back to article Seagate slashes bare drive warranties

Seagate is cutting the warranty period of its bare drives. A mail sent by Seagate to a North American reseller said: Seagate Updates Warranty Terms on Select Bare Drives Starting in 2009, Seagate will be making some important changes to its limited warranty terms for selected bare drive products. For products purchased on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Why have differing warranties for external HDDs and internal HDDs? Just seems odd to me, especially as internal HDDs, while probably active for a longer time, are in a more stable environment whereas external HDDs could be knocked about during normal use.

    I've heard of a lot of people choosing Seagate over a competitor based on the 5 year warranty given there wasn't a massive amount of difference between the various hard drives out there, so now people will be more motivated by Price, something Seagate aren't as good at compared to the likes of Western Digital, Samsung etc...

  2. Dean

    Samsung for me then.

    I am one of those people who picked Seagates over others due to the warrenty.

    I can't help but think if only 5% of there returns were in years 4 and 5... what possibly reason could they have of cutting it, other then if their new drives aren't expected to last that long.

    Bye Seagate.. it was good while it lasted.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    External vs. Internal

    I'm afraid I'm not really an expert on causes of hard drive failure or wear levels, so the following is an assumption and guesstimate at best:

    Seeing as most people are likely to only have 1 hard drive in their box (I have 3, but I don't think I'm the norm), that hard drive is likely to see a lot of wear due to hosting the OS and very likely also have some sort of pagefile written to it a lot.

    An external drive on the other hand will only hold data that is seldom written and not very often accessed (most vendors seem to be even pushing them as quasi backup solutions).

    So the internal drive gets a lot more wear, but the external drive probably gets dropped a bit more while it is running... Presumably more dead internal drives gets returned than external ones... reasons? who knows?

    Maybe people who buy several drives (Raid, oh wonderful Raid) are more liable to claim the guarantee as opposed to just buying a new one? Most people who opt to buy an external drive to put their porn collection on probably don't even keep the receipt for it... while we that buy internal drives for use in raid do so because we know that drives CAN fail, and we keep the receipts and paperwork for WHEN, not IF one of our drives fail and we need to get a new one...

    Just a guess....

  4. Andy Moore

    No Problem

    I did not even realise Seagate offered 5 years, I buy them as they are super quiet (Barracuda is anyway) I thought Google had shown figures showing no real difference between HD manufacturers (ok they probably use enterprise drives) and that most discs either fail within first year or go on for 5 years.

    Only manufacturer I have had problems with in last 15 years is IBM with the click of death which took out 15 out of 27 drives in 1 year. Other than that they (WD/Toshiba/Seagate) all seem much the same.

  5. John Roberts
    Thumb Down


    I won't be buying any more Seagate drives then.

    If 95% fail within 3 years then why cut the warranty back? Seagate give the customer additional peace of mind with little risk to themselves. Talk of shooting yourself in the foot...

  6. steogede

    Your source is not alone

    >> The company says 95 per cent of drive returns take place in the first three years. The industry

    >> norm warranty period for such drives is 3 years and Seagate says that by changing to a 3-year

    >> term it is able to improve other aspects of its customer support programs.


    >> The Register reader who tipped us off to the change said he was sure many people, including

    >> himself, had stuck to Seagate drives because of the 5-year warranty. He, and they, won't do that

    >> anymore.

    Removing their biggest and best market differentiator, for the sake of a 5% saving in after sales support, that is pretty short sighted. They are going to take a big hit in sales and won't see any benefit for another 3 - 5 years. Still that is plenty of time to realise and hopefully rectify their mistake.

    Having said that, I think 3 years is still more than most manufactures, didn't most of them go down from 3 to 1 year a while back?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gotta read it properly

    "Seagate believes that the new warranty period and terms better reflect current industry standards"

    In other words " We are cutting costs and therefore making drives that won't last as long, charging more for them thereby making more money out of you "

    Industry standards are dropping ???

