Seagate Responds to Barracuda Problems...Updated, New Firmware revives our Bricked Drivesby Gary Key on January 19, 2009 12:00 PM EST
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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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.
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.