Parasnath (1.360 m.) 462 206
Nepal Everest (8.848 m.) Parasnath (1.360 m.) 455 190
Pakistan Nanga Parbat (8.126 m.) Tor Sar (4.584 m.) 443 254º
Argentina Champaquí (2.884 m.) Cerro El Plata (5.968 m.) 440 253º
Spain Bastiments (2.881 m.) Barre des Écrins (4.102 m.) 433 49º
USA Mt. McKinley (6.194 m.) Atna Peaks (4.225 m.) 426 107º
Mongolia Kharkhiraa (4.037 m.) – (3.005 m.) 423 132º
Argentina Cerro El Plata (5.968 m.) Sañogasta (3.387 m.) 415 25º
France Canigou (2.786 m.) Barre des Écrins (4.102 m.) 412 48º
Argentina Champaquí (2.284 m.) El Mela (4.150 m.) 405 328º
Italy Mt. Cinto (2.706 m.) Dufourspitze (4.634 m.) 405 348º
Nepal Dhaulagiri (8.167 m.) Trishul I (7.120 m.) 402 297º
Argentina Cerro Retama (2.213 m.) Risco Plateado (4.999 m.) 401 239º
France Canigou (2.786 m.) Tete de l’Estrop (2.961 m.) 381 58º yes
Ecuador Chimborazo (6.268 m.) – (938 m.) 375 215º
Tanzania Kilimanjaro (5.895 m.) Nyambene (2.511 m.) 373 10º
Italy Mt. Alt. de Nago (2.079 m.) Barre des Écrins (4.102 m.) 368 256º
Italy Mt. Cinto (2.706 m.) Mt. Velino (2.487 m.) 366 93º
USA Mt. Sanford (4.949 m.) Mt. McKinley (6.194 m.) 364 288º
Slovenia Triglav (2.864 m.) Mt. Vecchio (1.983 m.) 358 229º
Argentina Cerro Yerba Buena (1.650 m.) Nevado de Famatina (6.250 m.) 355 315º
Cyprus Mt. Olympus (1.952 m.) – (2.960 m.) 354 305º
New Zealand K2 (8.611 m.) ? (5.541 m.) 347 263º
New Zealand Emily Peaks (2.038 m.) Mt. Taranaki (2.518 m.) 345 24º
Italy Mt. Cimone (2.165 m.) Triglav (2.864 m.) 345 44º
France Mt. Ventoux (2.509 m.) P. de Serrère (2.912 m.) 343 241º
Romania Vârful Peleaga (2.509 m.) Botev Peak (2.376 m.) 341 151º
Argentina Aconcagua (6.962 m.) Cerro Vizcacha (4.100 m.) 340 18º
Italy Mt. Laghetto (1.969 m.) Monviso (3.841 m.) 337 252º
Italy Mt. Cinto (2.706 m.) Mt. Terminillo (2.217 m.) 333 87º
France Mont Blanc (4.810 m.) Plomb du Cantal (1.855 m.) 331 256º
Bolivia Nevado Sajama (6.542 m.) – (5.200 m.) 329 135º
Italy M. St. Ángelo (1.289 m.) Etna (3.350 m.) 325 172º
Spain Bastiments (2.881 m.) Moleta de S’Esclop (926 m.) 312 177º
Spain Cantavieja (1.700 m.) Bastiments (2.881 m.) 309 45º
Spain Castaño (960 m.) Veleta (3.398 m.) 308 107º
Spain Puig Roig (1.002 m.) Tossal de la Muga (2.859 m.) 307 342º yes
India Kanchenjunga (8.586 m.) Qungmoganze (7.048 m.) 305 36
Spain Almanzor (2.592 m.) Espiguete (2.450 m.) 302
Spain P. de Padre Caro (653 m.) Mulhacen (3.478 m.) 292 104º
Spain Turó de l’Home (1.708 m.) Penyagolosa (1.813 m.) 291 234º
Spain Penyagolosa (1.812 m.) Pic Long (3.192 m.) 289 yes
Spain Cantavieja (1.700 m.) Pica d’Estats (3.143 m.) 285 32º
Spain Penyagolosa (1.812 m.) Aneto (3.404 m.) 281 17º
Spain Peñarroya (2.028 m.) Montardo (2.833 m.) 280 27º
Spain Penyagolosa (1.812 m.) Monte Perdido (3.355 m.) 275 yes
Spain Penyagolosa (1.812 m.) Puig Major (1.436 m.) 272 99º yes
France Marseille (420 m.) Canigou (2.786 m.) 264 251º
Spain Teleno (2.183 m.) San Millán (2.131 m.) 262 92º
Spain Puig de Galatzó (1.026 m.) Aitana (1.558 m.) 261 246º yes
Nepal Manaslu (8.156 m.) Everest (8.848 m.) 260 105º
Spain Cantavieja (1.700 m.) Posets (3.371 m.) 251 16º yes
Italy Cap Corse (392 m.) Le Grand Coyer (2.693 m.) 249 301º
Spain Bola del Mundo (2.257 m.) Espiguete (2.450 m.) 249 345º
Spain La Friolera (1.130 m.) Mulhacen (3.479 m.) 245 173º
Spain Monte Caro (1.441 m.) Puig Major (1.436 m.) 236 117º
Spain Monte Caro (1.441 m.) Monte Perdido (3.355 m.) 210 353º
Spain Monte Caro (1.441 m.) Aneto (3.404 m.) 205  yes
Spain Juego de Bolos I (1.088 m.) Veleta (3.398 m.) 203 187º
Spain Carrascoy (2.257 m.) Mulhacen (3.478 m.) 201 245º
Italy Bastia (62 m.) Mt. Tambura (1.891 m.) 172 22º yes

