Dell reverses position on 3rd party drives

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know about the recent problems with Dell’s server hard drive support. If you don’t know, Dell recently announced that it was removing support for 3rd party drives on several PERC controllers.

Essentially, my stance (and that of many other people) has been that expecting customers to use supported drives for supported installations is completely reasonable, however after the server falls out of support, there is no reason to require Dell-branded drives.

I was pretty upset, and there were a ton of comments from people who felt the same way. There was similar outrage from several other places too.

I was elated the other day when a reader, Pawel Kudzia, alerted me to an update. He forwarded me an email from his Dell representative. Here’s the text:


At Dell, we are committed to our customers. We listen to our customers. And, to ensure our customers have a positive experience with our products, we validate and certify all of our PowerEdge servers and components.

Previously, Dell prevented the use of non-Dell hard drives attached to PERC H700 and H800 controllers in our 11th generation of PowerEdge servers as we could not certify these non-Dell drives. However, based on customer feedback, we are now reversing this decision and allowing their use (without support).

Dell will no longer prevent customer use of non-Dell hard drives attached to PERC H700 and H800 controllers on our 11th generation of PowerEdge servers. A Q2FY11 PERC Firmware Update is planned to allow non-Dell hard drives to be used with these controllers.

We strongly recommend choosing Dell drives as we have validated and certified our drives and can support any issues that may arise.


• Dell Hard Drives Landing Page

• Why Dell Drives Paper

NOTE: There is no change to the current hard drive carrier policy. Hard drive carriers will not be sold separately (3rd party drives are still not supported on Dell Enterprise systems).

I was very happy to hear about this change of heart, but I wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, so I emailed Howard Shoobe (the gentleman who’s post initially alerted us to the previous stance), and he verified the contents of the email.

This is GREAT NEWS!!!

Essentially, Dell has recognized that our position was valid, and that one of the reasons that we buy Dell is because the quality is such that their usable life is beyond the warranty period. An entire stack of Dell equipment in my lab speaks to this, and I bet yours is much the same.

So a very big thank you to Dell, for removing this policy, and for listening to the voice of your customers. And congratulations to all of us who are Dell customers, and can continue to buy from them in the future without fear of losing our freedom of choice when it comes to the parts in our machines.

  • Excellent! I would like to think you had no small part in this. Great job Matt!

  • Twirrim

    Excellent news, glad to see sense prevailing at Dell.

  • Thanks, guys. I’ve got no evidence of that, Joe, but I suspect it was the general disagreement from the masses. I hopefully helped to spread the word so that Dell got to hear about it enough.

  • That is some good news and a great sign from Dell that they are paying attention to the consumers.

  • It’s great of Dell to reverse such decision. Customers should always have control over the hardware they paid for.

  • David

    I would think too since a lot of other storage vendors are perfectly happy to use 3rd party drives that they are losing a lot of market with that original choice

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  • Mike

    Somewhat related to this, I used to love Dell wanting to sell extra RAM for their servers at double what the market price was. When the issue was raised with our Dell rep, he’d give the standard Dell spiel about certification and possible loss of warranty support if we installed Kingston RAM in our servers, but I’d reply that at half the cost for non-Dell RAM, I’d remove it before I called for warranty support. :-)
    Interestingly enough, in most cases it was the same manufacturer of RAM in the server that we could source elsewhere for less. And I never had an issue with aftermarket RAM, but I sure did with Dell supplied RAM – guess who was using the cheapest brand?

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  • While I can understand them warning on using untested drives (after all there is a reason their clients pay for support) and I can understand them not supporting untested drives, but to actively block them is wrong in my opinion and seems like it would be bad business sense.

    With that said, Matt are you running production services on those out of warranty servers?

  • No way. I use only supported drives for my production stuff. On the other hand, when my production equipment get pulled out, I really need to be able to upgrade the system drives and the like.

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  • R. Lynn Rardin

    I was told by a Dell rep this week that they hope to release the “Q2FY11 PERC Firmware Update” on July 7, 2010. So hopefully we’re only a month away from being able to use third party drives with the PERC 700 and 800 controllers.

  • R. Lynn Rardin

    Dell released firmware version 12.3.0-0032, A02 for the PERC H700 this afternoon. My PERC H700s were previously running firmware version 12.0.1-0091 and 2TB WD2003FYYS hard drives were shown as “blocked” on the H700 BIOS Configuration Utility’s Physical Disk Management page. After applying the 12.3.0-0032 update to my PowerEdge T610’s H700, I popped a WD2003FYYS into the machine and found that the drive was no longer shown as blocked. I was able to incorporate the drive into a RAID 5 array with a pair of officially supported 250GB Dell drives. I just completed a RHEL 5.5 installation on the new array and haven’t encountered any problems so far.

    For those using H series controllers other than the H700… It appears that a similar update has been released for the H200, but I haven’t seen anything so far for the H800, at least on the PowerEdge T610 updates page.

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  • dan
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  • Alan

    I’ve seen the firmware released for the H700 and H800 integrated, but I’m not seeing it for the PCI versions sold in the R310 and other Dell models. Does anyone have information on where and when the firmware would be available for those versions of the adapters?

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