avoid portable hard drives by LaCie. seriously.

All mechanical hard drives will eventually suffer a head crash—it’s just a matter of when. I’ve had external hard drives crash after a year of use, and I’m still in search of a really reliable backup drive. But when all is said and done, LaCie is now the worst of the worst in my opinion. I purchased a 250 GB portable drive back in May; it died on day one of use. I then got a replacement from Amazon, and that has now died after between 6-7 months of intermittent use. Pretty disappointing.

I did the reasonable thing and e-mailed tech support at LaCie. My message detailed what happened and asked for a refund or a more reliable drive, since I suspect they have a major design flaw in that drive (the 250 GB portable drive designed by Sam Hecht, whoever that is). After two days, I got a response telling me they’re sorry and I should send the drive back for repair.

Send the drive back for repair? After a head crash? And I’m supposed to feel reasonably comfortable putting my data on a refurbished drive when two new drives failed in less than seven months? Really?

Sensing that this was going to be a very frustrating situation, I called LaCie and asked to speak with a manager. I was told the manager was on the phone and would call me right back. I made the customer support person read back my phone number, since he didn’t do it automatically, and sure enough, got the digits wrong. But armed with my correct phone number, I assumed the manager would call back in a reasonable period of time. After 2.5 hours, I figured that the reasonable period had expired, so I called and got the same guy who assured me the manager was just getting around to calling me back. 

Yeah, right.

Anyway, I spoke with the Tech Support Supervisor, who told me in a very nice way that his only option is for me to send in the drive at my own expense so they could refurbish it. No refund. No new drive (not that I’d trust it anyway). And there’s no one in the entire US, according to him, who is above him. So other than e-mailing their corporate office in France, which I did, I’m either stuck with a dead drive or else will pay to ship the drive back for repair and then have a drive that I wouldn’t trust for all the money in the world.

I’m told that Western Digital drives are reliable and will probably get one next week. But that’s not the point. What’s up with companies that don’t stand by their products and that don’t work to at least meet their customers halfway? Unlike Kensington, which replaced a defective and potentially dangerous laptop case (due to very sharp edges) with a better model for free, LaCie’s support is bad. And I wouldn’t trust my data on their portable drives. So my advice—be very careful buying portable hard drives, and avoid LaCie’s models like the plague. 

I should mention that I do have an external 320 GB LaCie drive purchased at the same time as I bought the portable lemon, and that is still working okay. I think it’s a time bomb, but it does work. But it is an external drive and has a fan. The portable drive doesn’t, and maybe that’s part of the problem. I’d like to think that LaCie’s tech folks would be interested in investigating whether there might be a design flaw in their Sam Hecht portable drive, but I’m not optimistic.

OK, rant over.