Seagate fix breaks hard drives


Storage firm Seagate has received a raft of complaints following a firmware update that rendered many 500GB hard drives in its Barracuda 7200.11 range completely inaccessible.

In a thread spanning over 20 pages, Seagate customers used the firm's official forum to complain about an update which, rather than fixing any previous issues, made the situation worse by making their drives inoperable.

The update was supposed to address a problem in which some drives froze during certain I/O data transfers, causing applications to hang intermittently or in some cases causing the drive to fail completely.

One contributor going by the username 'ZenTech' summed up the general feeling.

"This is CRAZY. I've never dealt with something like this. I have most of my vital data backed up, but seriously this is just nuts," he said.

"I can't believe I flashed a working drive with a second firmware to fix a critical bug in the original firmware only to brick it. Now I'm waiting on a third firmware to fix the second firmware that was supposed to fix the 1st firmware. This is like a techie's nightmare. All of us surrounded by data that we can't access due to faulty firmware."

The majority of posts on the thread seem to suggest that the firmware update process went smoothly and worked correctly. However, when the system rebooted the drives could be detected by the motherboard, but not accessed.

"Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in certain configurations of Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives, manufactured through December 2008. In some unique circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on," the company said in an official statement.

"While we believe that the vast majority of customers will not experience any disruption related to this issue, as part of our commitment to customer satisfaction Seagate is offering a free firmware upgrade to proactively address those with potentially affected products."

At present the Seagate Knowledge Base page that hosted the faulty firmware states that the file has been "temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation".

Seagate said that it is working with customers to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and should have a working firmware upgrade available on its web site within 24 hours. The company has also assured customers that data on the drive should not be lost and will be available once the fix is implemented and the drive becomes accessible again.

Seagate is offering a free data recovery service through its i365 subsidiary for those customers who may not be able to get their drives working again.

The company encountered a similar problem last year with its 1.5TB drives.

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Seagate fix breaks hard drives
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