Samsung P80

Photo: Red Hill.

Drives of 2003

On October 1st 2002, three of the five major storage manufacturers announced that they were slashing hard drive warranty from the industry standard three years to just one year. Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital all acted together but — incredibly — blandly denied any collusiuon. IBM/Hitachi followed suit a short time afterwards. Of the five main manufacturers, only Samsung continued to stand behind its products with a three year guarantee. The other manufacturers stridently denied that the warranty cuts had anything to do with reliability problems but that was demonstrably untrue. It was no coincidence that the one compay still offering three year warranty was also the one company with significantly lower in-service failure rates.

For us, this made things simple: our RMA figures already demonstrated that Samsung drives had by far the lowest failure rate of any brand, so we kept on buying Samsung drives. The only difference was that we stopped even considering any of the other brands. For the next seven or eight years, if Samsung drives went out of stock, we gritted out teeth and waited the shortage out.

Two years afterwards, in 2004, Seagate was the first to restore a decent warranty policy. Frankly, we no longer cared. Like WD and Maxtor, Seagate had lost our trust by adopting that shonky policy back in October 2002, and never really earned it back again — partly also because the Seagate drives we bought in the couple of years leading up to the warranty cut did not perform well. In any case, the Samsung drives we used from this time on were so consistently good that we never felt the need to try another brand.

(Almost a decade later, Western Digital bought out most of Hitachi GST and Seagate bought out Samsung Storage leaving just two major players in the hard drive industry. Seagate soon shut down Samsung hard drive production and, with our most-trusted brand gone, we had no choice but to switch. We have been selling Seagate drives since that time and we miss the hard-earned sense of absolute confidence we used to get with Samsung hard drives, but the Seagates seem to be doing well so far.)