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I assume because their new "FreeAgent" drives are a completely backward step over their previous incarnations. Worse hardware, looks like someone's been sick on it... doesn't powersave properly like their older models, and is designed to take as much desk space is is possible by being unstackable!

    An appalling product, I bet hardly anyone's buying them.

  9. Jon Wilson
    Thumb Down


    Well, they just lost their edge as far as I'm concerned. I use 3ware cards and Seagate drives, both largely because of the high level of data security the combination gives me - they fail rarely in my experience and in any case they're backed up by good warranty service. I've had a drive fail in one of my arrays (one of 12, after 4 years - not bad) and the smooth way they replaced it with no fuss was a major factor in buying more. Now it ain't. Bad decision.

  10. bart

    Clear as mud

    Thanks for clearing that up, Seagate: so its only bare drives that suck. How about another update that explains MTBF ratings that range from 500K up to 1000+K hours (57-114+ years,) and their relationship to warranty? Should we be running the drives only one or two hours per day to acheive these rates?

    If such a high percentage of failures occur within the first 3 years, and Seagate has maintained a 5 year policy for some 2 years now, how is it that the five year warranty has become a problem significant enough to warrant such a huge PR gaffe?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    This is bad, seriously bad from Seagate. I - and recommended friends - pay over the odds all the time for Seagate drives because of their 5 year warranty and I think the extra price compared to other manufacturers' drives warrants the extra warranty period. The unique selling point for bare Seagate hard drives is their warranty and if that will be coming in line with other manufacturers then Seagate will most likely lose the market share they currently have.

    I don't think I'll be going for Seagate much longer if they're going to offer 3 year warrany on bare drives at the ridiculous price. Currently the Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB hard drives are selling like hot cakes with VAT they're £73.37 on eBuyer. Now compare that to its rival from Seagate, the Seagate ST3100340AS 1TB drive which is selling for £94.30 with VAT. With a £20 saving I know which drive I will go for once they start slashing the warranty on the Barracudas.

  12. David Shepherd

    External vs Internal

    External drives are likely to be accessed less frequently than internal drives thus will probably spin down a lot more and I think with modern drives excessive numbers of spin-down/up cycles are one of the major causes of failure.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I think...

    ...this will hit them harder than they expect. As suggested, it's the major factor keeping me with them. The Barracuda has been a great series. I've had dozens of them over the years, and always had a warm fuzzy feeling that any epic fail within the useful life of the drive would be covered by a replacement. Now that feeling is gone... well, the price premium (which I always thought of as "insurance") just won't be worth it. That Samsung Spinpoint F1 is looking attractive... or maybe something from WD. I feel a seven year itch coming on...

  14. Anonymous Coward


    So, MTBF of 1E+6 has no meaning then? ;-)

  15. Piro Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    This is because of China, right?

    I might be wrong, but I swear since they started manufacturing their drives in China, the quality shot down, the old Thai and Singapore drives were much better quality. This is probably now reflected in the reduction of the warranty. I've bought nothing but Seagate hard drives since.. well, forever, ever since I had a 245MB Seagate HDD. They went from strength to strength, leading the way in the industry with a 5 year warranty on all drives. I even have Seagate stickers on my cases for crying out loud. This is bullshit. I do believe my next drives won't be Seagate.

  16. Fluffykins Silver badge

    better reflect current industry standards

    "Seagate believes that the new warranty period and terms better reflect current industry standards."

    Yeah, right.

    So, either the drives are now less reliable or us suckers are even more gullible and perceived as being up for a worse deal.

    If the kit really is that reliable that a diminishingly small number of drives fail after three years, it would heva been entirely reasoable to expect Seagate to demonstrate their confirdence in their own product.

    If they are not confident of their product, to the extent that they have taken a deliberate step to reduce their expoisure to risk, then neither am I.

