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Upgrades IT

Seagate Ups Drive Warranties To 5 Years 359

swordboy writes "Seagate have just announced that they are going to standardize on a five year warranty for all of their hard drives, including desktop and notebook units. While this seems like amazing news, I'm certainly hoping that the company will be around to honor these warranties." The press release notes: "The new warranty applies retroactively to applicable hard drives shipped since June 1, 2004."
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Seagate Ups Drive Warranties To 5 Years

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  • . . . hello, HDDBurn!
  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:23PM (#9806366)
    Perhaps this is because their drives are more reliable? I seem to remember most companies lowering the warranty range on consumer level drives from 3 years to 1 year not so long ago, so this is a welcome change.
    • by Nakito ( 702386 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:41PM (#9806540)
      Or how about a more cynical view: what if this is driven by marketing, not quality? Consider automobiles. Which cars have the longest warranties? Cars like the Kia (ten years). Now which cars have the shortest warranties? Cars like the BMW (three years). Which is better engineered, better made? Which will last longer? Is a correlation between warranty length and quality? Is there a negative correlation? In light of the automotive evidence, I am not persuaded that length of warranty is any indication of product quality. It's only an indication that marketing believes the warranty will sell more units.
      • by hawkbug ( 94280 ) <psx AT fimble DOT com> on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:56PM (#9806647) Homepage
        You'd actually be surprised to find out then that Kia is tied with Toyota in the minivan market for lowest number of customer complaints regarding quality issues. I'm not saying you should buy one, but from what I can tell, Kia is just trying to market their vehicles well since nobody trusts the brand yet. If the company stands behind it for 10 years, I can only assume that puts out a positive message for the company.
      • Well, according to the latest JD Powers 90 days study, Hyundai makes a better car than BMW.

        You don't mass-sell a bunch of cars and give up 10-year powertrain, 6-year bmp-to-bmp, 5-year roadside assistance if you didn't have a halfway decent car.

        Someone also pointed another Hyundai factoid to me the other day - they've almost tripled their sales in the US for the past few years, but their warranty claims have actually gone down.

        Why did I bring this up? Kia is owned by Hyundai, IIRC.
        • I had always looked down on Hyundai's until about three years ago I drove a Sonata out west. Cruise controll at 90, AC cranked to the max, never broke a sweat which is much better than a bunch of the cheaper Japanese cars I've driven out there. Not quite as large as my Taurus but since I only plan to have two kids that shouldn't be a problem. Fit me fine and I'm 6'3 220lbs. The guy at the rental company said they have fewer problems with the Hyundai's but they use the cheap Taurus with the old Vulcan V6 so
      • Or how about a more cynical view: what if this is driven by marketing, not quality? Consider automobiles. Which cars have the longest warranties? Cars like the Kia (ten years). Now which cars have the shortest warranties? Cars like the BMW (three years). Which is better engineered, better made? Which will last longer? Is a correlation between warranty length and quality? Is there a negative correlation? In light of the automotive evidence, I am not persuaded that length of warranty is any indication of prod
    • Perhaps this is because their drives are more reliable?

      Or perhaps they know that a 5 year old drive is not going to be useful enough to pay the postage to get it replaced. I just replaced one of my old 80gig drives. It was a 2 year old unit, postage UPS was about $10.00. It was worth it to me because it's a decent size, and I payed 80% less then new value.

      I have some older drives still in service between 20-40gig. On the new front, I could get them replaced for $30 or so. While postage would save m
    • Over the course of the past 5 years, for mostly business reasons (but often personal as well), I've used my share of hard drives - and had to deal with the support for them as well. I'm talking about around 300-500 drives, mostly Seagate, IBM, and a few Maxtors (until I learned to avoid them). All but a handful of them ATA-66/100, 7200 RPM.

      I can say without a doubt that I've seen the lowest failure rate from Seagate drives. Out of all the drives we shipped, over half were Seagate, and we've had around 5
  • by drsmack1 ( 698392 ) * on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:23PM (#9806375)
    Who cares about the warranty anyways? The data on that drive is a whole lot more important. Losing $100K of data through a hole in your backup strategy is a injury that will not be healed by the replacement of a $175 disk drive.
    • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:30PM (#9806428)
      But if you're using proper procedures it shouldn't be a problem. RAID array, backups if you can... etc.

