March 20, 2003 was the day I started using a new 120 GB IDE hard drive. That drive was what the first belgian used as long as that machine lasted. When that machine had multiple failures a fews ago, the drive was one of, if not the only, surviving piece that ran in the new belgian. The drive was replaced by a new, larger capacity (1 TB) SATA model from Hitachi.
It wasn't left idle, but a mostly new percheron was built up, and again used that old drive. The machinery was generally only shut down when I was away from home for more than a day or so, so the drive had years of near-continuous operation.
Sometime on June 28, 2013 the drive failed. The S.M.A.R.T. stuff on boot tells me "BAD" now. That drive provided about 10 years of near continuous service, outlasted a few power supplies, fans, and saw a variety of Linux distributions (Mandrake, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Xubuntu and possibly a couple others). I think I got my money's worth.
Of course, even as a drive on a secondary machine, the failure is inconvenient. I had been planning to take anything I wanted to preserve (not much, if anything, fortunately) from that disk and wipe it for a new install. So for a 'catastrophic failure' the timing wasn't just too bad. And jmaynard just happens to have an idle 250 GB SATA laptop drive that I can use. So, while inconvenient, it's not disastrous.