Bare (aka "OEM") hard disk drives have always been good deals for tech-savvy shoppers (aka the typical Maximum PC reader) - buy a drive in an anti-static bag, provide your own mounting screws, download a disk management utility from the vendor's website, and you can save a lot of greenbacks, without a sacrifice in warranty coverage.
That's about to change. Channel Register reports that Seagate's bare drives for desktop and laptop computers are about to take a 2-year cut in warranty coverage. Starting January 3, 2009, bare drives will have 3-year limited warranties, compared to the current 5-year limited warranty. Seagate says that they'll use the ship-to-dealers date of January 3, 2009 and beyond to calculate warranty terms, but I'd recommend holding on to your sales receipt, especially if you're buying a last-minute Christmas gift or grabbing an after-Christmas sale.
Why did Seagate make this change? According to its Bare Drive Warranty FAQ page, Seagate answers the question "Why is this change being made?' thus:
We have identified the opportunity to offer our customers warranty terms that we believe are in line with industry standard warranty offerings, and that better align to the requirements of our partners and customers.
How does Seagate's new, shorter limited warranty line up with its competitors? Western Digital's Caviar Blue and Caviar Green desktop drives and Scorpio Blue notebook drives in bulk (aka OEM) or retail pack also have 3-year limited warranties, but the higher-performance Caviar Black and Scorpio Black drives have 5-year limited warranties. Most Hitachi and Samsung hard disk drives also have 3-year limited warranties. It looks as if Seagate's claim to be bringing its bare drive limited warranties into line with the industry is justified.
So, Seagate fans, how do you feel about this change? Are you going to lock in a 5-year limited warranty by buying now, or think about alternatives? Hit Comment and tell us what you think.