What does re-certified hard drive mean? The definition meaning of factory recertified is that the manufacturer tested the drive at their factory and found it to be reliable enough for consumer use.
This is something that only the manufacturer can do. A drive such as this will have a label placed upon it by the manufacturer to indicate that it has passed the reliability and quality requirements.
The process of testing can vary however; generally, special drive testing equipment diagnoses faults and corrects them by either changing physical components or marking out bad blocks. After the repair, it undergoes further testing just as a new drive would be, and if it passes the tests, then it receives the recertified label.
A hard drive is a very complex electronic data storage device with many components that can fail. A drive can have faulty heads, platters, and bearings. Sometimes a drive may simply fail to power up, in which case it may require a replacement PCB. This type of repair requires a remap of the defects table on the ROM chip.
Drives tested at the factory by the manufacturer are generally reliable, however exactly how reliable is very difficult to quantify even by the manufacturer. As a rough estimate, the length of the warranty and the cost of the drive typically indicate its reliability.
Almost all major manufacturers of hard drives sell recertified drives. One or two manufacturers will not sell such drives as a measure to protect their reputation.
Typically, a large-scale PC manufacturer will order a large batch of new hard drives directly from the factory. A very small percentage of those drives may exhibit faults, normally detected by the technician at power up, and therefore returned. The manufacturer then re-tests the drives to figure out what went wrong. This information also helps them to design and manufacture better drives.
Since the manufacturer will be receiving returns from all over the world, a mountain of faulty drives soon piles up in their warehouse. Each faulty drive represents a loss; hence, a special repair department is set up to test each drive to bring it back to working order. The repaired drives are thoroughly tested and they undergo more stringent tests than a new one, as the manufacturer has their reputation on the line.
Some manufacturers remove their branding and sell these recertified drives as unbranded. This helps them to minimise their losses and it protects their reputation should the drives fail again. They also use third party distributors to take care of any further failures. In essence, they disown them as it saves them time and money in the end.
Many small-scale PC manufacturers are happy to buy these unbranded and recertified drives simply because they are so cheap. When bought in large quantities or pallets from the manufacturer, each drive costs around £4, whilst a branded drive will retail at approximately £100.
Small shops that make a living out of building PC clones will buy these drives, and their computers typically consist of recertified parts as you can also buy recertified motherboards, memory, CPU, and peripherals.
Should you buy recertified hard drives?
It is very tempting to buy one of these drives because they can be so cheap. Many people ponder over whether it is worth buying one. There are places such as Amazon and eBay where you can buy these types of drives and they are incredibly cheap.
If a drive has the manufacturers branding on it, and it is a well-known reputable manufacturer, then chances are that the drive will be reasonably reliable for use. After all, the manufacturer has their reputation on the line. If the drive is unbranded, or some name that you have never heard of before, then I would stay away from it.
If the manufacturer is providing a 1-year warranty then that is a good sign as well. Make sure it is the manufacturer providing the warranty and not the seller. A manufacturer’s warranty provides more confidence to reliability.
If the seller is clearly describing the drive as recertified, then that is a good thing also because it means that the seller is honest and up front. There are many sellers who would be happy to sell these types of drives as new by removing the label and charging the full retail price.
The seller typically carries out refurbishments. Refurbished drives are often second-hand that are reformatted and tested. Since the seller has performed the testing, it is generally not as good as testing carried out by the factory.
On eBay, a seller refurbished drive could mean anything from as little as the seller using his oily rag to wipe the dust off the drive, to some sellers going to great lengths formatting and running diagnostics. A really intelligent seller will also show a screenshot of the SMART attributes which gives immense confidence to the buyer.
Is it worth it?
It is very difficult to tell if it is worth it because it is literally potluck. You could get a drive that works fine for many years, or you could get one that fails after a year. Alternatively, it may fail within months. It is difficult to tell which is why the manufacturer is selling them so cheap. Generally, these drives tend to work fine for many people.
I personally would never use such a drive because my data is very valuable to me and I could never risk losing it.