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.