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Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drives failing

Left, right and centre
Tue Jan 13 2009, 15:20

SEAGATE'S FLAGSHIP desktop Barracuda 7200.11 drives, in particular the 1TB (ST31000340AS) units, are failing at an alarming rate and prompting outrage from their faithful customers.

A new self-bricking feature apparently resides in faulty firmware microcode which will rear its ugly head sometime at boot detection. Essentially the drive will be working as normal for a while, then - out of the blue - it'll brick itself to death. The next time you reboot your computer the drive will simply lock itself up as a failsafe and won't be detected by the BIOS. In other words, there's power, spin-up, but no detection to enable booting.

Naturally the Seagate forums (as well as many other customer-driven forums, like etailers and hardware sites) are flooded with testimonies of customers' experiences with Seagate support. These are helpful enough to ship you a new drive, as per the warranty, but invariably the drives end up bricking as well.

Fail

RMA and Data Recovery Centres are also reporting that there's a very high rate of failure on these drives. One user in particular reports having set up a 6 TB drive array and over the course of 1 month having half the drives fail on him. No official stats are available, but at least one RMA middleman has told us there's about 30-40% failure rates.

According to data recovery experts Seagate has diagnosed the problem and issued a new firmware to address it. However, drives that have already been affected can't have the firmware applied to them due to their locked-down status.

Users are extra-peeved because beyond the usual RMA drill, if they want to recover the data on those drives they can get stuck with a hefty data recovery bill to pay.

Over a month into the problem Seagate had still not come back to customers with an official solution. Despite the company updating the firmware on newer drives, it has issued no recall on the firmware-defective drives that are still on shop shelves. They must be waiting for some grand event to come and go, say a shareholder meeting?

Drive origin and firmware seem to be Thailand and SD15, but at least one user reports having had identical problems with a unit from the Wuxi(ng) fab and the SD35 firmware.

Of course, we've mailed and called Seagate about this, but it seems their execs are too busy to pick up the phone or write back. We'll just refer them to that longstanding truth that good names are built over years and shattered in seconds. µ

 

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