Shorter HDD warranty – are they less reliable?
A news summary of the changes announced by Western Digital and Seagate regarding the warranty period of any HDDs you might buy in 2012. It appears that, in no uncertain terms, they are reducing the warranty period for nearly all consumer drives. This comes as little surprise, given how tight the OEM manufacturers are on replacing failed drives. I know a number of customers who have had difficulties with Lacie/Buffalo/Freecom as they have opened the caddy (not the hard disk assembly) and have voided their warranty in an attempt to retrieve their data.
The question which could be raised is, ‘are the warranty changes a result of decreased reliability in hard disk drives?’ A knee jerk response, would be, “Yes, they are selling worse and worse products and need to reduce the warranty period accordingly to save them money”.
But, one has to consider the way in which hard disk drives are being used presently. Cheadle Data Recovery sees an increasing number of hard disk drives which are used in laptops and external units compared to when we started trading about 6 years ago. These hard disk drives tend to be used ‘on the move’ unlike their desktop computer predecessors. Any increased failure rate could well be attributed to the (mis)handling of these mobile devices which then cause failure. The obvious example which comes to mind is hard disk drives sustaining a physical shock, usually resulting in a clicking or buzzing sound. There is very little way for the hard disk manufacturer to tell if the HDD has sustained a physical shock, and is under an obligation to replace the failed drive, despite the fault lying very much with the owner.
Would you consider it reasonable for John Lewis to replace a broken vase which you dropped? Probably not. Unfortunately most people don’t understand that hard disk drives are incredibly delicate devices. That is not to say that they should, after all many hard disk drives are advertised as ‘portable’, and of course laptops are designed to be used not just at a desk. But in reality an ideal environment for a hard disk to be used is a stable one; physically, electrically and by temperature/humidity. You are not going to get that whilst plugging in your laptop to the AC charger on the mid-summer Virgin Voyager train service from Manchester to London. Be warned.