      Then when a drive in your RAID array fails, it can be replaced under warrenty for 5 years. Sounds like a good deal to me.

      Nothing with as many moving parts as a hard-drive is going to last forever.
    • I do. To replace the drive and restore from backups. DUH.
    • Well, if they offer 5 yrs, they must be pretty sure it won't fail...

      Besides which- most people don't have much valuable data on their drives. Face it, your porn, mp3s, and videos can be redownloaded. Your resume can be retyped. Really a few hours of work will get them back in good condition.
    • Who cares about the warranty anyways? The data on that drive is a whole lot more important.

      I care about the warranty. A warranty is a measure of how long a company thinks its drive will last. If a company thinks that their drive will last only 2 years with real world use it will put a one year warranty on it instead of five.

      The warranty will not replace your lost data; but it will tell you if the company has confidence in the equiptment it sells.

    • by Wanker ( 17907 ) * on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:34PM (#9806471)
      At least you don't have to pay to replace the second drive in your mirrored set.

      Oh, you don't have a mirrored set? I guess that $100k of data wasn't worth the $175 it cost for a second drive then... ;-)

      Seriously, if your data is worth anything more than few hundred dollars (based on your own value of the time you'd spend re-creating it) it should be mirrored, and backed up to some sort of removable media. While few of us have data that's worth a whole lot, the cost of making a backup once a quarter (or once a year, even) is pretty negligible compared to the cost of re-creating everything.
    • If your data is really worth $100k, I would hope you have the common sense to test your backups and know there are no holes...

      Also at the very minimum RAID 1 in addition to your tapes. Maybe an hourly, non-delete rsync to another machine also RAID 1, to cover the occasional user oops.

      If you trust $100k worth of data to a single $175 IDE drive, you probably don't deserve the data to begin with ;)
    • Who cares about the warranty anyways? The data on that drive is a whole lot more important. Losing $100K of data through a hole in your backup strategy is a injury that will not be healed by the replacement of a $175 disk drive.

      I think the point is a company doesn't provide a 5 year warranty if they're not confident in the quality of their drives. Over the years, IDE drive makers have gone from 5 years, to 3 years, to 1 year, and over that time I think it's pretty much conventional wisdom that the qualit
    • Who cares about the warranty anyways?

      Some people say that a longer warranty indicates that the drive is better made, and will last longer. That's the optimistic point of view.

      On the other hand, maybe Seagate believes that most people outgrow their disk drives (or the computers they're in) in just three years anyway. Then it wouldn't cost them much to extend the warranty to five years, and it gives them a new marketing ploy. That's the pragmatic point of view.

      Or, as the article suggests, maybe Seagate k
    • Regardless, If the drive fails and you get your money back they didn't do any business. In fact with inflation they even lost money.

      A warranty is basically a bet without you having to put in any ante. You can read it as "We bet your drive will work for the next 5 years or you get your money back!". They know their product best, so if they are that confident in it that is a good sign. If other manufacturers only bet on a year of lifetime you know whats up.

      To me this would be a really strong point for a sea
    • Doesnt matter how good a drive is, it WILL fail eventually.. and if you lose real data then you arent doing your job.

      The only data one should ever lose is the current open files.. If you cant bring back everything from yestereday, at the latest, then you need to re-think your backup plan, quickly.
    • Losing $100K of data through

      a hole in your backup strategy is a injury that will not be healed by the replacement of a $175 disk drive.

      No matter how much you might want them to... Seagate can't stop you from doing something stupid.

      Nobody makes 100% reliable drives, so the only thing they can reasonably do is to provide a replacement if it does fail.

      You can advocate data insurance all you want, but it has the same problems as all other forms of insurance... Those that are carful and don't ever need to

      • And finally, unless the platters shatter, or the heads start scraping the coating off the platters, it only costs a few hundred dollars to have professionals recover the data from a broken hard drive.

