Are Chinese disk drives flaky?

Summary:What is Cantonese for "sucks"?A piece in the UK web site The Register, says of some recent Mac drives:According to Retrodata, its customers have sent in a much higher number of failed Seagate 2.

What is Cantonese for "sucks"? A piece in the UK web site The Register, says of some recent Mac drives:

According to Retrodata, its customers have sent in a much higher number of failed Seagate 2.5in SATA drives made in China and loaded with firmware version 7.01 than of any other current hard drive model.

"We're getting 20-30 times more failed drives of this kind than others," Retrodata chief Duncan Clarke told Register Hardware. . . .

Clarke blamed the problem what he described as "poor quality control in Chinese hard drive factories" - an issue he maintained affects other hard drive makers in addition to Seagate. He also warned all hard drive buyers to avoid HDDs manufactured in China.

Mr Clarke's sweeping recommendation. System vendors track drive failures closely. If there were a problem with Chinese-built drives, the vendors would certainly know about it sooner than Mr Clarke.

When I wrote the piece Who makes the best hard drives I left off the tables a Chinese vendor named Excelstor. They don't sell that many drives here and I couldn't search in Mandarin or Cantonese for the equivalent word.

Excelstor was the only vendor with no complaints - in English - about their drives.

The Storage Bits take It never hurts a data recovery vendor to trumpet drive failures. They happen at every stage of a drive's life and often without warning. Most people don't back up - silly people - so data recovery firms get a lot of very profitable business if people remember them when drives go "clank".

But the only people who really know if any drives are dodgy aren't talking - to us. You can be sure that flaky manufacturers, if any, are getting an earful. It is just too costly for vendors to ship sub-standard drives for long.

Mr Clarke may be seeing a statistical fluke or a batch of drives whose container got dropped a couple of times in shipment. What he hasn't done is presented a convincing case that Chinese drives are inferior to ones built in Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Hardware, Storage


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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