Is Seagate better than WD?

When it comes to hard disk drives (HDDs), Seagate and Western Digital (WD) are two of the biggest names in the storage industry. Both companies produce high-quality HDDs and are popular choices for PC builders, network attached storage (NAS) users, and data center operators. But which brand makes the better HDD – Seagate or WD?

In this in-depth comparison article, we’ll examine the key differences between Seagate and WD HDDs across factors like reliability, performance, capacity, price, and more. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to decide which HDD brand is right for your needs.

Seagate vs WD: Company Overviews

First, let’s take a quick look at the history and reputation of each company.


– Founded in 1979, Seagate is one of the oldest and most established HDD manufacturers.

– Headquartered in Cupertino, California.

– Makes HDDs for PCs, laptops, NAS devices, data centers, and surveillance systems. Also manufactures solid state drives (SSDs).

– Known for acquiring other HDD brands like Maxtor, Samsung’s HDD business, and LSI’s SSD business.

– Reputation for making reliable drives aimed at the entry-level and mainstream consumer market. Not as strong a presence in high performance enterprise/data center market.

Western Digital

– Founded in 1970, WD is Seagate’s biggest competitor in the HDD market.

– Headquartered in San Jose, California.

– Makes HDDs and SSDs for the same markets as Seagate.

– Known for acquiring other storage brands like HGST, Sandisk, G-Technology.

– Reputation for high performance and reliable drives across consumer, prosumer, and enterprise segments. Strong player in the enterprise/data center market.

Seagate vs WD: Reliability

Reliability is a critical factor when choosing an HDD, as disk failures can lead to irrecoverable data loss. Based on large HDD reliability studies, both Seagate and WD HDDs have fairly similar reliability rates in the consumer space. Some key observations:

– Backblaze’s 2021 hard drive stats on over 176,000 consumer HDDs show an annual failure rate of 1.2% for Seagate drives and 1.7% for WD drives. Very similar.

– Another Backblaze report in 2020 analyzed 49,000 enterprise/data center drives. Seagate had a failure rate of 2.8% while WD had 1.6%. WD was more reliable for enterprise drives.

– According to, Seagate hard drives have an average life span of 5 years, while WD drives average 4.1 years before failure. Seagate lifespan is slightly longer.

– Both vendors offer 3-5 year warranties on most drives, indicating they expect years of reliable service.

– Ultimately both vendors make generally reliable drives. WD seems to have a small edge for enterprise uses while Seagate leads in consumer drives. But the differences are minor.

Seagate vs WD: Performance

In terms of performance, there are some noticeable differences between Seagate and Western Digital HDDs:

– WD offers a broader range of high performance HDDs optimized for speed. Examples are the WD Black series for enthusiasts and WD Velociraptor drives for enterprise NAS and RAID.

– Seagate focuses more on value than cutting edge speed. But they do offer some faster drives like the Barracuda Pro and Enterprise Capacity lines.

– Benchmarks consistently show WD’s fastest models outperforming the fastest from Seagate. For example, the WD Black2 SSD + HDD dual drive is over 25% faster than Seagate’s hybrid SSHD drives.

– However, both vendors offer excellent sustained transfer speeds far surpassing 100 MB/s in their higher end 7200rpm models. Performance is adequate for most users.

– For pure speed in consumer drives, WD has the edge. But Seagate still provides respectable performance for typical usage.

Seagate vs WD: Capacity

HDD capacity needs are constantly growing. Both Seagate and WD offer massive drive capacities to meet the need. Some capacity comparisons:

– For consumer models, Seagate and WD top out at around 6-8TB per drive currently. Seagate offers an 8TB Barracuda Pro, while WD’s largest Black drive is 6TB.

– In the enterprise segment, the maximum capacities widely differ. Seagate offers up to 16TB per drive in their Exos X series. WD reaches much higher with the Ultrastar DC HC620 model at 26TB.

