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1/11/02 Friday's News: Story DetailReturn to News Page

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Web Page on Pro-Active IBM 75GXP Swap-Out,
Reader Experiences with 75GXPs & IBM Drive Support Info:

First Posting: 1/11/2002
Last Updated: 3/12/2002 (for Travelstar 2.5" drive notes)

NOTE: Please post IBM drive reports (bad or good) in the Drive reports Database (entry page linked on the search page) I'm a one man site and can't keep this page updated with the latest reports on drives - the database is updated every weekday morning with the latest reader reports on drives of all types/brands. That source will have the latest/most current reader reports on drives. This page is just a catch-all of past 75GXP web problem reports, support links and a few past reports on the drives (good and bad).


(First, here's a copy from the Sept. 3rd, 2001 news page here with comments and links on 75GXP drive failures.)

Yesterday's news [Sept.3rd, 2001] had a link to a PCworld article on failure reports on the 75GB models. As I stated there, I have three 75GXP drives with no problems seen so far (two are about a year old now) and have not seen any failure trends so far in Drive Database reports here over the last year or so (as of fall 2001). I've received many reader mails noting they've also had no problems with 75GXP series drives (too many to list here). Only one reader so far (as of fall 2001) reported problems. Here are his comments:
(Note - See below for later reports in reply to this post, including some repeated failures.)

" I just read your news for today [yesterday-Mike] and was a bit surprised at one article I saw. I have just returned my second IBM 75GXP drive in 6 months. Luckily the second time it was my backup drive - the first time I wasn't so lucky!
Just thought I should corroborate the story since I am VERY disappointed in my luck with these drives.
Brian M.
[I asked if he noticed where the drives were made, noted on the label usually. Some thought the problems may have been related to drives made in Hungary, although the last 75GXP drive I bought is made there and so far is ok but has the least use of the 3 I own.-Mike

I actually didn't look to see where the drives had been made. One was a 60GB drive and the other was a 75GB. I have another 75GB which hasn't had any problems (keeping my fingers crossed - it's my main drive.) "

Although I can't post all the positive feedback on these drives (search the drive database for more samples) - here's one example to show the other side of the coin:

" Hi Mike! Hope everything is well with you. I saw [yesterday's xlr8yourmac news page] and noticed your comment on the IBM 75GXP (which I installed on my G4 - thanks to your detailed How-to) Well, I just wanted to add my support too.

This drive has been flawless - I just finished a feature length movie and edited it on this drive - the 75gb model - months upon months of rendering, editing, audio mixing, capturing - everything... This drive takes the abuse and keeps going. It's been almost a year on this drive and I have nothing but praise for it.

Recently I bought a Contour ShuttlePro - a video jog/shuttle controller for Macs only that allows editing to move much quicker than just a mouse - and with this device I am ten times harsher on the 75gxp - fast forwarding, double speed back/forth etc... and without a single hitch - What a dream combo.

That's my 2, and thanx again for having the best Mac site out there!
russ "

As noted in the PCworld article, IBM denies there is any issue with these drives although some of the comments there were a bit disturbing. (I have seen reports of failures at some PC forums and I think storagereview may also have an article or forum comments on this issue.) It would be nice if IBM would do a Failure Analysis on the drives that did fail. Questions I would have is

  • Were the failed drives from one specific Mfg plant?
  • Was there a common failure mode? (bearing, platter, head)
    If so was there a change in the source or spec of that component that could be a factor? (were all the failed components from the same source, or same lot/batch)
  • If no internal reasons (change of components, etc.) were found, could it be an outside factor such has shipping method?
  • Could the application/environment where the drives were used be a factor? (server use, 24/7 operation, any high ambient temperatures, any problems with power regulation, etc.)

IBM may feel the total failures are so small a percentage that they are considered normal random failures. (Although the comments in that article from some that noted many drives failed in a short period would have me doing a failure analysis on the drives.)

It looks like the 60GXP series is replacing the 75GXP series and the 60GXPs are said to be a bit faster also. (Update - I later had two 60GXP 60GB drives in the same shipment that were DOA - rare I know but not confidence inspiring)

Any drive can fail and a certain % of drives will fail early . Also note the FAQ here mentions a problem Apple noted with some large Quantum IDE drives that shipped in some digital audio G4 towers. (Their TIL noted the serial number range and drive info for owners to check.)
Later news pages however included links (repeated below) to a huge number of 75GXP owners noting failures (often repeated ones). What follows are the latest 2002 info/reports from readers and links to related info on 75GXP series drive failures on the web.

