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I am buying an internal hard drive. I don't know if I should buy online which would have a warranty but I would have to pay for the shipping of any bad products to manufacturer - or buy at a store where I take back but only 14 days. Just trying to get your thoughts or recommendations...

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Whether you buy from a local store or online, I suggest that you buy "retail" parts instead of "oem" parts. Yes, you can buy both in local stores (depends on the store) or online. OEM parts usually have a very limited warranty compared to retail parts. –  Joe Internet Mar 17 '10 at 2:56
    
OEM hard drives purchased directly by the consumer have the same warranty as their retail counterparts; the only difference is whether the drive comes with cables, mounting brackets, installation guide, and retail packaging. However, if you buy a brand-name computer, the computer manufacturer handles the warranty, not the hard drive manufacturer. –  rob Mar 17 '10 at 20:17
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7 Answers

I'd say it depends on your personality. I would buy online because I can probably get the product cheaper, which covers shipping, than I can in a local store. Also I'd rather not have to deal with sales people at a store!

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The warranty for any given model will be the same whether you buy online or at a store, but you might be able to find a wider variety of models online. If you're more comfortable buying from a local store, be assured that after the store's 14-day return period runs out, you can still send the drive to the manufacturer for warranty replacement, assuming the manufacturer's 1-, 3-, or 5-year warranty hasn't also expired.

You'll usually also get better prices online, but occasionally you can find great bargains at stores when things go on sale.

If you want to make a more informed decision, you can compare the following characteristics:

  • Capacity (usually in GB or TB)
  • Power consumption (lower power consumption drives are often labeled "Eco" or "Green")
  • Spindle speed (usually 5400, 5900, or 7200 RPM)
  • Noise (drives with higher spindle speeds can be noisier, but this isn't always the case)
  • Warranty length (usually 1, 3, or 5 years)

Sometimes, this is relatively easy to figure out, such as with the Western Digital Caviar Series:

  • Black: 7200 RPM, 5-year warranty
  • Blue: 7200 RPM, 3-year warranty
  • Green: 5400-7200 RPM, 3-year warranty, lower power consumption

Usually I just go with the drive that has the longest warranty length (5 years), because--let's face it--consumer-grade hard drives are not very reliable. It's possible you'll never notice a defect, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Unless you periodically run bad block scans and monitor the SMART information, you have no way of knowing whether your drive is failing, other than the suspect random crashes or catastrophic failures that some people experience.

If a local store offers a competitive price, I'll go with them, but usually I can get a model with a longer warranty or higher capacity by buying online.

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Thanks for trying to supply information on what choices to make –  Ivo Flipse Mar 18 '10 at 10:51
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I agree with Goblinbox that it's a choice mostly based on your personality. For a hard drive, I would go online. If it dies, buy another one while you deal with warranty service/shipping on the first one. You can almost never have enough drives.

Another suggestion would be to look for an online vendor who happens to have a warehouse in your town and does "will call" shipping. That's a great option if you are lucky enough to have one. I can't tag yet, but I believe this question should be tagged "subjective".

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Where I live, we have a neat little store called NCIX. You can order from them online, but they have a bunch of shops around here too, which you can go to and pick up your stuff immediately. My advice: find a local computer hardware store and get the best of both worlds. You'll pay through the nose if you shop at Best Buy/FutureShop etc.

Sidenote: I ended up buying online from newegg.com anyway because it was still a few bucks cheaper... but you have to know what you're buying and that it will be compatible. I figure the probability of the product being DOA is low enough for it to be worth it (the hassle of having to send it back if necessary).

Side-sidenote: Buy an SSD. They are so worth it.

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It depends...

If you think you might have problems with the drive that would require returning it then buying it locally might be the best option. You'll pay a little more but you'll have the peace of mind that you can easily return it. You also won't have to wait for delivery.

Having said that hard drives are pretty reliable these days so if the price difference is large you probably want to buy on line. Don't forget to include shipping when doing your price comparison though.

I bought my new kit at a local shop because a) I didn't have to wait several days for shipping, b) I could pick it up from the store rather than have to wait in for the delivery company and c) I could get it all in one place. I'm glad I did because I had an issue with the graphics card and it was much easier to get it sorted than if I'd bought online.

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a) its usually not 14 days. its like 7. from the states to canada. 1-2 business days if you get express. b) you can buy all your computer hardware in one place online too –  Mark Mar 17 '10 at 1:42
    
@Mark - I was using 14 days as a (bad) example and often if you're after the best prices you have to buy from different places. –  ChrisF Mar 17 '10 at 9:03
    
Ehh... ionno, I've found the online guys to be pretty competitive...maybe one or two things are a couple bucks more than the other, but then I just go for the one with overall lowest costs just for the convenience. I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks for my time :) –  Mark Mar 18 '10 at 1:39
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The best of both worlds: Costco. No sales people, but if you have a problem with they'll take it back and exchange it.

Plus, you can order online.

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an Internal 1TB drive at newegg = 80.00 (free shipping) same drive at Bestbuy = 90.00

So the real question is it worth the extra $10.00

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@DataPimp: However, there is the factor of shipping and how close one lives to a store such as Best Buy. –  studiohack Mar 17 '10 at 2:20
    
right, a decision Im sure they are more than capable of making. –  DataPimp Mar 17 '10 at 3:21
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