According to Seagate if you return a defective drive they “may replace your product with a product that was previously used, repaired and tested to meet Seagate specifications”. In our experience the replacement drive the customer receives will often have a green border on the label and the words “Recertified Product” or “Certified Repaired” and a stamp on the end of the drive frame. You might also find two dates on the new drive label
DOM: The original date of manufacture.
CSO: Which appears to be the date it was repaired/relabeled.
In any case you will most likely get a previously repaired drive and not your original. Depending on the condition of your defective drive it could in turn become a replacement hard drive for someone else. If you receive a replacement hard drive the warranty is your original warranty period or 90 days, whichever is longer. Outside of this information Seagate doesn’t really say much about their recertified HDDs.
When it comes to Western Digital there is a little more information. Western Digital openly advertises WD-Recertified drives for sale. The drives come with a 6 month limited warranty. The company states that “WD recertified products may consist of customer return units and may be repaired. All products are tested and determined to meet WD’s stringent quality standards before they are sold as recertified.” Typically we see these drives relabeled as “Recertified” and sometimes you will notice a letter has been appended after the manufacturing date.
What you shouldn’t do is confuse these manufacturer repaired hard drives with HDDs listed as refurbished. You may see refurbished disk drives on eBay or other used item sites and the term could mean something completely different. Some companies specialize in “refurbishing” old hard drives. This could be as simple as they wiped the existing data and ran a disk check. It could also mean they fixed and/or updated the firmware, cleared SMART data, hid defects, cut head(s) because they failed and now the drive will actually be reduced in size from the original design/label. If you see disk drives listed as refurbished and they have the original manufacturer’s “Recertified” label then it could be the seller is just using the term refurbished in place of factory recertified but it never hurts to ask.
Should you buy refurbished hard drives? In my opinion, with the cost of hard disk drives so low you should consider buying a new hard drive with a factory warranty. But you still need to use caution, some new drives listed as OEM might not have a manufacturer warranty.