Recertified Hard Drives

What does Re-Certified Hard Drive mean? The definition meaning of Factory Recertified is that the drive was tested by the manufacturer at their factory and found to be reliable enough to be resold 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 from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally, the drive is connected to special testing equipment to diagnose any faults that it may have. These faults corrected by either changing physical components of the drive or marking out bad blocks. After the repair is completed, the drive is re-tested just as a new one would be and if it passes the test, 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.

Reliability: Drives that are 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 is normally a good indication of its reliability.

Almost all major manufacturers of hard drives sell recertified drives. There are one or two manufacturers that will not sell such hard drives as a measure to guard their reputation for manufacturing high reliability drives.

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 will be found to have a fault. This is normally detected by the engineers when the PC is switched on for the first time and tested. These faulty drives are then taken out of the PC and repacked. They are normally shipped back to the manufacturer in large pallets. The manufacturer then re-tests the drives to figure out what went wrong with them. This information also helps them to design and manufacture better drives. 

Since the manufacturer will be receiving faulty returns from all over the world, a mountain of faulty drives soon piles up in their warehouse. Each faulty drive represents a loss to the manufacturer. A special repair department is then set up to test each drive and to bring it back to working order. Majority of the drives are repaired and brought back to working order. They are then thoroughly tested. Often a repaired drive will undergo more tests than a new one as the manufacturer has their reputation on the line.

Reliability and Reputation: Manufacturers will sometimes remove their branding and sell the drives as unbranded. This helps them to minimise their losses and it also protects their reputation should the drives fail again. They also use third party distributors to take care of any further failures. In essence they wash their hands of them as it saves them time and money in the long run.

There are many small scale PC manufacturers that are happy to buy these unbranded and recertified drives simply because they are so cheap. When bought in large quantities (pallets) from the manufacturer each drive costs around £4, whilst a branded one will retail at £50 approximately.

Corner PC Shops normally make a living out of building PC Clones. Generally the clones are made from parts that are recertified. You can also buy recertified motherboards, memory, CPU, and peripherals.

Should you buy recertified hard drives?: It is very tempting to consider buying one of these drives because they can be so cheap. Many people ponder over whether it is worth buying one of these drives. Is it safe?, is it worth it? 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 manufacturer is one that you have never heard of before, then I'd stay away from it.

If the manufacturer is providing a 1 year warranty then that is a good sign as well. However make sure that it is the manufacturer that is providing the warranty and not the seller. A manufacturers warranty provides more confidence to the reliability than the sellers.

If the seller is clearly mentioning that the drives are recertified then that is a good thing also. It means that the seller is honest and up front. As 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. You can fall into a trap there as well. My Friend Rufus... once bought a drive from a High Street shop and it crashed after a week. After contacting the factory and tracking the serial numbers it transpired that the drive was a recertified one. Of course Rufus went straight to Consumer Protection and managed to get his money back.

Is it worth it?: It is very difficult to tell if it is worth it because it is literally pot luck. You could get a drive that works fine for many years, or you could get one that fails after a year, or one that fails within the year. It's 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 would never risk losing it.

Refurbished Vs Recertified: When a drive has been refurbished, this is typically done by the seller and not the manufacturer. Refurbished drives are often second-hand drives that have been reformatted and tested.

Since the testing has been performed by the seller it is generally not as good as testing carried out by the factory. When sellers on eBay sell second hand drives they are sold as refurbished, meaning that they have been formatted and tested and found to be operating. For how long they will continue operating is a different matter. Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

Computer Engineering

Hard Drive Recovery

Author: Peter J. Vis