  17. Doug Glass

    Simple Reason

    They were losing their butts by warrantying drives good for 3 years (or less) for 5 years. Simple solution, don't improve the drives, cut the warranty period. Typical corporate response.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    .... well, it does have some logic

    Disclaimer: no links with Seagate so far, apart from being my preferred brand unless spectacular price differences. My first HD was a 20MB Seagate (that was large at the day!) so I have some experience.

    Keeping the warranty for 5 years forces them to stock spares for that long to cover for possible failures. While I agree with all the people complaining here, it's not hard to see what this means in terms of savings for Seagate. All those drives that have to be manufactured but cannot be sold and all that stock that has to be in a warehouse after the factories are changed and no longer can produce the oldest models.

    Of course, they probably are telling the truth when they say that their products are the same and that they are not going to lower the quality of their products, at least tomorrow.

    But this is a typical signal of beancounter logic reaching the executive positions. Let's see.

    1- Good short term financial impact in stock and assets reduction. I can calculate that in my spreadsheet.

    2- Loss of customer loyalty. I cannot calculate that in my spreadsheet, since I don't know how many customer are willing to pay the extra price for the warm fuzzy feeling of confidence

    3- I've been teached in the old adage "You cannot manage what you cannot measure", now I cannot measure customer loyalty. What to do? I have two choices: first, ignore it. Second, admit that I don't know every single implication of my decisions.

    Guess what? Those beancounters are from the same business school as the ones that were assuring us that the mortgage market was healthy, that real estate prices would not fall and that the economy would keep growing forever.

    Therefore, they ignore customer loyalty. I predict that in the next three years Seagate product quality will degrade to match their warranty and then market share will drop to give way to the Samsungs of the world. Another good company to join IBM and HP.

  19. Joerg

    Seagate HDUs quality got worse than ever. Higher fault rate with Chinese drives...

    Since they moved the main production to China the quality of Seagate HDUs went downhill like never before. I never ever got so many defective Seagate HDUs like in the last year or so. Even 1TB 7200.11 32MB SATA-II Barracuda HDUs were defective when testing--I always pre-test HDUs,RAM and GPU before installing for safety and to avoid installation errors.

    In the last 3 months I got 3 Seagate 500GB EIDE models with errors reported by Seatools in a row. Then a 1TB 7200.11 32MB SATA-II drive with many errors. A 320GB 7200.10 16MB SATA-II failed with errors after just 2500 PowerOnHours approx. Just yesterday I had to service a PC with a new Seagate 500GB 7200.11 32MB SATA-II drive that failed with errors after just 1260 POH, bought on last August.

    All the drives were manufactured in China.

    That is bad, really bad for Seagate. They better quit from China and deliver their once was outstanding quality back to customers or they will have to file for bankruptcy in a few years...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Standards? Lack of standards, more like.

    >"Seagate believes that the new warranty period and terms better reflect current industry standards."

    Well, in a sense that's true, but it's really the current industry lack of any standards that they reflect. The quality of hard disk manufacture, and therefore the lifespan of drives has plummeted over the past decade, and failure rates shot up. Compared to drives I bought in the 90s, the ones I buy these days are utter shit, and barely more robust and reliable than floppies.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    So for all the complainers.....

    1. You like Seagate because they offer great equipment with 5 year warranty

    2. They take away the 5 year Warranty

    3. As a "Protest" you will swap your allegiance to a drive manufacturer you previously thought weren’t as good as Seagate

    Please rearrange these words :- Nose your off face cutting to your spite

    As for taking a “Massive” hit in sales, I doubt it, surely most of the drives are sold to OEM’s so a few geeky nerds “protesting” above is going to achieve the sum total of f*ck all

  22. Alastair

    Boo @ Seagate

    Seagate can say whatever they like. There is no reason to shorten the warranty period except that their drives are now failing as often as the other manufacturers. There is no logical reason to reduce your warranty period to "industry standards" when it's widely known that people buy your drives due to quality confidence and the associated 5 year warranty.

