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Honu

Putting Maxtor to the test. . .

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Last Saturday night, my Maxtor One Touch went into a rapid and unanticipated decline. By Sunday morning it was dead. :( The coroner's report read: "\Device\Harddisk2\D, has a bad block."

Bad? I thought, bitterly, when I read the report. It's a "bad" block in the same sense that my beagle, Buddy, who I buried 4 years ago, is in "bad" health.

I scrounged through a cardboard box marked RECEIPTS until I found the right one. I had paid $164.99 for it in January 2005. I checked the warranty: it had expired (the warranty, not the HDD) a year after purchase. Less than two months later it was, apparently, the HDD's turn to expire.

"Hard cheese," you might say. "Just out of warranty," and you might shrug, adding, "it happens all the time."

True. It happens far too often. Because we allow it to.

Maxtor can hide behind the letter of the law if it chooses to. But WE are the invisble hand of the marketplace, and fora like SR give our invisible hand super-powers capable of throttling shoddy manufacturers by their indifferent corporate throats until they are . . . . bad. Bad like poor Buddy's health. Bad like the block on my Maxtor One Touch. Bad like dead.

Tonight I sent Maxtor a fax of my receipt. And a note explaining that I understand they don't HAVE to do anything about one of their expensive HDDs going belly-up a year and two months after they took my $164.99.

But, I wrote, I think it is only fair of them to give me the same amount of money in credit to purchase a better HDD from them, one with a 4-5 year warranty. Fair, and good business, I wrote. Because a company that thinks it's fine to sell "good" equipement that becomes "bad" equipment in a little over a year, will never get another $ out of me. And, quite possibly, out of others who are wise to the company's record, thanks to SR's forum.

I signed it "sincerely." And I meant it.

What would happen if we all did this with all manufacturers? I think we'd get their attention.

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What would happen if we all did this with all manufacturers? I think we'd get their attention.

Unfortunately, it would have to be all manufacturers, and since they are all similar in terms of IDE/SATA reliability, why would any of them change. People keep buying the cheapest drive they can buy, so market demand is creating the problem. What people need to start doing is recognizing that you get what you pay for, and start buying drives with longer warranties and/or cost more.

If you buy a drive that comes with a one year warranty, you can't be surprised when it fails after one year.

For my last system, built about 1.5 years ago, I happily paid a large premium for a Western Digital Raptor, knowing that it is designed for enterprise use and should last much longer than your average IDE or SATA drive. That doesn't mean I don't do regular backups though, as it is still a mechanical device that will fail at some point.

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People keep buying the cheapest drive they can buy, so market demand is creating the problem. What people need to start doing is recognizing that you get what you pay for, and start buying drives with longer warranties and/or cost more.

Dude, you're talking to someone who recently paid close to $200 for earphones --- and doesn't regret it for a second!! ;) [super.fi 5 Pro by Ultimate Ears]

I wish we always got what we paid for, but we very frequently don't. At $165, the Maxtor One Touch was far from being the cheapest drive around. In fact, I was willing to pay that much because I was operating (partly) on the same theory you state. Unfortunately for me, I had another guiding principle: ignorance. I didn't know anything about HDDs, and so I was easy pickings for a company selling junk. At least now I know about SR and can check in with people willing to share their expertise.

Sure, some people will pay for Mad Dog and complain that it doesn't taste like Sangre de Toro. But that doesn't excuse companies that charge high prices for POS-grade equipment. I'm sure manufacturers would be delighted if, when their products fall apart, we simply kick ourselves for not spending more $ and resolve to spend more next time. I think the lack of a more demanding market is the problem in this case, and in many others.

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I wish you luck.

You're a very, very, very small fry as an individual consumer, tho. Get enough together and they might listen, but when even a smaller contract manufacturer uses maybe 100,000+ drives a year (and we're beyond that number), it's very hard to get the accountants to think about one person and $165. Even 1,000 people and $165 each is not very many...

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Thanks for the wish of good luck. This is clearly delusional, but I don't think of myself (or any customer) as a "small fry." At least, I've sometimes had good luck acting as if I expect companies to live up to their palaver about caring for us all. ;)

A decade ago, I had an IBM laptop MOBO die a week out of warranty. The customer service guy was adamant that it was my tough luck, and that there was nothing that I could do. So I told him, basically, the same thing I told Maxtor. There was something I could do. If IBM kept to their "tough luck" line, I could, and would, guarantee that I would never buy an IBM product again. But if they replaced it with a MOBO that stayed "good" for at least another few months, I would consider buying IBM in the future. He put me on hold -- I assume to talk with a supervisor -- and came back saying that it sounded like a fair deal to them.

