Drive failure

Macworld Australia Staff
4 July, 2011
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In February 2010 I purchased a Western Digital My Book Studio 2TB external drive from the Apple store. It had a three-year warranty.

Fifteen months later, in May 2011, I suddenly received a dialogue box message that said, “This disk is unreadable by your computer”. On contacting Western Digital they said it would be replaced and I should send it to their warehouse in Singapore. They also stated as they do not support data recovery I should organise to get this done before sending the drive.

They suggested two companies that could do this but neither were in NSW. I selected a Brisbane one and was told data recovery would cost between $400 and $1500 depending on the difficulty of recovery. I tried a local company who quoted between $400 and $700.

I pointed out to WD that for a drive that had failed in  less than half of its guarantee period I was being penalised by the failure of their equipment in having to pay a minimum of $40 for proof of delivery to Singapore and the cost of data recovery. I said I felt this was outside the guides of fair trade.

An email in reply said as a one-off gesture they would supply me with a prepaid UPS delivery voucher to send the drive to Singapore but no mention of the data recovery. The next email said they are sorry but UPS does not have prepaid mailers in Aust. so the offer was withdrawn. I did get a further call from FedEx saying they had received a request to pick up a drive and deliver it to Singapore.

I know that drives can fail unexpectedly and back-up is essential but this is not the first time. I had a Western Digital My Book Pro Edition II 1.5TB drive with a RAID format that started becoming erratic with the disc spinning wildly and sounding like a 747 getting ready for take-off.

I was able to copy the data from this disc to the one above and contacted WD about the erratic performance of this drive. It was suggested that I recover the data, installed the latest firmware, and then reformat the drive.

After I installed the firmware my computer refused to mount the drive and so foiled efforts to reformat it. It is now a doorstop. I feel to have to pay three times the cost of a new drive to obtain the data in such a short guarantee period is a bit rich.

Anthony Healy

Willoughby East, NSW

WD answers: WD is globally committed to customer service and providing reliable product to consumers, and when customers experience difficulties with our products it is of the utmost importance to us that we rectify the situation as quickly and effectively as we can. With this is mind, WD offers limited warranties on its hard drives and entertainment products.

WD does not yet operate receiving facilities in Australia. We recommend that customers experiencing difficulty with WD products first contact the place of purchase (in this instance the Apple Store). Most retailers are happy to replace faulty drives on the spot.

Customers who cannot be helped by their place of purchase can return drives under warranty in Australia by contacting WD support ( to obtain an RMA (Return Material Authorization) or manually generating one at:

WD offers complimentary shipping to Australia when we replace consumers’ drives in response to drives delivered with an RMA. As is common practice, our policy expects customers to return in-warranty WD drives, with an RMA, at their expense (the case highlighted was an exception).

WD makes tremendous R&D and manufacturing investments every year to ensure our customers benefit from the highest quality WD hard drives. We also understand the importance of the data our customers entrust to our WD drives, and we strongly recommend that consumers protect their valuable content by backing up their data regularly.

In the event that data is lost, due to any number of reasons, including drive failure, consumers with a duplicate back-up drive would still have access to their important data without incurring the cost of data recovery services, which are not covered in the WD warranty policies.


6 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. nom says:

    I have long used WD drives, so far without problem, but WD’s response above just ensured that my current WD external HDD will be my last.

    The line, “As is common practice, our policy expects customers to return in-warranty WD drives… at their expense” was the clincher. Common practice? I have *never* had to pay to return a device requiring warranty service. In that list I include digital PDAs, keyboards, a modem and a router; some have been sent within Australia, some internationally.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve had exactly the same issue with WD and the same drive failure. This continued a string over uncommon drive failures over 20 years, but the one common factor is that all have been WD drives. I now have 2 separate backup drives, neither of them WD

  3. Dan says:

    I’ve never have had any issues with my WD 1TB drive. Though by the sound of it if I did I would wish I never bought one in the first place. I’m looking for a new drive for my Time Machine back ups. Might look else where.

  4. Peter says:

    Touch wood I have not had any problems with my three WD drives so far (2x 1TB and 1x 1.5TB). I have had a 1TB Iomega die on me, so I feel your pain. Hang in there! :-)

    Since then, I now use two external drives for each of my Mac’s. Each of the two drives is a different brand. I do a time machine backup on one every day, and backup up my key files (iTunes & iPhoto folder, my documents folder) on the other every week or so. So far it has served me well. Fingers crossed!

  5. Rod says:

    I too have had this issue with WD drives. Recently a 2TB WD Caviar green drive I was using as part of a Netgear NAS RAID failed. I paid $23 round figure to send it Singapore. Yes I received the drive back free of charge under warranty, however now 3 months later it has failed again. So I went straight to Officeworks and bought a Seagate 2TB drive for $99. Why would I pay another $23 to send the drive back to WD only to receive another re-furbished drive and potentially have it fail again. I believe Seagate DO have an Australian distributor and if you drop there, they send it back free of charge.

    Seagate for me now.

  6. Jason says:

    Australian law requires the seller to provide warranty support, in your case Apple. Just take it into an Apple store, or arrange to return it to Apple Shop AU and it will be their responsibility to follow-through and deliver the unit to the distributors/manufacturers place of warranty repairs/assessment.

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