As part of our Sunnyvale lab OpenStack build-out, a few hard drives were purchased from different vendors. We purchased a number of Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 drives off of Amazon.com through a seller Platinum Micro. When we received these particular drives a small marking gave us pause. We were able to save ourselves from a potentially expensive experience had one failed.
Here is the drive we received new in its clam shell packaging. Can you spot what is wrong with this picture?
Here is a close-up of the relevant marking:
Dell OEM parts generally have a Dell Part Number (DP/N) marked on them. HP, IBM, Lenovo and others do the same in some manner. For example, HP often utilizes a sticker. The impact of that DP/N is not that this is a bad drive. What it does impact is the ability to get a warranty replacement. The standard warranty on a retail purchased Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 is 5 years. When we put the serial and model numbers into Seagate’s warranty checker, this is what we saw:
That more or less means that Seagate will not honor the standard 5-year warranty on these items.
For a quick reason why OEM hard drives do not have warranty it comes down to volume purchasing. Seagate and OEMs likely have agreements in place so that end customers will warranty to the OEM directly, not Seagate. The OEM and Seagate then likely have an arrangement that provides for acceptable defect rates. This is a standard industry practice and is by no means Seagate specific. Western Digital, Toshiba, SanDisk, Intel and other vendors do the same thing.
As a consumer, especially when purchasing “bare” drives, you should verify with the vendor’s warranty check tool that indeed the drive you purchased does have the appropriate warranty period.
With all of this said, purchasing OEM drives can make sense. Hard disk AFRs are generally in the single digits annually so if you are purchasing a larger number of drives, and get a 20% discount (as an example) then you can essentially self-warranty and use the initial discount to pay for failed drives in the future.