Seagate Technology has increased the warranty of almost all of its hard drives to five years, reversing a trend toward shorter-period warranties.
The warranties will apply to all of Seagates internal desktop, mobile, and enterprise hard drives that buyers purchase today, excluding external drives, Seagate executives said.
For the past year, the warranties on hard drives have actually declined, while at the same time the drives larger capacities have held more and more data. Meanwhile, companies like IBM have received criticism for placing limitations on the usage of drives like the DeskStar 120GXP, which was only rated for eight consecutive hours of operation per day. Hitachi took over control of IBMs disk-drive assets in 2002.
"I think the reason were doing it – well, theres a couple of reasons, actually," said Joe Cousins, senior director of global channel marketing at Seagate. "Were doing a pretty good job reaching out to customers, and evaluating their needs… also, Seagates warranty of five years rather than one to three years is also a statement of our competence, quality, and reliability investments."
The extended warranty will match the expected "service life" of the drive, which is also five years, Cousins said. "Service life" refers to the period in which the drive is actually used, before it becomes too small or too slow for a user and is discarded.
The drive maker will also honor the five-year warranty on older models that may be sitting on store shelves, a Seagate representative said, although the warranty was designed to be applied to drives shipping to distributors after June 1.
Previously, Seagates warranties covered periods of between one and three years, the industry standard. Rival Maxtor, for example, generally certifies its hard drives for a year of service, with a three-year warranty applied to its latest DiamondMax and MaxLine hard drives. However, Maxtors Atlas SCSI drives also carry the five-year warranty.
Western Digitals warranty program is a bit more restrictive than Maxtors, as the company applies a one-year warranties to the Protege, Caviar , and Caviar SE retail drives; Caviar SE drives sold as a "bare drive" receive a three-year warranty. WDs Raptor enterprise drives receive a five-year warranty. WD customers can also extend the warranty on drives bought at retail for an additional two years by paying a $14.95 fee.
For Seagate and other drive markers, the exception to the increased warranty status will be external drives, which are subject to the jars and jolts that drives protected by a PC chassis are not. Those drives will still have a warranty period of one year.
"Thats more of a consumer appliance, where expectations are a little different," Cousins said.