Such are mechanical devices with 5 year design life spans. This is why so much is written about backups. To date the lesson is clear.
We only lose what we don't backup.
I get more than 3 years but when I build a desktop I make sure the hard drive has space above and below for air flow. I too get too many years (five plus) from these drives. But then again, I have a backup plan.
The 10 year old WD PATA HD that I moved from my PC to an external enclosure for backups just started making a loud clacking noise and shuts down, so I figure it's probably toast. The drive that replaced it as my PC's HD is a Seagate, and has been giving me 3 or so years of trouble-free service, so I looked into Seagate. Man, are there a lot of unhappy campers out there who post reviews of drive failures. But there seems to be problems with WD too, the only other brand New Egg sells. I know nothing's perfect, and most reviews were positive, but is one brand of PATA drive any more reliable than the other? The drive is "only" for backups, so it won't get a lot of heavy use, but I would hope I can find something reliable, or is that too much to ask nowadays?