Two major hard drive manufacturers, Seagate and Western Digital, are cutting their warranties to as little as one year. Starting on December 31st, Seagate will cut protection for most standard desktop and notebook drives from five years to one, and other drives, including its hybrid Momentus XT, will get three-year warranties instead of five-year ones. Meanwhile, Western Digital is reducing the warranties for three of its drives — the Caviar Blue, Caviar Green, and Scorpio Blue — from three years to two, starting January 2nd. None of these changes will affect Seagate enterprise drives, higher-end Western Digital models, or external hard drives. Western Digital will also be offering an extended warranty for an extra fee.

This isn't the first time hard drive companies have announced across-the-board warranty cuts — an article from 2002 shows almost the same changes, with the same explanation that Seagate and WD are bringing their warranties in line with those of similar computer components. It even included the extended warranty fees that Western Digital promised in its latest announcement. Warranty lengths clearly have come back up since then, but we're wondering if this is a tacit admission that the number of failed drives is now high enough to make cutting back on replacing them worth the backlash.