        The cheapest data recovery company I found charges $1150 if they need to open your drive in a cleanroom.
    • If you have $100K of data on a single $175 drive, you, sir, are a fucking idiot. That much data (value wise) demands multiple redundencies. Hardware RAID 5 with redundent UPSs at least. A tape backup system is also highly required. And to finish it off, you ought to setup an off-site mirror.

      I have a large dataset with this type of configuration. I had one of the UPSs go down today, and it released a flaw in my strategy. My rack ventilation fan was connected only to the failed ups. So don't forget to provid
      • Sorry, but your machines will start crashing and shut down (or should do if they have half decent BIOS) before you get temps in your rack to anywhere near enough to start doing damage to a HDD.

        You could keep a HDD running in 40*C-50*C for months and have no problems. A failed UPS will be noticed in a few hours, maybe a day, maximum, and you will not do any damage, unless the drives are near death anyway.
  • by ( 142825 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:24PM (#9806377) Homepage
    They probably saw that their drive drive lives are averaging over 5 years, and competition is increasing. Thus, they make a big announcement of a longer warranty. Of course to get a replacement, you will have to submit the original receipt.

    Expect several other drive makers to do the same shortly.

    Manufacturers will always give a warranty that is shorter than the failure age of the unit.

    • you will have to submit the original receipt.

      I've never had a manufacturer ask for the receipt. Most (all?) of the drives nowadays are stamped with the manufacture date on them and often even have the warrenty expiration date.
      • Most (all?) of the drives nowadays are stamped with the manufacture date on them

        However, a warranty takes effect upon the date of purchase. So, if the drive you buy was manufactured 6-months earlier (very common) then you need the reciept if you want to collect on the warranty in the last 6-months of the warranty period.

        This might not be so significant with 5-year warranties, but it cuts a 1-year warranty in half if you don't keep the reciept.
        • You do realize that many of those companies who provide 1 year warrantees are providing said warrantee from the date of manufacture, and *not* the date of purchase, right?
          • That's kinda true, kinda not. e.g.

            Maxtor warrants to the original consumer purchaser that new Maxtor disk drives will be free from defects in material and workmanship for the Standard Warranty Period. The start of the warranty period is the date of the last production for that drive, plus three months. If a drive is purchased from Maxtor or Maxtor's authorized reseller after the last production date for that drive, and proof of purchase can be provided, then the start of the warranty period is the documen
      • Amen. I have RMA'd tens of drives (I'm sure many people have done more than I have) from assorted manufacturers including seizegate, western digital, conner (back in the day), IBM, quantum, and maxtor, and none of them asked me for a receipt. This is a good thing, because some of them were donations from people too lazy to RMA them. They just want the serial number.
    • Expect several other drive makers to do the same shortly.

      Very, VERY, unlikely.

      Maxtor and Western Digital both very recently reduced their basic warrant to 1 year. Now, they seem to be quite happy with their basic drives with 2MB of cache, and a 1 year warranty, while charging more for 8MB cache and a 3year warranty.

      I doubt they are going to be anxious to ruin that nice warranty tier model that's bringing in extra money for them. If anything, they MIGHT start extending warranties a few years, for an add

    • (Note: For the sarcasm impaired, the following is humor. I hope.)

      I think they finally realized that the best way to make money is by selling personal information to marketing agencies. This is all part of their plan to cull E-mail addresses, bank accounts, social security numbers, tin foil hat size, and pornography preferences directly from the platters of the RMAed drives.

      Think about it! The drive is dead so you can't wipe it. Physical destruction voids you warranty. Ha! They've got you. :-)
    • Funny, IBM, Hitatchi, Western Digital and Micropolis never made me submit a receipt.
    • Receipt? Huh?

      I've had warranty replacements on hard drives now and then, mostly with Seagate and Maxtor.

      I always just hit their web page, and follow the instructions. The process generally consists of running a special diagnostic utility, and filling out a form. An RMA# is then issued.

      I have no idea how they determine warranty status, but I strongly suspect that they just take the drive's date of birth, add a few weeks, and use that as the date of sale.

      If there is a dispute over whether or not the dr
  • by Kenja ( 541830 )
    Lifetime Warranties. Mine, the hardwares or the companies?
    • Lifetime Warranties. Mine, the hardwares or the companies?