    If 95% of failures happen in the first three years then this change only brings you 5% savings, so it seems unlikely. Maybe after acquiring Maxtor they're feeling some pain with the 5 year warranty as they consolidate processes etc.? I don't know enough about the space to say.

  23. greg
    Thumb Down

    Yeah right...

    This is blatantly because they have lowered their manufacturing standards. I thought Seagate buying out Maxtor would mean better Maxtor drives - hah wrong. Worse Seagate drives.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    No longer a difference

    I've been buying Seagate drives precisely because of that five year warranty and eschewing the lesser guaranteed disks.

    Now, I know I get through quite a few disks one way or another, but no so many that I'll personally affect Seagate's sales -- but how many more are there like me?

  25. Sam

    Do What?

    So, let me get this right..recession, IT budgets under review, and they take away their only selling advantage, and take the piss out of their long term customers at the same time with a non-statement as to why this is a good thing?

    Watch the share price tank.

  26. Nick
    Thumb Down

    Spin Spin Sugar....

    On my last drive shopping spree, I bought 3x 250gb Maxtors from 3 seperate stores, I entirely expect the drives to wear out after about 18 months (24x7), especially when purchasing the cheapest consumer units going. My next purchases as I extend the RAID5 volume will be from a different manufacturer to slightly reduce the risk of simultanious drive failures, and any drives replaced under warranty will be noted and monitored for further ELF. Any drives making it past 3 years will be exchanged for new units on a rolling programme too. Unfortunatly the quality of the cheap drives these days means that long term reliability cannot be expected (I don't have any experience of expensive consumer disks, but suffice to say that Server SCSI/SAS drives that feature in Dell/HP servers that we use seem equally as pants), which is why I've had to invest in a home RAID5 solution, and will be looking at remote backup next. Its such a shame, as my 120 mb (yes, thats megabytes) IDE drive from my first 386sx is still going strong with no bad blocks, whilst countless drives in the interim have come and gone without so much as a SMART alert.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's intended to drive the small user to retail drives

    With the firmware problems they are having with the 1.5tb OEM drives, and the extremely busy call center filled with calls not from big enterprise customers, but with calls from gamers and home businesses who purchase drives from online stores like newegg for self installation; Seagate is experiencing unusual overhead related to drives that they did not originally intend to bring to this market segment.

    Seagate never offered firmware updates to individual end users. Their process to rectify this situation is extremely time consuming, as they feel that they have to make the individual customer aware that they 'seagate' is not responsible for any bricking of the hardware after the firmware update or resulting performance degradation and the possible data loss (if it bricks). They will replace the drive, but are not responsible for data issues. The CSRs make reasonably careful notes and pass the information on to a group lead or L2 processor which then emails out the appropriate firmware update links or in some cases, custom firmware updates for specific serial numbers.

    I personally have had two phone calls totaling 50 minutes talked to L1 and L2, and had custom firmware update sent to me based on my units serial number rather than the generic model/firmware version.. All for a $119 tB drive bought at newegg on black friday. Where is the profit in that? It's obvious that those who want the comfort of the 5 year warranty will have to go retail at a significantly higher price. (At least the retail box has the sata data cable, a +5v accessory to SATA power converter, and the full SeaTools that will clone/move your old drive onto the new one.)

    It's great that Seagate is even taking the calls from customers, the drives have a label that state that they are OEM, and you should call the OEM seller for support.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's the only reason I buy Seagate

    I have a number of RAID arrays full of Seagate drives specifically because of the 5-year warranty. As of January 3, 2009, I'll be shopping on price more.

    I might stick with IBM/Hitachi; I've always liked the (documented!) FORMAT UNIT ATA command which reallocates the blocks on a drive and eliminates the seek overhead of spare blocks. Nobody else has that, AFAICT.

  29. James Taylor
    Thumb Down

    Related to 1.5TB fiasco?

