Seagate's Update Bricking Working HDDs

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.

  • Humans think
    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
  • gsteacy

    When the update here becomes active again you'll be able to download it, assuming they don't stick it on another page.
  • my ST3500320AS is ticking like a time bomb, i hope the new firmware can defuse it
  • malcmacq
    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.
  • neiroatopelcc
    fgdgmy ST3500320AS is ticking like a time bomb, i hope the new firmware can defuse itI 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...
  • curnel_D
    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.
  • Pei-chen
    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.
  • 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".
  • "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.
  • nekatreven
    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.