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Western Digital drops a bomb on customers

As if the floods in Thailand weren’t trouble enough for the hard drive industry (and for customers looking to grab a hard drive at a reasonable price), it now appears that Western Digital is dumping another lump of coal in customers' stockings this holiday season.
According to The Register, Western Digital sent out a letter to its channel partners informing them that Caviar Blue, Caviar Green, and Scorpio Blue drives will have their warranties slashed from three years to two years beginning January 2, 2012. Caviar Black and Scorpio Black drives will soldier own with their existing five-year warranties.
The letter reads in part:
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.
All drives shipped to distributors prior to Jan. 2nd 2012 will retain the current warranty terms. 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.

Intel recently announced that it would take a $1 billion USD hit to its earnings due to the current hard drive shortage.

Source: The Register

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Yay for no competition...
By fleshconsumed on 12/15/2011 10:46:41 AM , Rating: 4
That's what happens when you go from having 4+ hard drive manufacturers down to 2. I predict merry times ahead. Ho-ho-ho...

RE: Yay for no competition...
By tastyratz on 12/15/2011 10:49:57 AM , Rating: 5
I think it's what happens when you start making crappier drives and can't afford the warranty claims. I switched over to spinpoint drives any place I could and am not looking back. WD made a great drive, now they make an "ok" drive better than *most*...

RE: Yay for no competition...
By TerranMagistrate on 12/15/2011 11:44:52 AM , Rating: 5
WD's RE "enterprise" class of drives are just about the best you can buy in terms of reliable mechanical storage.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By tastyratz on 12/16/2011 8:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
yes they are great drives,
but their consumer level drive quality has declined while RE drive pricing differential seemed to go up.

my last raid 5 array was 6 re 500gb drives because the price difference was not much new. I did have 2 RMA's of the 6 over 5 years (so so), but I could not stomach the cost of a new RE drive in reasonable sizing for the next array.

What I can say, coming from all RE drives and moving to 4 spinpoint f4 drives, is that the spinpoints run noticeably cooler and with less vibration. So far no failures here, and reports really have been positive on them - so much so that I might question just how they compare to what is sold as "enterprise class" these days.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By Natch on 12/15/2011 4:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I for one can't complain about WD. They recently did me a huge favor, by warranty covering a Caviar Blue drive (that had a 2 year warranty), by extending the warranty out to 3 years for me (the drive was ~2.5 years old).

Otherwise, I would have been out the ~$50 price tag that the drive was going for (pre-flood prices).

However, I do think that this sort of thinking, on the hard drive manufacturer's part, is only going to be another nail in the coffin of their hard drive business, by pushing more people toward SSD's.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 11:02:45 AM , Rating: 2
WD, Seagate, Hitachi....

RE: Yay for no competition...
By AssBall on 12/15/2011 11:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
WD owns Hitachi's HD division. Toshiba still makes Fujitsu SCSI drives I think though.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By aclophatic on 12/15/2011 4:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
WD does not own Hitachi's HD division. WD also has no say on how Hitachi runs their drive division. This is far from a completed merger and can still be cancelled. Your name does fit though...

RE: Yay for no competition...
By Topweasel on 12/15/2011 11:21:36 AM , Rating: 2
Um WD bought Hitachi. Still technically have Toshiba and Samsung. But the Samsung drives are never very impressive and Toshiba really only makes laptop drive.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By darklight0tr on 12/15/2011 12:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Samsung sold their HDD division to Seagate. They only make SSDs now.

There are only two major HDD manufacturers left - Seagate (includes Samsung and Maxtor) and Western Digital (includes Hitachi). There truely is a lack of competition in the HDD space.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By bdot on 12/15/11, Rating: 0
RE: Yay for no competition...
By vapore0n on 12/15/2011 1:49:55 PM , Rating: 5
As of right now, SSDs compete with regular hard disks as much as a Corvette competetes with a minivan

RE: Yay for no competition...
By Solandri on 12/15/2011 6:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'd disagree. Mainstream SSDs have grown from 15GB to 30GB to 60GB. They're now in the 90-120GB range, which is right on the cusp of the "as much storage as I'll ever need" point for most users.

So today the competition is between a minivan vs. a really expensive but really fast minivan. The people who need more storage are looking to buy a moving van-sized truck.

