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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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:55AM (#16257789)
    They are indeed worthless but for another reason, I had two hard disks that died under warranty before, but I didn't send them back for replacement because I wasn't sure what would happen to them next [], sure, there are tools for wiping hard disks, and it's extremely unlikely that someone would go through all the trouble of restoring data from a wiped hdd, but I prefer to destroy the hard disk physically myself, and sleep well at night, rather than risk exposing my personal data.

    PS: First reply with "paranoid" in it gets a free hat.
  • Maxtor Hell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrbcs ( 737902 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @10:02AM (#16257833)
    I returned 3 Maxtor drives about two years ago within one week. All three were nfg. These were also brand new replacements for the original drive. The wholesaler told me that he thought quality control was shut down because of all the bad drives he'd seen in such a short time. This was also about the time that Maxtor dropped their warranty to 1 year. On my third trip to the wholesaler, I saw two other guys in there with boxes of the damn things. Last Maxtor drives for me. I have a Seagate now and it's been perfect for over 2 years.
  • by jackb_guppy ( 204733 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @10:20AM (#16257947)
    I have drives working for years. I do mean YEARS! I have 2x 173M still running and working quite well in a firewall (486 computer at that).

    I did have 2 big failure last year when I was going to 250G drives, less than 6 months old. But both were replaced with new drives and no problems since.

    Now, all my equipment in on UPS amd NEVER turn off may make their operating enviromwnt very stable, except for cat hair.
  • by HaloZero ( 610207 ) <> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @10:22AM (#16257963) Homepage
    ...infact, it's a prime purchasing point for my choice of hardware.

    Late last year, my RAID array failed - 2 160gb Western Digital SATA drives went. I checked the WD website, RMAed them both, and recieved two replacements. They're still functioning today, better than the first two.

    We run a device at work that features six SATA2 320GB Seagate disks. The leverage for purchasing those devices was dependant on the 5-year warranty(, and the presumption that we'd never have to purchase a replacement for a bad disk).

    If you're having continually bad experiences with disks, you might want to examine their environment; are you using them at relentlessly high altitude? Is the power supply you're connecting them to bad? The lead from the PSU to the disk? Does your controller need a firmware update?
  • by fastgood ( 714723 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:34PM (#16258735)
    Nobody knows better than the engineers what their MTTF rate is, and they should set time limits on the known data.

    Western Digital put out a 12 month drive (they best know their own product quality) plus an optional $15 insurance plan.

    You either build a more expensive, higher quality unit that can stand on its merits for 3 years, or you decide to build junk.
    But don't let Marketing dictate quality, where 12-36 months out, you pray for less than one in six returns for a break-even.

  • Re:Cooling! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:45PM (#16258825) Homepage
    You are correct. Almost no modern hard drive should be warmer than luke-warm while running (or immediately after being turned off). If it is, your case has inadequate cooling and your drive will die soon. Not might; will.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @12:53PM (#16258859) Homepage

    The Internet Archive has an ongoing effort to measure disk drive reliability. [] They have several thousand disk drives for which they are collecting data, and for the year 2005, about 2% failed. This is better than previous years; a few years back they were experiencing 6%/year failure rates.

    They send them back for warranty replacement, I'm told.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30, 2006 @02:45PM (#16259787)
    Friday morning I tried to put in an RMA for a Maxtor which is developing the Click-of-death. Their site claims to be down for "system maintenance" []

    Strange how the maintenance covers the entire last 2 days of the month - also the last 2 days of many people's warrantees. Funny, huh?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @03:13AM (#16263789)
    I have been repairing computer for a living for years, and this is how I see it.
    Here are the problems:

    1. Some hard drive companies have both a QA & QC issue that stats with the Hard drive design.
    Prototype Hard drives are generally tested in a room that is about 70 degres F.
    Operating specs are theoretical and not actual or tested in realistic environments.

    2. A lot of Hard drives are made in clean rooms in other countries, other then US.
    These clean room are anything but clean and do not measure up to the quoted clean room standards.
    This is not picking on other countries because Korea has some of the best on the planet, and China has the worse.
    (I know I helped to design them in the 80's when they were first getting started. In china their workers were smoking in the clean rooms when putting them togather. Heck their techs were known to be smoking while cleaning bell jars during operations)

    3. Post production testing can be as little as does a mother board read it correctly, to can we boot an OS.
    Some companies do real stress testing but they seem to be few and far between.
    The less time they spend on testing the more they increase in profit.

    4. Return testing is almost non-existent.
    (Stock people not techs test return goods, if they think it is ok, they slap a refurbish sticker and send it back out)
    I am Compaq certified and all they use to do was test the return hard drives with a bios test.
    After many complaints they up the testing to see if it would format.
    And they would always complain that the hard drives I turned in were good and send them back out as refurbished.

    Stay away from the following HD companies:
    Maxtor (loses packets and read/write arm issues last between 6 months to a year)
    Seagate (Over heats easily with out extra cooling and then loses packets or not longer read/writes last about a year)
    Hitachi (other then death star issues I have had good luck with them so far)

    As far as warranty's go, if they make a 5hit hard drive, you can bet they are going to send you a 5hit replacement


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