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July 10th, 2009, 10:23
Google published an article on this -- they use consumer hard drives for their server farms. Very roughly, the conclusions were:

* There is no way to tell, for any individual drive, if it's about to fail. All conclusions are statistical.
* Statistically, a drive that has survived one year of heavy-duty use is likely to survive to the end of its design lifetime -- the defective ones croak within 12 months.
* A drive that has shown even a single SMART anomaly is about 60 times more likely to fail within some fairly short time than a drive that has not shown any. Further SMART anomalies don't add much significant information to this.
* Contrary to conventional wisdom, operating temperature had no significant effect on drive lifetime, unless the stated design parameters were exceeded.

I'm sure you can find the article if you look for it.

Conclusion: don't bother. Instead, take automatic backups hourly/daily/weekly depending on how frequently you generate data that's worth backing up. This has saved my bacon once.
Prime Junta is offline

Prime Junta

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