Premature hard drive failures

Inner view of a Seagate 3.5 inches hard disk drive Medalist ST33232A model manufactured in Malaysia in 1998. Parallel ATA interface, ultra DMA mode 2, I/O data-transfer rate 33.3 MB/s max, 3,227 MB, 3 platters, 6 physical read/write heads, spindle speed 4,500 RPM, cache buffer 128 kB, MTBF 300,000 hours, dimensions 146.8 x 102.4 x 26.2 mm, weight 540 grams.
photo: Eric Gaba

A customer’s desktop PC wouldn’t boot.

It looked like the hard drive was toast, though it would spin up. When I closely examined the hard drive’s first few sectors back in the shop, I could see that one of the sectors in the MBR (master boot record) was damaged. Luckily, I could map out the bad sector and scan the remainder of the disk surface, which required days to complete. I found six damaged sectors, which I flagged as unusable. Luckily, of the six, only three were unreadable and contained no critical data. The drive was only a year old and out of warranty. Drives usually last much longer.

Is the quality of new hard drives declining, or is this just a freak?

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