by Kevin OBrien

Western Digital and Seagate Cut Hard Drive Warranty Lengths

In the past few days the hard drive market has seen a huge shift in warranty periods from Western Digital and Seagate. In some cases warranty lengths have been reduced from five years to just 12 months, with the biggest drop in budget or low-power drives. With many enthusiasts undoubtedly worried about this drastic restructuring of warranty terms, it's important to remember this is reflecting a business alignment in warranty lengths and not a reduction in drive quality.

For the foreseeable future both Western Digital and Seagate have limited their warranty reductions to consumer or near-line hard drives. None of the current mission-critical enterprise drives have had warranty lengths change, including 10,000 and 15,000RPM 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives. The main focal point of this shift is around the consumer market, which in the desktop or notebook markets see warranty lengths in the 12 to 24-month range.

From Western Digital starting January 2nd, 2012, products from the Caviar Green, Caviar Blue, and Scorpio Blue lines will see warranty reductions from three years down to two years. The 3.5-inch 5400RPM Caviar Green line includes models targeted primarily at the network-attached storage market. The 3.5-inch 7200RPM Caviar Blue and 2.5-inch 5400RPM Scorpio Blue hard drives are most commonly found in commodity or budget notebook and desktop systems. The faster 7200RPM 2.5-inch Scorpio Black and 3.5-inch Caviar Black drives will retain their current five year warranty periods. Western Digital has also said that the enterprise and AV models will have their warranty lengths untouched.

Seagate was quick to post similar warranty changes on the tail of Western Digital's announcement, although in a few cases posted much steeper drops. Hard drive models found in the 3.5-inch Barracuda and Barracuda Green lines will see warranties drop from 5 years to just 12 months. The 2.5-inch 5400 and 7200RPM Momentus notebook drives also dropped to just one year. These models also focus primarily on the consumer notebook and large-capacity NAS markets. The recently released 750GB Momentus XT will see a drop from 5 years to 3 years. Seagate also posted changes to their SAS/SATA 7200RPM 2.5-inch Constellation 2 and 3.5-inch Constellation ES.2 near-line models, dropping them to just three years. AV drives in the SV35 and Pipeline HD mini lines had warranties reduced to 2 years. Only Seagate's 10,000RPM and 15,000RPM mission-critical enterprise models from the Savvio and Cheetah lines retained their previous warranty lengths, as well as external devices.

Speaking with Seagate, their official statement was as follows:

Seagate is standardizing its warranty terms to be more consistent with those commonly applied throughout the consumer electronics and technology industries. By aligning to current industry standards, Seagate can continue to focus its investments on technology innovation and unique product features that drive value for our customers.

The new warranty periods apply to some of Seagate’s internal hard drives designed for laptops, desktops and consumer electronics devices. There is no warranty change to mission critical enterprise drives or Seagate branded external solutions. These changes take effect December 31, 2011. All shipments before the effective date will carry the current warranty term associated with those products.

As a worldwide leader in hard drive storage, Seagate stands behind its product quality and is committed to providing customers with the most reliable storage solutions available anywhere.

Western Digital's official statement to us is below:

WD is continually evaluating the best mix of product and service features that benefit our customer base as a whole – from end users to systems integrators, PC manufacturers and distributors. WD provides exceptional quality, service and reliability and sets its warranty policy to best serve customers, while remaining competitive and financially sound.

The change in warranty policy is independent of our recovery from the Thailand floods. WD designs and manufactures its hard drives at the highest quality in the industry, and has built a reputation throughout the industry for superior quality. Under the slightly lower cost structure of our new warranty policy, WD can, to an even greater degree than before, reinvest the resources into enhancing our key deliverables to customers: industry-leading technology, quality, reliability, service and support. Standard PC warranties are one year. Even so, WD has maintained five-year warranties on its premium desktop/notebook products, including the WD Caviar Black, WD Scorpio Black and WD VelociRaptor products.

We know from providing reliable storage products of the highest quality for more than 40 years that customers will evaluate each hard drive brand’s quality, performance and service – including warranty period – when determining the best overall hard drive value.

We also know that product quality offers customers greater overall value than an extended warranty period. Returning a failed hard drive to its manufacturer for warranty replacement costs customers time and, in some cases, lost productivity. Avoiding these hassles altogether with reliable products of high quality is WD’s primary, ongoing goal.

New Seagate Warranty Lengths New Western Digital Warranty Lengths
  • Barracuda and Barracuda Green 3.5-inch drives: 12 Months
  • Momentus 2.5-inch (5400 and 7200RPM): 12 Months
  • Barracuda XT: Three years
  • Momentus XT: Three years
  • SV35: Two years
  • Pipeline HD Mini and Pipeline HD: Two years
  • Constellation 2 and ES.2 drives: Three years
  • Caviar Green 3.5-inch: Two Years
  • Caviar Blue 3.5-inch: Two Years
  • Scorpio Blue 2.5-inch: Two Years

 

 

Given all the trouble Western Digital and Seagate are having with flooding and the resulting inventory crunch, it's easy for the pessimist to assume that both are simply cashing in at a time when buyers have few options. Seagate is quick to point out that savings will be re-invested in better drive technologies while Western Digital ... It's an odd juxtaposition however with the SSD space, that has been expanding warranties in many cases to assuage concern over the longevity of flash technology.

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