      "Lifetime" refers to the individual who purchased the product. You would know this if you've ever read the terms: "...warrants to the original purchaser that this product will be free of defects in..."

      However, it's also true that the company going under can nullify that lifetime warranty as well. If it's bought by another company, they must continue to honor the terms, even though you might have to find somebody high-up, and hassle them for a whi

  • Refresh my memory... (Score:3, Informative)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:26PM (#9806397) Journal
    Seagate was private, then it went public, then it went private again, and now it's once again public...

    Does that about cover it, or am I mistaken?

    Also, has anybody bought a Seagate hard drive recently? Have they come through, and started selling them with Lindows pre-installed on the drives? Experienced any hardware problems with it?
    • I have had 5 Maxtor harddrives fail, a couple WD, a bunch of IBMs and 0 Seagates.

      All my computers that I build for myself, and for customers I put in Seagates and so far I have yet to have one of their drives fail. They are relatively quiet, the setup is simple, and they are solid.

      Now they are updating their warrenty, this is awesome.
      • I've only had two drives bought in the last 3 years fail. One was a Seagate and the other an infamous IBM DeathStar.

        Not that I trust any brand of hard drives that much right now. The fact they all went to 1 year warranties for a while there says loads about how confident they were in their own products. And from the amount of dead drives I've seen people accumulate in the last couple years, I can't blame them.
    • buy them all the time. they are the best drive avail IMHO
    • Also, has anybody bought a Seagate hard drive recently?

      Yep, bought an 80 gig about 7 months ago.

      Have they come through, and started selling them with Lindows pre-installed on the drives?

      No clue. Why would you want a hard drive manufacturer to do this? Seems like that should be up to those selling the complete systems.

      Experienced any hardware problems with it?

      None whatsoever. It's been quiet, fast, and reliable. Which is much more than I can say for my WD 40 gig that went bonkers and had to be RMA'
  • by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <> on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:27PM (#9806404)
    If I can get a 5 year warrenty on an ide drive, I think that would make me less likely to purchase a scsi drive on the reliability factor alone. I'm only talking about reliability not speed.

    This seems like it could hurt them financially in the long run, but maybe they're trying to increase short term sales?

    • Well, the warranty on the SCSI drives would go up to five years as well.

      I've not noticed IDE drives to be that much less reliable than SCSI drives lately -- I've had both fail on me in pretty large numbers. In fact, I'd say I've had more SCSI drives fail than IDE drives lately.

      I just wish they'd put SCSI interfaces on IDE drives and sell them at IDE prices -- even if the quality is a little lower.

  • by The Living Fractal ( 162153 ) <> on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:28PM (#9806410) Homepage
    ...This warranty is void when the tape covering the drive connectors is removed... ;o
  • Smart idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by travail_jgd ( 80602 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:29PM (#9806417)
    Most drive failures happen fairly early after purchase (first month or so of use). How many people will endure the hassle of warranty repair on a 3-5 year old hard drive, when they can pick up something significantly bigger and faster? Getting a refurbed 80-250 GB drive won't seem worth the effort when retailers will have 1-2 TB drives (guesstimate) available for the price of the original.

    And like Ars Technica said, it's something else that they can advertise on the box to set themselves apart from other vendors.
    • Most people who won't bother to RMA know someone that will. I currently have an 80GB drive in my system that was a donation from someone who didn't want to deal with RMA.

      I would RMA even a 20GB drive that someone gave me, maybe it's just that I'm a hobbyist, but then almost everyone knows someone who is a hobbyist.

    • I think you are right on the money. I wouldn't try to get a replacement on a 4 gig HD from 1999. On the plus side for consumers, though, I doubt Seagate will continue to stock 5 year-old drives. They'll probably give out the current price-point match product as a replacement.
    • Re:Smart idea! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Demolition ( 713476 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @07:27PM (#9806870)
      How many people will endure the hassle of warranty repair on a 3-5 year old hard drive, when they can pick up something significantly bigger and faster?

