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Data Storage Businesses The Almighty Buck

Seagate buys Maxtor for $1.9B 458

groovy.ambuj writes "Reuters reports that Seagate Technology would buy rival computer disk-drive maker Maxtor Corp. for $1.9 billion. Seagate is already world's largest hard drive manufacturer and Maxtor is the third largest after Seagate and Western Digital."
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Seagate buys Maxtor for $1.9B

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  • Hard Drive Voodoo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:36AM (#14308224) Journal
    You know, I noticed that between me and my friends the most painful experience when dealing with computers is losing a hard drive.

    Yes, I know it's a nerd thing to say but it's almost as bad as losing a pet.

    Now, because of the brands of said failed drives, I have developed a quality ranking apart from my friends. And it's the pain of that lost data that backs me up.

    I had a death star (IBM deskstar []) tear itself apart on me and even though it was one of those old Ukrainian IBM/Hitachi ones, I still shy away from Western Digital who now makes them also. I've also had a Seagate fail [] me but (to be fair) I had bought it thoroughly used.

    Now, when ever I go out and buy a drive, I'm leaning towards Maxtor simply because I have a lot of them and one hasn't failed me with crucial data on it. I'm a lot better prepared to deal with that now as I'm older and wiser so maybe I won't ever feel that level of pain again.

    Many of my friends swear by Seagate and also claim they're the quietest thing out there.

    These new drives made by the merged company should be quite good, perhaps they're able to combine technologies, patents, manufacturing methods and resources to form a very reliable and quiet drive.

    What I'd like to ask slashdot readers is for a good way to measure drive quality other than throwing down chicken bones and looking at them or reading tea leaves?

    I guess the only thing I've found so far is reviews on-line (sometimes Neweggs have the best sampling), any other suggestions? Is there some kind of hard-drive-consumer-report thingy out there?
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:39AM (#14308253)
    So this will mean cheaper HDD prices? Or are we to expect more expensive or stagnant pricing due to the elimination of competition?
  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:42AM (#14308272)
    I don't think this is a bad thing at all. Ever since I started using the new line of "fault resistant" Seagate drives (I believe they are called the NL35 series) I have been a big fan of Seagate. So far, I have purchased 66 hard drives, and not a single failure. (Knock on wood.) Of course, I'm using them in a server environment (reliable, high-end, clean power supplies) which surely makes a difference.

    I am curious, however, what Seagate intends to do with the WD brand. Whether you're a fan or not, they have built a reputation over the last 15 years or so. I don't think Seagate bought them just to kill off the competition.
  • casualty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:52AM (#14308355) Journal
    I remeber seeing a /. article a year or so ago that hard drive manufacturers are running VERY thin profit margins because of the competition. Looks like Maxtor couldn't keep up and became a casualty.

    While I'm generally a fan of Seagate, all drives suck these days. I buy Seagate because they're the only drive with a 5 yr warranty. I now buy hard drives in pairs so I have a spare when one is being RMA'd.
    2 160GB drives + RAID 0/1 controller is a pretty cheap backup solution with a guaranteed lifespan of at least 5 years.
  • by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:53AM (#14308360) Homepage Journal
    2000 - Maxtor buys Quantum's hard drive division
    2002 - Hitachi buys IBM HD division
    2006?- Seagate buys Quantum

    So we're down to Seagate, Hitachi, Western Digital and Samsung. Any other HD brands you see are OEM'd by them.

  • by Cmdr_earthsnake ( 939669 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:55AM (#14308379) Homepage
    I gotta agree, I had an IBM Death star two, in fact I've had the bad luck of ownning TWO IBM's which both had major bad blocks.

    Fortunately, one of them is now simply storage , the other one however, died, it just stopped working entirely.

    In my experience seagate drives aren't too shabby, I think a move like this one will further integrate the good hard disk technologies the companies own.

    The NCQ (native command queing) and possibly the serial ATA standard (now on 2.0, at 3Ghz) could very well benifit from having the integration of two major players in the hard disk industry.

    Ah a good way of measuring a hard disk eh? Well there are several things to consider: price per gigabyte spindle speed (5400 RPM, 7200 RPM etc.. the new 10,000 RPM speed seems the best at the moment) throughput/bus types (ATA, Scsi, serial ATA etc... serial ata 2 is currently the best, at a throughput of 3 gigabytes) disk technologies such as NCQ, SMART(self monitoring and repoting technology) routines and analysis, error correction etc... compatibility with your computer/reliance on the manafactuer

    I personally take all these things into consideration when purchasing a new hard disk.
  • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:58AM (#14308405)
    Well, we currently have Seagate/Maxtor, Western Digital, Hitachi and Samsung. Toshiba makes notebook HD's, while Fujitsu makes SCSI and other hi-end HD's. I think there's still plenty of competition going on
  • is it me? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:09AM (#14308493)
    ...or does it seem like almost every major national/international market end up in what is essentially a duopoly with a few other minor players? Usually they're red vs blue, too-

    Target vs Wal-Mart
    Home Depot vs Lowe's
    Coke vs Pepsi
    Republicans vs Democrats
    CVS vs Walgreen's
    Nike vs Reebok
    Verizon vs Cingular
    Firestone vs Goodyear
    Marlboro vs Camel

    There are a lot more that I can't think of right now. I guess since monopolies often get broken up, things tend to stabilize at duopolies...
  • who's left? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomcres ( 925786 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:13AM (#14308523)
    You know, I used to like Seagate until they acquired Conner, which I had terrible experiences with. Then I used to use Maxtor until they acquired Quantum, which I used to see incredible failure rates on in my work as a PC repair tech. The problem is that if I buy a Seagate, how do I know I'm not really getting a Conner? Or if I buy Maxtor, how can I be sure that it's not just a rebranded Quantum drive?

