Manufacturers Slash Hard Drive Warranties

Maxtor Corp., Seagate Technology LLC and Western Digital Corp. plan on drastically cutting their desktop hard drive warranty periods. According to an ARNnet article, all three will cut their three year coverage to just one as of October 1.

The trio defends the move, citing increased reliability and comparing their warranty period with other computer components. From the article:

The manufacturers and many of their distributors in Australia are defending the decision based on several assumptions. The first is that hard drive reliability has improved to the point where a three-year warranty is no longer a necessity. The second is that most hard drives that do fail will do so within the first few months of purchase. The third assumption is that many, if not most, other PC components only carry one-year warranties, so standardizing on a one-year warranty makes the service of the whole computer inherently more manageable. Finally, the decision is designed to suit the larger tier-one PC vendors that only offer a one-year warranty on their low-end desktop models.

While overall reliability has improved, not everyone agrees with their conclusions.

The three vendors in question claim that if hard drives do fail, they are likely to do so within the first few months of purchase. But resellers and systems integrators disagree. "Ninety percent of hard drive warranty claims are either in those first few months or in between the first and second year of use," said Malex Reed, managing director of First Technology Computers.

Daniel Loski, vice president of sales for Western Digital in South Asia, said the decision aligns hard drive warranties with the warranties on most components in a personal computer. But one wholesaler has pointed out that while this is true for processors and memory, there are still several products that carry three-year warranties, including graphics cards and motherboards.

The move wonit just affect end users. Whitebox computer assemblers could also be put at a disadvantage. One of the incentives they typically offer over a tier-one reseller like Dell, has been a longer standard warranty. They shoulder more risk if a component isnit covered for their full warranty term.

The message these resellers are receiving from vendors and indeed some of their distributors, is "adapt or perish". Maxtoris Davis believes systems integrators have a choice of following the market trend and offering a one year warranty, or putting higher performance drives in their machines that still carry a three year warranty.

The article was not clear about whether hard drive pricing would remain the same with the reduced warranty.