back to article Seagate matches and raises WD disk warranty cuts

Seagate is cutting most Barracuda and Momentus warranty periods down to one year with others moving from five-year warranties to three. Following on from Western Digital cutting some of its warranty periods to two years, we learn that Seagate is going further. In a letter to its authorised distributors, dated 6 December 2011, …


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  1. Keith T

    SSDs are the way of the future. Seagate and WD are milking the last of a dying market.

    Far more likely translation: Seagate needs to switch some warranty funding into shareholder profits, and figures it can do this by shafting its customers.

    SSDs are the way of the future. Seagate and WD are milking the last of a dying market.

    Yes, even with 1 year life expectancies their products easily outlast SSDs, but while SSDs are quickly improving, the warranty changes prove, HDDs are rapidly moving backwards.

    1. Charles 9

      Magnetic drives aren't going away.

      There still remains a demand for bulk data storage. SSD is still too expensive for that level of storage and no other form of media in the mass market can store so much in one device (a 2TB HDD holds 40x the storage of a dual-layer BluRay). So while there may be less demand these days for PERFORMANCE hard drives, hard drives with an emphasis on pure storage will remain popular for a while yet.

      That said, hard drive capacity at least on the consumer level will probably plateau at 2TB for a little while as computers sort out the kinds of compatibilities necessary to go beyond this tier. and reach mass-penetration themselves.

      1. Rob Dobs

        and thats assuming they dont move forward

        I would expect due to tech improvements, that drives should start hitting 5-10TB withing the next year or so. Remember some tech discoveries yield more than others... its possible Mechanical drives could make a major leap and hit 50-100TB within a year or two.

        There is no way SSD's will be able to keep pace.

        There are now two distinctly viable medium, one for performance, one for storage. SSD's will continue to be used for System, apps and games, while Mechanical disks are used for volume storage.

        I could maybe see HD taking over for Tape, but really that still has its place in locations that require massive amounts of data to be backed up daily.

        Both drive types will be around for a long time to come.

        Only when flash chip technology starts putting out chips that have comparable capacity to current model mechanical drives, can you even start to speculate on their demise. And even then it will only happen if said chips are produced at a price that is equal or cheaper.

    2. Ammaross Danan


      The only thing dying about Seagate is likely the company itself due to a bad reputation on hard disk failures. HDDs won't be killed by SSDs anytime soon as SSDs are limited by the die-size of the cells (currently dropping to around 22nm). Once they hit a point of diminishing returns (7-12nm likely), they'll have to start going to 3-level MLC or higher, and likely have to stack chips to up their density. Regardless, HDDs still have a higher bit density and easier/lower cost to manufacture. Furthermore, we know that NAND flash is running the end of its era and that other flash technologies will be stepping in within the next 3 years, hopefully yielding better densities and economies of scale, but we know there are similar "new" techs being developed by HDD companies (BPM, HAMR, etc) that will allow HDDs to easily reach 10TB with only 3 platters in the next 5 years.

    3. James Katt

      SSDs cannot replace all HDDs.

      Sure, SSDs are the future.

      The problem is that SSDs are extremely expensive and they last a shorter time than Hard Disk Drives.

      So even if you get an SSD, how are you going to back up the data??? On inexpensive Hard Disk Drives, of course.

      For one SSD, one can buy up to 10 hard disk drives. It is a no brainer that one needs at least 3 back ups for one drive. For this, Hard Disk Drives are the solution.

      SSDs will NEVER go down in price for the foreseeable future. Because of this, hard disk drives will always have a need and a future.

  2. Kevin Fairhurst


    If current warranty terms mean that for every five drives they make, they sell four and keep one in reserve, and these new terms mean they keep one from every ten drives made, then this is just a way of them putting more drives in to the channel at a time when reserves are low & prices are high?

    1. Captain Scarlet


      I don't think they hold hard drives in reserve, they would put money aside to cover the cost of hard drives replacements when they fail, they would simply provide whatever is the equivalent hard drive is at that time.

  3. ElNumbre

    My only conclusion.

    My only conclusion from this is that the product quality is going down and WD can't afford to support the drives which they believe will likely fail in less than the warrantied period.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    So... stand out from the crowd, it decides to make it's product less appealing and offer a worse service.

