Replication is a widely used method to protect largescale data storage systems from data loss when storage nodes fail. It is well known that the placement of replicas of the different data blocks across the nodes affects the time to rebuild. Several systems described in the literature are designed based on the premise that minimizing the rebuild times maximizes the system reliability. Our results however indicate that the reliability is essentially unaffected by the replica placement scheme. We show that, for a replication factor of two, all possible placement schemes have mean times to data loss (MTTDLs) within a factor of two for practical values of the failure rate, storage capacity, and rebuild bandwidth of a storage node. The theoretical results are confirmed by means of event-driven simulation. For higher replication factors, an analytical derivation of MTTDL becomes intractable for a general placement scheme. We therefore use one of the alternate measures of reliability that have been proposed in the literature, namely, the probability of data loss during rebuild in the critical mode of the system. Whereas for a replication factor of two this measure can be directly translated into MTTDL, it is only speculative of the MTTDL behavior for higher replication factors. This measure of reliability is shown to lie within a factor of two for all possible placement schemes and any replication factor. We also show that for any replication factor, the clustered placement scheme has the lowest probability of data loss during rebuild in critical mode among all possible placement schemes, whereas the declustered placement scheme has the highest probability. Simulation results reveal however that these properties do not hold for the corresponding MTTDLs for a replication factor greater than two. This indicates that some alternate measures of reliability may not be appropriate for comparing the MTTDL of different placement schemes. © 2010 IEEE.