Hard Drive Manufacturers Slash Warranty Periods

Seagate and Western Digital are cutting back on hard drive warranties, in some instances from five years to one, in order to save money or redirect it to product development.

Seagate's warranties on certain drives will be reduced as of Dec. 31, and WD will follow beginning Jan. 2. All drives shipped prior to those dates will continue to carry the current warranty term associated with the products.

The warranty period reductions, first reported by The Register, mean some of Seagate's and WD's most popular drives for desktops and laptops will no longer carry three- or five-year warranties.

In an email response to Computerworld, Seagate said it was reducing warranty periods as a way to standardize its 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 company said.

In other words, Seagate is redirecting money previously spent on upholding longer warranties in order to invest in product development.

Seagate is even cutting back the warranty on its hybrid drive, The Momentus XT, which combines NAND flash-based solid state storage with spinning disk.

Seagate's new warranties apply to internal hard drives designed for laptops, desktops and consumer electronics devices. Seagate said there is no warranty change to "mission critical enterprise drives," such as its Cheetah line, or Seagate external drives.

Seagate said it is reducing its warranty periods from five years to three years for nearline products, such as the Constellation 2 series. Even Seagate's new hybrid drive, the Momentus XT , is seeing its warranty period cut from five to three years.

In a more radical move, Seagate will also be changing its warranty policy from five years to one year for certain desktop and notebook drives, such as the Barracuda and Barracuda Green 3.5-inch drives and the Momentus 2.5-inch (5400 and 7200rpm):

Seagate's nearline drives, the Constellation 2 and ES.2 drives, are moving from five- to three-year warranties.

A WD spokesperson, meanwhile, said the company "is continually evaluating the best mix of product and service features that benefit our customer base as a whole."

WD would not give a reason for its warranty change, but the spokesperson denied it had anything to do with flooding in Thailand, which has severely affected the company's ability to manufacture products.

WD is reducing the warranties on its Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue drives from three years to two.

"Standard PC warranties are one year. Even so, WD will continue to maintain five-year warranties on its premium desktop/notebook products, including the WD Caviar Black, WD Scorpio Black and WD VelociRaptor products," a spokesperson wrote in an email reply.

The company is also expected to begin charging for extended warranties, according to a WD distributor's letter to customers.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

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