    Of course our marketing droids will desperatly try to feed it like it's good news.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which warranty?

    As far as I know (ie unless it has been withdrawn), there is EU legislation that pretty much forces suppliers to offer consumers (ie not businesses) a minimum of two years warranty on most products. Disk drives are not exempt. Obviously it's not in the industry's interest to ensure you are aware of this. Note that (afaik) business to business transactions are not covered by this legislation.

    The legal responsibility for this two year warranty is the company from who the end user buys the disk drive. The seller, not the manufacturer. Any manufacturer-provided warranty over and above that was and is a bonus.

    Perhaps once upon a time a longer warranty might have distinguished one manufacturer's offerings from another, but now the disk drive manufacturers all use the same basic components from the same factories in Thailand and elsewhere, it's harder for any vendor to claim their reliability is any different than anyone else.

    So when a disk drive manufacturer changes their warranty Ts+Cs, it doesn't (afaik) change the fact that a disk drive is required to come with at least two years warranty, if bought in a normal consumer transaction.

  6. Turtle


    Competition - gotta love it.

  7. MacRat

    And so it begins

    The consolidation of manufacturers and the "benefit" for consumers.

  8. Nick Gisburne

    Deals behind closed doors

    Could the HD companies not at least try to make it look like they haven't all got together and agreed this between them? Normal competition sees companies try to offer better service, products and value, so as to out-market the other companies in the field. Diving to lower levels of service, and announcing those low levels on practically the same day, smacks of shady back-room deals. Long warranties cost money, so it appears that they've all collectively decided to claw back some of that money. It's the same kind of dodgy operating as price fixing, and they couldn't even be bothered to stagger the announcements by a few weeks - the WD warranty reductions were reported only 24 hours ago.

  9. Danny 5
    Thumb Down


    a thinly veiled attempt at cutting costs for replacing/repairing dodgy disks.

  10. Kurgan

    Those pesky disk manufacturers...

    What we need is reliable disks, not 10-terabytes disks. They should focus on reliability, and the do exactly the opposite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "They should focus on reliability, and the do exactly the opposite."

      True, although reliability is kind of hard to measure and advertise and doesn't necessarily result in massive sales. In operating systems, for example, VMS was about as reliable as you could get outside of a real mainframe. V what? Exactly.

      Extra performance, on the other hand, is often more useful than extra terabytes and reasonably easy to measure, and might even be worth advertising.

      The first 10k rpm ATA drives came out nearly ten years ago. But has the volume market moved beyond 7200rpm yet? I think I even saw a 5k rpm drive (3" not laptop size) on someone's stocklist a few days ago. What's that all about? Someone trying to revive the Quantum Bigfoot concept - old and dated technology revived to see if there might still be money in it if sold to the clueless DSG/PC World market?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consumers you are being well and trully


    1. Manu T

      re: Consumers you are being well and trully

      Indeed we are.

      However in certain parts of Europe by warranty is regulated by Law and 2 years for consumers.

      So in essence these manufacturors are breaching these trade-laws!!! And where's e.g. the European union to ban these products?

      It's clear what's going on here. The men-in-middle gets all the heavy weight as e.g. PC-retailers HAVE to adhere to this obligatory 2 year warranty while manufacturors of the individual components don't.

      This will add to more anti-consumerism (which in effect causes more declining sales and so on...). They don't seem to get it, do they? First removing labour out of the western world (while still expecting western consumers to 'consume'). Secondly lowering quality and warranty making a bad situation worse. What's next?

      Again I ask you... who is running these mega-multi-corporations these days? Monkey-brains and rat's asses?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Rather pointless

    I've always found drive warranties rather pointless. You have to buy another drive anyway as the replacements take forever and they make you jump through so many hoops it's often not worth it.

    I had a drive go bad in a Linux box but the manufacturer insisted I plug the drive into a Windows install to run some test software. Any Linux or Mac users would have had to do this, and it was rather a pain. If a drive isn't spinning up properly I don't need a piece of software to verify the blasted thing is borked!

    1. Rob Dobs

      WD has been good to me so far

      I have had two WD drives die within their warranty period, the rest far outlived their warranty span.

