I don't think you'll get a definitive answer, everyone has their own experiences. If one brand breaks one time for them they take it out on the whole brand. I've had good and bad luck with Maxtor, WD, Seagate, Hitachi, you name it.
The thing to keep in mind is that hard drives are sort of like internal combustion engines, very complex, antiquated devices that should have been replaced by some other more reliable technology decades ago, but the cost/benefit ratio is still good.
Never depend on any hard drive for your valuable data. Try to keep backups of the irreplaceable stuff on your computer regularly, either to another HD, a USB flash drive, whatever. The best system is to use RAID drives, but that's a bit complex for the average user.