Josh Lange’s personal blog

Archive for October, 2007

Dead Drives, What should I do?

Since July, I’ve had two drives fail in my computers (both are Western Digital). Drive failures happen, tough luck.

Fortunately, these drives were both in RAID arrays at the time of failure, so nothing lost. Both of the drives are relitavely modern, and both of them are/were in their warranty period. The first drive that failed generated a bunch of seek errors, but I was able to successfully wipe the whole thing, so I sent it in for replacement. Unfortunately, the drive that died last week is a total loss. I can’t get it to wipe itself at all. I’m seeing hundreds of thousands of seek errors, and no sectors are being successfully written with random data. So my delima is, I want to get a replacement back from warranty, I believe I deserve one, but at the same time, I want to maintain the security I have over my data.

I can’t seem to find a solution that gets me the security I want and my rightful replacement. Western Digital’s policy is that they will only replace drives that are fully in tact, or opened by a specialized data recovery shop. But, thats not only WD: this seems to be the policy all across the board, all drive manufactures, and all the service contract policies that I have seen. Why is this? To me, it seems that *most* hard drives that fail would probably contain proprietary/confidential information. When these drives are returned, what happens to them? If companies like Western Digital operate like other electronics manufacturers, the drives are probably sold wholesale to scavengers. In the wrong hands this can be a disaster.

In a world where I get active attacks on every open port on my computer, I am weary giving anyone access to any of digital information, especially a hard drive that may contain my social security number, passwords to boxes on my network and where I work, or even sites like paypal.

Hard Drive companies really need to get their act together. I would be more than happy to mail the cover of my hard drive in. That would be a great compromise, I would get to keep all my personal data safe, and Western Digital could know that I’m not conning them into sending a replacement Hard Drive. It would be a win-win situation. Now, why can’t I seem to get Western Digital to agree with me on that?

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