      When I called WD, they asked for serial number and model of drive, and gave me an RMA number and address to ship the drive to. All of this took less than 5 minutes.

      I had to pay shipping, but at UPS ground it was only a few dollars.

      The replacement drive took about 2-3 weeks from the time I shipped out the first drive, which I considered a pretty fair turnaround.

      They did replace one 500GB drive with a 640GB drive, but I consider that an improvement.

      Part of the reason I will continue to buy WD drives. (My most recently purchased system drives have a warranty good until 2016.) I think the recent drop in warranty period, is party profit skimming/belt tightening, but also reflects their prediction that drives will be less reliable for a year or so until they get over the flooding in Thailand. Salvaged equipment, and factories working beyond their normal capacity means that drives will not build to the same exacting tolerances, and will much more likely fail.

  13. paul clarke

    Cos they are pants?

    Has anyone had a 2.5" SATA drive last more than 2 years? I think if they have confidence in their product then they should have no problem offering a 5 year warranty. The problem is, the plants are all contaminated and so they do not have confidence that the parts will be ok for 5 years.

    I think SSD's are still way too expensive at the moment for mainstream computing.

    1. Rob Dobs


      My two oldest drive still in my system are 2x 120GB drives from Western Digital. I have them in a stripped array (I know daring of me) so I get a 240GB drive that runs almost double performance. After about three years of "living on the edge" so to speak, I went ahead and got another 2 Western Digital drives. At first I was going to mirror these, and use them to make a real reliable back-up of the stripped 240GB drive, but when they actually arrived, my hands seemed to have a mind of their own, and insisted in setting up another stripped array, this time a nice 500GB drive, (again with double the performance speed). I duplicated all my important files from the old stripe to the new stripe, and still have yet to have any problems. I'm about to upgrade my whole system, but mainly for graphics, as this creaky old beast still sports only and AGP port for graphics, and I have already dropped a 3850 in, which is about all the AGP port can take. I'll either migrate these drives to other systems, or re-use them as extra OS test drives in the new system.

      To answer in short, yes a pair of stripped WD 120GB are running for WELL OVER 5 YEARS now, with no issues whatso-ever, and the second pair is running for over 3 years now, also with no issues.

      And yes in case you are wondering, I use the shit out of them. I have wiped and filled the entire drive on many occasions, have used them to host files for games (meaning lots of read and writes, for about 2 years the oldest pair also hosted my OS swap file. So they have gotten a lot usage. I used to turn on/off my system daily, so they got over 1000 power cycles easily, but for the last year or so I tend to just leave the system running., so they have also managed to stay on for a long time too.

      I also have a few Quantum 10GB, WD 40GB and Seagate 80GB drives, (all of which seem to be the size of each manufacturers prime days) and all are still running. I have used them off and on to set up many temp systems for testing, or just as large transfer disks to migrate 10's of GB of data). The 40GB drive even spent a few years as a DVR disk so it really got written/wiped a lot of times.

      All of them are pushing 10 years and all run just great.

      Sure I've had a few failures, but for the most part they have been VERY reliable drives, though I tend to buy the more reliable (enterprise/RE/Black) level of Western Digital drives too.

    2. Rob Dobs


      missed the 2.5" part, first reply was mainly regarding the normal sized 3.5" IDE/SATA drives

      But the answer is some what the same.. yes I have.

      Granted the 2.5" drives tend to be in more portable, banged around devices like laptops, so its no surprise they fail more often, but that said I have owned, and seen several laptops drives last from 3-5 years. Its alot to do with how they are treated. Still have a 10GB drive in a old 200mhz CPU Toshiba laptop that still boots and runs fine (think its a quantum, but not sure).

      have two WD laptops drives that are pushing 2-3 years now, and an older one that was a cast-off from work (320GB WD) that is pushing 5 years.

    3. Youngdog

      Yep - I got a few floors full of them spinning away happily enough

      10K RPM WD Raptors and failures few and far between. My biggest problem is the move to AFS will mean I have to drop to 7200 as I haven't found a 10K yet that supports it - any ideas anyone?

  14. ghobson

    Disk reliability cover up

    Over the years i have seen the reliability of harddrives go down as their size grows.

    This is clearly a move to squeeze more money out of customers.

