Epilogue on three 75GXP failures


— 8:54 PM on April 18, 2008

Years ago I sought advice from a trusted and knowledgeable friend about what components to use in my first home-built PC. Everything worked great at first. In fact, that system still runs and gets used every so often (in spite of a few bulging and leaking capacitors). The only major issue I ever had was with... the IBM Deskstar 75GXP. Need I say more?

I believe the first instance of the tell-tale repetitive clicking followed by an error notice happened at seven months. I don't remember exactly, but Scott probably helped me retrieve some of my data before I RMA'd it for a replacement. At that time I didn't have any vital data on there, maybe my resume and some personal correspondence.

Although I wanted to go with a different brand after all the hassle, IBM wouldn't refund my money; they insisted that my only option was to swap for a replacement drive.

The second one lasted five or six months, tops. This time I had been wiser and backed up my data on a regular basis. And we still have that stack of floppies somewhere, just in case I ever need to access my application to the Federal Reserve Bank or the family Christmas newsletter of 2000 (doubtful, as not much happened that year).

This time I tried to insist on a refund, not a replacement. I still wasn't aware, however, that there was a swell of failures occurring among what would come to be known as the Deathstars of hard drives. And surely such a popular model from a respected company like IBM, highly recommended by my geekiest of friends, couldn't fail me three times. So when the customer service rep insisted that a replacement was the best she could do, I relented.

When drive #3 arrived I saw that it had scratches around the screws, was covered with fingerprints, had been re-labeled, and wore a telling little sticker that said "SERVICEABLE USED PART". This was good! No, I'm serious, because "serviceable" was a step up from what I'd received in the past, right? Surely this (refurbished?) drive had been thoroughly checked out, and whatever problem the others had was resolved. Besides, if I could find an accomplished hacker, I might be able to retrieve some other young family's Christmas 2000 newsletter from the wiped platters.

Having learned my lesson, I bought a new drive to use as my primary and set this one up as a slave drive. This way I could, um... well... back up my data to it in case the primary drive failed - right. Ok, sure, that sounds so obviously absurd now - after the fact. Relying on a known failure of a hard drive as a back up for my vital data? The good news is: I have not yet needed to use the backed up files on that drive!! Good thing, too, because the "serviceable used" drive failed after about a year. This in spite of the fact that it was used only once a week, at most, to back up files from the other drive.

I had a long argument with several company reps, but failed to persuade any of them that they should send me a check. I reached that point where every minute of time and any energy spent on this cause seemed like a waste. IBM must've felt the same way because they were negotiating the sale of their hard drive business to Hitachi. I had errant thoughts of hurling the drive through the window of an IBM office somewhere... anywhere. But I decided to just make it a paperweight. It still sits next to my keyboard, along with a carved stone tool allegedly from the Mayan civilization in Central America. Both remind me that things change, technology fails, and whoever's in the lead eventually stumbles.


But sometime back in 2005 I received an email from a law firm asking if I wanted to be included in a class-action lawsuit against IBM over the 75GXP. After researching the options I honestly don't think that I signed up... but maybe I had to opt out. Anyway, last Monday I got this check in the mail for $100, which made me smile.

   
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