A reader replied to the post in yesterday's news (Jan 10th, 2002) (also repeated below) on IBM IDE drives to say there's a page at http://www.pair.com/pair/support/notices/driveswaps.html describing their pro-active swapping out of IBM's 75GXP drives, noting they were now using other brands.
I try to frequently check my 75GXP drives for data errors, etc. (so far no problems, but again none of them have seen heavy daily use). If you've seen problems with a 75GXP drive, IBM tech support would be the people to contact. Their main hard drive product page with related links is http://www.storage.ibm.com/hdd/index.htm. Their page on drive warranties (to submit a request for an RMA or check status) is http://www.storage.ibm.com/warranty/. To contact IBM drive support for general questions see http://www.storage.ibm.com/hdd/support/hddemail.htm.

FWB 4.5.2 Supports S.M.A.R.T. Drive Monitoring: (From a developer mail list)

    "FWB Hard Disk ToolKit Updater 4.5.2 from FWB Software optimizes the performance of SCSI, IDE, and FireWire devices, including most removables and virtually every disk drive available. Additionally, its intelligent drivers operate with S.M.A.R.T. support to automatically detect drive defects before they cause system downtime. This updater addresses a number of problems, adds features, and supports many additional devices. http://www.fwb.com/dc/hdt/main.html""

Although I prefer using Apple's drivers, owners of drives that support SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) such as the IBM 75GXP series might find this info helpful. (One reader said you can use FWB's util without installing their drivers.)

Several readers sent comments on their experiences with 75GXPs, some run 24/7. (I suggest they also post a drive database entry with their comments.)

Reader Comments on 75GXP Drives: (most recent first)

[Beige G3 with IDE RAID card]
" Got two of these drives running 24/7 as a mirrored RAID in our workgroup server for the past year and a half now (since summer 2000).

So far no problems, but after my personal 75 GXP and another 75 GXP at work both failed, I've been watching them like a hawk for any weird behavior. They're in a RAID and so far have been amazingly reliable, so I feel a bit more secure, but after my other experiences, I just don't trust these drives anymore.
Ted S. "


" Mike:
I've been reading about the 75GXP failures and thought I'd chime in. I've had one 15 gig drive in a G4/450 which for about 1.5 years and another 15 gig in a beige G3 for just over a year. Both have had no problems. They've been running 24/7.
I'll put this info a database report when I have time.
John W. "


" I had bought 3 75GXP's back in May. Within 2 months, 2 of the drives had failed. I RMA'ed and shipped them back to IBM, and they had 2 replacements at my door about 3 weeks from the time I shipped them. The 1 original drive has been in my G4 since may and has performed admirably. I frequently do video capture and editing on it. I also transfer about 6-10GB of data to and from it every week, so it's under fairly heavy use. I run seti so it never gets a chance to spin down.

I have had the 2 replacement drives in an OS X RAID for about 2 or 3 months now with no problems.
Jason Q. "


" just to add to the recent news item on IBM drives.
I have six 75GB 75GXP IBM drives in a Raidweb (www.raidweb.com) hardware RAID on a ASIP server for just about a year. Runs 24/7 - one drive has failed.
Paul L. "


" Mike --
I've got a G4/DP500 with the Apple-supplied drive (Maxtor?) as well as a 45GB IBM "75GXP" (as I think the product line was called) -- it's a fantastic drive in that it's a) fast as hell, and b) extremely quiet. In fact, it's barely audible if at all. The Maxtor is rather noisy, which I find very annoying.

Under heavy duress the IBM drive sometimes makes a rather unpleasant squeak. I don't know if this is normal or not, but it disturbs me none the less. Incidentally, I've never experienced any data loss or corruption as a result. The computer stays on 24/7, but most of the time the system is asleep.

I've had my eye on one of the IBM 120GXP's as I wanted a large capacity drive that was QUIET... now that word of warning on your home page. :-)

So I was hoping you'd know: what's a large capacity 7200rpm IDE drive that's as quiet as the IBM's?
Steve H. "

I asked him how long he had owned the IBM 75GXP drive. I think IBM also has a drive noise page somewhere on their site as a guide to different types of drive failures/problems. I thought that link had been posted here before (or in the forums) but I don't have the URL handy. (If anyone does please send the URL to news@xlr8yourmac.com and I'll post it here.)


