SOURCE: SquareTrade


November 17, 2009 09:03 ET

SquareTrade Study Finds One in Three Laptops Fail Within Three Years

Netbooks Projected to Fail at a 20 Percent Higher Rate Than Traditional Laptops; Asus and Toshiba Most Reliable Manufacturers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - November 17, 2009) - SquareTrade, the largest independent warranty provider in the world, just completed an extensive study on failure rates for laptops. Based on data compiled from over 30,000 randomly selected laptops, the company found over 31 percent of laptops will fail in the first three years of ownership. Of these failures, two-thirds came from hardware malfunctions (20.4 percent) and one-third (10.6 percent) was reported as accidental damage.

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Other highlights of the study include:

  • Asus and Toshiba were the most reliable manufacturers, with fewer than 16 percent having a hardware malfunction over three years.
  • Netbooks are projected to have a 20 percent higher failure rate from hardware malfunctions than more expensive laptop computers.
  • Manufacturers proved to be a more reliable determinant of reliability than the type of laptop and should be a greater factor in making a purchase decision.

Manufacturers: Vast Differences in Reliability

When excluding accidental damage and examining hardware malfunctions by manufacturer, Asus and Toshiba prove to be the most reliable, with failure rates below 16 percent. Apple and Dell both fall in the middle with approximately an 18 percent failure rate; while industry leader HP has the highest failure rate. Over one in four HP laptops in the study are projected to experience a hardware malfunction during the first three years of ownership.

Netbook Reliability in Question

Netbooks are a relatively new addition to the laptop market, with sales only exceeding 10 percent of the total laptop market in Q4 of 2008. For purposes of this study, netbooks are defined as a laptop under $400. After one year of ownership, the study found netbooks to have greater than 20 percent higher malfunction rate than traditional laptops, experiencing a malfunction rate of 5.8 percent versus 4.7 percent and 4.2 percent for entry level and premium laptops, respectively.


SquareTrade randomly selected over 30,000 laptop and netbook computers that are covered by SquareTrade Laptop Warranty plans for this analysis and included only items that were purchased new (not refurbished or used). The study data breaks out nine brands with a minimum of 1000 units, including: Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba.

The following disclaimers apply to this data and analysis:

  • As there is no sharp line that divides the definition of a netbook and laptop computer, SquareTrade used the industry price differentiation point of $400 in its analysis to define the netbook category.
  • Only malfunctions reported directly to SquareTrade are included in the data. Other malfunctions, including software issues handled directly by the retailer, problems associated with product recalls, and those fixed by software/firmware updates, may not be represented in this data.
  • Purchase location was not taken into consideration.

About SquareTrade
Founded in 1999, SquareTrade makes warranties that make sense, offering fair prices, a no-pressure way to buy online, and no-hassle 5-day service. Buy your item anywhere (online or in a store) then get a better warranty directly from or call 877-WARRANTY. SquareTrade offers consumers an alternative to big retailers' or manufacturers' overpriced and under-serviced warranties and costs 50 percent less on average than big retailers. SquareTrade is the only service consistently rated 5 of 5 by consumers. SquareTrade is the largest independent warranty provider in the world for consumer electronics and appliances. All SquareTrade warranty plans are backed by insurance from AmTrust, an A-rated insurance company. Privately held, SquareTrade is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, go to

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