    This comes on the heels of that awful blame-the-users, blame-the-OS saga with their 1.5TB hard drives. That seemed to expose weaknesses in their support organization.

    I can't help wondering if this warranty downgrade is related. Maybe they're attempting to bring their support obligations more in line with their capability.

    Unfortunately, this is a one-two whack to end-user confidence.

  30. chris

    Decisions desiscions....

    Time to buy a Samsung then.................

  31. Brian D. Switzer
    Thumb Down

    my allegiance is gone

    For a while now I only purchased Seagate drives and recommended them because of the 5-year warranty. I guess those days are over. Now that Seagate has deemed themselves merely equal to the rest of the manufacturers I'll open up my decision to include everyone that has a 3-year warranty.

    Way to go Seagate. You've lost the loyalty of this customer.

  32. Justin Case
    Paris Hilton

    There's a book...

    ...called Positioning. It's all about how to make a distinction between your products and the rest of the market. For me the 5 year warranty did it. I thought "here's a product about which the manufacturers feel confident enough to put their money where their mouths are."

    Well, if even Seagate admit their drives are no less crap than the competitors, what's to stop us previoulsy loyal customers from thinking the same?

  33. steogede

    Nose your off face cutting to your spite

    >> Keeping the warranty for 5 years forces them to stock spares for that long to cover for possible

    >> failures. (AC 12:37)

    That what I thought for a moment, till it occured that they would be offering a repair on a 5 (or even a 3) year old drive, it would be a replacement - in fact the same problably goes for any drive.

    >> As for taking a “Massive” hit in sales, I doubt it, surely most of the drives are sold to OEM’s so a

    >> few geeky nerds “protesting” above is going to achieve the sum total of f*ck all (AC 13:29)

    Except that the buyers/designers who are employed by the large OEMs are geeky nerds who are protesting. Why do you think the OEMs that use Seagate drives pay the extra?

    As for buying from a manufacturer who we previously thought weren't as good as Seagate, well when Seagate are telling us that they aren't as good as they used to be and they don't have confidence in their drives why wouldn't we switch to a cheaper brand. The only way that Seagate will see the fruits of this action within 3 years is if they plan on lower their production standards and therefore costs.

  34. Cris Page
    Paris Hilton

    No nose involved

    @ Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 12th December 2008 13:29 GMT

    If Seagate drives command a premium price it is at least in part due to the protection of a superior warranty. If that is degraded then the reason to pay a premium price for what increasingly appears to be an "average" product is gone - no cutting of nose involved, its just an unwillingness to pay "over the odds" for an item that no longer offers the purchaser advantages in terms of quality or warranty.

    Its more foolish to keep taking whatever is dished out to you by a company that is penny pinching just out of brand loyalty and to be paying a premium price for less and less in terms or product quality or warranty protection. If the move to Chinese manufacturing is responsible for the recent dip in quality, then it is a big mistake to try to recover that via lower warranty periods which can only serve to alienate a customer base suffering poorer quality gear failing in shorter periods and a lower warranty protection on those components.

    Typical big business, they cant see the scrap pile for the cheap labour that created it with shoddy workmanship. Seagate will have to drop thier prices to match others in the market place before they get any more business from me in this area, but I wonder if this is the top of the slippery slope to obscurity? They wont be the first "Big Boy" to fall from view.

    Paris cos she understands all about being screwed

  35. Paul

    reliability sucks

    at work we bought a batch of 16 x 320G drives, of which five failed and were sent to Seagate - nearly 33% failure rate in the first 10 months! We've had four 750G drives fail out of 160, so 1 in 40 or 2.5% in under a year.

    I never used to be worried about my personal/home server data, but now I am *religious* about ensuring data is triplicated - once on server (mirrored), backup on my desktop, and an encrypted tarball on my NAS.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you keep drives in service for that long anyway?