Read the whole story
423 days ago
Share this story

Why I left Japan after 10 years

2 Comments and 3 Shares

(Part of a series of posts marking 1 year since I left Japan)

It’s a year to the day since I left Japan after exactly 10 years and 1 day of living there.
It’s no secret that my departure was long overdue and that by the end I loathed so much about Japan and Japanese society that it was damaging my physical and emotional health continuing to live there.
I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t write about leaving at any length until a year later to give the vitriol time to subside and hopefully be replaced by a more balanced and thoughtful critique…

This is long and not as coherent as it should be, but I hope it begins to explain something about why I left, for myself if not for anyone else.

When I first moved to Japan, I knew I understood nothing (or very little) of it as a culture but as time progressed and I learned the language and culture I slowly began to feel like I understood Japan and it’s people. Gradually though I slipped down the other side of the bell curve and increasingly felt like I understood less and less as so much of it made no sense to me.

I can speak a reasonable level of Japanese, I paid my taxes and never committed a crime on Japanese soil. I was polite and courteous unless given a reason not to be and did my best to respect the culture or at least the parts I thought were worthy of respect.

And here comes the first of my problems, almost universally in Japan if one criticizes or wishes to discuss some element of Japanese culture as a foreigner you are greeted with cries of “Why do you hate Japan?” and “If you don’t like it leave”.
There is precious little room for any discussion and more often than not an impasse is reached with the statement “This is Japan. This is how WE do things”.

Much has been written and discussed about the Japanese word for foreigner “外国人”, Gaikokujin – – outside, 国 – country, 人 – person, and the the more commonly used “外人” , Gaijin – 外 – outside, 人 – person, which seems to me at least closer to “outsider”.
Most if not all Japanese people will tell you that the nuance (unlike ALL other nuances in Japanese) is not important and that “Gaijin” conveys none of the supposed slight I always felt from it.
Even if taken that way, to be referred to merely as “foreigner” and not say English, Spanish or Nigerian smacks of an “us & them” attitude frowned upon pretty much everywhere else in the developed world.
But in a country that values belonging to the group above all else, to be constantly referred to as “outsider” and told it means “foreigner” seems at best disingenuous.

Those German guys

The workplace presents another insidious annoyance born of Japan’s age based (as opposed to merit based) hierarchy and institutional xenophobia.
Everyone older and more senior must always be referred to by their surname and the honorific “San”, Suzuki San translating as Mr. (or Ms) Suzuki. This is a hard rule, no younger staff member would dare to call Mr (or Ms.) Suzuki by his/her first name when anyone else was present and if he/she did, the consequences would not be pretty.
At every place I ever worked, however, I was always referred to by my first name “Adrian” or at best “Adrian San” even by much younger staff members.
No big deal you might say, but again, in a country where nuance of language is so terribly important, it displays a lack of respect and more of that “not one of us” attitude that grates.

