Just got an email from Seagate’s reseller partner alias. (They like to send out a number of emails once you’ve returned a drive or two.) Effective January 3/09, warranties for ‘bare’ drives – mostly available from resellers such as NCIX and Canada Computers – will shrink from 5 years to three. Existing purchases and purchases before this date will maintain five years of coverage. As a consultant, I’ve purchased this type of Seagate hard drive for myself and clients exclusively over the past seven years.
This warranty reduction is a drastic change. (You can see Seagate’s new table of coverage on their site.) A 5 year warranty on a drive is a statement of quality – that the manufacturer recognizes a potential 1-2% yearly failure rate and is willing to account for it. Replacing the drive for no cost won’t help get your data back, but having to pay for another drive on top of losing files is an insult following injury. (Most new systems I configure have a RAID-1 setup, which gives an additional level of security in the event of drive failure.)
Unless this policy changes, come January 2009, I’ll begin recommending Western Digital Caviar Black bare drives for new systems and any upgrades to my sufficiently-large RAID setup. These drives continue to have a 5-year warranty and currently sell for less money than the Seagate equivalent.