When it comes to hard drive brands, Seagate and Western Digital (WD) are two of the biggest names in the business. Both companies make reliable drives and have different models targeting various use cases. Here are some quick answers to common questions:
- For desktop use, WD Blue drives are a good choice for everyday computing. Seagate BarraCuda drives also work well for desktops.
- For network-attached storage (NAS) devices, WD Red drives are purpose-built for NAS. Seagate IronWolf drives are also good NAS options.
- For creative professionals/power users, WD Black drives offer high performance. Seagate FireCuda drives also provide fast speeds.
- For super large bulk storage, Seagate Archive drives pack up to 16TB in one drive. WD also offers high capacity drives but tops out at lower capacities than Seagate.
- Seagate offers affordable thin laptop drives under its BarraCuda lineup. WD Blue drives also work for laptop use.
- For console gaming, Seagate Game Drive SSDs connect directly to PS4/Xbox One. WD_Black drives also designed for gaming.
- WD scores better for overall customer satisfaction ratings across most product lines.
- Seagate tends to offer drives with larger maximum capacities especially on enterprise drives.
- Both WD and Seagate make reliable drives and chances of failure are low for both brands.
Western Digital and Seagate are the two giants when it comes to storage drives. Both companies make hard disk drives (HDDs) as well as solid state drives (SSDs) and have similar product lineups. However there are some key differences between Seagate and Western Digital when it comes to factors like reliability, performance, price, and capacities.
For any new PC build or storage upgrade, one key decision is which hard drive brand to go with. While there are alternatives from Toshiba, Samsung and others, Seagate and WD dominate the market. In this comparison article, we’ll look at how Seagate and Western Digital hard disk and solid state drives stack up across some key metrics including:
- Customer Satisfaction
We’ll compare Seagate and WD product offerings for desktop, NAS, gaming, and enterprise use cases. By the end, you’ll have a better sense of which company offers better drives. Let’s start with looking at failure and reliability data between the two giants.
One of the most important aspects of any storage drive is reliability. No one wants their hard drive crashing and causing data loss. When comparing WD and Seagate on reliability, there are a few factors to look at:
Backblaze Drive Stats
Backblaze, a cloud backup company, publishes drive failure statistics for the thousands of consumer hard drives they use. Looking at their Q2 2022 failure rate data, Seagate had an annualized failure rate of 1.56% compared to just 0.63% for WD drives.
This nearly 2.5x higher failure rate suggests WD drives are more reliable than Seagate based on Backblaze’s data. In addition, this data shows Seagate failure rates increasing year-over-year while WD failure rates declined. However, Seagate disputes the Backblaze report and says their testing methodology favors WD.
Looking at the warranty length between Seagate and WD can also provide an indication of drive reliability. The logic is a company won’t offer long warranties on products they don’t have confidence in. Here’s a look at common warranty lengths each company offers:
|Drive Type||Seagate Warranty||WD Warranty|
|Desktop HDD||2 years||2-3 years|
|Performance HDD||5 years||5 years|
|NAS HDD||3 years||3 years|
|SSD||5 years||5 years|
For most products, Seagate and WD offer similar length warranties suggesting both stand behind their products to a similar degree. However, on some desktop drives, WD does offer 3-year warranties compared to 2-year from Seagate which may suggest WD has a bit more confidence in those drives.
Real World Failure Rates
While Backblaze and warranty data provide some signal on reliability, looking at real world failure rate studies gives the best picture. One extensive 2021 hard drive reliability study compiled failure rate data from various sources including Backblaze, a French retailer, Google data and more.
This study found very little difference between Seagate and WD failure rates when looking at a weighted average across a mix of drive types, workloads, and ages. Seagate had a 3.8% annual failure rate compared to 3.5% for WD. Both are quite low.
So in the end, when looking at the totality of reliability data, there is little evidence suggesting one brand is more prone to failure than the other. Both Seagate and WD make reliable drives when used within their design parameters.
Drive performance is another key metric to compare when looking at Seagate vs WD drives. Some key performance factors include:
- Data transfer speeds
- Access times
- IOPS on SSDs
- Cache buffer size on HDDs
Much of the performance depends on the exact drive model and series. But at a high level, here’s how Seagate and WD compare for common drive types:
Desktop HDD Performance
For everyday desktop hard drives, SeagateBarraCuda and WD Blue drives offer very similar performance profiles. Both benchmarks around 150 MB/s sequential reads and writes while offering access times around 10-15ms. Eitherdrive provides speedy performance for basic computing.
Performance HDD Performance
When comparing higher performance desktop HDDs, the WD Black can edge out the Seagate FireCuda on some benchmarks. For example, the WD Black 2TB drive hits 210 MB/s sequential reads vs 190 MB/s on the FireCuda. However both drives are plenty fast for gaming, creative workloads, and disk-intensive programs.
