Seagate and Western Digital have both announced that they are slashing warranty coverage on many of their consumer-grade hard drives. Seagate drives are taking the hardest hit with the company shaving as much as four years off select drives.

In a letter to an authorized Seagate distributor, the company announced that they will begin new warranty policies effective December 31, 2011. In summary, Barracuda and Barracuda Green 3.5-inch drives and Momentus 2.5-inch drives will now ship with a one year warranty. SV35, Pipeline HD Mini and Pipeline HD products will come with a two year warranty and Momentus XT, Barracuda XT and Constellation 2 and ES.2 drives will have a three year warranty.

On the Western Digital front, the company is cutting the warranty period for Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue drives from three years to two years. Caviar Black and Scorpio Black drives will retain the same five year warranties as before. WD's new policy goes into effect for drives shipped after January 1, 2012.

Seagate claims their warranty reduction is being implemented to be more consistent with other companies in the consumer electronics and technology industry. Reducing warranty overhead will effectively give them more money to funnel into future product development. Western Digital didn't provide a specific reason for the reduction but explained that they will be unveiling an extended warranty offering with special pricing in the near future.

Hard drive prices in general have shot through the roof as a result of the catastrophic flooding that plagued Thailand earlier this year. Given the high prices that available drives are commanding and the reduced warranties on the horizon, now might be as good a time as any to consider a switch to a solid state drive - at least for an OS drive.