    Perhaps I'm a little weird, but I simply don't expect modern hard drives - no matter who manufactures them - to live longer than two or three years anyway. I do backups properly (google for jwz's guide on how to do it properly), stagger drive replacements, and simply figure that the ridiculous amounts of storage space for fairly low financial cost gets traded for a need to conduct regular replacements. Of course, I don't have vast amounts of media that I'm hoarding, either. (I also use whole-disk encryption, and I have a somewhat hyperactive teenager who is more than happy to be put to work physically destroying "retired" drives.)

    So the way I see it, unless you have ridiculous expectatios of what modern drives should really be expected to handle anyway, this doesn't really mean much.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    if drives fail after 4 or 5 years they have to be replaced by LARGER drives. Models tend to be in production only 2 years .....

    Make drive crash. call in. free upgrade to larger model ...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1 year PC warranty covers the drive after three years?

    I hardly think so. Seagate is just looking to save some pennies and perhaps convince white-box builders to buy retail rather than bare drives. The PC manufacturer warranties rarely live up to the warranties covered by the component manufacturers. In fact, one can make a decent profit buying out-of-warranty PCs cheap, replacing the bad parts on their own warranties, and reselling the fixed PCs.

  39. James O'Brien

    Western Digital FTW

    I have always used WD drives when I had the choice. Not only for their quality (that I have seen) but also for their customer support. Granted yes I prefer to pay a little more for the Enterprise level drives but 5 year warranty, great customer support and a rock solid drive to boot = win win in my book.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    At lot of drive failures are due to heat. Faster, bigger, always on = HOTTER. Adding extra HDD's to small form factor boxes with inadequate cooling, quieter because the fan's been slowed, will increase the heat load and markedly decrease the MTBF of all HDD's and other components in the box. Home modders turning pedestrian PC's into home theatre systems and gaming machines are the issue. Seagate have sidestepped the issue by pushing this back on the box vendor, as they should. External drives don't run as long and are wrapped appropriately, can't be stacked. The moral, look after your drives and they'll serve you well.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    I think its the manufacturing (or, more accurately - where they are manufactured)

    I bought 3 500GB (ahem ... 465GB I guess) drives from Seagate this spring.

    The two drives that had "Made in China" stamped on them died - one would power down after it warmed it (though was cool to the touch outside), the other suddenly couldn't format past 51% without freezing up). The Singapore drive kept humming along.

    I'm kind of happy that the refurbs I got under the warranty are "Refurbished in Singapore" - however, with the reduction in warranty, and the quality of the line coming out of China, these will probably be the last Seagate drives I buy - and I'd been buying from them for 15 years now.

    It was a nice ride - even if the early Barracuda 4GB SCSI got hot enough to cook on.

    Stupid decision, guys. You'll pay for it dearly.

  42. Stuart Halliday
    IT Angle

    Duh people

    Can't anyone understand why Seagate are doing this?

    They sell the drives to shops at a price with a warranty, if they reduce the warranty period then they can sell the drive to the distributor for the same amount and so they make more of a profit as they can forget about the tiresome 5% that fail in year 4 or 5 and cost them money.

    Most people don't know or care what the warranty the drive they have is. Indeed most people don't know what a hard drive looks like or what brand it is!

    If you are an IT bod, you buy Enterprise drives anyway as standard don't you? These are still 5 years and are quality drives. Surely you don't buy the rubbishy cheap OEM ones? :-)

  43. Doug Glass

    I Stopped Buying Seagate Because ...

    ... I had four drive failures (all within a six month period) with 2-3 years warranty remaining on each drive; Seagate did replace them free of charge.

    Based on MY experience, I believe I will be better served by buying other brand drives. It's kind of like buying condoms, if 14% of the time you get baby, you might want to think about using a "safer" brand.