      I don't know about other folks, but I've gladly "endure[d] the hassle of a warranty repair" on old defective drives, and have received much higher capacity drives in return for my troubles. For example, in the last four years, IBM has sent a 10 GB Travelstar in exchange for an old dead 6.4 GB unit, Maxtor sent a 60 GB DiamondMaxPlus9 in exchange for a dead 40 GB unit, and Seagate sent an 80 GB Barracuda 7200.7 in exchange for a squeaky 40 GB Barracuda III.

      In each case, I phoned the tech support departments of the respective manufacturer to ask about RMA procedures. They asked me a few questions, approved the RMAs, then had new drives sent out (IBM sent theirs by Next-Day Air -- a very nice gesture). Upon receiving them, I repackaged the dead drives in the boxes that the new drives had arrived in, took them down to Purolator and sent them to their respective manufacturers at their expense.

      Altogether, I spent about 20 minutes on each warranty incident, and received replacements that were, in my opinion, of higher value than the original items. So, I don't consider what I had to go through as a "hassle". In fact, if that's the sort of thing that I can expect if/when I need to RMA another drive in the future, then I'd gladly endure it without complaint. :-)


      p.s. Of course, my experiences are anecdotal, and I don't pretend to think that these companies regularly act so magnanimously towards all warranty claims. Perhaps I just happened to get lucky, though.
    • Re:Smart idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anethema ( 99553 )
      I take it you have never RMA'd a 5 year old drive.

      They do NOT stock 5 year old merchandise.

      I RMA'd a 13 gig maxtor a while ago, and got a 80gb back. They usually replace it with their lowest model, or a model who's cost was similar new.

      So it kind of does make it worth it hey ?
    • Depends on the application.

      Suppose you've got a print server or firewall box which has been working maintenance-free for years. It spools faster than lickety-split, and/or saturates its connected interfaces with a load average of just 0.01. Of course, it's never had a moment of downtime.

      For its application it is, in a word, perfect. Then one day hard drive starts logging errors (yay for SMART).

      Do you:

      a) Spend $x to replace its already way-too-big 30 gig drive with a proposterously-monstrous and unpr
  • This may mark Seagate's preparation to release their new array of drives, including the much anticipated 7200.8 series (400GB capacity with a 16MB cache and support for native SATA including NCQ).

    Seagate is really striking while the iron is hot. And to think I was about to order the Maxtor DiamondMax 300GB a few days ago. Phew.
  • I just picked up 2 seagate drives a few days ago. For once, I get good news!

    I had to replace 2 western digital drives that failed at the same much for my mirrored RAID setup :-)

  • Seagate is clearly saying to its competitiors:

    We uped our standards - now up yours!

  • I have Five maxtor drives for personal use, and I havent experienced a failure since 1999. I suspect that improvements in drives such as the fluid bearings and fully sealed drives and higher shock tolerances have proven to make mean failure times much higher.

    Of course none of it is any good if you have an accident.

  • Western Digital cut their warranties on their drives down to 1 year from 3 (with the exception of enterprise drives). I believe Maxtor also did the same, and Hitachi too. One years isn't anything for a hard drives lifetime, and it would be nice if other manufacturers would follow Seagate's lead.
  • by ezraekman ( 650090 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @06:53PM (#9806628) Homepage

    I buy my hard drives at Costco []. (They don't sell them online; only at local stores.)

    A little known fact about stores like this is that their return policy is "unlimited". They have a sign posted that says "it is helpful if you return the product with original receipt, in 30 days", etc. "Helpful", but not required. Of course, it's likely that the product will drop in price by the time you return it so you'd better keep the receipt... but the timeline is only a suggestion. It is generally thought that this policy is only 6 months... but that's for COMPLETE COMPUTER SYSTEMS []. ("Desktop and notebook computers".) Everything else in the store (including peripherals) can be returned as long as you keep your membership.

    Recently, I picked up a Maxtor external USB 2.0/Firewire external 160GB 8MB Cache drive with all necessary cables for $109. It's not the largest drive on the planet, but the price is decent, and the "warranty" is second to none. If I decide I don't like the color four years from now, I can just bring it back. It was also nice that it shipped with both firewire and USB cables so it was ready to go, out of the box.