I've kept up my side of the deal. When I've wanted to buy something, I've comparison shopped IBM. Sometimes I bought their stuff, sometimes not.

Customer service people are, well, people too. I do think it's good to approach them on an equal and respectful basis. Just two humans; no big fish or small fry. They can't always do what they want (and they don't always want to help anyway), but sometime they really do want to be of service. It's also a no lose situation for customers. As bennt rightly pointed out, you can't do this when it's unreasonable. But if you really think you're in the right, it doesn't hurt to give them the chance to do the right thing.

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Maxtor is dead... long live Maxtor. Considering Maxtor's impending doom, good luck getting anything out of them.

A couple of bad blocks doesn't mean the drive is beyond repair. If you don't have any luck with customer service, you might try a couple write/read passes over the drive. When the bad sectors get re-mapped it might clean things up.

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What would happen if we all did this with all manufacturers? I think we'd get their attention.

Unfortunately, it would have to be all manufacturers, and since they are all similar in terms of IDE/SATA reliability, why would any of them change. People keep buying the cheapest drive they can buy, so market demand is creating the problem. What people need to start doing is recognizing that you get what you pay for, and start buying drives with longer warranties and/or cost more.

If you buy a drive that comes with a one year warranty, you can't be surprised when it fails after one year.

For my last system, built about 1.5 years ago, I happily paid a large premium for a Western Digital Raptor, knowing that it is designed for enterprise use and should last much longer than your average IDE or SATA drive. That doesn't mean I don't do regular backups though, as it is still a mechanical device that will fail at some point.

I think I've said all I wanted to say about Maxtor. I don't know if all manufacturers have "similar" reliability, but the reliability survey here doesn't look too good for Maxtor drives. And Maxtor is just a little cheaper, and $160 is not pocket change. Most drive warranties are set differently in different stores even for the same drive.

Saying all mechanical devices will fail at some point is like saying the sky is blue (i.e. it's pointless). I think hard drives failing within 3 years of use is unacceptable (Edit: failing as in continuous growth in bad blocks and corrupt data. a couple of bad blocks but stable is OK)

I don't think Maxtor will care at this point since they're being bought out by Seagate. Just have to see if Seagate is going to improve the quality of Maxtor designs or just acquire the bad quality of Maxtor.

Edited by meanie

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Roger the Rep from Maxtor phoned today. He had talked with his supervisor and they had concluded there was nothing they could do for me, since, as I had pointed out myself, the HDD was almost two months out of

warranty. We talked for a couple of minutes. It was all polite, neither of us yelling. I did ask him, "Do you expect Maxtor's $165 drives to die after one year?" I don't really know what I thought he'd say. Probably, something evasive. Instead, Roger said, "Yes."

Well, I don't regret contacting them. Hearing Roger admit that Maxtor expects their one-year warranty drives to die after one year was almost worth the price of admission.

Maxtor. Doin' One Heckuva job.

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Well, I don't regret contacting them. Hearing Roger admit that Maxtor expects their one-year warranty drives to die after one year was almost worth the price of admission.

Maxtor. Doin' One Heckuva job.

I hear ya Honu. Between 2001 and 2004, I bought about 15 Maxtor drives ranging from 120GB to 300GB. Out of those drives, only 7 are in operation today. Two of those 7 died (a 200GB and a 250GB, both ATA/133) in the last 3 months, both of which were about 4 months on the wrong side of the warranty expiration.

I just tossed them into the trash, but it was interesting to hear your experience anyway.

As I've been transitioning away from Maxtor since late 2004, I bought a WD 74GB Raptor, 2 160GB Seagate drives, and 2 400GB WD drives. All seem fine.

I just hope Seagate doesn't inherit Maxtor's poor standards. I remember when Seagate went from great to terrible (around the time 60MB RLL drives were introduced) but it seems like they've since come back to build decent drives.

-Tom

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People keep buying the cheapest drive they can buy, so market demand is creating the problem. What people need to start doing is recognizing that you get what you pay for, and start buying drives with longer warranties and/or cost more.

