Introducing The First Ever Warranty Shrink Ray

We’ve seen many different variations on the Grocery Shrink Ray over the years, but somehow never anticipated this: a Warranty Shrink Ray. A sneaky tipster who works at Best Buy noticed that the same product, a Seagate hard drive for notebook computers, had a lovely redesigned box. And a few years lopped off the warranty. Much like how other products change the size of an item just a tiny bit rather than raising the price, Seagate cut back on the warranty.

Our tipster writes:

I’ve been a big fan of your site since 2010. I work at a local Best Buy here in Houston, TX and saw this hard drive (along with others that had the same thing happen.) Not sure if this truly qualifies for the Shrink Ray section, but it’s pretty close.

Note that these 2 HDDs are the same, just new packaging (UPCs are exactly the same), but now the new box comes with only a 1yr warranty, as opposed to the old box which carries a 5 yr warranty.

The new packaged desktop HDDs are the same way- going from 3yr to a 1 yr from old to new box.

Indeed, we noticed that different online retailers had different warranty lengths listed for the old and new models. We wrote to Seagate to find out what’s up, and will let you know if we receive a response.


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Not really news. Warranties for hard drives, for whatever reason, tend to be all over the map all the time.

    Always pay attention to the warranty period you’re getting on a given hard drive, and by all means use that to guide what hard drive you purchase. There’s fundamentally no difference between hard drives from any of the primary manufacturers. Just don’t buy any from the spare-parts-assembler guys that you’ll very rarely come across. And never buy a refurb hard drive (or any other computer component, for that matter) – the low cost of computer components makes buying refurbs a ridiculous proposition.

    • Telekinesis123 says:

      Yes this is news, it’s a huge lowering of warranty and value for consumers.

      Saying “There’s fundamentally no difference between hard drives from any of the primary manufacturers” is incorrect as well. If there was nothing “fundamentally different” then a huge failure issue would not happen to just one manufacturer such as what happened with IBM’s version of “Deckstar” AKA “Deathstar” HDD’s because as you claim they’re fundamentally the same.

      This didn’t happen to other major manufacturers so obviously there was a fundamental difference.

      Such a fundamental difference “the drives were ranked 18th in PC World’s “Worst Tech Products of All Time” feature in 2006″


      “Michael T. Granito, Jr., an American user of IBM’s 75GXP hard drives, filed a class-action lawsuit against IBM on 16 October 2001 for defects in the product causing it to “crash”, with both of the drives he’d bought having failed within a short time.[6] IBM was found to have misled its customers about the reliability of the drives. Without admitting responsibility, they settled this lawsuit in 2005, agreeing to pay $100 to every user whose Deskstar 75GXP drives had failed.”

    • Telekinesis123 says:

      Found this as well. As can be seen there is a substantial difference between manufacturers and their reliability and certainly not fundamentally no difference. In this sampling Hitachi HDD’s were nearly 4X less likely to fail then Seagate drives which is the market leader.,2681-2.html

      The average time till failure of this sampling of 500 Gb drives was 1.5 years for Seagate and WD and 5 years for Hitachi – that’s a huge difference.

      “The second key durability indicator is the average age of hard drives at their time of failure. Again, we see *large differences between the various manufacturers*, as well as between specific models.”

      Down below you were mocking someone for giving accurate useful information:

      “…wow, really? I thought the hard drive fairy would show up and wave her magic wand and magically restore all your data for you out of the ether.”

      While here you are here giving inaccurate and downright misleading information and acting like a know it all trying to dismiss the whole story as “not really news”

  2. Almighty Peanut says:

    seagate was probably losing money on all the drives they’ve had to rma. they’re not exactly the most reliable things on the market. the constellation series are OK, but those are enterprise drives with a premium price tag.

    • Telekinesis123 says:

      From this article on the final page:,2923-9.html

      5. “The failure rates of “enterprise” and “consumer” drives are very much similar.

      That is in reference to traditional HDD’s: “Thanks to Softlayer’s 5000+-drive operation, we know that some of those points also apply to SSDs.”