    I for one would like to see a smarter SMART ;)

  15. G2

    lawsuit incoming in 3....2....1.....

    limiting warranties to less than two years will not pass in Europe, here the minimum mandatory warranty period is 2 years as stated in Directive 1999/44/EC and adopted as such in the legislation of the Member Nations


    (17) Whereas it is appropriate to limit in time the period during which the seller is liable for any lack of conformity which exists at the time of delivery of the goods; whereas Member States may also provide for a limitation on the period during which consumers can exercise their rights, provided such a period does not expire within two years from the time of delivery; whereas where, under national legislation, the time when a limitation period starts is not the time of delivery of the goods, the total duration of the limitation period provided for by national law may not be shorter than two years from the time of delivery;


    Article 5 - Time limits

    1. The seller shall be held liable under Article 3 where the lack of conformity becomes apparent within two years as from delivery of the goods. If, under national legislation, the rights laid down in Article 3(2) are subject to a limitation period, that period shall not expire within a period of two years from the time of delivery.


    this minimum term of two years is further highlighted by a common letter of the Commission and European Parliament from 2007



    The seller is liable under Article 3 where the lack of conformity becomes apparent within two years as from the moment of delivery.


    Also, article 7 of Directive 1999/44/EC has this to say:


    Binding nature

    1. Any contractual terms or agreements concluded with the seller before the lack of conformity is brought to the seller's attention which directly or indirectly waive or restrict the rights resulting from this Directive shall, as provided for by national law, not be binding on the consumer.

    Member States may provide that, in the case of second-hand goods, the seller and consumer may agree contractual terms or agreements which have a shorter time period for the liability of the seller than that set down in Article 5(1). Such period may not be less than one year.


    please note that warranties of one year are acceptable only for second-hand goods.

    I'm sooo looking forward to the day when the European Class Action lawsuits (called "collective redress") can finally be launched at such sellers/manufacturers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @G2 re EU law re warranty

      Thank you very much for the references which I cba looking up earlier.

      Please do note though, that as per your extracts and as per my earlier posting:

      (1) the two year warranty rules apply to consumer transactions ( being a strong hint) ie the typical IT department doesn't benefit

      (2) the obligation to provide a minimum of two years warranty falls on the seller not the manufacturer (ie the warranty arrangements are between the consumer and DSG, eBuyer, Scan, etc). The manufacturer can of course offer something better, e.g. to encourage people to buy their product rather than a "competitor" product.

      If retailers in the consumer market want to stop selling a particular manufacturer's drives because the manufacturer warranty no longer covers the legal minimum which the retailer must provide for consumer warranty, that's between the retailer and wherever the retailer buys from.

      What these retailers CANNOT legally do is deny the consumer the consumer's legally enforceable right to a two year warranty.

      The one year minimum warranty on second hand goods (which I'd forgotten) should shut eBay down fairly soon. Or it would if there was any prospect of the UK enforcing it.

      Have a nice weekend.


      I don't like the word "consumer" but it is widely understood in cases like this.

    2. Manu T

      RE: lawsuit incoming in 3....2....1.....

      The key-word here is "consumers".

      Unfortunatly most parties that buys harddrives aren't consumers. PC- assembly-lines, Media-recorder manufacturers, etc... these are the major clients of HDD's. If am correct mandatory warranty period between professionals is still one (1) year.

      This targets PC-assemblers and so on. Which in my own case means I cannot sell custom-build PC's anymore without way too much risk of getting involved in a lawsuit with my clients.They're killing the small inventive companies with this.

      Soon we only have these brand-chains and techno-supermarkets, each with their known bad after-sales service and equally worse technical knowledge (especaiily if they enforce everyone who's too long unemployed to apply for jobs in these badly payed retail-jobs). I hope they all start having their 'genius bar' :-)

  16. Nigel 11


    This is a marketing wheel that keeps turning. First someone else cuts the warranty to save money and everyone else follows. Then someone increases the warranty to drive sales and everyone else follows.

    I wonder what fraction of warranty failures are actually returned. Most people know that time is money. I don't bother for an 18-month-old drive if a replacement costs £30 or less. Well, not for the first one. I'd stick it on a shelf for the remaining warranty time just in case it was the first of a batch of lemons. And buy the replacement from a different manufacturer because I'm not going to let anyone explicitly profit from shipping a dud.

