HDD Handling: Information & How To


Article ID: 170093


Updated On:


Symantec Products


Understand Symantec’s rules and procedures for the replacement and handling of Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). These rules apply only to drives which are subject to return via the Returned Material Authorization (RMA) process and vary according to the Symantec hardware support option purchased.


Hardware Warranty 

All Symantec hardware products come with a limited, non-transferable warranty. Symantec provides RMA hardware exchanges to those customers with a valid product entitlement under warranty or an active hardware support contract (Advance Hardware Exchange* is available for customers with hardware support levels of Standard Plus and higher). Learn more about Symantec’s Hardware Warranty.

To verify your warranty or support status, contact Symantec Technical Support with your Service Contract Number and any applicable Model and Serial numbers.

* Symantec will send a replacement unit to eligible customers in advance of the defective unit being returned by the customer per the hardware support level purchased and in accordance with Symantec’s Technical Support Terms & Conditions

Hard Disk Replacement Rules (not including X-Series)

Original Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) must be returned to Symantec within 10 business days of receipt of the replacement drive per Symantec’s Technical Support Terms & Conditions. Symantec’s procedure is to ensure resident data is destroyed through several failure verification tests.

Customers with Standard and Standard Plus hardware support options who choose not to return HDDs may be charged a $500 fee per un-returned drive. Customers with Advanced, Premium or Premium Plus hardware support options may retain 1 HDD per year per system serial number with no charge if the customer chooses to retain and dispose of the HDD. Refer to table below:

Hardware Support Option

HDD Non-Return

HDD Non-Return Charge
Waived for 1 HDD/Year




Standard Plus






Premium Plus







The part number associated with this charge is 070-08108. Failure to return the HDD or pay the invoice within 35 business days of receipt of invoice may result in the suspension of support and services for that specific asset by Symantec and will void Symantec’s Warranty.

Most Symantec support contracts have a requirement that defective systems and non-consumable Field Replacement Units (FRUs) must be returned in exchange for replacement hardware, unless expressly waived by Symantec.   

Process Description 

Failure Verification Process 

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the physical return of an HDD, Symantec will erase all data resident in the magnetic disk media as part of the failure verification test. This is accomplished through a write verify test that occurs twice through the failure verification test process utilizing two separate diagnostic programs. The diagnostic programs used by Symantec write many different bit patterns to all areas of the disk to verify the read/write circuits and disk media. This procedure overwrites and destroys all data residing on the HDD. If the HDD is classified as “No Trouble Found” (NTF), Symantec will load the required Operating Software. If the media on the HDD has not been erased, the new software load will be unsuccessful. HDDs with known issues do not undergo the verification test and are sent straight to the manufacturer for repair.

Repair Process 

The HDD manufacturer will perform their version of the write verify test that is compliant with the US Department of Defense sanitation specification (DOD 5520.22M) in addition to the testing that took place during Symantec’s failure verification process. The manufacturer ensures all media is destroyed during this process by overwriting all addressable locations with a character, its complement and then a random character which is then verified. This process occurs (at minimum) three times. If the error condition requires a replacement of a component or the disk itself, the write verify tests are rerun after the replacement to verify proper operation. If no errors are found, the HDD will undergo a low-level formatting process. The HDD is ready for use without the possibility of old data being restored.

Scrap Process 

If an HDD or assembly is un-repairable and there is no return for replacement program available from the manufacturer, the HDD will undergo a process to destroy the data resident in the magnetic disk media through a program specified by the US Department of Defense. This ensures no data can be restored or recovered. The next step is to disassemble and physically destroy the HDD, and a certificate of destruction is provided.

Non-Returned HDDs

Following a diagnostic determination that a replacement is required and an RMA is authorized, the customer may elect not to return the HDD due to concerns about data security. In this event, other than the initial gross determination that a failure has occurred, Symantec will be unable to do any further failure analysis which can inhibit making a final determination and report-out on the exact nature of the failure. The RMA process will be executed in the usual manner, however a returned defective unit is not expected in advance of the HDD replacement being shipped. Customers are reminded that they may be subject to fees. Refer to Hard Disk Replacement Rules section above.

HDD Usability 

The HDDs used at Symantec contain a proprietary disk layout not compatible with any other available operating system’s file-system layout. The HDD can be used from one Symantec device to another, but the act of inserting the HDD into the new device re-initializes the HDD and causes all previous resident media to become unreachable.

Additional Resources