" Mike, ...just had a 75 GXP fail that was purchased in May from TransIntl. I also noticed the monthly operating hour limitation on 120 GXP drives and am cancelling an order for one. The 75 GXP info does not list an operating hour limitation - I searched thoroughly - the new limit in the 120 GXP doc is probably due to the 75 GXP experience - my drive did run 24/7.

On the 75 GXP when it crashed were two screen shots from Express Pro tools showing how much faster an ATTO UL3D dual channel raid card was vs. a Miles2 with two Atlas V 18 Gig drives that I intended to send to you - 200 MBps peak read vs. 69 - now lost forever, I'm afraid. ...
Paul Tetreault "


I welcome reports from other readers on experiences (long term) with 75GXP drives. If you can, also post a Submit a drive database report so that others can find it by Searching the database in the future.

(repeat of the 1/10/2002 items on the 120GXP and 75GXP follow)

IBM 120GXP IDE Drives - Not Recommended for 24/7 Use? (from a reader email)

"Check out IBM's 120GXP Drive Specs Document "Reliability" section in the specs file at:
http://www.storage.ibm.com/hdd/desk/ds120gxp.pdf
Note the "Recommended power-on hours (monthly) 333"

Although I can't say as I noticed a recommended POH/month rating in other drive specs in the past, that's not exactly confidence inspiring. (Especially for anyone that runs their system 24/7.) For a 30 day month that would be an avg of 11.1 hours per day. [Update - See the Update below on Travelstar drive ratings which for some models also show 333hrs/month rating.]

Last year there were several notes/links here on 75GXP series drive failures (one owner started a class-action lawsuit), but knock on wood my 3 are still doing fine - but they've not been in servers or used more than a few hours a day. The most disturbing reports on the 75GXP were the large number of owner reports on failures (often repeated ones) from Cnet's review of the 75GXP 75GB drive. When I posted that link about 51% of the owner ratings gave the drives a negative/thumbs down rating. [There's now 140 (59%) negative ratings as of today at noon eastern time.] There have been some failure reports in the database here, but not a large number so far. (But that means little to someone that has personally experienced a failure, or repeated ones.)

Notes on IBM Travelstar 2.5" Drive Ratings: (Clipped from the 3/12/2002 www.xlr8yourmac.com news page)

I've noted here in the past that the IBM 120GXP IDE drives spec's file lists a recommended 333 hours per month usage rating (noted above in this article). After some web articles recently on this issue again I checked the IBM Travelstar (60GB, 40GB (40GN), 48GB, 30GB and 15GB) drive specs at IBM and see that they also note this rating for those models. But the specs there for the 60GB/40GB models list a higher rating for a special "Enhanced Availability" version for those two models. The "Enhanced Availability" models (per the spec doc) are denoted by "X05" vs "S05" in the model number suffix on the 60GB model and "X04" vs "S04" for the 40GB model. The "Enhanced Availability" models in the spec sheet note a "recommended power-on hours (monthly)" rating of 732 hours vs 333 for the standard models.

Checking a 60GB Travelstar drive here (from Dell, when they had that limited time 20% off sale noted here in January) shows the drive was the 333hr/month standard version I've never heard of a dealer selling the "X" series ("Enhanced Availability") model and I suspect it's a) a special order and b) much more expensive. Here's a quote from the 48GN/30GN/15GN specs (v2.0) document. Note the assumptions on actual read/write/seek usage of less than 20% of rated power on hours.

    " (from 6.4.4 "Service life and usage condition")
    Service life of the drive approximately 5 years or 20,000 power on hours whichever comes first under the following assumptions:
    • Less than 333 power on hours per month
    • Seeking/Writing/Reading operation is less than 20% of power on hours.

    This does not represent any warranty or warranty period. Applicable warranty and warranty period are covered by the purchase agreement. "

Just as a FYI - I have several Travelstar drives in use -one more than 2 years old with at least 16 hours a day of use in a PowerBook G3 without any failures so far - but I back it up often and it has gotten much noisier (much louder bearing whine at idle than when it was new - but the PB G3 literally bakes drives inside the case and this drive does not have fluid bearings as do many of the later models.)

Related Articles:

There's really no data (that I know of) on how the IBM Travelstar drives compare (failure-wise) to other brands in actual long term use, but this should serve as a reminder to backup your data regularly regardless of what drive brand you use. I always suggest readers post any drive failures/long term use reports in the Drive Database here as a way for readers to search for experiences with various drives in Macs before buying.

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