After what seemed like a few weeks of deafening silence, Seagate has finally acknowledged (officially) problems with their Barracuda 7200.11 hard drive series. We say series, as the potential list of affected drives is much larger than we first imagined when reports of drive failures escalated sharply in December.  At that time, it seemed as though the problem was relegated to the 1TB ST31000340AS model. However, based on this knowledge base article, there are 21 hard drives that could potentially have a problem. We were also informed that certain Seagate FreeAgent Desk and Maxtor OneTouch 4 storage solutions in the retail channel might be affected.

The good news is that Seagate is going to take care of their customers by offering immediate firmware fixes and if you have a bricked drive, they will offer free data recovery services. If you have an affected drive, you should immediately install the firmware update. The bad news is that this type of problem should have been caught in qualification testing before the drives were released.  The following is the official statement we received from the public relations group at Seagate:

"Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in certain products, including some Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and related drive families based on this product platform, manufactured through December 2008. In some circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on*.
 
As part of our commitment to customer satisfaction, we are offering a free firmware upgrade to those with affected products. To determine whether your product is affected, please visit the Seagate Support web site at http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/self service/search.jsp?DocId=207931. Support is also available through Seagate's call center: 1-800-SEAGATE (1-800-732-4283). Customers can expedite assistance by sending an email to Seagate (discsupport@seagate.com). Please include the following disk drive information: model number, serial number and current firmware revision. We will respond, promptly, to your email request with appropriate instructions.
 
There is no data loss associated with this issue, and the data still resides on the drive. But if you are unable to access your data due to this issue, Seagate will provide free data recovery services. Seagate will work with you to expedite a remedy to minimize any disruption to you or your business. For a list of international telephone numbers to Seagate Support and alternative methods of contact, please access http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/about/contact_us/  - Just to reiterate, there is no safety issue with these products."
 

We have not experienced the bricking problem with our 320GB and 1TB drives after several weeks of abuse, but we did update our firmware today as instructed. In the meantime, we highly suggest if you have one of the affected drives to do the same. If you are nervous about this process, Seagate technical support can assist you.

Update 1/20-

If it were not for bad luck, we would have no luck at all. We decided to follow Seagate's instructions and updated several of our other Barracuda 7200.11 drives today that were identified to have suspect firmware with the revised SD1A firmware. Our ST3500320AS (500GB) and ST3640330AS (640GB) drives are bricked now. It appears this is a widespread problem, once again, and Seagate has pulled this firmware.  We do not have a response from Seagate yet, but how in world they let this one get by qualification testing is beyond us.  At this time, do not flash your drives if you have the SD1A firmware.

Update 1/21-

Seagate figured out the SD1A firmware problem and has posted a new set of instructions for owners of their drives. Our ST3500320AS (500GB) and ST3640330AS (640GB) drives were bricked by the previous firmware update. We have good news to report as the latest firmware brought our drives back to life.  Granted, our OS drive on the ST3640330AS will need a new OS load as a core DLL file was apparently damaged when the drive bricked, but all other data on the drive was recoverable.  We suggest trying this new firmware now.

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  • seagatesucks - Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - link

    I own a 1TB seagate hardsik which recently got bricked.I have contacted the customer service and am awaiting a replacement drive.My question is did the firmware fix the hard disks that were'nt even recognised by the BIOS? If, yes, can I do it? Coz, I really need that data back. Reply
  • JHBoricua - Thursday, February 26, 2009 - link

    See this thread on the seagate forums:

    http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board/message?board....">http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board/mes...mp;messa...

    A lot of people that have these drives are finding that the serial numbers are being reported as not affected because on Seagate's internal database they are listed as 7200.9 drives, so they WON'T give you that free data recovery they're talking about. Also, though the people that bought these drives bought RETAIL KITS, the drives inside are labeled OEM. There's a lot of people affected by this shady move by Seagate and what is worse, if your drive bricked, they will send you a 7200.9 drive as a replacement. That's a drive thats 2 generations behind and has 1/2 the cache of the 7200.11 one. Seagate's position is that the users that got these drives should consider themselves 'lucky'.
    Reply
  • HRVAT1975 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I just purchased a BC-1.5TB-7200
    Model: ST31500341AS, Serial: 9VS0Q2LE, Firmware: CC1H
    it says that this Ser# & frmwre is not affected...

    I am worried and thinking about returning it for a WD/black-1TB...

