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Old 01-21-2009, 08:23 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Seagate drive problem

According to discussions at Macintouch, PC Hardware, and elsewhere, there is a serious problem with some Seagate hard drives, which lock up without warning, usually after a computer restart. There is reportedly no loss of data, but the drive itself does not work.

The problem exists mostly (but evidently not exclusively) with drives in the 500GB to 1TB size range, including models labeled Barracuda 7200.11, DiamondMax 22, or Barracuda ES.2 SATA, as well as some rebranded drives with the Maxtor label. Some (all of?) the drives are made in Thailand (site code KRATSG) or China (WUXISG).

The remedy appears to be a downloadable firmware updater. To obtain this (there may be different versions available) Seagate requires that customers contact them, providing the model number, serial number, and firmware revision of the drive. Information or tools at this Seagate site may help users of Windows-based PCs gather this information without having to remove drives (the link was working Jan 21).

For Mac users, it is more complicated. In my case (external FreeAgent Pro 750) the System Profiler provides the firmware revision number, and the drive packaging lists the model, serial number, and place of origin, so that may be enough information for contacting Seagate. (Or not.)

PC users should be able to update their own firmware. According to the discussion on Macintouch, Mac users on Intel Macs may also be able to use a downloadable firmware update, but users of older Macs may be out of luck.

It appears that the problem arises after the drive has been turned off, so one temporary solution might be just to keep it running.

   
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:09 AM   #2
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Urk. But FWIW, as of 2pm-ish EST 21 Jan 2009, when you burrow down to the pages that list the individual firmware updates, they all say "In validation" (ie, you can't have 'em ... yet).

One of them says "XXXX is the latest version". Which seems to be vaguespeak for "No updates for you, bunkie, unless you maybe have an older version, in which case, write us and we'll update you to the current bad one." Or something like that?

   
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
Urk. But FWIW, as of 2pm-ish EST 21 Jan 2009, when you burrow down to the pages that list the individual firmware updates, they all say "In validation" (ie, you can't have 'em ... yet).

One of them says "XXXX is the latest version". Which seems to be vaguespeak for "No updates for you, bunkie, unless you maybe have an older version, in which case, write us and we'll update you to the current bad one." Or something like that?
That is more or less what I understood after reading too much (and too little from the horse’s mouth) about this.

It comes across as if things are very bad. They let something happen, they do not quite understand its extent, are not positive of how to fix it if it can be fixed (and there may be multiple solutions), and they do not want to make it easy for people to sue them or insist on replacements. As if most would want a replacement from them anyway.

Drives are cheap(-ish) these days. Data can be priceless.

   
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:55 PM   #4
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I read on Computer World that it mainly affects drives produced in December 2008, was a problem with the firmware on the drives and update or drive replacement is the only solution.

I have a couple of 12 month old 500Gb Barracudas in my network backup box - they seem to be OK, but run in RAID 0 so if one goes then so does all the data.

   
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:07 AM   #5
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What I've read in PCHardware indicates that there were some firmware revisions issued and they caused problems so all were withdrawn.

I have a Seagate within the specs they published and reported it. I have a case number from their robot but no promised human reply yet ....

   
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:20 AM   #6
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Cure's worse than the disease? Or at least more trouble. Thanks ...

   
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:05 PM   #7
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I actually got and applied the firmware for my drive and the update ran OK from the CD I burned from the downloaded file although that seemed to have nothing on it but a readme dating back to floppy disk days and a disk property exe that I'd already downloaded but it seems that the upgrade was hidden in the bootable code!

Although they say you had to disconnect all drives except the one being updated or dreadful things would happen I decided to run it since the other two hard drives were not Seagate or listed (although they are Maxtor which is part of Seagate now)

Anyway the DOS upgrade ran in a civilized way and while it found the two Maxtor drives it did say "Not Seagate" and skipped them and went on to the Seagate.

It changed the firmware version from SD15 to SD1A which is supposed to be the fixed version but .....

There's a fascinating blog by a Seagate employee -- at least he was when he posted! -- which indicates that all my not yet be well .....

   
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:11 AM   #8
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That really *was* an interesting read. Thanks for the link, Hugh.

I sincerely hope that the post doesn't endanger the poster's job. It puts a human face on (and acknowledges the human fallibilty of) a big company. In fact, it'd be a smart thing for the company to have somebody make posts like that.

A long time ago, one of my uninstall routines would, under unusual and very specific conditions, mung a user's copy of Office. It only happened to one user and luckily the fix was very quick and simple, but my oh my did that ever give me indigestion.

I feel sorry for the folks at Seagate who're in the middle of this much bigger mess.

Ouch.

   
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:38 PM   #9
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You've hit upon one reason why I like the new Norton approach to customers -- not perhaps to the extent of that blogger although there is a Norton blog site -- but if someone runs into a problem they really try to resolve it (using us volunteers at first but with Norton Staff who are actually involved in programming and QC coming in and talking honestly about bugs!).

   
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:36 PM   #10
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Very good for them. (and not a trace of irony in that at all)

The world needs more of that.

   
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