Last week an unusual number of Seagate 1TB Barracuda hard drive owners came forward complaining of lock ups and other related hard drive failures. The problem appeared to affect Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ST3100034AS), to which Seagate ultimately determined was the result of faulty firmware. But now users are complaining that the updated firmware Seagate posted has only made matters worse.
According to Tomshardware, "100 percent of users who attempted the update have bricked their drives with the new firmware" after updating to version SD1A. The update is now "temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation," but users who managed to attempt the update before it was taken offline say they are getting read errors preventing them from accessing the data.
While the knowledgebase article makes no mention of manufacture date, one user who contacted Seagate customer support claims he was told only drives manufactured in December need to be updated, and his drive, which was built in October, failed because of this. Whether or not that's the case, we'll have to wait until hearing an official word from Seagate. In the meantime, if you're an affected owner, you'd do well to keep an eye on this thread.
According to news site The Register, Seagate's 1TB Barracuda hard drives are giving up the ghost "at an alarming rate." Users all across the globe have started complaining of lockups, non-detection in the BIOS, 0GB reported disc size, and other ailments, as reported by The Register and forum threads like the one at MSFN (Microsoft Software Forum Network).
If true, the problem appears to affect Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ST3100034AS) with firmware SD15. Users claim the reported failures are higher than what would be considered normal for hard drives, and adding insult to injury, some users are complaining of deleted and edited posts in an 18+ page support thread on Seagate's own forum.
And for you conspiracy theorists out there, while no Seagate Knowledge Base article yet exists on this specific topic, the company did recently reduce its bare drive warranty period from 5 to 3 years. For you non-conspiracy theorists, that means your drive is still under warranty.
Are any of you having problems with Seagate's 1TB drive? Hit the jump and post your experience, good or bad.
Update 1/16/09 - Seagate Responds
Seagate sent us an update regarding the failures and what steps potentially affected users can take to both resolve the issue and recover data. Full statement after the jump:
The world’s largest manufacturer of hard-disk drives took everyone by surprise on Monday when it announced that it had replaced two of its topmost executives, CEO William Watkins and COO Dave Wickersham.
Chairman Stephen Luczo, who was CEO prior to Watkins’ appointment to the post, is the new CEO. As for Wickersham’s replacement, Seagate’s executive vice president and CTO Robert Whitmore will be stepping into his shoes.
The bad news doesn’t stop there: the company has announced that it is going to relieve 800 of its US-based employees from their duties. Furthermore, the company had lowered its fourth-quarter guidance sometime back.
One-Terabyte drives are no longer unusual, but until now, drive vendors have needed three or more platters to hit the magic 1TB goal. Not any more.
Seagate is now shipping the first 1TB hard disk to get the job done with just two platters: the Barracuda 7200.12. It jams 320 Gigabits of storage per square inch into each platter to achieve its 500GB per platter capacity. It uses a 3Gbps SATA interface and a 32MB cache to move your data around.
The drive is also available in 750GB (32MB cache) and 500GB (16MB cache) capacities. No word on official pricing yet on the 1TB big guy, but some websites are showing the 500GB model selling for about the same price as its predecessor, the Barracuda 7200.11 (32MB cache).
What do you think about getting the same capacity with fewer platters? Join us after the jump and sound off.
Bare (aka "OEM") hard disk drives have always been good deals for tech-savvy shoppers (aka the typical Maximum PC reader) - buy a drive in an anti-static bag, provide your own mounting screws, download a disk management utility from the vendor's website, and you can save a lot of greenbacks, without a sacrifice in warranty coverage.
That's about to change. Channel Register reports that Seagate's bare drives for desktop and laptop computers are about to take a 2-year cut in warranty coverage. Starting January 3, 2009, bare drives will have 3-year limited warranties, compared to the current 5-year limited warranty. Seagate says that they'll use the ship-to-dealers date of January 3, 2009 and beyond to calculate warranty terms, but I'd recommend holding on to your sales receipt, especially if you're buying a last-minute Christmas gift or grabbing an after-Christmas sale.
To find out why Seagate is reducing its bare drive warranty period, and to see how it stacks up to its competitors, join us after the jump.
Seagate is looking to push its full disk encryption (FDE) hard drives and is getting help from Dell in doing so. FDE drives come in both 5400RPM and 7200RPM flavors in capacities up to 320GB in Dell Latitude and Precision notebooks, and also Dell's Optiplex 960 desktops. According to Seagate, 500GB FDE drivers will be available by the end of 2008.