– Seagate does make a demonstrator drive at 102TB, but it’s not a production model. WD has working prototypes at 50TB per drive.

– WD currently leads Seagate substantially in maximum drive capacities for enterprise and data center usage. But both vendors are continuing to push the capacity envelope with new techniques like shingled magnetic recording and hamr.

– For consumer use cases, the capacities offered are very similar. But if you need a drive over 8TB, WD is the way to go.

Drive Type Seagate Max Capacity WD Max Capacity
Consumer HDD 8TB 6TB
Enterprise HDD 16TB 26TB

Seagate vs WD: Price

Pricing is another area where Seagate and WD differ. Some high level observations:

– At the budget/entry-level segment, Seagate drives are less expensive. For example, a 1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD costs around $40 while a comparable WD Blue costs $48.

– For mid-range consumer drives in the 2-4TB range, pricing is very similar between the brands. Both offer drives around $50-70.

– However, at the higher capacity prosumer/enthusiast segment, WD HDDs are more affordable. A 6TB WD Black costs around $180, while an equivalent high performance Seagate model can be over $230.

– For enterprise and data center models, WD again has an advantage at the very high capacity segment. A 16TB Seagate Exos drive is around $415, while WD prices their competing Ultrastar 16TB at $375.

– In summary, Seagate has a pricing edge for budget drives under 2TB. But for higher capacity and performance models, WD is usually cheaper.

Seagate vs WD: Warranty

The warranty length can give an idea of how much the manufacturer trusts its reliability. Here’s a look at Seagate vs WD warranties:

– For internal consumer HDDs, Seagate generally offers a 2 year warranty across their line. WD provides 3 years on their Blue and Black models, and 5 years on the higher end Black drives.

– On external consumer portable HDDs, both Seagate and WD offer 2 years.

– For enterprise drives, WD again leads. WD Ultrastar data center drives come with a 5 year warranty, compared to Seagate’s 3 years on their Exos model.

– Overall, WD offers the longer warranties especially at the higher enterprise end, though Seagate warranties are still competitive. The longer time frames indicate WD has greater confidence in its reliability.

Seagate vs WD: Innovation

Both Seagate and WD are industry leaders in storage technology innovation:

– WD introduced several innovations like NoTouch ramp load technology for better shock resistance in portable drives. They also commercialized dual actuator tech to speed up HDDs.

– Seagate has pioneered several innovations of their own like shingled magnetic recording for higher capacities and Mach.2 dual actuator technology for improved performance.

– Both companies are continually innovating and patenting new technologies for mechanical HDDs. For example, they both have patents and working prototypes using microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) tech to push drive capacities beyond 50TB.

– Overall, there is no clear leader – both Seagate and WD have engineering teams leading the way on HDD tech innovations.

Seagate vs WD: Product Lines

Here is a quick look at some of Seagate and WD’s major product lines for consumer and enterprise HDDs:

Seagate consumer product lines:

– Barracuda – Versatile drives for everyday computing and gaming
– Ironwolf – Optimized for NAS usage
– Skyhawk – Built for surveillance systems
– Firecuda – SSD + HDD hybrid drives for speed and capacity

WD consumer product lines:

– Blue – Reliable drives for everyday use
– Black – High performance drives for gaming and enthusiasts
– Purple – Made for security and surveillance DVRs
– Red – Specificially designed for NAS and RAID
– Green – Cool, quiet HDDs that save energy

Seagate enterprise product lines:

– Exos – High capacity drives for data centers
– Nytro – Top performing SSDs for enterprise
– Mach.2 – Dual actuator technology for speed

WD enterprise product lines:

– Ultrastar – Massive capacity drives for data centers
– Gold – For demanding data center workloads
– RE – Ruggedized for surveillance and NAS

Seagate vs WD: Service and Support

The quality of customer service and support is another consideration when comparing HDD vendors:

– Seagate offers warranty service through authorized repair centers in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. They also provide web, email, and phone tech support worldwide.