    Odd they don't seem to want people buying green drives, though. Wonder why? I'd have thought slow and cool would mean more reliable!

  17. J Lewter

    European Rules

    Yea, I think there's several "fit for" rules, so if it failed in 18 months then you could probably argue to get a replacement. The question is, would it be worth the hassle.

    It took YEARS for MSI to replace my badcap motherboard, when they offered to fix it I was no longer using that generation of product.

    I can see a great reason for having no long term warranty for these products. In 5 years there will be none of them in the supply chain to swap out with. I recently purchased a sony tv with a 6 year warranty with the specific view that it's likely to fail, and the replacement for it in 4-5 years time will be a real cracker ;P

  18. Da Weezil

    Warranty Stitch Up....

    I don't trust tech companies warranties on anything now having had a claim denied by ASUS on a high end motherboard. Damn paperwork went missing, the dealer had sunk and although I'm sure I recall registering my product with them, they said they could only use to manufacturing date as a guide to the age - turns out my board was a year in retail channels.

    3 year warranty or longer? I don't trust in that any more... nor do I or anyone I am associated with buy Asus products. I'm sure I can see a decline in the quality and longevity of electronics of late Getting to be so it isn't worth buying a "name" any more, by cheap and expect to junk it within a couple of years...

    1. Manu T

      @ Da Weezil

      Had a similar situation with Samsung smartphone.

      With the consequence that from last year on, I personally veto against ALL Samsung products. All of my friends, family and clients, or anyone whom ask for my advice or want to buy some technical product from me will be refrained from getting ANY Samsung product.

      Like I said. Anti-consumerism IS growing. People are becomming fed-up with 'cwappy chinese pwoducts' and expensive commodity of low durability. This anti-consumerism will only increase as general income declines (in the western world) and consumers simply have to do longer with these consumerproducts (since they can't spend as liberal as they could in the past).

      Now manufacturers decreasing warranty on their stuff only makes matters worse. I predict that declining sales in e.g. computers in 2012 is due to more factors than just flooding in harddrive-manufacturing plants.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it

    that I have a couple of drives in my possession that are nearly as old as I am, and still working, but nowadays they can't promise 2 years and reports of failure both unexplained and catastrophic are still common?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      -- title goes here --

      Because you're very young?

  20. Efros

    The larger HDDs

    Do seem to have a higher failure rate, no absolute figures on this apart from the number of 1 egg reviews on Newegg, and even the best 1TB drive has 10% of its reviews as 1 egg almost always due to drive failure.

  21. Zog The Undeniable

    Race to the bottom

    Few people seem to realise that competition works both ways. if there is an opportunity to make something a bit worse and get away with it, then everyone will leap on the bandwagon, especially if there are very few players in the market and consumers aren't quick or able to react.

    You can see the same thing happening with bank charges and interest rates. The usually reason trotted out is that "our competitors are screwing you, so should we." In some ideal Adam Smith universe everyone is improving efficiency and trying to build a better and cheaper widget for the consumer, but in reality people will do as little as possible, for as much money as possible.

  22. b166er

    Sounds to me like the 2 biggest players got round the table and decided SSD's are the way forward (perhaps based on the flooding nightmare, balanced with the inevitability of solid state).

    So... shaft the regular consumer, whilst keeping the enterprise crowd happy during the transition, by forcing the consumer market to pay for bringing the cost down and reliability up, of SSD's.

  23. poohbear

    Other possible translation: the production machines they salvaged from the floods in Thailand are not producing drives as kosher as they should be.

    1. Figgus

      Even a 1 year warranty is long enough to cover the lifespan of a Seagate drive several times over.

  24. sonic007
    Thumb Down

    Poor decision

    This just shows that Seagate is trying to save money. It also would mean they think the drives wont last any longer than 1-3 years. If they had better quality drives the warranty wouldnt cost them so much. If a manufacturer believes in their product they would have a decent warranty. The drives with one year I wouldnt take a chance on. At least there are some drives left with longer warranties and other companies to deal with.

  25. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Oh Dear.

    They don't have much confidence in their products do they?