All information stored on Seagate's FDE drives are automatically encrypted and require a password before being accessed. Without the password, Seagate claims the drive essentially locks up. That could be bad news if an end-user manages to forget the password, but in this scenario, the drive can be unlocked remotely by IT staff using McAfee's ePO software. This only applies to the enterprise level, however, and when the drives become available in the consumer market, no such workaround exists, at least not yet.
From a performance standpoint, Seagate claims there are no noticeable performance impacts as FDE drives encrypt data as it is being written and decrypt when being read.
While the solid state drive market might seem like it’s sprawling, Seagate politely disagrees… for now. The world’s largest hard drive maker is planning to get into the SSD game in mid-2009, when there will be more possibilities to make money.
Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins recently said in an interview, “The problem is you can't make money out of it [mobile flash memory]… I don't need to get into a market I can't make money out of. I can get into that market any time - all I have to do is show up with a product and price it. The problem is, I can't show up with a product that's any better or significantly better than what they're getting now so I have to match their price.” And, according to Watkins both Micron and Samsung (big names in the current SSD industry) are selling at a loss. “To do the product is not a big deal but to make money at it - it's important to us.”
Aside from mentioning Seagate’s will to do well financially in the flash market, some plans were finally outlined by Watkins as to just how they’ll break onto the scene. They plan to do so with a “combo” drive. The Seagate drive will feature both single layer chips and multilayer chips of flash memory. The combination of these two technologies will offset the pros and cons of each, providing both a reliable and reasonably priced drive.
Seagate earlier this year launched the industry's frist 1.5TB desktop drive, which remains the largest capacity drive available on the market. To accomplish the feat without sacrificing performance, Seagate packed just four platters inside with an areal density of 375GB per platter resulting in what the company claims is a sustained data rate of 120 MB/s. It all sounds great on paper, but could there be something wrong with the high capacity drive?
A jaunt over to Seagate's support forum reveals an 11+ page thread of users complaining that their 1.5TB drives are exhibiting random freezes. Most of the complaints stem from users running a RAID array in Ubuntu, but mixed in are a handful of users claiming the same behavior being displayed in single-drive setups in other operating systems, including Max OS X and Vista.
According to the various comments, support inquiries have ranged from "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," to "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." Other users claim they're being told a limitation error in Vista might be the culprit and they should try reducing the partition size to 1TB.
Any Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB owners experiencing similar symptoms? Hit the jump and let us know if you're having any issues with your drive.
SSDs are the hottest trend in storage, but how long will an SSD last? Right now,there's no industry standard for longevity or reliability. However, Cnet reports that Seagate and JEDEC are working together to establish a standards-based method for determining those factors.
Seagate isn't alone in working with JEDEC, the standards body responsible for standards in the solid-state industry. Earlier this year, X-bit Labs reported that JEDEC's JC-64.8 committee, which is responsible for developing SSD standards for embedded and removable storage, is being co-chaired by Micron Technologies and Seagate.
Micron brings its experience in memory technologies, while Seagate brings its experience in drive reliability to the endeavor. As Cnet reports:
Seagate says it can tap into the decades of expertise it has in error correction. "Some of the skills we've picked up along the way, to deal with imperfect media, has applicability to dealing with imperfect media on NAND."
Seagate's own SSDs won't hit the market until 2009, but hopefully its work with JEDEC to set standards for reliability will help make all SSDs more reliable.
So, what do you think? Will Seagate's presence on the JEDEC committee responsible for SSD standards make this latecomer to SSDs the one to trust when product finally hits the street? Or, are you ready to use SSDs right now? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Noticeably late to the solid state storage (SSD) party is Seagate, who earlier said it would offer its first SSDs sometime in 2008. As the year is quickly coming to an end, the company has now pushed its entry into 2009.
"Our history is based on rotating magnetic media," Seagate's senior manager of market development Rich Vignes told Cnet. "But as solid-state comes online, we're embracing this new media type."
Not everyone would agree that Seagate is "embracing" the increasingly popular storage medium. While several companies have made a push to get SSDs into the mainstream market, Seagate's late entry will focus solely on the enterprise market with consumer drivers to be sold "later." So far the company has not yet announced announced plans to manufacturer NAND flash memory by itself like many of it competitors are doing. Instead, Seagate has kept the focus of its flash business to hybrid (flash/HDD) hard drives.