RE: Yay for no competition...
By Cerin218 on 12/18/2011 10:41:10 AM , Rating: 2
"As much storage as I will ever need". Based on? I have a 64 gig SSD in my gaming computer with a mechanical mirror for storage. After installing Windows 7 Which ate @ 30 Gigabytes and using the computer for about a year, I have 14 gig free on that drive, and all it does is house the operating system and programs. Everything else is stored on a mechanical raid. If I were a normal user and stored all my music and pictures on it, 90-120 gig is barely adequate.

Along with that SSD's price per gigabyte is greater than mechanical hard drives. I can purchase a 2 terabyte hard drive for about $200 or I can buy a 128 gigabyte SSD for the same amount. The biggest SSD I could easily find is a 960 gigabyte internal which will set me back $2500 (I didn't misplace the decimal point). Which is why I have a mechanical raid. My 1 terabyte raid cost me $250 for BOTH drives.

SSD's will be great when their capacity and price equal that of mechanical hard drives. For this purpose, it is corvette vs minivan. The corvette is faster and holds less and costs more. The minivan is slower, holds more, and costs less.

From bad to worse
By rpsgc on 12/15/2011 12:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
First they cut AAM support from their latest drivers, then they unscrupulously artificially inflate HDD prices and now this?

Seriously, go rot in Oblivion WD.

RE: From bad to worse
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 1:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
Artificially inflated prices? Do explain. Because I am under the impression prices are up due to the flooding in Thailand which has causes shortages.

RE: From bad to worse
By Camikazi on 12/15/2011 7:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
When the price of already in stock and have been way before the flood drives triple they are being artificially increased.

RE: From bad to worse
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 10:45:21 PM , Rating: 2
No, when the supply chain is LOW due to not being able to produce enough, prices on existing stock will, and usually does, go up.

RE: From bad to worse
By sheh on 12/15/2011 2:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Nowadays it's Skyrim.

RE: From bad to worse
By Solandri on 12/15/2011 6:12:37 PM , Rating: 3
WD used to be a great hard drive company. Until they took an arrow to the knee.

RE: From bad to worse
By someguy123 on 12/15/2011 8:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, that was retailers speculating and hoarding HDDs. They can't force retailers to immediately and substantially increase pricing of existing stock like retailers did when the floods hit.

It seems they lack confidence in their products
By steven975 on 12/15/2011 10:48:26 AM , Rating: 4
I'm going to interpret this as WD implying that Green and Blue drives are crap, and that they don't expect them to last.

I have roughly 5 WD drives, and one of my Greens crapped out after a move. I don't blame the drive, I blame the move. That drive would be out of warranty if it were 2 years.

By haukionkannel on 12/15/2011 2:58:31 PM , Rating: 3
One alternative explanation would be that due those Thailand problems, they have very thin backup store for replasement hard drives, a) so they have to cut the varrantry, or b) they have to sell less hard drives... Hmmm we just have to quest, if they pick the alternative a or b...

By Taft12 on 12/16/2011 12:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
That explanation doesn't fit. The new 2-year warranties don't start until Jan 1. There are still millions of 3-year-warranty drives out there that will need RMA service, and the supply squeeze is happening RIGHT NOW.

By Paedric on 12/17/2011 7:51:02 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they expect lower quality drives too when the production is back online.
They may have lost qualified employees in the tragedy (through death, or homelessness,...) and tools. Moreover, the organisation is probably a mess right now.

Always Black....
By Movieman420 on 12/15/2011 10:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
For years now the only drives I buy are the caviar blacks or the RE series. My data is worth the extra money for a well built drive. I've tried one 500gb blue and it lasted less than a year as a storage drive...lesson get what you pay for.

RE: Always Black....
By B-Unit on 12/15/2011 11:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
And on the other side of the fence, I have 4 of the 640GB Blue Caviar drives, running RAID5 and all 4 are still running great, would now be ~2 years old.

RE: Always Black....
By StevoLincolnite on 12/15/2011 12:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
To add to this I have a 10 year old Western Digital 80gb drive in my retro rig running Windows 98 which I bought about a decade ago...

To put it simply, Hard drives are mechanical. They will fail eventually, everything man-made does.

