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Updated: Seagate 1TB Drives Biting The Dust

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments

In the wake of freezing issues with Seagate's 1.5TB drives comes yet another problem with the Barracuda 7200.11 series. Failure rates of the 1TB drives in particular are abnormally high, but Seagate has not acknowledged the problem.

Now 11 pages long, the "official" problem discussion thread on the Seagate support forums is full of users reporting problems with the ST31000340AS, the 1TB Barracuda 7200.11 drive.

One user built a 6TB RAID array three months ago. In two months, one of the drives failed. A second drive failed about a month later, and a third eight days after that. Another user had four out of five of their drives fail within 12 days of purchase. Reports of failures can also be found on other forums as well. Some data recovery and RMA centers have reported failure rates of approximately 30 to 40 percent, but Seagate has not released any official information.

The issue lies with faulty microcode in firmware version SD15, found on drives manufactured in Thailand. Generally, the drive will operate normally until the time of failure and at some point will lock up and prevent detection by the BIOS, rendering it completely unusable.

While Seagate has not publicly acknowledged the problem as of yet, they have reportedly updated the firmware on all newly manufactured drives, however the firmware cannot be update on drives that have already failed because the BIOS does not even detect them. This means that owners of affected drives require data recovery services to save their critical data.

No recall on unsold drives with the affected firmware has been issued.

Update: Seagate has acknowledged the problem and is providing firmware updates through customer support. Additionally, if your hard drive has already failed, Seagate will provide free data recovery services, since the data is not actually affected.

For more information, visit this page.

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  • 1 Hide
    retxed333 , January 15, 2009 4:10 PM
    Didn't Tom's recommend these drives?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 15, 2009 4:31 PM
    I guess Tom's didn't review the one manufactured in Thailand...
  • 1 Hide
    Gopherboy6956 , January 15, 2009 5:31 PM
    I do have the Firmware update to fix this issue. If anyone wants it, just email me at matt@bytespeed.com
  • 1 Hide
    roynaldi , January 15, 2009 5:52 PM
    Straight from Seagates website. It tells you which drives are bad and what to do to get the firmware!!

    http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/other_downloads/cuda-fw
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 15, 2009 5:59 PM
    roynaldi, did you bother to read that page? It says right there on the top: "A small number of Barracuda 7200.11 drives with firmware versions SD04 or SD14 may show and utilize only part of the available cache."
    That's a DIFFERENT problem.
  • 4 Hide
    Gopherboy6956 , January 15, 2009 6:15 PM
    Just to clarify: The firmware I have WILL NOT correct the problem, but it will prevent it.
  • 0 Hide
    Lowdown , January 15, 2009 6:29 PM
    I think this may be something with their whole 7200.11 series drive. I have the 750GB version of this drive and I'm on my third drive in 10 months. I hope they figure this problem out cause I would hate to loose my information again.
  • 0 Hide
    Dave K , January 15, 2009 6:41 PM
    I had one of two Hitachi 1TB drives (in a Raid1 configuration) fail after 2 weeks, it was replaced and both drives have been good for the last 15 months (running 24/7).

    I definitely wouldn't trust 1TB drives outside of some sort of RAID architecture (and if not mirrored then I'd be sure to have a hot swap with auto-rebuild in the system).
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 15, 2009 11:08 PM
    Crap. I have two 7200.11 1.5TB in RAID 0.
  • 0 Hide
    gsteacy , January 15, 2009 11:27 PM
    retxed333Didn't Tom's recommend these drives?
    The problems started to appear in October but only in December did they become so widespread. The drives don't always fail right away. If yuo read the article I linked in the first paragraph (http://www.tomshardware.com/news/seagate-barracuda-1-5TB-freezing,6558.html) you will see that a comment was made at the end that no problems were found with the 1.5TB drives when reviewed. I haven't seen a 1TB review by TH myself, but I don't read everything here ;) 

    roynaldiStraight from Seagates website. It tells you which drives are bad and what to do to get the firmware!!http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/s [...] ds/cuda-fw

    As someone else mentioned, that is for a problem with an older firmware version. But by fixing performance issues, Seagate seems to have made things worse :heink: 

    Pei-chenCrap. I have two 7200.11 1.5TB in RAID 0.


