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It's important to note that when a drive fails, the data on that drive is not immediately replicated to handoff nodes. Any new data that would have been added to that drive will instead go to handoff nodes as Sam explained. But the data that was on the drive is now down to two replicas until either the drive is replaced or the drive is removed from the ring.

This choice was made because a) most drive failures are transient (eg a new drive can be swapped in relatively quickly) and b) since replicating data out can place a higher burden on other storage nodes, an errant automatic ring update could have cascading failures throughout the cluster.