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Are Hard Disk Warranties Worthless? 187

1984 asks: "Earlier this year I returned a Hitachi 2.5" drive under warranty, and got back a replacement which died after a week or so of light use. More recently a Seagate 200GB desktop IDE disk flaked after a few months use, so I sent it off and received a replacement under warranty. The replacement wouldn't even format. So I RMAed that and got another dead replacement. All the replacement disks were 'refurbished', and I see many instances of similar problems with refurbished replacements when Googling. So I'm asking, what experience are people having with getting replacement disks that work, and continue to do so for something approaching the expected lifetime of the original drive? Are current warranties just a sham?"
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Are Hard Disk Warranties Worthless?

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  • by nxtw ( 866177 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:49AM (#16257761)
    I've had 4 failures out of approx 20-25 purchased or obtained new drives since 2000.

    One 30 GB drive crashed within 10 days of purchase, a 160 GB died 10 months after purchase (possibly because of power loss/surge), a 20GB iPod drive damaged by contact with a large magnet (because iPod integration and subwoofers were being installed at the same time). Someone I know had a 40GB that randomly returned corrupt data without any obvious signs of disk failure -- just Windows bluescreens that would normally indicate corrupt RAM.

    Of those drives, the first three were repaired via warranty. The 30GB was replaced with a new drive, and guessing by its capacity, is not still in use. The refurbished 160 GB drive is still working today, about 22 months later. The replaced iPod is also still working today.

    The 40 GB drive was out of warranty and was replaced with the same model and is still working one and a half years later. My oldest drives were probably made in 2002 and have been working fine. They've been running constantly for the past few years.

    I have had a laptop hard drive fail gradually -- it came from a phyiscally abused laptop. The drive worked (slowly) at first, long enough for me to copy the data off of it. Within a few more hours of use, it died.
  • Is it the drives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by archer, the ( 887288 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:49AM (#16257765)
    I know of several folks who've recently replaced drives under warranty. The replacements have worked well. Is there any chance something other than the drives is causing the failures? Bad power? Too little cooling?
  • by enigma48 ( 143560 ) <jeff_new_slash@j ... m ['fdo' in gap]> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @10:31AM (#16258019) Journal
    I've done warranties for nearly all the major manuafacturers with no complaints. Maxtor's advanced replacement program came in handy (that replacement drive was installed 5 years ago and still works), no problems with WD's drives (again, installed years ago and still working).

    Get on the phone and start complaining - ideally, write a letter first (registered ideally). So few people do this that this puts you in a very small group of customers, and these customers are often the ones that know how to cause problems for the copmany. Having a paper trail also makes it a little harder for companies to shrug you off like a random complainer that just dials in every now and then.

    But before blaming the company, give them one last try. Inform them of your previous trouble with replacement drives (use dates and serial numbers). The odds of a drive dying are low, the replacement drive being DOA are low too. Then again, people win the lottery - sounds like you've just won the back luck kind. As another poster mentioned, look into the Lemon Laws in your state/province.
  • by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @11:41AM (#16258405)
    It's just a good drive. I've had plenty of 40 meg drives fail and I had plenty of bigger disks that didn't develop issues. It really mainly depends on how many hours you put on the drive -- if you don't use the computer very often, the hard drive will last a long time.
  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:40PM (#16259733) Homepage
    It's actually more economical to ignore hard drive warranties -- go out and purchase a new hard drive if you experience a failure.

    When I joined the large engineering company that I currently work for about two years ago, they were replacing four hard drives a week under warranty. When I realized that all of the warranty replacement hard drives were refurbs, I changed that little policy: we started throwing away the bad drives and began purchasing replacements.

    Failures have been reduced to fewer than one a week.

    So, now we are spending about $80 to buy new hard drives when a warranty replacement would have been free.

    HOWEVER, we saving a heck of a lot more than that. Now the sysadmins are fixing other things and our users' downtime has been greatly reduced. We're saving hundreds of dollars per failure by installing new hard drives instead of warranty replacements.

    Money is a truthsayer.
  • by alexdw ( 65033 ) <<ten.izgm> <ta> <todhsals-wdxela>> on Sunday October 01, 2006 @11:33AM (#16265825) Homepage
    I suspect that your problem here is cooling. 7200RPM drives run much hotter than their 5400RPM equivalents. Although it requires more case real estate, you should provide proper spacing between drives, and some active cooling (a fan or something more fancy).
  • by Shadowruni ( 929010 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:47PM (#16267679) Journal
    And develops confidential code and 0-day exploits...

    Perhaps he does lots of finance work...

    Maybe he just values his privacy...

    To assume someone with something to hide is simply wrong. Not to be offtopic but your reply is similar to the government's arguement that warrantless wiretapping is 'OK'. "If you're not hiding anything, you shouldn't care that we're listening."

  • by NotQuiteInsane ( 981960 ) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @04:36PM (#16268655) Homepage
    Let me get this straight, your 'roommate' broke the drive, then you sent it in for a warranty replacement?

    Am I the only person here that still believes that if you break something by dropping it you should cover the cost of replacement? Breaking a HDD by knocking it off the top of a PC, then RMAing it sounds incredibly unethical to me.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.