Disk manufacture date: how old is too old?

I have been ordering a number of disks as I have been running out of space in my Time Machine backups. I didn’t realize that this is a “thing,” but it seems that everyone is selling hard disks that were manufactured a few years ago. (I just found out that this is a concern with automobile tires too).

I ordered some disks from a retailer on Amazon and when they arrived, they had a manufacture date of 5 NOV 2016. One of them failed the SMART test, and I returned them all to the retailer.

But now I just ordered some disks from OWC (Macsales.com), which I have always trusted. Two of four disks were DOA, which I suspect was due to the post office playing soccer with the box. But the manufacture date for all four was 15 SEP 2021, over two years ago.

Should I consider this to be acceptable?

And, FWIW, it seems that OWC may have marked these disks down in price (with no notification) as they were unusually inexpensive for their size, and lower in price than on other sites.

I don’t think there is a shelf-life as such, although for something extremely old, there may be issues with failed capacitors and/or lubricants breaking down.

Usually, the problem with an old/used drive is the fact that it has been in use (and possibly abused) during the time since manufacturer. But if it has just been new-old-stock the entire time (SMART should be able to show you the amount of time it has been in-use/powered-on).

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If needed, “DriveDX” can give you detailed information on drive wear.


These are brand new (0 hours of use), but old.

FWIW, when I got the seven-and-one-half-year-old drives and one was failing the SMART test (even though it was brand new, but old), I first called Seagate. They said that it was way out of warranty, but they could work with me to do a warranty replacement anyway. I decided given Amazon’s generous replacement policy, and the fact that the retailer did not disclose that these disks were so old, to just return them and order elsewhere. So kudos to Seagate.

I have a feeling that companies are buying large numbers of disks for future use, and they rotate their inventory; when the disks get too old for them, then they unload them, and they are passed on for sale to individuals at a discount. But since I’m not part of that industry, I’m not sure.

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Just trying out DriveDX - impressive. However there is a complication when using it to check external drives because a separate SMART utility needs to be installed:
I will check this out and report back.

Update: That didn’t go well! The utility seems to be incompatible with Sonoma. Bizarrely it appears to have tried to re-enable numerous legacy “System Extensions” and dozens of pop-up windows appeared on my screen. I had to restart the Macbook to clear them.

For now I will stick with Disk Utility doing a health check (First Aid) on my external drives.

Apple has never supported SMART over USB for some reason. The OS-X-SAT-SMART driver has always been necessary for that to work. It will (I’m told) work OK for Thunderbolt drives, but that doesn’t mean anything if you’re using USB enclosures.

The original (upstream) code repository (GitHub link) hasn’t been updated for 8 years, with its last release being version 0.10.

BinaryFruit’s download says it is version 0.10.3, created in January 2021, so it is may have been been maintained more recently than the original code (assuming they did more than just sign it with their developer certificate), but is still three years old.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any other driver that can provide this capability.

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