Dude, you're talking to someone who recently paid close to $200 for earphones --- and doesn't regret it for a second!! ;) [super.fi 5 Pro by Ultimate Ears]

I wish we always got what we paid for, but we very frequently don't. At $165, the Maxtor One Touch was far from being the cheapest drive around. In fact, I was willing to pay that much because I was operating (partly) on the same theory you state. Unfortunately for me, I had another guiding principle: ignorance. I didn't know anything about HDDs, and so I was easy pickings for a company selling junk. At least now I know about SR and can check in with people willing to share their expertise.

Sure, some people will pay for Mad Dog and complain that it doesn't taste like Sangre de Toro. But that doesn't excuse companies that charge high prices for POS-grade equipment. I'm sure manufacturers would be delighted if, when their products fall apart, we simply kick ourselves for not spending more $ and resolve to spend more next time. I think the lack of a more demanding market is the problem in this case, and in many others.

You are a fool in cheap clothing. You simply lost the lottery with your drive. Might have been the same story had you purchased a WD or Seagate kit. I have gone through at least 150-200 drives starting off with a ST225 in a Zenith Data Systems my old man scored from the airline. You are correct in stating you are ignorant. Unfortunately you got the right answer (you're a dolt) for the wrong reason (your verbose diatribe on marketing, wine, and how much you blew on headphones are good examples) and your arrogant simplification of a market you know nothing about. Take it from me, drives that aren't DOA either die after up to three years of use, or they hold out for seemingly ever. Sorry about your luck. Don't bog down a useful board, generally full of good information and helpful replies with your lazy thoughts. If you don't know, just ask. We are more than willing to bring you up to speed. We just aren't interested in being subjected to faux pedantic rants that could send people interested in reality astray.

I am drinking Monarch Gin from a plastic half gallon bottle in honor of your supreme post and taste.

Edited by SmoothDrRod

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What would happen if we all did this with all manufacturers? I think we'd get their attention.

Unfortunately, it would have to be all manufacturers, and since they are all similar in terms of IDE/SATA reliability, why would any of them change. People keep buying the cheapest drive they can buy, so market demand is creating the problem. What people need to start doing is recognizing that you get what you pay for, and start buying drives with longer warranties and/or cost more.

If you buy a drive that comes with a one year warranty, you can't be surprised when it fails after one year.

For my last system, built about 1.5 years ago, I happily paid a large premium for a Western Digital Raptor, knowing that it is designed for enterprise use and should last much longer than your average IDE or SATA drive. That doesn't mean I don't do regular backups though, as it is still a mechanical device that will fail at some point.

I think I've said all I wanted to say about Maxtor. I don't know if all manufacturers have "similar" reliability, but the reliability survey here doesn't look too good for Maxtor drives. And Maxtor is just a little cheaper, and $160 is not pocket change. Most drive warranties are set differently in different stores even for the same drive.

Saying all mechanical devices will fail at some point is like saying the sky is blue (i.e. it's pointless). I think hard drives failing within 3 years of use is unacceptable (Edit: failing as in continuous growth in bad blocks and corrupt data. a couple of bad blocks but stable is OK)

I don't think Maxtor will care at this point since they're being bought out by Seagate. Just have to see if Seagate is going to improve the quality of Maxtor designs or just acquire the bad quality of Maxtor.

Meanie, as far as how Maxtors compare on the reliability surveys, all I have for you is a question. Does the term "Graded on a scale" mean anything? I would like SR to compile average differential of service hours given from percentile to to percentile. I am willing to bet that most drives (save for very few troublesome models) Most drives are going to end up being reasonably close. Its a shame everyone can't be in the 90th percentile.

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Your rant really should be directed at pretty much the entire US retail market. The whole thing stinks as far as quality. But in the end it is the consumer's fault. We are the one's who should be making informed purchases. Don't rely on the government to improve business practices, they are after all funded by big business. They only thing corporations understand is money and we the consumers are the one's with the money they want. Unfortnately people buy so much stuff that they don't have the time to research it all and make a proper decision...

Now I'm not saying that was your problem this time. You bought what by all accounts should have been a decent drive (but with a short warranty). You got unlucky. But really the HD companies are just catering to what customers wanted for years, the cheapest cost per gigabyte. Very few customers after paying extra for the longer warranty models that most HD manufacturers offer. If people did, they'd get the message.

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Sorry to hear what happened. Unfortunately unless you are big OEM like DELL or HP, or big retailer like Bestbuy's and Staples, you are a small fry and no company will do much for you after your warranty expire. All HD will die one way or another, and usage condition has a lot to do with it.