  44. Robert M. Stockmann

    use surge protection

    use multiple socket lines with surge protection and mains filter, to hookup

    your PC (with Seagate drives) and home video theater. After this

    the 5 year warranty will look like a 5 hour walk in the park on a sunny

    sunday afternoon. The electricity companies, like Enron and other nasty

    globalist conglomerates simply do not put the interests and wellbeing of

    their most loyal paying customers first. If you want to know the dirty

    details read :




    Robert M. Stockmann - RHCE

    Network Engineer - UNIX/Linux Specialist

  45. Tony Rogers

    HDD Outdated or Obsolete

    Will many people be using HDD's in a few years time ?

    The advent of Flash Drive Memory would appear to be the death knell of the HDD.

    Without the silicon manufacturing plant to make them......what hope for many of the

    main industry names still being about in 3 years time.

    Time to stop worrying about the warranty issues.

    A Warranty is a piece of paper with writing on.

    It is only as good as the intentions of the provider.

    The company has to be in existance to honour any "threats" contained in the offer !

    Happy Christmas.

  46. kerry lyons
    Black Helicopters

    Warranty is worthless anyhow

    A fried of mine rang Seagate in the USA recently after one of his sata drives failed. It was 2-3 years old, so he was expecting the warranty to cover him. Turns out that it was actually out of warranty. What Seagate DON'T tell consumers is that the warranty starts from when the drive is manufactured, NOT when the customer buys it from a retailer. So if it's been sitting on a shelf for 3 years before you buy, you only get 2 years warranty. Good, isn't it?

    Trading Standards in the UK aren't interested, because they say Seagate is an American company, and thus out of their remit. Cop-out, anyone?

  47. Steven Snape

    I have never used their drives anyway

    I just hope it doesnt affect the quality from other manufacturers. I still have memories of the doomed Fujitsu MPG-3 series of drives with the ticking timebomb Cirrus Logic chips.

    On a personal note. I have never bought a Seatgate drive because of the percentage of failures I have seen of their drives fitted to branded equipment. Maybe my perception is wrong because they just have more drives out there after striking deals with the big name high street pc builders.

    Also as a small time PC repair business I have never returned a HDD to a manufacturer under warranty. After reading the returns procedure which roughly reads, run their test software, ship to ireland, wait 6 weeks, hope they find the fault or have to pay some cash to have the drive shipped back. All this for a 3 year old 40GB drive that I could replace/upgrade for £25 Why would I bother??

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To belabor the obvious.

    Clearly Seagate believes its customers are idiots. Otherwise, they would never consider trying to assert with a straight face that the change does not reflect lower confidence in the quality of the drives but is designed to better reflect current industry standards and to improve other aspects of its customer support programs.

    Those of us that have grey hair are familiar with something called the "bathtub curve." Basically it refers to the characteristic shape of the plot of failure rate versus time that applies to most products of any technical complexity.

    Failure rates are initially high as undetected manufacturing flaws are shaken out. Then failure rates drop and stay low until the products begin to wear out, at which point failure rates increase dramatically. The statement that "95% of the failures occur in the first three years" tells us little or nothing about the reliability of the drives. It the majority are in the first few months, it's a question of manufacturing quality. (Quality could be excellent or rotten--without knowing the actual percentage of drives sold represented by this data point, one can not tell.) Conversely, if a significant fraction of the 95% of the failures are occurring toward the end of the three-year period, it would denote things are wearing out in normal use. This would explain Seagate's decision.

    A number of commenters posed some logical questions as to "why now?" with regard to Seagate's actions. I think the answer can be found in basic trends in microprocessor design, and in the effects of those trends on the market. It is generally conceded that. because of fundamental physical limitations, the trend to faster clock speeds has leveled out. Microprocessor vendors are moving to multicore architectures. These are inherently more difficult to program, and my guess is systems incorporating them will cost more. The current practice of offsetting increasing cost by loading PC systems up with applications whose sole purpose is to induce the user to but additional software or services has about reached the end of its string as well. (I have a desktop system from a major company at home that has so much junk running in the background that it has become virtually useless.)