    Granted, there's nothing that can give the peace of mind of a decent backup. Also, their selection is somewhat minimal. But data aside, I have yet to find a better guarantee for hardware than Costco's.

  • I've had my ST36451A 6.4 gig hard drive for over 5 years. I had bought it back in the day when I was running a 133 Mhz Pentium on Windows 95. I had upgraded my computer many times, switching from that to a 300 Mhz AMD K6-2 (Quake 2 on Windows 98!) Baby-AT mobo then to a 600 Mhz Athlon (Quake 2&3 on Linux!!) in a new ATX case. I'm still getting much use out of the same hard drive. I carried the thing to a friends house once to prove the Compaq tech support wrong when they had misdiagnosed a boot-sect
  • I love Seagate drives. I won't put anything else in an important machine. I have servers that have been running continuously for more than five years with no problems.

    On the other hand, I will NEVER use another Quantum drive ever. Those things run so hot you could probably cook on them and they're notoriously unreliable.
    • That's been my only HDD failure in 19 years - a Quantum Fireball lct08. It actually burst into flames. Yes, really - fire came out of one of the chips, burning the HDD's board and cable. (Aside: That's how you use an apostrophe with an abbreviation, kids.)

      They refused to send me a replacement PCB. They also refused to send me the replacement chip. I now have a total of 0 Quantum products in my house.
      • A replacement PCB would only work marginally with your drive, since each drive is run though the self-test and optimization process as a unit. The drive accounts for variations in manufacturing process (of every single part in the drive) at the time it is manufactured, and adjusts accordingly.

        Your PCBA wouldn't sync with the HDA it was attached to, making reading and writing with the new drive unreliable.

        If you send in the dead drive, they'll replace it with a functional one. That is how warranties work
  • "Or perhaps they know that a 5 year old drive is not going to be useful enough to pay the postage ...
    I have some older ... I could get them replaced for $30 or so ... I could easily hit the used market and pick one up for about the cost of postage"

    errmmmm . . . I can understand the logic of buying used for *initial* acquisition (although I myself won't do it for items with moving parts, or with items at higher risk of being abused).

    But what's the logic of *replacing* a used item with another equivalent us
  • Thank you, Seagate! (Score:4, Informative)

    by outZider ( 165286 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @07:11PM (#9806752) Homepage
    This is so great. I happily pay the premium every time for Seagate drives over anyone else. I've had two fail since I've started buying them, and they were taken care of with cross shipping, no questions asked. Great customer service, incredibly quiet drives, and very easy to deal with.

    Ugh, I sound like an eBay response. A+++ DRIVE MANUFACTURER WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN.

    Either way, that's great. One more reason to buy Seagate drives, as if I needed another one.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe Seagate believes they have an advantage in quality (I'd believe it) and want to use that as the basis to attack the cut-throat pricing they have been facing.

    Other makers recently cut their warranties, and I'm sure that cutting costs had at least something to do with it. This could be Seagate saying "Oh no you don't, not without taking a market share hit."

    If Seagate can provide 5 year warranty service for less cost than their competitors, then it is a very smart business move to either have the longe
  • Hang on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rainman_bc ( 735332 )
    Didn't all the hard drive manufacturers get together a couple years ago and drop their warranty from three years to one? (Well at least it happened at the same time anyway).

    So now they're ramping it up to 5? Good for them I suppose, but the collusion when they all dropped their warranty length to one wear was a real jizz in the eye...
  • by merdark ( 550117 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @07:56PM (#9807075)
    I'd be more impressed if the warrenty started from the purchase date. Currently, it starts from the date that the drive is shipped from the factory to the store.

    So if you go and buy a drive that has been sitting on the shelf for 3 years, oops, now you have a two year warrenty. I guess you are not losing much if you buy a 3 year old drive though.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday July 26, 2004 @09:28PM (#9807652) Homepage
    The people who run a large archival disk farm (petabytes) tell me that about 7% of the drives fail each year. Detailed field MTBF reports from other sites with thousands of drives would be a valuable asset. Hosting services need that kind of info. Does anybody track this?

    If you have 25,000 disk drives, one of them fails every five hours.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.