Japanese people often told me that Kabukicho (Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, famous mostly for its open sex trade and less open but equally famous drug dealers is a part of Shinjuku) was the most dangerous place in Japan and often asked if I wasn’t scared of the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) who openly parade the area.
My reply was always a simple one, “The Yakuza and Kabukicho aren’t scary, if you don’t mess with them they don’t mess with you. The Police? Now that’s a different story. Hands down scariest thing in Japan is the Police & the Justice system”.

Shall we dance?

Uniformed and plain clothes policemen (93.2% men hence the gender biased noun) are everywhere, you see far more of them on a daily basis than you ever would here in the UK. (even in London I can count the number I’ve seen in a week on my fingers, the same fingers wouldn’t last me till lunchtime on a single day in Tokyo). They often cover their faces with the white paper masks Japanese people are so fond of and cover up their badge numbers if you try to write them down.

I was stopped many times just walking down a street minding my own business, often surrounded by 3 or more officers who stood within a few feet of me and did their best to be as intimidating as possible. This was usually for a “gaijin card check” (sic) and bag search.

I fought the law…

Bag searches are common practice and are in fact illegal, unless consent is given, without a warrant and suspicion of committing a specific offense. But having refused on those grounds on a number of occasions only to be met with “Don’t quote the law at us!! What have you got to hide?” and aggressive anger I soon learned that in Tokyo like everywhere in the world, it is best not to question the Police even when they are breaking the law themselves.

Japanese Police can hold you for up to 30 days without charge and with no contact to the outside world. Amnesty International has stated that despite denials they believe beatings and sleep deprivation are common techniques used on people in police custody.
There are numerous cases of people being seriously injured or even dying whilst in Police custody.
No recording of Police or prosecutor questioning is required by law (except in some very limited cases).
Confessions can not later be retracted in court even if the accused claims they were forced.

Scary enough if you are Japanese but, all these powers in a police force that was ordered by 3 time former Tokyo Governor Mr. Ishihara to “regard all foreigners as suspicious”?

Japan has a 99% conviction rate.

In 2009 Japan introduced its “Lay judge” system, a watered down version of a western jury, to try cases of serious crimes. However, the presiding judge can still override the lay judges verdict.
Studies have shown that the lay judges often give out harsher sentences than the prosecution is asking for.

Japan retains the death penalty in a particularly cruel way, giving prisoners typically only a few hours notice sentence will be carried out, with some given no notice at all. Their families, lawyers and the public only notified after the execution has taken place.

There are no “Hate speech” laws and only in May 2016 the first national law to condemn the advocacy of hatred (“hate speech”) towards residents of overseas origin and their descendants was passed. (pay careful attention to that wording so as not to misunderstand that the law criminalizes hate speech itself because it doesn’t)
It is not that uncommon, even in Tokyo, to see shops, bars or other establishments with “No foreigners” signs on their doors, usually justified on the grounds that the proprietors only speak Japanese and foreigners would, therefore, be “troublesome” to accommodate.

Japan is 72nd (Out of 180 countries) in the world for Press freedom but with its super fast internet and therefore access to the whole worlds press that shouldn’t matter.

It does.

The level of English in Japan is shockingly low, despite everyone studying it for 6 years at school. I honestly think it is kept deliberately low, people have access to the web but they can’t understand the English 90% of it is written in so there is no need for Chinese style censorship.

Japan is also 111th (down from 101st last year) in the world gender equality rankings.
This sexism is palpable everywhere, perhaps most troublingly in the artificially high pitched voices and subservience of the average Japanese woman.
This attitude to women is perhaps nowhere more disgustingly portrayed than in the violently sexual manga that can be bought in every convenience store and men read openly in public.
Graphic images of high school aged girls being abducted, raped or otherwise abused and dehumanized interspersed with photographs of real pubescent girls in their underwear in suggestive poses that seemingly no one in Japan seems to find worrying.
Possession of actual child pornography was not illegal until 2014 and that law does not cover anime or manga. It also gives the offender up to a year to dispose of it before facing prosecution.

