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Seagate's Update Bricking Working HDDs

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

Seagate recently released a preventative firmware update for Barracuda 7200.11 drives affected by a faulty firmware which caused the drive to lock up and fail to be detected by the BIOS. Unfortunately, the updating process has not gone smoothly for many people, especially owners of 500 GB drives.

A thread on Seagate's support forum, rapidly increasing in size, is full of ST3500320AS owners who have attempted to update their firmware according to this knowledge base article. A time of writing, 100 percent of users who attempted the update have bricked their drives with the new firmware, rather than preventing failure. The update is now "temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation." This doesn't help those already affected however.

After updating to version SD1A, read errors occur preventing users from accessing their data. Fortunately, the failing drives are still detected by the BIOS and therefore updates to the firmware are still possible, unlike the previous SD15 version which locked out the drive.

One user who contacted Seagate customer support was told that only drives manufactured in December need to be updated, and their drive, manufactured in October, failed after update because of this. No indication is given on the knowledge base article that the date of manufacture was important, only a list of affected models and firmware. The user was also told to revert to version AD14 for the time being, which has temporarily fixed some people's drives.

Users of 1 TB (ST31000340AS) and 750 GB (ST3750330AS) drives are reporting successful updates. However, while the firmware is not available for download, anyone who wants to update will have to wait. Remember that only drives which have not already locked up can be updated with the new firmware.

Seagate was not available for comment at present time of posting. Stay tuned.

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  • 0 Hide
    Humans think , January 20, 2009 2:31 AM
    I am running Mac OS X (not hacked) on a 750 GB (ST3750330AS) drive, how the heck do I update the firmware now.... lol. I am not experiencing any issues till now though
  • 0 Hide
    gsteacy , January 20, 2009 2:48 AM
    http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=207951

    When the update here becomes active again you'll be able to download it, assuming they don't stick it on another page.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 5:45 AM
    my ST3500320AS is ticking like a time bomb, i hope the new firmware can defuse it
  • 0 Hide
    malcmacq , January 20, 2009 6:53 AM
    My first ST3500320AS "died" and went to RMA-Land on August 23. I guess it must have been a prototype of the bad batch fron December..
    My second ST3500320AS "died" last week and a new/fixed one is on the way.
    Unfortunately, I have 4 more of the same model..
    Life's not exactly wonderful when your RAID-0 dies.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , January 20, 2009 6:54 AM
    fgdgmy ST3500320AS is ticking like a time bomb, i hope the new firmware can defuse it

    I received a computer with two seagate ticking drives (2x250gb) last summer. I sent them to repair, as I didn't like the ticking, and was told that the ticking was perfectly normal, and not to worry.
    I bought two western digital drives instead of using those ticking ones though. I just don't trust my company data to be on stuff that sounds like that...
  • 1 Hide
    curnel_D , January 20, 2009 10:19 AM
    I've always trusted Western Digital more. Back when warranties used to be the same, Western Digital was considered the higher quality brand. But when seagate bumped up their warranty time, everyone jumped on their bandwagon. Good marketing tecnique because everyone bought one. Now everyone's realizing that they're falling back on that warranty so much that the extra 2 years is worthless. :p  Irony.
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 20, 2009 11:32 AM
    Ha ha, I have two 7200.11 1.5TB in Raid 0 that I paid $199 each. They are selling for $129 after four months. Seagate SUX. Maybe I should buy three more and Raid 5 those drives.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 12:42 PM
    That "December" stuff is rubbish. Seagate drives have been failing with the boot-of-death for the last six months and more. When mine went it was manufactured in July/August. When they say "through December", that's an Americanisation that doesn't mean "throughout December", it means "through until December".
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 12:43 PM
    "Users of 1 TB (ST31000340AS) and 750 GB (ST3750330AS) drives are reporting successful updates." Not true. My ST3750330AS firmware update failed on two different hdd controllers.
  • 0 Hide
    nekatreven , January 20, 2009 1:10 PM
    I've purchased 9 of the 1.5tb seagate drives in the last month or two. I got very lucky. They are all the exact same, except for the serial number and none of them are affected by the recent issues. We've got a ~5.5tb raid50 and a 3tb logical volume just chugging away, and we have a spare. It was risky, but nothing could match the storage density.

