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Seagate 1.5TB Drives Randomly Freezing

With the capacity of hard drives breaking the 1-Terabyte barrier and prices being generally low, people are flocking to upgrade their storage. Ranging from home consumers, enthusiasts, system builders, and small to medium businesses, everyone can always make use of more space – but what if that space isn’t performing so well?

According to an eight-page (and growing) discussion on Seagate’s own support forum, users from all walks of computing are expressing concern over the latest Barracuda 1.5TB 7200.11 hard drive – claiming random, unexplained freezing.

The originator of the thread, a person that names himself ‘Nick’, said his Ubuntu v8.04 (Hardy Heron) started exhibiting strange and random freezes after he upgraded his mirrored RAID setup with two of the new Seagate drives. Quoting Nick on his explanation of the issue:

Each time it freezes, the kernel log indicates an error ‘ata frozen’, ‘resetting’ and the command looks to be a flush-cache-to-disk command.

Generally a kernel error of ‘ata frozen’ implies that data has been sent to the on-board disk controller and it refuses the incoming request / data since it is already busy doing something else and must clear its command queue or cache before proceeding. A lot of other forum users have been expressing concern about similar issues with the same drive model – but the common aspect of across all the issues is that the drive freezes when the user is streaming data in some way or another. Some users have worked around the problem by disabling write caching, although ending up with generally slow to very bad performance.

We also find that the apparent problem does not just affect RAID configurations, users with SATA controllers that do not have a RAID feature at all have claimed the ‘freezing’ issues as well. A lot of users claimed they have contacted Seagate technical support and have gotten either no response or no solution. One forum user alleges that he/she was told by Seagate support: “Unfortunately, we do not support Linux.” And, “Again, these drives are not meant to be used in a RAID environment so we are not going to be working towards a solution for this environment.”

The funny thing about that response is that Seagate’s web page for the Barracuda 1.5TB 7200.11 drive claims a RAID environment as ‘best-fit’ for this drive. The product page for this drive can be found here. Look in the ‘Best-Fit Applications’ section to see what we are talking about.

On the flip-side however, one user is claiming that a Seagate support individual has told him, “This is an issue we are currently working on. I know it’s a hassle for now, but we’re working on it as quickly as we can. As soon as we have information available we’ll let you know.” – which was over a week ago now. Complaints regarding the issue have also cropped up on other forums, such as MacRumors Forums, Slashdot, and even Newegg (opens in new tab). It appears there is definitely something going on, but exactly what has yet to be known – Seagate has been unavailable for comment regarding this issue for more insight.

FYI – Toms had reviewed this drive back on October 2 of this year, and we did not find any issue similar to alleged problems.

  • Toms review setup was win server 2003. Looks like xp has no problem with the drive but linux, mac os x (journalled) and vista exhibit problems.
  • I had drive of 1TB and 1.5TB on AS series and as far that went well. I was told by Seagate to return the drives since the 32MB Cache was failing on 1TB drive and on 1.5TB drive this freezing issue was on screen.

    HAppy ending on everything I quess atm using Samsung and Hitachi hardware and as fat I have checked ES Tool, HUTIL & hitachi side Feature tools and drive capabilities. I am pretty sure all my next hardware will be from these companies.
  • Homeboy2
    guess i'll get another samsung 1 tb instead of the seagate 1.5!
  • JonnyDough
    I had something similar happening with my 320GB Seagate drive...
  • sunangel
    I have the Seagate 1.5TB drive and am not experiencing any issues relating to freezing. I use Vista x64 and ACHI (non-RAID) and something seems to always be accessing the drive and I can't find out what it is. Other than that it has been performing nicely.
  • Darkk
    Sounds to me certain feature set in the drive's firmware is causing a problem in some setups. For an average user may not utilize those features may not experience it.

    Most RAID controllers make use of the NCQ features so might be a bug in the firmware on how it handle those calls in conjunction with the 32meg buffer.

  • hok
    I didn't read the whole thread on seagate. Does this happen to 1 TB ddrives of the same batch? I just bought one!
  • gwolfman
    sunangelI have the Seagate 1.5TB drive and am not experiencing any issues relating to freezing. I use Vista x64 and ACHI (non-RAID) and something seems to always be accessing the drive and I can't find out what it is. Other than that it has been performing nicely.Vista's autodefrag?
  • Can you please check this comment taken from Amazon?

    I have this drive and it works great. A couple of people are saying that this drive is slow or pauses when transferring files or playing media. They need to check to make sure that there are no jumpers set. This drive normally operates at 300 MB/sec. See below from Seagate's page:

    "It is not necessary to set any terminators or other settings on this drive for proper operation. The jumper block adjacent to the SATA interface connector on SATA 150MB/sec drives is for factory use only. The jumper block adjacent to the SATA interface connector on SATA 300MB/sec drives can be used to force the drive into SATA 150MB/sec mode for use with older SATA controllers that only work with SATA 150MB/sec drives."

    The jumper setting can be seen here

    If your system is sata 1 then you will need this jumper set. If your system is sata 1 and the jumper is not set that could be causing the pause problem since the drive is trying to send the data faster than the system can accept it. If you system is sata 2 and the jumper is set then this could cause slow read/writes.
  • Regarding that, I have legacy controllers so I made sure that the drive could be forced to 150Mb/s before I bought it and I made sure to set the jumper appropriately before I installed it. I'm not saying this can't be an issue with older SATA controllers but it's not something that can be fixed by setting the jumper at least since I'm experiencing the problem.