The Heat Problem

When I first ripped the hard drive out of its enclosure I realized that there’s very little in the GoFlex design that promotes airflow over the drive. In fact, there only appear to be three places for air to get into/out of the enclosure: a small opening at the top, the two separations that run down the case and the openings at the bottom. The bottom is mostly covered however by the dock.

The poorly cooled enclosure becomes a real problem when you stick a high density, 5 platter, 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive in it. I measured the surface temperature of the drive out of the chassis, under moderate load over SATA (sequential writes) at 96F. With the drive in the enclosure, the plastic never got more than warm - 85F. Taking the drive off the dock and pointing an IR thermometer at the SATA connectors I measured 126F.

After 2 hours of copying over USB 2.0 I hit 63C on the Seagate GoFlex Desk

The drive’s internal temperatures were far worse. After 3 hours of copying files to the drive over USB 2.0 (a real world scenario since some users may want to move their data over right away) its internal temperature reached 65C, that’s 149F. The maximum internal drive temperature I recorded was 69C or 156.2F.

Hard drives aren’t fond of very high temperatures, it tends to reduce their lifespan. But in this case, the temperatures got high enough that performance went down as well. Over a USB 3.0 connection you can get > 130MB/s write speed to the drive in the 3TB GoFlex Desk. Once the drive temperature hit the mid-60s, sequential write speed dropped to ~50MB/s. The drop in write speed has to do with the increased number of errors while operating at high temperatures. I turned the drive off, let it cool and turned it back on, which restored drive write speeds to 130MB/s. Keep writing to the drive long enough in this reduced performance state and you’ll eventually see errors. I ran a sequential read/write test over night (HDTach, full test) and by the morning the drive was responding at less than 1MB/s.

Quick copies, occasional use and even live backup of small files worked fine. I never saw the internal drive temperature go above 50C in those cases. It’s the long use sequential reads/writes that really seem to wreak havok on the 3TB GoFlex Desk.

And unfortunately for Seagate, there’s no solution. You can put a cooler drive in the enclosure but then you lose the capacity sell. Alternatively Seagate could redesign the enclosure, which admittedly looks good but is poorly done from a thermal standpoint.

I asked Seagate about all of this and their response was that the temperatures seemed high and they were expecting numbers in the 60s or below but anything below 70C is fine. Seagate did concede that at higher temperatures HDD reliability is impacted but the company didn’t share any specifics beyond that.

The GoFlex Desk comes with a 2 year warranty from Seagate. Given that Seagate said the temperatures were acceptable, I’m guessing you’ll have no problems during that 2 year period. Afterwards however, I’d be very curious to see how long this thing will last at those temperatures.

Performance vs. Capacity Final Words
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  • mindless1 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    Too many platters, contributing to bearing wear and heat. IMO, the high price is partially to offset the higher chance of failure/RMA replacement cost even with a mere 2 year warranty. Of course it's also due to being the biggest drive available, the high end capacity luxury tax.
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    why not just get a raid card that has 64big lba and raid the drives in a raid0? I got a software raid5 card with pci-e 4x speed and 4 sata ports on it for 130 bucks. Its not a 3ware but it writes just as fast as my other computer can send it data. Plus if youre looking for that much space a raid is probably a good idea and you should get 3x 2tb drives and do a raid5 anyway for redundancy.
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    64bit* lba ... cant type before coffee sry.
  • ClagMaster - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    You say 9.4ZB is an absurd amount of data.

    I say that 2TB is an absurd amount of data.

    I have been using a 160GB drive paritioned into 3 partions and for six years I am not challenged with space.
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    Ive got over 1tb in just my music collection so 2tb isnt really that big of a number.
  • mewgirl - Monday, January 31, 2011 - link

    Not really, just 200 or 300 songs in a proper format and your drive will be filled...
  • mewgirl - Monday, January 31, 2011 - link

    No wait, 300 songs is only 15 CDs, so let's say 1,000 or so songs, but either way that's a hell of a lot less then how many songs you're actually going to want, if human brains were actually capable of remembering all of them and if computers were capable of finding and properly formatting all of them.
  • cjs150 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    Ripping Blu-ray disks chews through a lot of hard disk space. Add in a daughter with lots of music and 2TB is not enough.

    I am looking for 6TB storage in a RAID 5 for my home as enough to keep me going at least for the next 5-6 years
  • abrar - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    Isn't there any program that you give it the files (suppose your are going to copy / backup ~ 3TB of data ) you are going to copy , and set a temperature threshold , so that when it reaches that temperature, it stops , or reduces the speed of , copying and when temp. gets normal and it cools down, continues in normal mode. ?!

    that is quiet and idea !
  • mewgirl - Monday, January 31, 2011 - link

    Uh I thought SpeedFan did that.

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