Apparently, there was serious problem with the disks with a conflict between a feature of the drives' firmware and some RAID controllers. You can read the despair of one user over here. As a result of this miscommunication, the RAID adapters incorrectly identified the disk as dead, thus disappearing suddenly and without real cause from the RAID array. In the words of Western Digital: "an issue where a WD1600YS, WD2500YS, WD4000YS, or WD5000YS hard drive is dropped from a RAID set without reporting errors after a period of normal usage". Issues, we have heard about them.
Western Digital describes the firmware problem in its support page
The WD support web site is now offering a fix for the problem: a firmware update utility is available here. It updates the firmware code in the affected drives to version 20.06C06 on the WD1600YS and WD2500YS models, and version 09.02E09 on the WD4000YS and WD5000YS.
This firmware update came just in time for me, as the firm shipped me a pair of 250GB drives before Yuletide which I have been using as separate drives installed into an array enclosure I've been testing. I was about to set the drive pair as a RAID volume with a PCI Raid controller, when I first read about the "disappearing drives" problem. Installing the firmware update was painless, just a matter of copying the wd2500ys.exe file to a DOS boot diskette, booting from it and running the file. After a few seconds the process was complete.
One of the affected drives, the 250GB SATA II
We had the luck of having a pair of 'disappearing Caviars' in our INQ Lat.Am. HQ lab
It's been ages since I had to do a HD firmware update, and my first with WD drives -I have another pair of 80GB SATA-I drives working flawlessly and 24/7 since mid-2005 for the record- and it was a bit distressing to hear the drive making "clicking noises" while the update process is progressing, but I guess it has to do with certain subsystems of the drive shutting down and restarting again. One of the two drives -both of which have been working fine since I installed the pair around mid-November- continued making random clicking noises after the update, every few minutes. I'm not sure what is the cause, but after a few hours, the 'clicking drive' stopped making such random noises and is working fine, so my guess is that it has to do with some recalibration after the update. It was an anxiety-peaking exercise, however, and I have INQuired the firm about this.
Installing the firmware update from a DOS prompt
The firmware update is listed as requiring "Win98, 98SE, 2000 and XP" but in reality all firmware updates are packed into a single YSupdate.zip file, which can be extracted under any OS - you still need to boot DOS to apply it. The company also cautions about using PCI SATA controller or RAID adapter: "If you are having issues updating the firmware of a drive connected to a PCI Serial ATA controller or RAID controller, please install the drive into a system with Serial ATA connections directly on the motherboard (Onboard Serial ATA controller) and try again."
You have been warned. µ
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