Maybe you can put another drive in the OneTouch? I think there should be utility out there that you can use to format a new HD for OneTouch enclosure. From what I know you don't need to use maxtor drive, you can use another brand.

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I think I've said all I wanted to say about Maxtor. I don't know if all manufacturers have "similar" reliability, but the reliability survey here doesn't look too good for Maxtor drives. And Maxtor is just a little cheaper, and $160 is not pocket change. Most drive warranties are set differently in different stores even for the same drive.

Saying all mechanical devices will fail at some point is like saying the sky is blue (i.e. it's pointless). I think hard drives failing within 3 years of use is unacceptable (Edit: failing as in continuous growth in bad blocks and corrupt data. a couple of bad blocks but stable is OK)

I don't think Maxtor will care at this point since they're being bought out by Seagate. Just have to see if Seagate is going to improve the quality of Maxtor designs or just acquire the bad quality of Maxtor.

Meanie, as far as how Maxtors compare on the reliability surveys, all I have for you is a question. Does the term "Graded on a scale" mean anything?

Yes. Why don't you tell me what you think it means?

I would like SR to compile average differential of service hours given from percentile to to percentile. I am willing to bet that most drives (save for very few troublesome models) Most drives are going to end up being reasonably close. Its a shame everyone can't be in the 90th percentile.

Why don't you state a formula for how that's going to be calculated? I just look at some models in 2003 of Hitachi (7K250, 151 units) and Maxtor (Maxline, 448 units), Hitachi failed 7%, Maxtor failed 26%. Of course not everyone can be in 90th percentile, some manufacturers are worst than others.

Edited by meanie

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Maybe you can put another drive in the OneTouch? I think there should be utility out there that you can use to format a new HD for OneTouch enclosure. From what I know you don't need to use maxtor drive, you can use another brand.

I tried that with a WD3200JB. No problems so far. Partitioned and formatted it in WinXP, no special utilities needed.

320GB WD runs cooler than 250GB MaXLine +II removed from the OneTouch enclosure. That MaXLine is still alive, but I've mounted it internally, just to eliminate the extra risk caused by overheating.

Even the automatic "power-off after X minutes/hours of idle"-feature works with a WD like it did previously with a Maxtor.

My other OneTouch with a 300GB MaXLine II 5400rpm seem to lock-up under heavy usage. It's a warranty replacement for a dead OneTouch. The one that died had the same lock-up problems (plus bad blocks - something the replacement doesn't have, at least so far). The locking up is most likely a "feature", not a symptom of failing. (As far as the drive doesn't start to clickety-clack.)

I don't remember if the 250GB 7200rpm MaXLine +II has locked up in it's enclosure, but at least the WD3200JB has never had those lock-up symptoms.

I've also tried various different drives (like 3.2GB Quantum Fireball, Seagate U5) in the same OneTouch. They all seem to work fine. My guess would be, it'd work with every PATA on the market.

Lowest power consumptions by capacity points:

320GB: WD3200JB

250GB: T7K250

160GB: 7200.9

These would be the drives I'd use in a external enclosure. Overheating is a threat not to be taken too easily when choosing a drive for a fanless(?) external enclosure. Hmmm... Was you OneTouch 1st generation? 2nd gen? 3rd gen?

1st gen doesn't have a fan, but I've heard 2nd gen and newer does. Both of my own OneTouches are 1st gen.

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Yeah, Tom, here's hoping Seagate doesn't get infected with the Maxtor virus. I like the Barracuda (now my 2nd drive, devoted to data) that came with my Dell.

SmoothDrRod, take a chill pill. Your anger is way out of proportion. Based on the number of replies and views, a lot of folks on the list are interested in this thread. If you don't like my postings, there's a real low-tech solution: Don't read them.

Thanks for the idea of putting a new HDD in the housing, Pandabear. But I guess it was 1st Generation, based on what Whiic wrote: no fan. Whiic, I'm guessing that heat was at least a contributing factor (although I only used the Maxtor to backup, once a night). And thanks for the suggestions for drives. I may get an internal and housing (w/fan) for the best of both worlds.

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I did ask him, "Do you expect Maxtor's $165 drives to die after one year?" I don't really know what I thought he'd say. Probably, something evasive. Instead, Roger said, "Yes."

Hell, it's the way the individual consumer ranks on their scale of importance. I work for a major contract manufacuter, and I can say that our failure rates are as expected for Maxtor, Western Digital, Seagate, and Hitachi right now.