    Over the last few years, I've used Western Digital and IBM/Hitachi pretty much exclusively, primarily IBM/Hitachi. I've never had a problem ever with either brand. About a dozen or so drives over the past several years and they were only ever replaced for bigger/faster drives, never because of a defect or problem. I guess I'll really stay away from Seagate now. But I'm not sure why everyone seems to have horror stories about IBM/Hitachi. I've found them to be fast, quiet, and reliable. In fact, although I will pick up a WD if it's on sale, Hitachi is usually a few dollars cheaper and not as loud as a typical WD drive, in my experience.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:28AM (#14308646) Journal
    Of course they all fail, but I've also been in the field long enough to observe trends. The fact is, particular makes and models of drives were notoriously poor in the area of reliability. The confusion and conflicting stories you hear usually stem from people trying to over-simplify it to "Brand X is better than brand Y!" In this industry, you simply can't do that.

    For example, back in the early 90's, I ran a very popular BBS. I had multiple computers running 24/7 and constantly being accessed, loading and saving data to their drives. At that time, the Seagate SCSI drives like the Barracuda were the highest performance drives available, so I tried using them. I had one failure after another. Always bearing issues. The fact is, those drives ran *hot* and keeping them sufficiently cooled in anything resembling a standard PC tower case was nearly impossible, so they'd self-destruct. Did this make Seagate a "bad company"? No, but it told me their high-performance, expensive drives weren't appropriate for my needs.

    Earlier on, I had many other failures with Seagate drives, but this was way back in the day when the standards were MFM and RLL. The very popular Seagate ST-238R (30MB!) drive was always losing data and going bad on people, for example.

    None of this means anything as to reliability of today's IDE Seagate drives, though. And with my recent poor experiences with Maxtor SATA drives (failing immediately outside the 1 year warranty period), I'm currently a fan of Seagate for those.
  • Re:Seagate warranty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jepah ( 928540 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:31AM (#14308675)
    I used to work for a company making Desktops for home users, 5 years ago. At the time we would probably get around 30 faulty drives a month returned. Of these the huge majority were maxtor. We would get the occasional Seagate and IBM. This is pretty anecdotal considering they were only in sub $2k machines, but we started avoiding Maxtor drives which didn't have a long warranty.

    Oh and the WD drives I have bought recently have all had 5 year warranties.
  • by mindaktiviti ( 630001 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:34AM (#14308695)
    This is how I backup my mp3s.

    - Burn them on DVDs (60GB = 15 DVDs).
        - Give one set to my brother for Christmas.
        - Give another set to my friend for Christmas.
        - Keep a private server going and encourage my friends to get the latest stuff.

    I've had a hard drive crap out on me and I've lost a ton of mp3s before but I had copies at some place or another. Sharing your data with your family and friends is one sure way to have a distributed backup system. Now, you don't control their data but chances are if they have big harddrives they'll keep that stuff around.

    This is how I backup my documents:
    - compress it every month or so and make a copy on each hard drive on my computer. Occasionally I backup to CD. Actually I think this data has less backups than my mp3s, even though it's some of it's important, but I could always embed a password protected file into one of my mp3 disks that no one would notice. :)
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:40AM (#14308747) Homepage Journal
    We've returned RAID arrays to Dell because they failed to provide us with the proper drives (they just love to slip WDs in there).
    I'm still not convinced that ATA is suitable for enterprise use, by any manufacturer.
  • by Predius ( 560344 ) <> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @10:48AM (#14308813)
    But on the flip side, Maxtor had a 'no quibble' warranty. I could call up, say aliens flipped me off, replace my HD, and as long as it was within the warranty window, it'd get replaced. No questions asked, no running diag software, nada.

    Came in handy when I had two drives from a 4 drive array that wrote at about 1/8th the speed of the other two. I couldn't produce a fault with any test, other than abysmal write speed. No problem, two new drives, advance replacement, done.

    ALL HDs fail, so in my mind, a warranty that's easy to use is the one that wins for me. The big question in my mind is if Seagate will continue this policy. That plus a standard 5 year warranty, and I'll be buyning nothing but Seagate.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:04AM (#14308944) Homepage Journal
    I've replied to the Standard Oil "monopoly" on slashdot so often, I think I may need to write a standard reply, haha :)

    Standard Oil was a "monopoly" by lowering prices so low using techniques that the competition couldn't match. They lowered oil prices from 60 cents to 8 cents per gallon, a boon for consumers and for production and manufacturing. The only ones complaining were their powerful competitors, and this is why government got involved. Before the end of the government investigation, Standard was nearly destroyed by a new competitor: gasoline. Rockefeller knew how to make oil efficiently, and the old producers didn't. Don't call that a monopoly, call it efficient. Isn'y your fear of monopoly from prices goes UP not DOWN?

