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Refurbished hard drives seems risky to me, but I am unable to find any objective data or expert comments on this.

How good are refurbished hard drives compared to new ones, primarily in terms of performance (attaining the published speeds, etc.) and reliability?

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closed as not constructive by Not Kyle stop stalking me, RedGrittyBrick, Mokubai, slhck, Nifle Jun 8 '12 at 17:41

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I don't have any statistical data to back this claim so you will have to take this response at face value. The quality of a hard drive and whether or not it will fail quickly is dependent on a number of factors.

It would be nearly impossible I would think, to tell if a drive were going to go bad based on several factors:

  • Previous environment (if it was dirty it could potentially play into the longevity of a drive)
  • Disk usage and utilization (how heavily was the drive being worked)
  • Manufacturing process (impurities or inconsistencies in the drives)

That being said, I have heard of batches of hard drives going bad after only months and I have heard of (and still get use out of some old ones) that are operation far longer than the 5 year life span they are designed for, and I can't say that one brand is better than others because I have seen all of them go bad.

It is also known (and again I have no evidence to cite here) that older drives were built more reliably and were known to fail less often than newer drives due to the fact that the manufacturing process semi recently has focused on creating disks as cheaply as possible, where reliability ins't necessarily the top concern or priority.

So, to summarize, I would say it is a hit or miss chance on buying refurbished. If data integrity isn't necessary then the price is ok. Personally I don't mind buying a refurbished drive, especially since they are generally cheaper. Just be sure to keep good backups and you should be fine.

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your description of old drives sounds like survivor bias to me...something that explains many comments along the lines of "They don't make them like they used to." – Andrew Mao Sep 16 '14 at 3:40

Watch this video it describes everything about hard drives.

In my opinion if you weight amount of precision the device requires to function properly and how it holds vital information, I would would want to spend a little bit extra and get a new one. Even if they offer a warranty on the refurbished unit, if it fails, all your data is gone unless you know intimate amount of computer engineering or spend additional money for backups.

I also think that buying an refurbished item is a gamble. The word refurbished is a pretty big umbrella word that doesn't really allow you to know what was actually wrong with the original unit. It could be as simple that the chassie was scratch so they put a new casing around the hard drive. Alternatively the mechanical head could of been bad and had to be replaced which would envolve a major overhaul of the unit which could dramatically decrease the life span if it wasn't done properly. You also don't know what the pervious owner was like whether it was someone that took great care for their item or didn't care. All of these factors make guessing the life span of the refurbished hard drive impossible to determine.

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