Seagate and Western Digital are cutting back on hard drive warranties, in some instances from five years to one, in order to save money or redirect it to product development.

Seagate's warranties on certain drives will be reduced as of December 31, and Western Digital will follow beginning January 2. All drives shipped prior to those dates will continue to carry the current warranty term associated with the products.

The warranty period reductions, first reported by The Register, mean some of Seagate's and Western Digital's most popular drives for desktops and laptops will no longer carry three-year or five-year warranties.

Seagate said that it was reducing warranty periods as a way to standardise its terms "to be more consistent with those commonly applied throughout the consumer electronics and technology industries.

"By aligning to current industry standards, Seagate can continue to focus its investments on technology innovation and unique product features that drive value for our customers," the company said.

In other words, Seagate is redirecting money previously spent on upholding longer warranties in order to invest in product development.

Seagate's new warranties apply to internal hard drives designed for laptops, desktops and consumer electronics devices. Seagate said there is no warranty change to "mission critical enterprise drives," such as its Cheetah line, or Seagate external drives.

Seagate said it is reducing its warranty periods from five years to three years for nearline products, such as the Constellation 2 series. Even Seagate's new hybrid drive, the Momentus XT, is seeing its warranty period cut from five to three years.

In a more radical move, Seagate will also be changing its warranty policy from five years to one year for certain desktop and notebook drives, such as the Barracuda and Barracuda Green 3.5in drives and the Momentus 2.5in (5400 and 7200rpm).

Seagate's nearline drives, the Constellation 2 and ES.2 drives, are moving from five- to three-year warranties.

A Western Digital spokesperson, meanwhile, said the company "is continually evaluating the best mix of product and service features that benefit our customer base as a whole."

Western Digital would not give a reason for its warranty change, but the spokesperson denied it had anything to do with flooding in Thailand, which has severely affected the company's ability to manufacture products.

Western Digital is reducing the warranties on its Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue drives from three years to two.

"Standard PC warranties are one year. Even so, WD will continue to maintain five-year warranties on its premium desktop/notebook products, including the WD Caviar Black, WD Scorpio Black and WD VelociRaptor products," a spokesperson said.

The company is also expected to begin charging for extended warranties, according to a Western Digital distributor's letter to customers.