Giant manufacturer of Hard Drives, Video Chipsets, drive controllers and D/A and A/D converters.

Perhaps I'm old school, but I still feel that the Caviar drives are some of the very best IDE hard drives available (second only to IBM), Sadly, they stopped producing their line of Enterprise SCSI drives.

Whereas WD's hard drive are great, their video chips suck. Thank goodness they're not widely used except in laptops and ancient 512k ISA video cards.

Addendum: Reliability. Okay, some of you have had problems with WD IDE drives. Yhat's fine, you know, whatever.. but in the interest of fairness, here are my experiences with WD IDE drives: I've had the priviledge of owning or working on a number of Western Digital IDE drives over the years; an 80m, 120m, 320m, 430m, 1.2g and 10g. In all that time I have only had two of them fail on my watch -- the 80 meg, because it had been running constantly for over 10 years (installed in 1989 and died in the early morning of 2000, the only drive I've ever seen to actually outlive its MTBF) and a new 1.2 gig which mysteriously lost all semblance of a boot sector a week after I installed it for no explained reason. Other than that, I've never had a problem, and I think 5 out of 6 isn't a bad reliability record. However, WD recently changed their designs to cut costs, so that may have something to do with this rash of supposed failures.

Western Digital make, quite possibly, the worst hard drives in the world. They're aimed squarely at the AOL/PC World/I just upgraded the computer won't the kids be proud audience. They're one of the few manufacturers that actually sell boxed hard drives. That should tell you something right away.

The drives themselves seem designed to be as non-threatening as possible. There are no sharp edges anywhere on the drive. The label has pretty pastel colours. Any scary drive hardware is hidden behind the controller board, which is mounted inside-out (to hide any nasty components that might cause technophobia), and takes up the whole bottom of the drive.

On a more tangible, nerdy note, the real reason why they suck is that they are sealed with this stupid metal tape. Every other drive I've seen, ever (Quantum, Seagate, IBM, even Connor Peripherals), has been sealed using the conventional rubbery substance tightly squashed between two plates approach. Western Digital just use some high-tech sellotape.

I've seen an Escom PC, WD hard drive need windows reinstalled 15 times over a year (it was bought a few months before they went bust...). Every time, setup scandisk would discover more and more bad sectors. We found out why when we replaced the drive - it was missing around an inch of the superduper tape, and crap was getting in the drive*. The tape had got scraped off on the edge of the drive bay when the drive was being inserted. By a major OEM under factory conditions. I dread to imagine what harry homeowner could do with one.

* We decided that this drive had to be put to death for its crimes. Lacking a torx driver, we pulled all the crappy tape off, and hacksawed through all the screws. We then prised the platters off using a screwdriver, gave it a low-level format with some steel wool, and played frisbee with it in the garden. That showed it.

--

On the subject of warranties, the user western digital markets its drives at is either too inexperienced to backup regularly, or too poor to own a large backup device1. And when it does fail, no warranty will bring your data back.

Hats off, by the way, to Maxtor, who encase the entire drive in a shock-absorbing rubbery jacket, making it almost impossible to damage by rough insertion, and protecting it against impact damage.

1 - by large, I mean substantially larger than a cdrw. Backing your 80Gb drive up onto 115 cds is just stupid. Unfortunately, tape drives and DVDRs are prohibitively expensive to a home user.
As lj noted in the writeup above, sometimes the Western Digital hard drives go kaput. What makes Western Digital (and Maxtor) a good company is just how they stand behind their products.

I bought a new 10-gig drive for one of my Linux servers. I always scan new drives with SpinRite (www.grc.com) to check them from end to end. Right off, it had some bad spots, but those were marked as bad and then the drive was put into use. After a month, more problems started to develop. Another go with SpinRite showed more bad sectors, dropping the usable drive space down to 9 gigs.

A visit to the Western Digital website gave me a toll-free number. They will replace drives (exchange) in a couple of days if you have a credit card, else it may take a week for them to check your drive and (if need be) to replace it. Well, I sent them the drive, and they didn't have any 10-giggers laying around. They sent me a 20-gig as a replacement. When I had to have a Maxtor replaced, they exchanged a 1.6 gig with a 4-gig drive, even after the Maxtor was in heavy use for 2.5 years!

Are WD and Maxtor drives perfect? Hell no. SCSI drives are better. IDE drives are geared more towards the consumer market. These two companies just go all out with their warrantees, which is a rarity these days.

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