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Thread: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

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    Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Hello all,

    I am at the unfortunate position to have suffered an hd failure (1tb sammy spinpoint) only two months after purchase. So I RMA'd it back to Scan today. Very good and fast service I must say.

    However I do have a pertinent question. When I asked the customer rep whether I can get my failed drive back I was told that this is not possible because the manufacturer (where the disks are ultimately sent to) doesn't return them. To my question on whether someone "needs" the broken drive for data recovery I was told that this should be done before I send it for replacement.

    It is plausible but still a bit illogical. I mean, why would the manufacturer not send back the faulty drive after it has double-checked it is indeed faulty. What is its use to him? None obviously. So why can't I have my drive (that I paid for) back? I understand that since I am getting a replacement I am no longer (technically) entitled to the other drive back.

    However, since it contains data which is in a way "something" that I have added to that drive which I am not "getting back" with the replacement I feel I should be entitled to have my broken disk back. It just seems unjustifiable somehow to not return the original disk to the owner for whatever reason (I'd be happy to pay postage expenses if necessary). After all, the assertion that data recovery should be tried before you send it back is not rock solid. I mean, what if (like me) you don't have another drive to keep your system running and you have to wait until they replace it to get back to working - thus no time for lengthy data recoveries before you can resume your work back to the computer.

    What is your opinion on this?

    p.s At length, after I happened to talk to another rep at the returns dep I was told that I could contact Samsung after Scan has sent the drive to them and ask them to return it by giving them the S/N and model numbers - which is a possibility. It remains to be seen though whether it will materialise.

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    DDY
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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    The majority of faulty disks sent back to manufactures are fixed, refurbished and sent back as replacements to other customers who in turn have sent back faulty disks.

    If you sent the disk to Scan, they'll send you a new one from their stock and send the broken one back to Samsung who'll fix it and put it in their refurbished pile to be sent to those needing replacements like mentioned above.

    Disk manufactures warn you (before you send it off directly to them and on the manual) if data recovery on a faulty disk is necessary, don't send it to them, send it to a data recovery specialist because you're not getting it back.

    If course, it's possible to have the drive you sent back, repaired and returned, but likely following various hoop navigational procedures and a large delay.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by DDY View Post
    The majority of faulty disks sent back to manufactures are fixed, refurbished and sent back as replacements to other customers who in turn have sent back faulty disks.

    .
    Fair enough, I didn't expect that the manufacturer would actually bother to repair hard disks. However isn't this repair-resell (or re-distribute) a private data concern somehow? Peoples hard disks usually contain a large chunk of their personal information, so a manufacturer reselling these to another individual puts the previous owner at risk of having his data (recovered and) stolen or abused in some way. Regardless of whether the manufacturer formats (or low level formats) the hard disk there is always the ability with the right tools for someone else to recover data.


    I have bought failed hard disks from ebay to try and recover them and use them and I've ended up recovering data from 3 previous owners (each one I presume would have formatted the drive before reselling it). Naturally I deleted the stuff because it wasn't of my concern, but this just points out the possibilities. Mind you these disks were completely dead when I started working on them so one would think that they are impossible to recover.

    I do think there is a data privacy issue involved in this situation.

    p.s I know this whole thread is theoritical/philosophical but I am just putting it up for discussion.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    I'm certain refurbished disks from manufactures are absoloutely spotless, I'd expect the manufatures have enough common sense to destroy any data on the hard drives they receive, even if it was a totally dead drive.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by kosgi View Post
    I have bought failed hard disks from ebay to try and recover them and use them and I've ended up recovering data from 3 previous owners (each one I presume would have formatted the drive before reselling it). Naturally I deleted the stuff because it wasn't of my concern, but this just points out the possibilities. Mind you these disks were completely dead when I started working on them so one would think that they are impossible to recover.

    I do think there is a data privacy issue involved in this situation.

    p.s I know this whole thread is theoritical/philosophical but I am just putting it up for discussion.
    "formatting" a hard drive doesn't delete data, it merely writes a new file system (structure) onto the disk, so while the pointers may be destroyed, the raw data is not overwritten.

    If a drive is refurbished nby the mfr, I would expect the disk would go through a complete mfrs low level format, which would wipe all sectors (includig those marked as defective), a new disk structure written, and then the drive remapped to identify unuseable sectors. The result of that would be to make any remaining user data unreadable for all prractical data recovery methods. Such a refurbished disk could not be sold as new, but as "Grade B" stock - usually at a discount, or for replacing other warranty returns.
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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Let's suppose you're not a nice person, and decide you'd like to scam the HDD manufacturers, and you have the technical knowhow to bork a disk in a way that can easily be reversed. Now let's say that the manufacturer sends both a replacement and the original disk back...

    If I were a manufacturer you'd get the original disk back over my dead body.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorsson View Post
    Let's suppose you're not a nice person, and decide you'd like to scam the HDD manufacturers, and you have the technical knowhow to bork a disk in a way that can easily be reversed. Now let's say that the manufacturer sends both a replacement and the original disk back...

    If I were a manufacturer you'd get the original disk back over my dead body.

    Er, I guess that is the reason why hard disks are tested by technicians BEFORE you are being sent a replacement. In case they can fix them then they won't send you a replacement but your disk back (fixed). By the way, is what you suggest even possible? or are you assuming that it is?

    Regardless, I can't understand this "guilty until proven innocent" logic. Just because "someone" might be cunning enought to employ such a scheme doesn't mean that the manufacturers should have a draconian all-encompassing policy. As far as I am concerned I bought a product on which I can "add personal value" via my data/work. When the product breaks down I should be entitled to retrieve whatever I put on the drive as it was not my fault that the drive did break down after all. Ignoring the fact that users accept a policy that relieves the manufacturer of all responsibility for data recovery on their faulty equipment, I believe it is only fair to be sent back the original disk if asked so that the user can try their own data recovery tools OR simply ensure that his/her data will remain private.

