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.