    Better make it RAID 1 and hope both drives don't die together ;) 

  • 0 Hide
    Nicholas K , January 15, 2009 11:58 PM
    Never trusted Seagate... Too many problems over the years to people I know. For me there is only one company worth considering: WD
  • 1 Hide
    cabose369 , January 16, 2009 1:13 AM
    crap. just checked and I have that Seagate 1tb hdd. Son of a bitch. I'm gonna back up quite regularly now.
  • 0 Hide
    retxed333 , January 16, 2009 1:40 AM
    My mistake. From Tom’s Winter 2008 Hard Drive Guide:

    "Today, we recommend against the first-generation Barracuda 7200.11 1 TB (ST31000340AS), as the updated model (ST31000333AS) delivers greatly increased performance with lower power consumption."

    I knew it rang a bell.....
  • 0 Hide
    pirateboy , January 16, 2009 6:42 AM
    Just give it some time and the ST31000333AS drives will start to fail as well...I think these drives produced in Thailand are just Maxtor drives with a Seagate sticker on them.
  • 0 Hide
    Humans think , January 16, 2009 12:34 PM
    I have a "Free Agent Pro 1TB External HDD" that is a Seagate external HDD does anybody what kind of drive is running inside the box, it is my primary backup solution and I would like to know if it could be affected.

    Sorry if this is a silly question but i guess that it is just a controller and an internal Seagate drive so I think it could be affected
  • -1 Hide
    restrain_oligopolies , January 16, 2009 1:18 PM
    Problems with 500GB 7200.11 Seagate drives
    Between November, 2007, and June, 2008, I bought six 7200.11 500GB SATA disk drives,
    all Seagate model ST3500320AS.
    Two of those drives failed internally.
    On an earlier SATA disk drive, its SATA plastic connection broke,
    ruining that disk drive.
    I buy 500GB drives because they have only 2 platters, so should be more reliable.
    For 10 years, I bought mostly Seagate disk drives; eg, the 2GB Seagate Hawk for $600.
    Most of these drives were SCSI drives, so were more for businesses and were reliable until I switched from SCSI to SATA, particularly the 7200.11 series.
    I am not sure if this unreliability lies in chance, Seagate, SATA, or perpendicular magnetic fields.

    With last year's experience with Seagate, this last month I bought 5
    Western Digital RE3 (Caviar RAID Edition 3) 500GB, model WD5002ABYS
    marketed for the enterprise market.
    While I do not use RAID, others' tests indicate this drive is reliable.
    I probably would not buy other Western Digital disk drives
    and I have never before bought Western Digital disk drives in my 15 years of purchasing.
    These days, I buy 500GB disk drives, either Seagate or Western Digital,
    because I seek reliability -- I do not seek performance.
    Whatever I might gain in performance gets greatly overwhelmed by a failed disk drive.
    I will loose far more time repurchasing and reinstalling a new disk drive
    than I will ever gain from performance.
    When reliability becomes too low,
    I worry even about the failure of all my backup drives.
    With the unreliability I have seen, despite multiple offsite backups,
    I worry about permanent loss of data over all backups with no possibility of restoration.
    I now keep 3-4 disconnected and stored offsite 500GB drives, each with multiple backups
    within them.
    I physically carry these disk drives to another site.
    For this, the marketplace could help:
    I have found no physical protection besides the shipping container (foam or a clam shell: Seagate's Seashell) for the internal hard drives I carry offsite.

    RELIABILITY, NOT PERFORMANCE!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 16, 2009 7:29 PM
    Are these drives used in the Maxtor Basics 1TB USB-drives? Just had mine fail yesterday...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 16, 2009 8:24 PM
    it seems that seagate finally acknowledged the problem and will provide a firmware update to people with drives that are still working.
    http://seagate.custkb.com/seagate/crm/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=207931
  • -1 Hide
    harddriver , January 16, 2009 9:46 PM
    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/selfservice/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/

    *There is no safety issue with these products.
  • 0 Hide
    gsteacy , January 16, 2009 10:18 PM
    I received that email today also, I'll update the article shortly.
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