No country I’ve ever been to hides itself behind a screen of cultural elitism quite like Japan, which considering their architecture, traditional clothes, chopsticks, sushi and writing system are all Chinese is a bit rich.
They are masters of appropriation, I’ve been told straight faced on more than one occasion that pizza is Japanese.
It feels like The Borg made real.

There is at once the 建て前 (tatemae – official stance, public position) of “We feel inferior to westerners, whom we were the victims of in WWII” and the 本音 (hon-ne – true opinion, real intention) of “We are far superior to those filthy unsophisticated animals, we won’t even call ourselves Asians because we are better than those ethnic savages that we killed 20 million of in the same WWII”

The Japanese are true masters of this passive aggressive politeness, the only positive of which is that it’s way better than aggressive-aggressive non-politeness.

The famous Japanese saying “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down” nicely illustrates Japan’s shame based culture in which the stick is the fear of failure or losing face as opposed to the carrot of the (false) promise of success used in the West.

I’ll happily admit that as a white, middle-class male I’m not terribly used to having discrimination aimed at me and that these soft Hello Kitty forms of xenophobia pale into insignificance next to the much less cuddly versions people experience in the UK. But levels of unpleasantness is not a competition, discrimination is discrimination whatever form it takes.

I came slowly to understand over my time there that a great deal of this xenophobia is born of ignorance rather than malice.

In one of the most (on the surface at least) developed, literate countries in the world this ignorance is, at best, a poor excuse for attitudes that would be met with derision in more enlightened 21st-century countries.

That’s not to say that some nasty malice isn’t present because it most definitely is. I lost count of the times when, say, for example, politely pointing out to someone that there was a queue and they shouldn’t push in that the immediate response was a very angry “BAKA GAIJIN” (stupid foreigner).
I have been and know personally several other people who have been assaulted whilst the perpetrator used similarly racist language.
What we in the UK would call a hate crime.

It was somewhere I lived for 10 years, it was never my home, could never have been my home. Regardless of how good my Japanese language skills became or how much I had tried to become like them, I would never have been fully accepted, never been allowed in the club.

It led to a mild form of Stockholm syndrome just to survive everyday life and some of its effects still linger.

Now back in my country of birth, I’m often asked “How was living in Tokyo, it must have been amazing!” only to be greeted with confused and disappointed faces when I reply how much I hated it. “Why?” they ask and it is difficult to answer because it is not one big thing that I can point to, but rather a “death by a thousand cuts” that I have tried (as much for my own mental health as for anyone to read) to enumerate here. There are things I have left out, forgotten, blanked from my memory or would take too much explanation and long recounting of anecdotes to bother with.

Don’t, for example even get me started on cycling in Tokyo.

Japan offered me many opportunities and I dearly miss my friends there but the country and I had a deeply toxic relationship and I made a pact with myself the day I left that I would never set foot there again in this life.

A year on and I still hold fast to that promise.

You may also enjoy:-


Read the whole story
431 days ago
Share this story
2 public comments
430 days ago
This gave me completely different outlook on Japan
431 days ago
they buried the lede: "I’ll happily admit that as a white, middle-class male I’m not terribly used to having discrimination aimed at me and that these soft Hello Kitty forms of xenophobia pale into insignificance next to the much less cuddly versions people experience in the UK."

Building a Battery-Free Cellphone

1 Comment and 4 Shares
A prototype from the University of Washington leverages a backscattered radiofrequency wave to transmit analog signals
Photo: University of Washington

Batteries can be a real drag. They’re expensive and must be constantly recharged. Though some battery-free sensors can passively transmit small amounts of data, most consumer electronics today still rely on bulky batteries to store power.

A team from the University of Washington has built a battery-free cellphone that can harness power from radiofrequency (RF) waves sent to it from a nearby base station. The phone not only harnesses the power it needs to operate from those waves, but can also place a voice call by modifying and reflecting the same waves back to the base station, through a technique known as backscattering.

The UW team has shown their device (built from off-the-shelf components) can use harvested power to place a call from a distance of 9.4 meters away from a customized base station. They also built a version outfitted with photodiodes that collect ambient light to passively power the device, allowing them to place a call from a distance of 15.2 meters.

