This is an excellent point - the utility of failure probability data depends on the use case. Google in general has all data replicated a minimum of three times (see the GoogleFS paper) and as a result, it is not cost-effective to replace a drive before it actually fails in practice in most situations. For any sort of professional operation with regular backups and/or replication, this data is not particularly useful except as input into how many thousands of new hard drives to order next month. But for an individual user without automated backup systems, it can provide a valuable hint on the utility of conducting that long-delayed manual backup within the next few hours.
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