    To put this in a more realistic perspective:
    If someone (you, me, anyone) had filmed his love life and put it on his hard disk (extreme example but I just want to make a point) and then the disk broke down, you bet the user would want his original disk back after tested as faulty by the manufacturer to avoid having any curious technician recovering anything about his/hers personal life. As to whether the latter is possible or not I can only direct you to the several blogs on the net where countless times hardware technicians in pc-shops post others photos/videos/documents for "fun".

    I believe that manufacturers would perhaps keep the original disks for parts etc. Heaven forbid they employed such tactics as the one you mentioned as that would make really poor business acumen.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    I can't see why you think they should give you the old disk?

    If you needed to get any data off that disk you should have sent it for recovery first before RMA'ing it with the manufacturer.
    You have to realise they are dealing with hundreds if not thousands of returned unit which are cheap to buy. They are not going to worry too much about who sent it back, It will be tested against its serial number and if faulty would be stuck in a big pile of other faulty units and an instruction to send a replacement would be put on the computer system.

    The final thing is, they have given you what you paid for - One hard drive.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by kosgi View Post
    To put this in a more realistic perspective:
    If someone (you, me, anyone) had filmed his love life and put it on his hard disk (extreme example but I just want to make a point) and then the disk broke down, you bet the user would want his original disk back after tested as faulty by the manufacturer to avoid having any curious technician recovering anything about his/hers personal life. As to whether the latter is possible or not I can only direct you to the several blogs on the net where countless times hardware technicians in pc-shops post others photos/videos/documents for "fun".
    If I had any sensitive data on an £80 hard drive that failed, I would never send it back for repair even if under warranty, I'd smash it to pieces and buy a new one.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    TBH if you had important data on the disk or very private stuff I would try to use a data recovery company to get it off the disk as long as they have signed an NDA. I would think disk cost would be a secondary issue in this case as the data would be worth more. Also the fact if it was something important the risks of it being exposed would be a risk.


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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    If I had any sensitive data on an £80 hard drive that failed, I would never send it back for repair even if under warranty, I'd smash it to pieces and buy a new one.
    I agree with that and I fully understand it. I am just discussing the concept that if the manufacturer had no use of your disk you should be entitled to have it returned, as it contains personal data.

    The fact that you should use data recovery on it before you send it something I don't entirely agree with, as most people don't have the funds to pay for professional data recovery or don't consider their data as valuable to hire a professional to do it - but still would like to give it a go themselves.

    The fact that the vendor gives you back what you paid for - a hard drive - is irrelevant as a hard drive is more than a tool or a device since you can add "something" onto it. It's not like a pair of scissors that once you get a replacement you can carry on working. The hard drive is basically what you put onto it, if you don't have that then the device by itself is unimportant.

    I am not complaining per se for the the policy of the manufacturers. I understand it, I am just saying that perhaps there should be the option to have the original - damaged - disk back as it contains your private data. There should be no need for you to completely destroy it and thus voiding your option of getting a replacement. On top of that sometimes people just don't have the luxury to wait until they perform data recovery and then send the disk for replacement (which still doesn't cover you from data theft) as they have to carry on working on their computer.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    I'm not really sure what you're driving at - the hard disk warranty covers the hardware, nothing else. It's a storage device like any other. Backups are *your* responsibility, though some vendors will supply backup software with the disk to assist with this. If the disk fails you essentially have 2 options.

    1) send it back to be replaced as faulty, but accept the risk that the vendor *might* (though if it ever got out that what you're suggesting actually happened I would imagine that there would be severe consequences) do something with the data stored on it. Or alternatively encrypt the full disk while it's working.

    2) Don't bother with encryption, but decide after the disk has failed that the data is too valuable (for whatever reasons) to run the risk detailed above, destroy the disk and buy another one.

    Which is worth more to you? The disk or the data? That should help you make the decision.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Slightly different question, was this on a Gigabyte motherboard perchance?

    Seen lots of spinpoints not showing full capacity/not working on Gigabyte mobos but I've just started to get trickles of spinpoints that initially worked fine failing after a couple of months of useage, again on Gigabyte boards.
    Moo.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    BTW yes it's possible. Sure the ways I know how it could be done should be picked up, but anyone who's had anything to do with criminals can tell you that if there's a way to defraud someone then not only will a crook find it, these days he'll sell the information to other crooks so they can do it too.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    We live in a cynical world...

    You think the people testing the hard drive have the time to sit there and pick your personal information off the drive? No, they dont. They will have an RMA number and the item, check the fault report, test it against that fault report and then proceed as needed.

    As stated by Splash, what's worth more, the data or the drive?

    If it's the data, (if it really is that important, why don't you have a back up of it?) get it recovered and buy a new drive, if it is the disk be happy in the knowledge that no one is probably bothered enough to get your data from a drive, or anyone elses.

    Companies will always use the bits of the drive that are working to build refurbished drives to send out as warranty replacements, that's why it wont come back to you.
    "I've heard there is a common problem with this item from forums" - If you read some forums they believe Elvis was abducted by aliens, doesn't mean it's true.

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    Re: Hard disk failure and RMA, but I wonder..

    Quote Originally Posted by Madafwo View Post
    You think the people testing the hard drive have the time to sit there and pick your personal information off the drive?
    They will have a set of limited test procedures. Depending on the results it goes in one of a number of bins. Probably there are procedures to stop staff taking disks. Probably there are ways around these procedures... Cynics are rarely disappointed.

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