To place or receive a call, the entire device consumes just 2 to 3 microwatts of power. The group’s design supports only voice calls—there’s no data plan—but its creators say it would still prove quite useful in certain circumstances.

“Imagine a scenario where your phone died but you could at least have enough power to make a 9-1-1 call,” says Vamsi Talla, who built the phone while a post-doc in electrical engineering at the University of Washington. “That could be a lifesaver.”

Many of today’s passive sensors transmit data only occasionally–perhaps every minute or so—due to power constraints. Or, in the case of RFID tags, some passive sensors must be very close to a reader to harness enough power to transmit a message.

In  a conference paper  published earlier this month, Talla, who now serves as chief technology officer of Jeeva Wireless, and his colleagues call their design “a major leap” toward the creation of battery-free devices. Ultimately, they want to build devices that can constantly transmit or receive data and voice calls over long distances without batteries.

“Now we're showing the world that a battery-free device doesn't have to be a sensor, but it can be a whole system where in real-time, you can actually do something useful,” Talla says.

Raj Rajkumar, a professor in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says the research is “another interesting step in the evolution of wireless power transmission.” He also noted that follow-up studies would need to evaluate the safety of transmitting power to mobile devices in this way.

For now, the UW device only works with customized base stations within close range of the user. Being near a base station may not always be possible for users who need to place an urgent call. But Talla says this could change with the anticipated rollout of 5G networks, in which providers are expected to dramatically increase the density of base stations—at least in cities.

He also expects to achieve greater distances at other frequencies. In their initial tests, the base station broadcast a single tone on the 915 megahertz frequency band to the device.

To place a call, the battery-free phone uses an electret microphone to generate an analog signal. An electret microphone contains a diaphragm with a fixed electrostatic charge. Within the microphone, the diaphragm forms a capacitor with a metal plate. When a person speaks, mechanical vibrations from their voice cause the diaphragm to change shape relative to the metal plate. This affects the capacitance of the device and generates a small voltage.

The microphone connects to an antenna through a RF switch. The voltage from the microphone travels to the antenna, where it directly alters the amplitude of the single tone embedded in the RF wave. The altered signal is then reflected back to the base station using backscattering techniques. These methods reduce the phone’s power consumption by three or four orders of magnitude compared to a traditional radio.   

The phone’s design was inspired in part by the Great Seal Bug, a passive surveillance device planted in the desk of the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow by Russian authorities in the late 1940s. The UW phone is also half-duplex, which means a user can either listen or talk, but can’t do both at the same time. A microcontroller manages the RF switch, connecting the microphone to the antenna when a user presses a button to talk, and connecting the earphones when the user wants to listen.

To minimize power consumption, the team moved much of the processing that would typically be performed on a phone to their customized base station. Smartphones today contain components that convert analog sound to digital signals before transmission, and other components that convert the digital signals received from a base station to analog sound.

In the UW system, the base station performs these conversions and connects to the nationwide cellular network, forwarding calls or sending signals it receives back to the user. Talla says the group will continue to refine the technology through a licensing agreement with Jeeva Wireless.

Read the whole story
443 days ago
443 days ago
New York, NY
443 days ago
You share the greatest stuff
443 days ago
The IEEE's Spectrum is awesome. My dad's been a member of IEEE forever, and we would get that magazine in the mail every month when I was a kid. I later learned that they shared editorial staff with Discover, another publication that was truly wonderful in having great science journalism back then. But seriously, I'm just standing on the shoulders of giants here. Thanks @samuel for making the feed notifications work on mobile. :)
Share this story
1 public comment
443 days ago
Imagine a scenario where your phone died but you could at least have enough power to make a 9-1-1 call
New York City

‘I built C++ primarily for myself and my colleagues’

1 Share
‘I built C++ primarily for myself and my colleagues’

When we think about programming, it’s C++ that first comes to mind. That’s because of the immense popularity and broad applicability of the general-purpose ...

The post ‘I built C++ primarily for myself and my colleagues’ appeared first on Open Source For You.

Read the whole story
470 days ago
Share this story

Magnetic storage reaches the atomic level


Enlarge / It's quite a bit smaller than these relics. (credit: Washington Secretary of State)

Data storage needs to keep up with our desire to snap pictures, download clips from the Internet, and create new digital documents. Since the early stages of computer technology, magnetic storage has been the method of choice to handle digital data. It has stayed that way because of our ability to continually shrink the area used to hold a single magnetic bit.