    ...And then there were 4...

    1. unitron

      4 what?

      Do you mean total number of drive manufacturers minus Seagate equals one less than five?

      Does that take into account Western Digital buying Hitachi and Seagate buying Samsung?

      (I'm pretty sure it's not the other way 'round).

  26. earl grey

    i quite because their drives were pants

    and not they're coming right out and saying it. wankers

  27. Richard Boyce

    Seller's market

    This should be no surprise. This is a natural consequence of the current state of the market due to the floods in Thailand. With no competition in the market, all prices will rise and all costs will be reduced. When competition returns, prices will come down and warranties will increase. Simples.

  28. MooseNC

    Wow, what a surprise.

    The top two hard drive manufacturers buy out #3 and #4 and then they CUT the warranty period!!! Amazing, guess no one saw that coming. This is a screaming warning sign to all the regulators that they need to fight the acquisitions these two companies propose. Either that or offer a government program that provides free leather-wound mouth guards for when we all get bent over the table just a little bit more by Seagate/WD (Soon to be Seagate Digital or Weyland Yutani, take your pick)

  29. Stifler

    Warranty - not worth much anyways

    I repair PC's and a common problem is hard drive failure. The warranty for a hard drive is basically worthless and vendor hype.

    That's because the replacement drive has always been refurbished and not new. That statement is on the drive's label but may be hard to spot. In my experience, the refurbished drive may not last long as we would expect. I have seen a rebuilt drive fail in a few months or weeks.

    One use of warranty replacement is for non-critical use such as clone copy of a backup. This is risky though if both drives happen to fail.

    Also, a rebuilt HD is useful during computer repair for testing with a temporary operating system installation. I also use them to have a go with trial software and different types of operating systems. The use of a cloned refurb to preserve the existing installation in case of major malfunction has saved me grief.

    Forget about using a warranty replacement refurb drive for permanent, regular use. You might as well put a sign on your back and say kick me please--I am stupid. You are asking for trouble in my experience.

  30. Doug Glass

    Stabdard Corporate Screws

    On 12/10/I1 had a WD 500GB HDD fail; the warranty ran out on 10/4/11. They're all doing whatever is necessary to:

    Increase the bottom line

    Grow the company

    Increase stockholder equity

    I'm lucky I have a printer paper box filled with working HDDs from years past. Gotta love all those brain surgeons who just had to have that 1TB drive and didn't care jack about the old 160s, 250s and 320s.

    Life is good

  31. Hnelson

    WARNING: do NOT send your dead drives back for RMA. You will get a refubished drive and you lose control of the information that you had stored on the dead drive you sent back.

    The reason why I say this? I sent a WD drive in for RMA. For shits and giggles, I threw a forensic drive analyzer program at the returned drive. I was able to recover pretty much everything that was on the drive prior to it crashing and being RMA'd. Yes, WD formatted the drive but did not do a good job of wiping out the data that was on it.

  32. Piro Silver badge


    I remember when Seagate upped the warranty on even the most basic drives to 5 years.

    Now they're going back on it, it's clear they have no faith in their products. Market harmonisation my asshole.

  33. MooseNC


    The main reason for this change is because the large majority of the "new" drives coming out in the next six months will be of questionable quality. Because they don't know how long these drives (Derived from salvaged equipment) will last, they are hedging their bets. The warranty will be restored in about a year.

  34. Dylan Fahey

    About half the disks in my home are warranty replacements....

    About half the disks in my home are warranty replacements and that shows how bad the tech is. I own seagates, WDs and Hitachi's. Luckily most gave warning prior to demise, however one took a huge portion of my backups with it, when it happened to be my only backup. Seagate used to be the best but since then, they bought maxtor and I think incorporated some of that shit technology/engineers into its own drives. Sad to see them go down the road of "screw the customer as much as possible while living on good old brand name". Companies wonder why we have no brand loyalty? My ass hurts from brand loyalty tendencies. Getting screwed by various 'companies' over the years has made my purchasing habits draconian. Give me the biggest bang for the buck, the longest warranty, to TCO. Me a consumer, having to worry about TCO, ain't that a bitch and total bullshit that we can't get what we pay for unless we microscopically look at every facet of a purchase. /end_rant

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