– Western Digital also has repair facilities across the globe and offers multiple support channels including online chat, phone, community forums, and social media help.

– Both vendors got low scores on Consumer Reports surveys for poor service historically. But most recent reviews indicate support quality has improved significantly for both Seagate and WD in recent years.

– In SSDs specifically, Techspot surveyed business users and found 74% ranked WD’s RMA service as “good” compared to 64% for Seagate. WD had a slight edge.

– Overall, Seagate and WD are now on par for service quality, with WD having a small lead when it comes to SSD support. Both provide sufficient technical help and warranty service for most users.

Seagate vs WD: Security

Data security is crucial for many HDD users. Seagate and WD provide these security features:

Seagate security features:

– Seagate Secure self-encrypting drives for data at rest protection
– TCG Opal and TCG Enterprise certified models available
– Supports instant secure erase using cryptographic erase technologies
– Optional password protection and hardware encryption

WD security features:

– WD Black SSHDs can have password protection and AES 256-bit hardware encryption
– WD SmartWare Pro software for creating encrypted network backup drives
– WD’s Ultrastar data center drives are TCG Enterprise certified
– Optional SanDisk zetascale software for data encryption

– While both companies offer drive security options, WD seems to have a larger range of enterprise certified secure HDD models. But Seagate drives can still be made very secure with third party disk encryption software.

Seagate vs WD: Failure Rates

One of the most comprehensive sources of hard drive reliability statistics is Backblaze, who operates over 176,000 HDDs. Here are their reported annual failure rates for each vendor:

Year Seagate Failure Rate WD Failure Rate
2019 1.15% 1.22%
2020 1.11% 0.94%
2021 1.21% 1.70%

Key observations:

– Failure rates fluctuate year to year but are generally between 1-2% annually for both vendors.

– In 2021, WD had higher failure rates than Seagate. But in 2020, they were more reliable than Seagate. Rates vary based on specific models tracked.

– Overall these are very low failure rates indicating excellent reliability from both vendors.

– There is no clear winner – both Seagate and WD produce generally reliable drives with low failure rates under normal conditions.

Seagate vs WD: Models

Here is a comparison of some current HDD models from Seagate and Western Digital appropriate for general consumer use:

Seagate Model WD Model
Barracuda 2TB WD Blue 2TB
Firecuda 2TB SSHD WD Black 2TB
Barracuda Pro 10TB WD Purple 10TB
Ironwolf Pro 18TB WD Red Pro 18TB

Key comparisons:

– The WD Blue competes with the Seagate Barracuda as reliable, everyday drives in the 2-6TB range. The WD Blue runs at 7200 RPM while the Barracuda is 5400 RPM.

– The WD Black is a high performance 7200 RPM drive while the Seagate Firecuda is a fast SSD hybrid drive. The Black would be preferred for gaming and speed.

– The WD Purple is geared for surveillance with firmware tuned for DVRs. Seagate’s comparable option would be the SkyHawk.

– The WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro both target network attached storage usage in high capacities. The Red Pro runs cooler and uses less power.


In summary, here are some key takeaways on how Seagate and WD compare:

– Both vendors produce quality drives with competitive performance, capacities, and warranty lengths.

– WD excels at high capacity enterprise drives, while Seagate leads in value priced consumer HDDs under 2TB.

– WD tends to have better peak performance, Seagate focuses more on value. But both offer ample speeds for most applications.

– For drives above 6TB, WD usually offers better pricing and more capacity.

– WD has a slight edge in product warranties, service quality, and data security features.

– There is very little separating Seagate and WD in overall HDD reliability – both have low failure rates around 1-2% annually.

So which is better? For most general computing uses under 6TB, the two brands are nearly equivalent. But if you need high capacities over 8TB or peak performance, WD has some advantages. Though Seagate still produces quality drives at the budget end. Whichever brand you choose, you can expect years of reliable service for storing all your important files.