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Why Refurbished Hard Drives are Not Always the Best Deal

Why Refurbished Hard Drives are Not Always the Best Deal

Purchasing refurbished appliances and other items is nothing new. For years department stores have sold their ‘gently used’ items to consumers at a nice discount. Indeed, as consumers, we are always looking out for the next, best deal. This even extends into the world of fulfilling basic home PC needs. In fact, today a good amount of transactions involving computer components involve refurbished parts. For instance, it’s nothing new for people to purchase a refurbished ‘junker’ PC to be used solely for surfing the net while reserving their high priced and high-performance PC for business. Purchasing refurbished printers, monitors, bamboo pads and a mouse here and there can most certainly save many a PC user quite a bit of cash.

But what about hard drives? After all, they are less expensive versions of the brand new drives you’d find online. Hard drives, it turns out, are not exactly the best-refurbished component to purchase. In fact, it is highly recommended that you beware of refurbished hard drives. If in doubt, simply ask this question on any computer maintenance forum and you’ll most likely be answered with a resounding “No”.

Indeed, many computer geeks advise against purchasing a previously used hard disk drive, especially if you intend to do more than surf the net, or use it as an inexpensive, one-time data storage solution. No matter how cheap the refurbished drive, using it to store your critical data is a massive mistake. Previously used hard drives have already clocked many hours with a previous user. Unless you’re a tech-savvy user, there is no way of knowing exactly when the drive will die. Remember, there is always a chance that bad sectors will be skipped in routine error checks.

The main reason for purchasing a refurbished drive is a bad idea, involves the fragile, mechanical nature of the hard drive. Hard drives are delicate bits of technology. Even brand new drives must be handled with care. Drives that have been refurbished and sold online have gone through much in the way of bumps during the delivery process. Depending on how the drive was handled, it could lose much of its lifespan simply by being jostled too much, not to mention the very real possibility that it may have been dropped or carelessly handled by the previous owner. Finally, beware of refurbished hard drives due to the possible presence of illegal content. You’ve no clue as to where this drive has been, or what data is stored. There is always the strong possibility that it may have belonged to someone who used their computer to conduct illegal activities or download illegal content.

If you do wish to purchase a refurbished hard drive, then only purchase one from a reputable manufacturer, such as Seagate. This means they have passed stringent tests, plus they’ll label the drive with the DOM, or date of manufacture and CSO, the date it was refurbished. However, beware of refurbished hard drives on sites such as eBay or Craigslist. Here, the seller can state the drive is ‘refurbished’, but in reality, they more than likely just erased the old data, did a routine diagnostic check, and slapped a label on it. Keep in mind you’ve no idea what the seller means when they say ‘refurbished’. As a result, you could spend good money on a hard drive that fails in 30 days.

As you can see, since hard drives by design are fragile, it’s a very good idea to purchase one that comes with a warranty, is certified, has a guarantee and a friendly, solid return policy. If you are intent on purchasing a refurbished hard drive, aim to get a solid state drive or SSD. Solid state drives are built to be a bit tougher than other designs such as hard disk drives, or HDDs. Below, we’ve summed up the basic pros and cons of purchasing a used hard drive:


  • Low Cost


  • Decreased hard drive lifespan
  • Can die at any time
  • Possible data loss
  • No Warranties, guarantees
  • No return policy
  • Possibility of illegal content remaining from the previous owner

Unless you are in the market for a low-cost, temporary storage solution for non-critical data, then please beware of refurbished hard drives. If you are determined to purchase one for your gaming or general surfing PC needs, then either look for one that has been certified refurbished by a manufacturer such as Seagate, or simply take your chances on eBay or Craigslist.

4 thoughts on “Why Refurbished Hard Drives are Not Always the Best Deal

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