Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Frustrating experience with Seagate...

In my home machines I have 2 drives installed - one is my main operating system drive ("C" drive) and the other is a backup drive.  My backup drive is larger than my "C" drive so that I can keep multiple generations of backup on it.  I also copy the backups from our backup drives to another external NAS drive so that I have an on-machine and off-machine copy.  Finally I periodically hand carry a USB drive from home to work and vice versa with copies of all our backups.  Call me paranoid, but I like to have lots of backups.  Today proved why.
I'd heard a bunch of buzz on the net from Engadget and other places that Seagate was having problems with a certain batch of drives where the firmware would go bad and the drive would end up bricked.  The data was fine but the drive itself would become inaccessible.  I thought - hmmm, that's not good - wonder if I have any of those drives in my systems?  Sure enough my drive and my wife's drive are affected by the firmware issue.  So of course I think - I'll update the firmware ASAP before I have a failure - even though Seagate is guaranteeing drive recovery for those affected, I'm betting that won't happen fast or quickly.  Now note that this drive is my first round backup - I have 2 other copies of my backups on other drives - and that to date these drives have not given me any trouble that I know of.
So about 8pm EST last night I download the firmware patch, confirm that my drive is affected, follow the firmware patch instructions to the letter (you definitely don't want to mess up when installing firmware).  I do this only on my system figuring if it gets messed up - at least Val won't be mad at me :)
The last step is to shut down.  Sure enough, after shutdown and restart  - though the drive is recognized by bios it won't initialize or be recognized by windows.  The only way to get my machine to boot was to disconnect the drive from the SATA controller.  I could see the drive to re-flash it from DOS but not the data on the drive.  Sigh.  So now I have a bricked drive - maybe I did something wrong or there's a rescue utitlity.  Following my own golden rule - never work on something after midnight because that's when bad stuff happens - I check seagate's download section again in the morning - only to find this message:
Note: This file has been temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation
Note that the time is approximately 1 hour after I downloaded it.  Sigh.  Obviously they released screwed up firmware.  It's anyone's guess what it's going to take to unlock this drive - possibly even a trip back to seagate.  What a colossal screw up.  You'd think they'd have tested this to the nth before releasing it.  It's not as if they aren't a multi million dollar company with over 1/2 the market share.  I felt bad for myself - but even worse for people on the forum who had whacked up to 8 drives in a RAID array or all their operating system files without backups.
Maybe next time I'll buy Western Digital.


David Gray said...

Overall, I've had much better luck with Western Digital drives than with Seagate. The Gateway that sits under my desk came with a Seagate, which lasted about two months, and started rapidly losing sectors. The replacement that Gateway sent me was a Western Digital unit, and it has performed flawlessly.

Childish Democrat said...

Follow up - Seagate has subsequently released firmware which fixes this issue. It not only unlocked my drive but there was no data damage. In my case a minor incovenience. For the folks that had entire RAID arrays locked out for days I'm sure it was a bit more traumatic.