Seagate, WD Cutting Back on Hard Drive Warranties

Last week brought reports that Western Digital was cutting the distribution warranty period for several hard drives. The news arrived by way of channel partners who received a letter stating which drives will be reduced, and which drives will keep the current plan.

"This new warranty policy will be effective for drives shipped from January 2nd, 2012," the letter stated. "It is important that you take a moment to update your website(s) and collateral to reflect this change for effected drives shipped after January 1st, 2012."

The Caviar Blue, the Caviar Green and the Caviar Black will be the only drives getting the swift kick in the warranties, reduced from three years down to just two; both the Scorpio Black and the VelociRaptor will retain their five-year warranties. However the company plans to unveil an extended warranty offering with special pricing in the near future.

"All drives shipped to distributors prior to Jan. 2nd 2012 will retain the current warranty terms," the letter continued." Because of existing inventory in the distribution channel there will be a short period of time when some drives with a 3-year warranty will be sold at the same time as drives with a 2-year warranty."

"Standard PC warranties are one year," a WD spokesman told PC World in an email. "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." The spokesman also denied that the warranty cuts were related to the Thailand floods.

Later Seagate also revealed reductions in hard drive warranties, stating that it had adjusted 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. This means the company will invest its funds in product development rather than upholding longer warranties.

Starting December 31, some will be reduced from five years down to three whereas a couple took an even bigger hit with having just a one-year warranty after cuts. But like Western Digital, all drives shipped before the reduction date -- in this case December 31 -- will not be affected.

For starters, the Constellation 2 and the ES.2 will be reduced from a five-year plan to a three-year plan. The 3.5-inch Barracuda will see a drop from five to one year as well as the 3.5-inch Barracuda Green and the 2.5-inch Momentus (5400/7200 rpm). The Cheetah line and Seagate's external drives will not receive a warranty cut.