But we're closing in on the limits of this approach, as clusters of three to 12 atoms have been used as a functional system. Last week, however, scientists demonstrated the ability to magnetically store data in a single atom.

The basics of magnetic storage

Magnetic storage requires the magnetization of a ferromagnetic material to record data. These materials rely on the atom’s electrons, which themselves behave like tiny magnets. The electrons carry a magnetic dipole moment that is determined by the direction the electron spins and the shape of the path the electron travels (quantum mechanical spin and orbital angular momentum, to be technical). There are only two directions the electron can spin, either “up” or “down.”

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read the whole story
560 days ago
560 days ago
Bend, Oregon
Share this story

Backblaze Hard Drive Stats for 2016


Backblaze drive stats
Backblaze has recorded and saved daily hard drive statistics from the drives in our data centers since April 2013. At the end of 2016 we had 73,653 spinning hard drives. Of that number, there were 1,553 boot drives and 72,100 data drives. This post looks at the hard drive statistics of the data drives we monitor. We’ll first look at the stats for Q4 2016, then present the data for all of 2016, and finish with the lifetime statistics for all of the drives Backblaze has used in our cloud storage data centers since we started keeping track. Along the way we’ll share observations and insights on the data presented. As always you can download our Hard Drive Test Data to examine and use.

Hard Drive Reliability Statistics for Q4 2016

At the end of Q4 2016 Backblaze was monitoring 72,100 data drives. For our evaluation we remove from consideration those drives which were used for testing purposes and those drive models for which we did not have at least 45 drives. This leaves us with 71,939 production hard drives. The table below is for the period of Q4 2016.

Hard Drive Annualized Failure Rates for Q4 2016

  1. The failure rate listed is for just Q4 2016. If a drive model has a failure rate of 0%, it means there were no drive failures of that model during that quarter.
  2. 90 drives (2 storage pods) were used for testing purposes during the period. They contained Seagate 1.5TB and 1.0 TB WDC drives. These are not included in the results above.
  3. The most common reason we have less than 45 drives of one model is that we needed to replace a failed drive, but that drive model is no longer available. We use 45 drives as the minimum number to report quarterly and yearly statistics.

8 TB Hard Drive Performance

In Q4 2016 we introduced a third 8 TB drive model, the Seagate ST8000NM0055. This is an enterprise class drive. One 60-drive Storage Pod was deployed mid-Q4 and the initial results look promising as there have been no failures to date. Given our past disdain for overpaying for enterprise drives, it will be interesting to see how these drives perform.

We added 3,540 Seagate 8 TB drives, model ST8000DM002, giving us 8,660 of these drives. That’s 69 petabytes of raw storage, before formatting and encoding, or about 22% of our current data storage capacity. The failure rate for the quarter of these 8 TB drives was a very respectable 1.65%. That’s lower than the Q4 failure rate of 1.94% for all of the hard drives in the table above.

During the next couple of calendar quarters we’ll monitor how the new enterprise 8 TB drives compare to the consumer 8 TB drives. We’re interested to know which models deliver the best value and we bet you are too. We’ll let you know what we find.

2016 Hard Drive Performance Statistics

Looking back over 2016, we added 15,646 hard drives, and migrated 110 Storage Pods (4,950 drives) from 1-, 1.5-, and 2 TB drives to 4-, 6- and 8 TB drives. Below are the hard drive failure stats for 2016. As with the quarterly results, we have removed any non-production drives and any models that had less than 45 drives.

2016 Hard Drive Annualized Failure Rates
No Time For Failure

In 2016, three drives models ended the year with zero failures, albeit with a small number of drives. Both the 4 TB Toshiba and the 8 TB HGST models went the entire year without a drive failure. The 8 TB Seagate (ST8000NM0055) drives, which were deployed in November 2016, also recorded no failures.

The total number of failed drives was 1,225 for the year. That’s 3.36 drive failures per day or about 5 drives per workday, a very manageable workload. Of course, that’s easy for me to say, since I am not the one swapping out drives.