    Considering that WD has their 2tb drives out soon though (or maybe they are out by now)...I probably won't buy seagate again for a while.
  • 0 Hide
    nekatreven , January 20, 2009 1:12 PM
    nekatrevenI've purchased 9 of the 1.5tb seagate drives in the last month or two. I got very lucky. They are all the exact same, except for the serial number and none of them are affected by the recent issues. We've got a ~5.5tb raid50 and a 3tb logical volume just chugging away, and we have a spare. It was risky, but nothing could match the storage density.Considering that WD has their 2tb drives out soon though (or maybe they are out by now)...I probably won't buy seagate again for a while.


    This was for work btw...I only wish I was throwing that kind of money at my personal storage! :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 1:14 PM
    They changed the language on the main article from "through December" to "in December" AFTER drives started getting bricked. They also revised and then removed the firmware after that.

    "Note: This file has been updated as of Jan 19, 2008 4:15PM CST. Please re-download this if you have an earlier version."

    "Note: This file has been temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation."

    Yes, Seagate thinks it's still 2008.


    They also posted a serial number tool and then pulled it when things went bad; just like the firmware update.

    It was located here: https://apps1.seagate.com/rms_af_srl_chk/

    My drive's serial returned "IS affected" on that tool and it was PURCHASED in November. How can they then change the language to "manufactured in December" only when people start bricking their drives with the critical update.

    This issue has been known for months and back in early January their customer support forum moderators started locking threads about it. Many users moved to another forum after that. http://www.msfn.org/board/index.php?showtopic=128092

    The recent reports still use the "through December" language that was originally report BY Seagate.
    http://techreport.com/discussions.x/16246
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 2:11 PM
    I have two of those 500GB doorstops now... and of course, I could not afford having two other drives to backup all my data on. I work from home, so most of my work stuff is on those two drives. I hurried and patched them so as not to loose my data. I look like an idiot now!

    And BTW, I also have two WD drives... top of the line Raptors too. And guess what? One of them died on me in spring of last year and the other in December. And Hitachi? Well my brother got two of their 500GB drives and put them in a RAID 0 array... and guess what? One of them crapped out and he lost his data.

    And Samsung's are noisy and unreliable drives.

    So I don't know, SSDs maybe?

    Oh, no wait... there less reliable than HDD.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 2:39 PM
    This is not about technical issue, any manufacturer can encounter it from time to time (remember IBM Deathstar?), the problem is about customers getting tired of being lied to again and again by this deceitful company. I have three 1TB Seagates, luckily they are in an array protected by parity, so unless they will go bust together as a group, I should have my data even after this type of failure, but I'm going to replace them with WDs anyway and not buying anything from Seagate in the future.
  • 0 Hide
    that_aznpride101 , January 20, 2009 6:56 PM
    I see a class action lawsuit coming up this year...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 20, 2009 7:39 PM
    I spoke with a Seagate tech support guy, he said the firmware update to fix the SD1A bricked 500GB drives is due within 24-48 hours.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , January 20, 2009 8:22 PM
    Well I'm running a 750GB 7200.10, 1TB 7200.11, and 1.5TB 7200.11. I really hope they don't all die on me. That would be a lot of lost data (I don't have any of it backed up).
  • 0 Hide
    Jake_Barnes , January 20, 2009 8:48 PM
    Quote:
    I spoke with a Seagate tech support guy, he said the firmware update to fix the SD1A bricked 500GB drives is due within 24-48 hours.

    I've got a new (12-12-08 from Newegg) Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS (500 GB) SATA drive with Firmware SD15 - seems to be one of the possibly defective drives. I just tried to call Seagate but they are reporting "phone problems" with internal hard drive tech support ... strange :sarcastic: 

    I sent an email with details to them, but no way I'm installing that drive until I get some "firm" answers to my questions.
  • 0 Hide
    gsteacy , January 21, 2009 12:23 AM
    anonymous333Note: This file has been updated as of Jan 19, 2008 4:15PM CST. Please re-download this if you have an earlier version.""Note: This file has been temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation."Yes, Seagate thinks it's still 2008.

    I didn't notice that, haha. Well, it's a quote, so I don't see any reason to change it :lol: 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2009 5:37 AM
    The firmware that they now claim was for drives manufactured "in December" is dated "Dec 2, 2008" and was originally made for another problem with their 1.5TB drives.

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/11/2125227&tid=198

    http://www.google.com/search?q=sd1a+firmware

    The change in language on their KB article is an attempt to shift responsibility for the bricking of other drives on the end user. That is intentional fraud on Seagate's part.
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