On SSDs, Seagate and WD once again end up with similar performance profiles. For example, the Seagate Barracuda 510 and WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs have virtually identical benchmarks. The WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD has slightly faster claimed peak speeds compared to Seagate’s FireCuda 520 but both easily hit 3000+ MB/s reads.
NAS Drive Performance
For NAS usage, WD Red drives often benchmark a bit faster than Seagate IronWolf on sequential speeds though IronWolf has lower access times. However, both drives offer robust performance for multi-user and intensive NAS workloads. Unless you have heavy mixed workloads, you likely won’t notice a difference.
In the end, both WD and Seagate make speedy drives under each product lineup. While WD tends to edge out Seagate on peak throughput benchmarks, the real world performance difference is marginal at best.
Pricing is another essential factor as shoppers want reliable drives at a reasonable price. Luckily, both Seagate and WD provide competitively priced drives catering to different budgets.
For the most budget-focused shopper, Seagate often has the lowest cost drives especially on the extreme low and high ends. For example, Seagate’s 1TB BarraCuda HDD and massive 16TB IronWolf NAS drives often undercut WD’s pricing.
However for mainstream products, WD tends to be price competitive with Seagate. Good deals can often be found on WD’s 4TB Blue desktop drives making them appealing for value hunters. Additionally, WD’s SSD offerings like the Blue SN550 closely match Seagate pricing.
One advantage of WD drives is sales are more frequent. It’s common to find WD products heavily discounted for holiday sales or other promotions. Seagate drives go on sale less often however the starting prices are lower.
So all told, both brands allow consumers to pay for the level of performance and features they need without overspending. For budget buyers, Seagate edges out WD a bit while frequent sales make WD products very affordable as well.
Drive capacities for both HDDs and SSDs continue to grow. With 50TB+ HDDs and 8TB+ SSDs available, there’s no shortage of storage space. When comparing WD vs Seagate on capacities, a few key points stand out:
- For HDDs, Seagate tends to offer larger maximum capacities especially on performance and NAS drives.
- For smaller form factor HDDs, WD often matches or beats Seagate capacities.
- On SSDs, WD and Seagate top out at similar maximum capacities right now.
- Both brands offer a wide enough range capacities to meet use case needs.
Here are some examples of the largest drives from both brands as of November 2022:
|Drive Type||Largest Seagate Drive||Largest WD Drive|
|Desktop HDD||4TB 2.5″||6TB 3.5″|
As you can see above, Seagate takes the lead on max capacities particularly for higher performance drives. However, WD is certainly no slouch topping out at a massive 18TB for NAS drives. For the average consumer though, capacities shouldn’t be a major point of difference.
As mentioned earlier when discussing reliability, the length of the warranty provides a suggestion of how confident the manufacturer is in their drives. Here’s a recap of typical warranties offered by WD and Seagate:
- Desktop HDDs: 1-3 years
- Performance HDDs: 5 years
- NAS HDDs: 3 years
- SSDs: 5 years
- Portable HDDs: 2-3 years
The warranties are very similar between the brands. WD does offer 1 year longer coverage for some of their lower end desktop drives. But for the most part, the warranty terms suggest both companies back their products for similar lengths of time.
Looking at customer satisfaction ratings and reviews provides real world feedback on how happy people are with Seagate and WD drives. In general Western Digital scores higher marks across most product lines including:
- Desktop HDDs – WD Blue consistently rates higher than Seagate BarraCuda drives for noise, performance, and reliability.
- Performance HDDs – WD Black drives edge out Seagate FireCuda drives with higher user ratings on sites like Amazon and Newegg.
- SSDs – WD SSDs like the Blue SN570 have higher user reviews than budget Seagate SSDs like the BarraCuda Q5.
- NAS Drives – WD Red drives are rated slightly better than Seagate IronWolf drives for NAS usage in terms of performance and reliability.
Seagate does score some wins with their massive capacity Exos enterprise drives rating very well. However, when looking at most consumer product lines, WD enjoys a satisfaction advantage with most of their drives.
When it comes down to WD vs Seagate, both companies make excellent drives and you can’t go wrong with either brand. However, for home and office use, Western Digital does have an edge when looking across factors like:
- Higher customer satisfaction ratings
- Faster sequential speeds on some drive models
- Better warranty coverage on lower cost drives
Seagate isn’t far behind though and offers larger maximum capacities along with very competitively priced drives. Additionally, Seagate makes great enterprise drives for data centers and NAS enclosures.
One tip is to buy based on the specific use case and drive model specifications rather than just brand alone. For example, the 4TB WD Black is faster than the 2TB FireCuda for high performance desktops. But for a NAS, the IronWolf 16TB offers higher capacity than WD Red right now.
Whether you go for Western Digital or Seagate, choosing a drive from either brand is a safe bet that will provide reliable storage for your data. Both WD and Seagate make great drives catering to wide range of use cases. So analyze your specific needs, compare models, and you can confidently pick the best drive for your use case from either of these storage giants.