The overall hard drive failure rate for 2016 was 1.95%. That’s down from 2.47% in 2015 and well below the 6.39% failure rate for 2014.

Big Drives Rule

We increased storage density by moving to higher-capacity drives. That helped us end 2016 with 3 TB drives being the smallest density drives in our data centers. During 2017, we will begin migrating from the 3.0 TB drives to larger-sized drives. Here’s the distribution of our hard drives in our data centers by size for 2016.
2016 Distribution of Hard Drives by Size
Digging in a little further, below are the failure rates by drive size and vendor for 2016.

Hard Drive Failure Rates by Drive SizeHard Drive Failure Rates by Manufacturer

Computing the Failure Rate

Failure Rate, in the context we use it, is more accurately described as the Annualized Failure Rate. It is computed based on Drive Days and Drive Failures, not on the Drive Count. This may seem odd given we are looking at a one year period, 2016 in this case, so let’s take a look.

We start by dividing the Drive Failures by the Drive Count. For example if we use the statistics for 4 TB files, we get a “failure rate” of 1.92%, but the annualized failure rate shown on the chart for 4 TB drives is 2.06%. The trouble with just dividing Drive Failures by Drive Count is that the Drive Count constantly changes over the course of the year. By using Drive Count from a given day, you assume that each drive contributed the same amount of time over the year, but that’s not the case. Drives enter and leave the system all the time. By counting the number of days each drive is active as Drive Days, we can account for all the ins and outs over a given period of time.

Hard Drive Benchmark Statistics

As we noted earlier, we’ve been collecting and storing drive stats data since April 2013. In that time we have used 55 different hard drive models in our data center for data storage. We’ve omitted models from the table below that we didn’t have enough of to populate an entire storage pod (45 or fewer). That excludes 25 of those 55 models.

Annualized Hard Drive Failure Rates

Fun with Numbers

Since April 2013, there have been 5,380 hard drives failures. That works out to about 5 per day or about 7 per workday (200 workdays per year). As a point of reference, Backblaze only had 4,500 total hard drives in June 2010 when we racked our 100th Storage Pod to support our cloud backup service.

The 58,375,646 Drive Days translates to a little over 1.4 Billion Drive Hours. Going the other way we are measuring a mere 159,933 years of spinning hard drives.

You’ll also notice that we have used a total of 85,467 hard drives. But at the end of 2016 we had 71,939 hard drives. Are we missing 13,528 hard drives? Not really. While some drives failed, the remaining drives were removed from service due primarily to migrations from smaller to larger drives. The stats from the “migrated” drives, like Drive Hours, still count in establishing a failure rate, but they did not fail, they just stopped reporting data.

Failure Rates Over Time

The chart below shows the annualized failure rates of hard drives by drive size over time. The data points are the rates as of the end of each year shown. The “stars” mark the average annualized failure rate for all of the hard drives for each year.

Annualized Hard Drive Failures by Drive Size


  1. The “8.0TB” failure rate of 4.9% for 2015 is comprised of 45 drives of which there were 2 failures during that year. In 2016 the number of 8 TB drives rose to 8,765 with 48 failures and an annualized failure rate of 1.6%.
  2. The “1.0TB” drives were 5+ years old on average when they were retired.
  3. There are only 45 of the “5.0TB” drives in operation.

Can’t Get Enough Hard Drive Stats?

We’ll be presenting the webinar “Backblaze Hard Drive Stats for 2016” on Thursday February 2, 2017 at 10:00 Pacific time. The webinar will be recorded so you can watch it over and over again. The webinar will dig deeper into the quarterly, yearly, and lifetime hard drive stats and include the annual and lifetime stats by drive size and manufacturer. You will need to subscribe to the Backblaze BrightTALK channel to view the webinar. Sign up for the webinar today.

As a reminder, the complete data set used to create the information used in this review is available on our Hard Drive Test Data page. You can download and use this data for free for your own purpose, all we ask is three things 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you accept that you are solely responsible for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to anyone, it is free. If you just want the summarized data used to create the tables and charts in this blog post you can download the ZIP file containing the MS Excel spreadsheet.

Good luck and let us know if you find anything interesting.

Read the whole story
601 days ago
601 days ago
Bend, Oregon
Share this story
Next Page of Stories