RE: Always Black....
By Argon18 on 12/16/2011 5:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Tell that to the Egyptians with their 5000 year old pyramids. Lol. Your statement is accurate if you amend it to "every cheap mass produced man-made thing fails".

By mrwassman on 12/15/2011 10:18:24 PM , Rating: 1
I don't know about ya'll, but a warranty on a hard drive is useless. If it fails and you loose all your information, then a replacement doesn't mean shit.

A good hard drive costs less than a few tanks of fuel.

I think if you are careful, than even the hard drive that comes with your 2003 compaq desktop/2004 dell laptop/2003 fujitsu tablet and anything after should still be working. (Mine are, 6 total now)

RE: Warranty?
By wallijonn on 12/16/2011 10:12:11 AM , Rating: 2
a warranty on a hard drive is useless.

It reflects the manufacturer's confidence in their products. They "make" them to go bad after 2 years. They are engineered to last as long as 2 years. The best example is probably HP: chances are very good that 'it' (monitor, motherboard, etc.) will fail very shortly after the warranty runs out.

RE: Warranty?
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/16/2011 7:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
Right, they "design" them to go bad? Wow...LOL

By MWink on 12/15/2011 12:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
I remember when all the HD companies did this years ago. I think back then WD even cut the warranty on their high end consumer drives to 1 year. Luckily all of my drives from back then are still clicking along.

I do really hate it when companies decrease their warranties. Warranty length is a serious consideration when I buy most things. Also I refuse to buy those (usually scam) extended warranties. I guess I'm glad WD did not decrease the warranty on the Black line. Still, not a good move on their part.

RE: Again?
By sheh on 12/15/2011 2:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
Was annoying back them as well. I hope it'll end up the same: with warranties being extended back. But with only 2 manufacturers now, one of them being Seagate :), who knows if that's gonna happen.

A different approach
By bravacentauri83 on 12/15/2011 11:39:58 AM , Rating: 2
I am not arguing the quality control perception of this move (although I've always thought of the "Blue" series as cheap anyway). I see this as a decision that affects the bottom line. The fewer warranty replacements they have to fulfill saves WD additional money. It doesn't help that the flooding pretty much threw a monkey wrench in their operations, slowed output, increased costs and all other items considered.

I've got plenty of hd's
By bryanW1995 on 12/15/2011 2:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
I've only ever had one hd fail in 15+ years at about 1 hd or ssd purchased per year, and that was a 500gb seagate st500 something or other that was manufactured in probably 05 or 06. I'm still using my 10+ year old 36gb raptor for my mom's computer and it's solid as a rock. I have 2x640gb wd6400aaks drives that are still perfect, another seagate 500gb that is identical to the one that failed, a 1tb external storage drive for my wife's laptop that I bought about 2 years ago, just bought a 3tb seagate freeagent external usb 3.0 drive for the wife's laptop (she takes ~ 20k photos per year), my main rig right now has a 2tb wd20ears and an intel x25m g2 80gb that I've had for about 2 years, plus my wife's new laptop has a 160gb intel 320 series ssd + an unknown brand 750 gb drive.

Ha, I just checked and my "bad" 500gb seagate is actually in my work computer right now. My other 500gb seagate is in my spare computer and doesn't have any data on it right now, so I'll say that it's 50/50 whether it works or not. So I currently am using 2 wd6400aaks, 2 seagate st500...., 1 x25m g2, 1 intel 320 series, 1 raptor, 1 wd20ears, and one unknown brand 750gb laptop hd. Oh, plus another 120gb drive in my 5 year old presario, plus another 500gb drive in daughter's lenovo laptop. So I have 10/11 still good, with age ranging from 10 years to 10 days old, and I have one drive that may or may not be good right now. Maybe I'm just lucky though.

Following in Seagates lead......
By jfelano on 12/15/2011 2:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
I had a reason for sticking with WD since Seagate slashed their warranty on oem's to 2yrs.

Now I don't.

Disk drive warranty
By katgod on 12/20/2011 2:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect the price of the drive has something to do with the warranty, I have a hard time believing that you can not get a longer warrantied drive it you want. I just found a WD drive with a 5 year warranty.

By iceonfire1 on 12/15/2011 1:17:29 PM , Rating: 1
Dammit, Thailand, what the hell?

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