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MTBF (mean time between failures)

Contributor(s): Throck Robertson

MTBF (mean time between failures) is a measure of how reliable a hardware product or component is. For most components, the measure is typically in thousands or even tens of thousands of hours between failures. For example, a hard disk drive may have a mean time between failures of 300,000 hours. A desired MTBF can be used as a quantifiable objective when designing a new product. The MTBF figure can be developed as the result of intensive testing, based on actual product experience, or predicted by analyzing known factors. The manufacturer may provide it as an index of a product's or component's reliability and, in some cases, to give customers an idea of how much service to plan for.

Most sources define this term to mean average time between failures .

This was last updated in March 2011

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MTBF is the inverse of the failure rate and it assumes it is constant. Alone is does not include the time period over which it is valid. Is MTBF of any value given very few product actually have a constant failure rate and the lack of time period?
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