Cuts by as much as five years to one. Could this be the beginning of the end for mechanical hard drives?

WD and Seagate in hard drive warranty ‘massacre’

Hard drive vendors Seagate and Western Digital are cutting their warranty periods of the firm’s laptop, desktops and consumer electronics hard drives.

While Western Digital told The Register that the move was unrelated to the recent flooding in Thailand, the timing seems a little too much like coincidence.

WD will be axing a year from the formerly three year warranty of the Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue drives. Seagate’s cuts are even more severe with various Barracuda and Momentus drives offered with a single year warranty where the company previously backed them up with a five year guarantee.

In an email to Computerworld, a WD representative pointed out that "Standard PC warranties are one year," willfully ignoring the reasonable expectation that a user’s data might just be expected to live beyond the warranty period of their PC.

The lock-step nature of the warranty reductions will also draw attention to less desirable effects of the increasingly consolidated hard drive market. With WD having acquired Hitachi Global Storage and Seagate gaining competition regulators’ approval to acquirie Samsung’s hard drive business, the two companies will control more than 90 per cent of the hard drive market.

Some respite will be seen in the enterprise and enthusiast sectors at least where the warranties of high end models such as WD’s Scorpio Black drives are expected to remain at five years.

The lower warranty periods are expected to come into force at the turn of the new year although older stock will continue to be offered with previous warranties. Not that there’s a lot of inventory sitting around given the flood-induced supply constraints of late.

Rising hard drive prices were already giving a boost to the solid state drive market but the latest move by the two giants of the hard drive industry has also given some commentators pause to consider the future of the spinning disk.

"If manufacturers and consumers ever had any doubts before about embracing solid state drive (SSD) technology, maybe now is the time to start making the shift to rid us all of spinning media," wrote Brandon Hill on the DailyTech blog.

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