    The Vista operating system has been by many accounts a debacle. The net result of all this may be that the majority of us who traded up every three years or so may simply decide to stick with our current systems longer. If the 95% failures Seagate is encountering represent the back end of the bathtub curve this could put them in a world of hurt in the future.

    As an aside, all this may be a moot point. The hard-core technical types in this discussion might want to look into the subject of electron migration, as it relates to some of our mythic believes about "solid state reliability:" and microprocessors.

    Just one grey-haired old man's observations.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    @kerry Lyons - warranty problem

    " A fried of mine rang Seagate in the USA recently after one of his sata drives failed. It was 2-3 years old, so he was expecting the warranty to cover him. Turns out that it was actually out of warranty. What Seagate DON'T tell consumers is that the warranty starts from when the drive is manufactured, NOT when the customer buys it from a retailer. So if it's been sitting on a shelf for 3 years before you buy, you only get 2 years warranty. Good, isn't it?

    Trading Standards in the UK aren't interested, because they say Seagate is an American company, and thus out of their remit. Cop-out, anyone?"

    I too, bought and "off the shelf" model which turned out to have already been "warranty expired" by the manufacturer... However, in the US, the warranty starts the moment the consumer purchases the item; NOT when the manufacturer pops it off their production line. If they refuse to honor the warranty the customer should contact the state attorney general and the FTC.

    Note about my bad drive...a short email discourse to the company with a copy of the original receipt solved my / reconditioned drive sent out.. As I was told by the company in question....drivers are ALL warranty expired as they are made and they make NO attempt to correct the issue unless the customer has the receipt showing exactly when the drive was purchase....

    As for Seagate - I think they are cutting their own thoats with this....I just purchased two oem driver for my computer and my neighbors computer....because they were Seagate with 5 year warranty on them.

  50. elderlybloke

    My 300 GB drive died at 18 months

    but the local computer firm I purchased it from replaced it without cost,.(About a year ago)

    They said that Seagate were having a bad time with early failures, rather like IBM did a few years ago.

    Got computer upgraded (well new really) and now have 2 drives, and I keep good records about things I buy.

    You never know when you need to provide the evidence.

  51. Oliver Munyaradzi


    I really don't see what all the moaning and complaining is about. I used to do computer assembly in a two man shop for individuals and small businesses alike, and as far as hard drives went, the deciding factor was price. The drives are all pretty much the same nowadays, such that individual end-users should mostly buy on price. If you buy a drive today, and it's still working after a year, it probably will continue to work for many years. Having a five-year warranty for end-users (through distributors) makes no sense really because pouring even a little money into those last two years is a waste considering that I, like most other people, buy a drive for e.g. $150, then if it fails four years later, the invoice/receipt/proof of purchase has been lost, I've had four years of service from it, and any hard feelings from lost data might result in a change of brand, but I wouldn't bother calling Seagate about a drive that's four or five years old. I refuse to sit in a call center phone queue wasting my time over a five year old drive that cost me $150.

    In the Enterprise however, five years v. 3 years makes BIG DIFFERENCE. I won't calim to know much about the data center business, but to me if I build an enterprise storage network, because of the sheer number of drives I NEED to have that warranty even five years out, assuming of course that data centers aren't rebuilt every 3 years, which they most probably are not. BUT, in this case too Google's approach makes sense: buy a crap-load of consumer drives KNOWING that x% of them will fail and build a storage solution with appropriate algorithms to provide redundancy for those x% of drives, then you avoid having to buy enterprise SAS and other such solutions. Sure, performance won't be as high per drive, but through some clever logic and a huge number of drives, I believe the numbers could be made to work and provide performance while reducing cost. So even though the enterprise case for 5 year warranties makes sense, that's only for all who follow a more traditional approach to enterprise storage i.e. not Google.

    Mines the one with "Makes absolutely no difference for Joe Six-pack or Jane Doe buying a hard drive for their home computer" on the back

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