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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Never Buy Another Hard Drive!
How to Get Replacement Hard Drives for Free

Hard drives are expensive.

Large hard drives are very expensive.

Replacing a failed hard drive is not only expensive, but it's also a pain in the tush.

How would you like to be able to replace a failed hard drive virtually instantly, and not have to pay for future replacements?

Did I just hear everyone scream "YESSSSS!!!!"?

Believe it or not, it's not that difficult.  The magic word here is "warranty".  As in "hard drive warranty".

One of the little known facts about hard drives is that they usually come with rather nice warranty periods - especially if it's a newer drive, or something they're trying to push.  More importantly, typical hard drive warranty periods run from three to five years, depending on the drive.

Unfortunately, most people do not realize that their hard drive might still be under warranty, or they don't even think about hard drive warranties, so they end up needlessly spending a lot of hard-earned cash paying for drive replacements they shouldn't have to pay for.

Since YOU just happen to be one of those clever folks who don't like to pay extra, and are willing to make the hard drive manufacturers stand behind their products, this is how you do it.

Of course, being the clever person you are, YOU already know all about this, right?  Now you can send this to all your friends so they become even MORE impressed with your God-like expertise!

  • First, you should decide on what hard drive size is most commonly used by you.  In my case, I use a lot of two terabyte drives.
  • Go buy one on sale somewhere.  Look in the internet, price match if you can.  This one purchased drive is your "in stock" spare.  Of course you want to do this before a drive fails, but even if you didn't - go get a new version of the drive you need.

    With a little bit of luck, (or forethought), you already have a backup of what you had on the failed, (or failing), drive, so that you can restore to the new, "spare", drive you just purchased or had "in stock".

  • Go to the manufacturers web site and download their disk diagnostic tools disk, which is usually an .ISO image of a CD.  Burn it to CD, pop it in your system, boot it, and then run the diagnostics on your failed drive.  There's a good chance you won't have to run anything more than the "quick test" to uncover the problem.
  • The disk test will give you an error code - write it down somewhere - this is important!
  • Remove the drive from your computer, and either install the new drive that you've cloned from the old one, or go to another computer.  (Or, boot a live Linux disk, and use the web-browser there. :-)  )
  • With the drive out of the machine, go to the manufacturers web site and find the "return" or "warranty" link - it's usually under "Support".
  • Enter the drive's model number and serial number and it should give you the warranty status of your drive.  If it's not older that three or four years - and many aren't - it will tell you that the drive is "in warranty"
  • The site should then give you the option to process a warranty return.  Here is where you will need the error code(s) you copied down before.  You might have to enter the model and serial numbers again.
  • Once it accepts the return, it will ask for your name and postal address to ship the new drive to - and it will probably ask for a credit card.  They do this just in case you don't return the old one.  Normally this is free of charge, or they might ask a nominal fee for shipping an advance-replacement to you.
  • In about a week or so, you get your new drive in the mail, and it usually includes a pre-paid return label for UPS or FedEx.
  • If you've already replaced the failed drive, open the box, remove the new drive, (keep it in the static bag!), and set it aside as a spare.  Otherwise, swap drives.
  • Put the old drive in the static bag, put it back in the box the same way the new one was packaged, seal it up, stick on the label, and send it on it's way.  Make sure you get a receipt for the shipment, just in case it gets lost.

VoilĂ !  A shiny new hard drive - with a full manufacturer's warranty - free!  (Or almost nearly so.)

What say ye?

Jim (JR)

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