    Should I????????
    Any comments & help, Greatly Appreciated... Thanks!!!
    Reply
  • McClainNH - Tuesday, January 27, 2009 - link

    I've got a FreeAgent Desktop 500GB USB drive that I had the brick problem with, so I went to the seagate site, bput in my model number (ST305004FDA1E1-RK) and it says I'm not affected. Which is weird, because my drive is a brick. I'd like to at least try and update the firmware, but there's no firmware version listed for my drive. Anyone know what kind of hard drive is INSIDE the ST305004FDA1E1-RK, so I can use THAT model number to try and update my firmware? Of course, the day after I find out that I can call Seagate, they're closed, due to "extreme weather conditions." Damnit! I've been sitting on this drive for 7 months now, waiting to figure out how to fix it, and now that I do, they're closed. Sons of cows. Reply
  • v12v12 - Monday, January 26, 2009 - link

    I had a Crapstor 250GB drive that was supposed to have a 3yr RETAIL boxed warranty... call up Indian Seagate support and was nearly laughed at when I told them about the drive and that I would like an RMA. What about the merger and them handling RMAs; apparently Hindu support didn't get the memo. So I lost all my sh!t and had to re DL/search for everything all over again. Fug this Corp... Let them suffer bad publicity, and terrible financial loss as far as I'm concerned. They laughed at me, I'll laugh back now... HA HA.

    I love all these zombified/zealots who love supporting these corp-pigs, yet when you have a problem, you've got to find a damn CEO's assistant's cel-phone number to get any REAL decisions made. Come on people WAKE UP! We ALL know that getting any kind of "support" these days = min 30-200minutes on the phone holding, waiting, explaining, listen to BS scripts. What does all of this amount to—HORRRRRRIBLE customer service, which is PURPOSEFULLY designed to stall out the consumer. Why though, isn't that bad for business?

    Sure is but if EVERY big whig agrees to run their ship like the oher fat-pigs, then what are we going to do—not buy drives (?) or move our dollars to the next corp-pig who does things a fractional bit better: for every unsatisfied customer, theres 3-5 newb idiots filling your spot. Screw these people for not thoroughly testing like they ought to be required to do. You lose all your precious data and have to hold a CEO's kid hostage to get legit data recovery services@$1000's, yet when THEY screw up, they don't want to offer you anything but some sniveling firmware upgrade? No MONEY BACK? No HASSLE FREE data recovery huh? Just what in the hell are we paying FULL PRICE for, only to get 1/2assed service? Just like windows: pay full price, get a patch-betaware OS.

    Lol you all are getting had! Stop drinking the coolaid and wake up... Geesh. No Drive manu is "better" than the other unless you've got FACTUAL drive failure statistics proving thus so. Cut the personal stories, there's 1000 of you with bricks and 1001 of you with 20yr old drives supposedly still running huh? 2yrs still running? WOWO!!!! That's nothing. I've got 10yr old HDs still running and the only thing that's hindering them is the physical bearing wear and that's IT. These drives today are crapware with a bunch of complex bad-block/sector compensation schemes running.

    Sorta like driving on a shitty road; instead of fixing the road, they keep offering you more cheap rims and tires to replace. FIX the technology please.

    /End Rant... Ciao! haha.
    Reply
  • ameatypie - Saturday, January 24, 2009 - link

    Seagate withdrew the file for a short time after this article, and then put a revised version back online for download. I updated my 3 500GB seagate drives, and it stopped the bluescreening problem i have recently been having! They also seem to run quite a bit faster. Reply
  • Movieman420 - Friday, January 23, 2009 - link

    Glad I missed the first firmware fix...lol

    Here's the new one:

    http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/...">http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/...

    Call me paranoid but I'm gonna wait a bit and make sure this release is a good one.
    Reply
  • TheBeagle - Friday, January 23, 2009 - link

    I just downloaded and installed the latest Seagate firmware for my six (6) 7200.11 drives (ST31500341AS). I had previously upgraded those drives with the SD1A firmware. The new version is SD1B. It installed just fine, and I was able to reboot the machine without any problems. Be VERY sure to disconnect all hard drives EXCEPT the single drive you are upgrading. The new firmware utilizes an ISO file to burn the necessary upgrade files to a CD-ROM for installation - it worked just fine for me. I sure hope that Seagate has finally gotten all the bugs worked out of the firmware for these drives. Good Luck to everyone else who does this upgrade, but, as I said, it worked just fine for me. Reply
  • marc1000 - Sunday, January 25, 2009 - link

    where on earth is this SD1B file??? all i can see here in their site is the SD1A version. are you sure of this version? can you please send the link here via anandtech? tks Reply
  • TheBeagle - Monday, January 26, 2009 - link

    The SD1B firmware update is embedded into the ISO file that you download from Seagate's Tech Support site. I don't know if the other drive models use a SD1B version of the new firmware, or have some other upgraded firmware designation. However, the upgrade for my drives was labeled "Brinks-4D8H-SD1B.ISO" and it contained everything necessary to upgrade my firmware to SD1B status. Of course, that is for the 1.5 TB drives (ST31500341AS). Other drive model may have a different firmware designation. If you just follow the Seagate Tech Support links mentioned in the article (above), and then select the correct model drive, you'll eventually end up on a web page where you can download the proper ISO file for your drive. Best regards. TheBeagle Reply

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