It is related to file data corruption in the outer sectors, not total disk failure. Microsoft said that before moving the MFT file away from the edge, the disk drive was often blamed as the root cause but the disk drive manufacturers said their drive passes their low-level tests just fine. At some point, they wondered if the MFT behaved more like a large database so they moved it and the problems went away.
Can you provide link to the original article? I tried searching for it and found nothing ... and regarding what I remember reading myself at MS sources about the topic the reason was speed (but I couldn't find these either).
Sorry, I have no link. As I explained in an earlier post, I learned this from a Microsoft NTFS guru at a local IT Professionals meeting. I am in Charlotte, NC where much of the diagnostic and trouble analysis is done. We are blessed to have such fine speakers at our meetings because these folks are local. When I get a chance, I will try to find my notes from the meeting and give you a name. (I know what he looks like but that would not help you.)
You may have hit on something there. The Microsoft speaker works primarily on troubles since NTFS is not really changing now. It could very well be that the MFT was relocated for performance reasons and the unintended consequence was that MFT corruption was nearly eliminated. He said that he had previously spent much time repairing MFT files but now that the MFT has moved away from the outer edge the problem is very rare.
I have had similar experience in computer repair. Replace keyboard for keyboard error. Replace mouse for mouse freezing. Finally replace PSU when system fail to start. After replacing PSU, reconnect old keyboard and mouse. System works fine. Original PSU never did test bad.