Now if Maxtor had 10,000 people like you calling in after a similar time period... that might be different.

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I used to rely on Maxtor drives and avoid Seagate, back in the days of 4-60GB days, due to seeing so many Seagate Barracuda ATA drives fail in the computers I'd work on. I just flat out didn't trust Seagate. They changed their methods and changed the whol thing around by 2002. By 2002, I saw that they had turned things around and it was Weatern Digital that had turned bad. things change. one day you think you know something, and the next you see that you're completely wrong. Hopefully, Seagate will stay reliable for a long time to come and WD will get better than they have been. Lately, I have had my WD 250 fail twice in the last 2 years and my Maxtor fail once, but the Maxtor was out of warranty while the WD was still under warranty. that WD is now in a firewire enclosure for my 'portable backup' (to grab before heading out the door in case of fire) while the Maxtor is now in pieces decorating my wall. (I take apart dead hard drives and use the arms and platters for decoration. I have 2 dead laptop HD's on my desk with the bottom cast aluminum tub holding screws and the arms on my cube walls as decoration.)

My point being, watch for the changes and don't get stuck on one particular brand. Currently, I have 2 Seagate 300GB SATA drives and a Raptor in my machine, but if either of those companies starts getting unreliable, I will move to whatever is the most reliable to replace them when the time comes. I do the same thing with all my hardware. I just go with the best for the money at the time. I have owned AMD and Intel processors, Asus, Epox, and Abit motherboards, Lite-on and Toshiba CD drives, whatever. The only thing that matters to me is getting the best deal for my money, which means performance first, reliability second, price third.

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My point being, watch for the changes and don't get stuck on one particular brand.

Good advice, dgingeri. It is too simplistic to swear off a manufacturer forever. But it sure felt good! :blush:

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Too much of a tangent to post it here, but I wanted to point out a new thread for those who followed this one: "Cannibalizing Maxtor OneTouch," posted 5 April 2006.

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Honu, here's a link to an older thread where I looked up warranty claim data for Maxtor and Seagate in 2005. The results were quite interesting. Maxtor spent 4 times more than Seagate on warranty work as a % of sales, and close to double the amount in absolute $'s ($135 vs $76mil), even though Seagate is the largest hd manufacturer.

http://forums.storagereview.net/index.php?showtopic=21789

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Yes, I saw that warranty cost per sales info too. Unfortunately it is not based on unit volume but on dollar cost. Maxtor has a higher cost model than Seagate and from what I know, Seagate made most of the parts themselves and their assembly line is very automated. That could greatly influence how much their warranty cost them.

Remember, the reliability of each brand is different in every generation of drives. Look at IBM/Hitachi, Seagate, WD, Maxtor, and Quantum, they all have reliability problem at one point in their life. This is the reason I never buy the latest and greatest (until it is out for 6 months).

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Also of interest: the Maxtor specs on their DiamondMax Plus 9 -- the actual dead HDD in my OneTouch.

Maxtor pdf sheet

Under Reliability Specifications, see "Component Design Line." It reads "(min) 5 years."

I guess Roger -- the Maxtor rep -- hadn't read that part when he told me Maxtor only expected the drive to last one year.

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I've had to RMA two WD and no Maxtor's. But anyway they dropped the three year warranty cause people are cheap.

How many hours the drive lasts is what I'm looking for. Did the drive die after 24 hours a day for a year or 2 hours a day for a year, and did I read correctly that there was no fan?

My external backup drive is only running a couple of hours when I am backing up therefore should last a long time(according to the hours its supposed to last).

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How many hours the drive lasts is what I'm looking for. Did the drive die after 24 hours a day for a year or 2 hours a day for a year, and did I read correctly that there was no fan?

It's time for me to climb down from my high horse and admit I overdid my anti-Maxtor tirade. Don't get me wrong, I still won't be buying Maxtor anytime soon (and not just because they're being acquired by WD). But SR members who are far more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, have graciously taught me some things through this thread. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

@Pagerboy, the drive wasn't on 24/7, but it was on all day while my computer ran, so your point is well taken. It's true there wasn't a fan. On the other hand, that scores no points for Maxtor, since it was their (fanless) enclosure. On the third hand, it doesn't score any points for me either, because I bought it without knowing I should have avoided an external with a hot-running drive and w/o a fan. Shame on Maxtor. Shame on me.

Thanks again for all the help. :)

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