Testing refurbished 500GB Seagate Hard Drives

Storage/HDD by SidneyWong @ 2007-07-05

I find my hard drive getting smaller by the day; some of you might have the same feeling. With photos and videos being created daily from my growing family, it is time to look for larger hard drive. Hard drives are becoming a good bargain lately, as low as 24-cent per gigabyte. We will take a look at this 500GB from Seagate.

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Background & Introduction


There is no question hard drive technology has greatly improved in recent years, with which consumers benefit the most. It is not just speed and capacity, but also good value for consumers. 80GB hard drives in 2003 cost the same if not more than a 500GB today while the 300GB was priced similar two year ago.

Document data does not take much hard drive space if you are running an office in a medium size company. Other than the “crazy” covering your “behind” type of emails and their attachments, I found no more than 100 megabytes of worthy enough data to be kept after 30 years of working in mid/upper management positions.

However, things begin to change greatly in the last two years. I managed to get a 4GB SanDisk Sansa MP3 player to store some of my favorite songs, but photos from ever increasing Mega Pixel cameras begin to come in from everyone in the family thanks to the drastic drop in digital camera price of late. Worst of all, video clips from vacation, new born, new cars and birthdays take up the most room before you have the time to burn them into DVD. Admittedly, I do keep several good DVD movies in my HDD in any given time due to my lazy nature. Suddenly, I found my 250GB hard drive struggling for elbow room. I no longer “laugh at” people in need of high capacity HDDs.

Western Digital, Maxtor, IBM (now Hitachi) and Seagate are the common names in the industry. The nice folks from Geeks Computer Parts sent us two refurbished 500GB Seagate hard drives for evaluation.

Introduction :

If you have worked on PC long enough you know the life expectancy of a hard drive varies. Personally speaking, I have had really bad luck with IBM Deskstar five years ago, three failures within a 15-month time frame; two Western Digital both lasted over two years. I don't recall any of my HDD failure since 1988 other than what I've mentioned.

Return Material Requesition (RMA) turn-around time improves from my first return in 2001 to 2005 when the last one took only 10 days. It means from the day I mailed in the defective drive to receiving a replacement on the 10th day while it took about 4 weeks back in 2001. I notice the improvement came from having inventory in the U.S. rather than shipping the replacement from offshore factories which could be anywhere from Eastern Europe to Southern Asia.

Not all RMA'ed returns are due to defective products. As more and more DIY weekend builders assembling their one of the kind PC, there are more returns from inexperienced beginners fail to setup motherboard BIOS and or OS properly. A common one I notice is this, "My 300 GB X-brand hard drive only recognized by Windows setup as 137 GB, so I returned it". I am sure returns from broken SATA connector ranks pretty high too.

My favorite one is, "I purchased XXX 250GB hard drive and Windows showed only 233GB. I feel like being taken so I returned the drive to the store." I only hope this guy does not build houses, he would have to return all the 2x4 lumber .


Some new HDDs carry a one year warranty; others have 3 or 5 years. Factory Refurbished or Certified Repaired HDDs might carry shorter warranty periods depending on the situations. My replacement IBM drives carried the remaining warranty period from the originals, while Western Digital gave me another 12-month. The policy changes as manufacturers adjust the warranty period from many market factors. Seagate offers a 5-year warranty on its new HDDs.

Madshrimps (c)
Madshrimps (c)
Madshrimps (c)

The HDDs here have the following warranty information from Seagate. Most HDD manufacturer websites contain information page based on Serial Number and Model to list warranty information. It is always a good idea to find this out after you purchased the drive to match what is printed on the box or whatever you have had read prior.

Madshrimps (c)

In this case, depending on how long this particular HDD has been sitting in inventory + the remaining 7-month left (now till Feb 08) is the warranty period offered by Seagate on certified repaired drives.

Testing refurbished HDDs -->
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Comment from Sidney @ 2007/11/21
One of drives failed (SMART) today; right before I have to take a out of town trip. I have not had a HDD failure in 4 years. It is still under Seagate warranty. Will process RMA next week.
Comment from jmke @ 2007/11/21
you think it has anything to do with their refurbished nature?
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/11/22
I doubted, my previous refurbished (replacement) drives never have problem over 5 years. I did come across my mind for a few seconds.

That's why USB HDD comes in handy for backup.
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/03
RMA returned on Nov 21, replacement arrived today.
Comment from jmke @ 2007/12/04
a good 2 weeks still, I have 320gb Seagate HDD which failed on me, will have to send in back for RMA too
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/04
In my case, they did not have the same drive in stock. Otherwise, there is a charge for $19 and they ship you a replacement immediately without receiving the defective drive first. If the "defective" drive is not sent or received by Seagate within 30 days, a charge will be made to your credit card. It seems a normal practice for WD also.
Comment from Kougar @ 2007/12/04
Originally Posted by jmke View Post
a good 2 weeks still, I have 320gb Seagate HDD which failed on me, will have to send in back for RMA too
How old was it, and what happened to it? I have quite a few of those drives...
Comment from jmke @ 2007/12/04
about 1 year old, when copying data to the drive, the copy operation would hang and the drive would disappear from device manager.

Tried format 010101 with Seagate tools (what we call low level format) and scanned the disk, no errors were found on the platters but SMART keeps giving errors on the quick test, stating that operating temp went over 70°C, but the HDD has never reached 40+°C I'm sure of it, dedicated cooling and all for each HDD in my previous file server case.
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/04
Hard-drive is a relationship; everyone needs it. It does not matter how well you care for it, no one knows when she/it walks out on you. When it does, you always have a feeling of betrayal. The first time is always the worst; she/it takes all your secret not knowing if she would fall into the wrong hands. You would learn how to protect your secret as time goes on in your next "relationship". When you hair turns grey, relationship has an entirely different meaning; you tend to not rely on it entirely and always have a backup.
Comment from Kougar @ 2007/12/04
Yes, but I would like to know what to look for, can at least hypothesize since I have the same drives some will most likely develop the same issues before "walking out" on me.

Unfortunately I had a Western Digital drive do that exact thing to me, minus the SMART warnings.
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/04
Speedfan to check S.M.A.R.T status; unfortunately there is not much of a warning at times. In three occasions, the drives were working fine the day before, on the following day during boot up a BIOS message prompts "your HDD is leaving you, back up the disk". (not the exact words mind you ".

At one time, the BIOS won't recognize the HDD at all. When she decides to leave you she doesn't give you the normal two weeks notice. Sometimes she will "b***h" for awhile, a signal that she has had enough of you. 1 WD, 2 IBM (hitachi now) and 1 Seagate, surprisingly I have 4 or 5 4.3 GB still in good condition after +5 years of use.
Comment from Kougar @ 2007/12/04
As long as she doesn't win the inevitable custody battle over all my stuff, I'll be happy.
Comment from Sidney @ 2007/12/04
Hence, backup "plan". including hiding some of your assets such as offshore banks and property investment etc.
Comment from jmke @ 2007/12/05
if you get bad sectors and really want the data back, you can try the freezer trick
Comment from maher @ 2007/12/16
today one seagate comes to me, it is better than WD or hitachi whose I had in my computer, it is very quiet and it's faster than other HDD, but if you buying new seagate took at last number who needs to be on 250gb
310AS (disc with 8mb cache)
4100AS (disc with 16mb cache)
On 320gb and 400gb:
and on 750gb 640AS