      According to these studies you’re may be spending for nothing, unless of course you’re getting a better warranty and or customer service and you want to pay for that.

  3. mentok1982 says:

    What is the point of the pictures if they do not show the warranty duration?

  4. Lyn Torden says:

    FYI, hard drive warranties only replaced the failed hard drive. They cannot replace your lost data.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      …wow, really? I thought the hard drive fairy would show up and wave her magic wand and magically restore all your data for you out of the ether.

      • Mr_Magoo says:


      • Telekinesis123 says:

        That’s why he went “FYI” i.e for people who may not know. He obviously was not talking to you so why be so up in arms about it. I can think of a *huge* amount of people who do not know about this and it is not immediately obvious to – that’s who she/he’s talking to.

        • longfeltwant says:

          I can help you understand.

          Some things are so blazingly obvious, that to point them out is embarrassing. He thinks this is such a thing, and I agree; you disagree, which is okay, but now you understand why he would say such a thing.

  5. nishioka says:

    > Indeed, we noticed that different online retailers had different warranty lengths listed for We wrote to Seagate to find out what

    … Do go on…?!

  6. KillerBee says:

    How do we know which one is newer? Maybe the warranty was increased from 1 to 5 years!

    • scoosdad says:

      I agree. The OP went to all the trouble of photographing the two boxes to prove it was the same product, but as for proof that the warranty was reduced, well, we’re just going to have to take his word for it.

  7. dandadan says:

    Since the flooding of several years ago
    overseas; hard drive quality has gone down remarkably. I noticed the shortening of warranties beginning a few years ago. Especially pronounced is the lower quality of Western Digital hard drives. We are getting failures on drives barely a year old all the time. I would never use consumer packaged hard drives for important data. I always spend the extra money for the ‘enterprise’ class hard drives for my clients.

    I recently replaced my laptop hard drive with a large SSD. Even though I can easily recover my data from backups, it is not worth the time to replace hard drives all the time.

    For my business and enterprise users I recommend routinely replacing hard drives in laptops within 2 years. For desktop workstations and servers I create a schedule and replace the hard drives before warranty expires (3-5 years for enterprise class drives). It is a lot easier to clone a production machine before the drive expires, and they all do!

    Tip: Do not purchase Western Digital “Blue” hard drives – they are junk and fail quickly.

    Spend a few dollars more to get the drives backed by warranty of 2 years or more, the longer the better. Manufacturers spend extra time to certify the better drives (quality of raw materials used for platters determines drive life along with component quality).

    Consider SSD for laptops, increased battery life, better durability and faster access times. Prices are falling fast and failure rates are lower.

  8. T-Bone says:

    Most manufacturers have been cutting their warranties due to the floods they suffered.

  9. vliam says:

    Western Digital did this long ago. When I bought an 80GB years ago, the warranty was 1 year on it when it had been 3 years before.

    Luckily, it failed in the first six months.

  10. ja says:

    At least Seagate didn’t shrink the warranty after the purchase, as Samsung did with the 5-year warranty of the 750GB hard disk drive I bought 4 years ago. Samsung shrunk the coverage to 3 years and changed some other terms of the warranty.

  11. az123 says:

    Evidently nobody has noticed this happening all over the place… large appliances have been hit in the past, other HDD manufactures did this some time back… there are a lot of smaller electronics that went from 1 yr to 90 days. Most people don’t notice but it does show you should read what you are purchasing

  12. esc27 says:

    I guess this means Seagate products are officially crap now. I guess sit is a lot easier to shorten your warranty then fix the product.

  13. sorta savvy consumer says:

    They may not be the “same” drive. The warranty period is a factor of the quality of the drive. The higher quality “more expensive” drives come with a longer warranty. This doesn’t mean it won’t last as long, however, it does mean there are tighter quality control at the factory.

    I passed on this particular series of drives due to the short warranty period.

  14. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    Video card manufacturers have bee doing the same thing recently, getting rid of the lifetime warranties on all but the top-of-the-line models.