    A few VERY INSIGHTFUL monopoly links: [] []
  • Some replys suggest xcopy32 or Norton Ghost [] to make mirror backups. I suggest Robocopy ("robust copy") from (yea, I know I know) Microsoft. It comes in the Win 2003 Server RK [], or Google it []. It includes a lot of options more suited to performing mirror operations, especially when copying over a network.
  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:17AM (#14309052)
    No, but back in the early '90s was when Seagate couldn't be trusted to follow the ATA/IDE spec and setting up their drives with a Maxtor, WD, or Samsung in a master-slave configuration was not guaranteed to work, and I'd say that's a good chunk toward making them a bad company, or at least a horribly impolite one. :)

    The only hard disks I ever could get their drives to talk to reliably were made by Kalok. And, well, being Kalok, that was until I had to replace the Kalok drive for bad sectors, or loud screeching noises, or... [Note that Kalok's hard disks looked physically a surprising amount like the previous generation of Seagate. Corporate espionage, perhaps, and a nice bootleg Korean manufacturing facility? Hmmmmm]

    I sold mostly WD and Maxtor during that time frame; funny that they lasted this long, as I suspect that most computer retailers of the time had the same issues I did-- if you sold a customer a Seagate, it often came back as it wouldn't play nicely as a slave drive, if you sold a customer a Kalok, it died a horrendous death inside of a few months, and nobody had customers who could afford Micropolis...

  • by BroncoInCalifornia ( 605476 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:55AM (#14309409)

    When Maxtor bought Quantum HDD, Maxtor was somewhat profitable. Both Maxtor and Quantum brought good balance sheets to the deal with a few hundred million in cash each. Quantum sold because they could not see a path to profitability. Maxtor bought because the executives had a hard on to do an aquisition.

    The end result of this first merger was a disaster. The combined company has been limping along and losing market share. The biggest plus on the balance sheet is "goodwill". This "goodwill" is the amount Maxtor paid for Quantum over the value of the tangible assets. This "goodwill" at this point in time is just accounting bullshit. Without the goodwill, Maxtor may have negative value for the tangible assets.

    I have been wondering if Maxtor would get purchased soon. I think Seagate is just paying to have one less competitor.

  • Re:Seagate warranty (Score:2, Interesting)

    by canofbutter ( 843238 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:18PM (#14309623)
    Maxtor has been one of those brands that has failed me time and time again: we have 3 main file servers where I work: one of them has 20 active Hitachi drives, another has 16 active Maxtor drives, and the other has 12 Seagate drives (all drives are 250GB). In the last 2 years, we've had 2 Hitachi drives fail, 9 Maxtor drives fail, and no Seagate drives fail. In the case of the Hitachi drives, the RAID setup prevented us from having to restore from backup, with the Maxtors on the other hand, even RAID didn't help us here: we ended up with a couple of days downtime replacing drives and restoring from a backup that was 20 hours out of date (meaning data was lost). These are all SATA drives and are in RAID 5 arrays. Warranty means little if the drives fail a lot; the data and the time are far more valuable than the drive even in small to midsize environments like ours. No company can make a "perfect" drive, but it definitely seems that some are a lot worse than others.
  • by Belisarivs ( 526071 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:32PM (#14309767)

    That really isn't fair to Western Digital. A few years ago, when all [] the IDE manufacturers were reducing their warranty period to one year for consumer drives, it was Western Digital that came out with their "Special Edition" drives, all of which came with three-year warranties. These drives ran like a champ. Since then they have dropped the "Special Edition" label, and almost all of their high-end drives come with a three-year warranty.

    Back in those days, I bought 4 Maxtor drives, and all of them have failed (One of the main reasons for my move to Western Digital). As it's been said in other posts, anecdotal evidence really isn't much of an indicator for hard drives. I think most of the HD community simply put out crap back around 2002, but have since upped the quality.

  • by Logger ( 9214 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @12:37PM (#14309800) Homepage
    For a city of Population: 79,093 Longmont, CO is heavily invested in these two companies. Check out a couple of their locations:

    Maxtor is the start point and Seagate is the stop.,+l ongmont,+co+to+389+Disc+Dr,+longmont+co&ll=40.1479 79,-105.152807&spn=0.042694,0.081702&t=h&hl=en []

    It's also not far from Seagate to industry old, dog StorageTek. They don't compete head to head but are in a related market:,+longmon t+co,+to+2270+S+88th+Street,+Louisville,+CO&ll=40. 061782,-105.116501&spn=.341985,.653618&hl=en []

    Maybe this should be called the Magnetic Plateau. :)
  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) <{runderwo} {at} {}> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:15PM (#14313898)
    This should help you complete your list. [] Note that JTS actually purchased the remains of Atari, then sold them to Hasbro before going bankrupt. (Did JTS stand for Jack Tramiel Systems by any chance?)

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner