Ironically, the only hard drive of mine that completely and utterly died (and I mean totally dead) me was a Seagate ST373207LW (Cheetah) scsi hard drive -- super fast, about $350 -- only 5 months after I purchased it. And to get a replacement I had to fax them my receipt and return it at my expense. Probably standard, but it was disruptive, to say the least.
I agree that strange behavior of a hd may lead to eventual complete failure, but I doubt it in this case. After I regained use of the drive, I recalled that the day before I'd shut Windows down...while hitting the power switch on the Maxtor...seeing an error message (too fast to have digested during the shutdown) to the effect of "still writing to drive "J" -- (the Maxtor external) -- data can not be saved" or something to that effect.
It was the next morning after booting up my system when I discoverd the problem. Another contributing factor (beyond my expertise) according to the Maxtor tech was that the drive was partioned as "primary." Of course I'll keep a watch on it -- I have 4 months left on the warranty.
So whether it's a Seagate, Maxtor, IBM, WD or whatever drive brand, all are prone to failure -- none are perfect. My experience with the Seagate scsi hasn't prejudiced me against them -- it was just "one of those things."