News Archive for Thursday Jan. 15, 2009 (later added items first)
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Reader feedback on Seagate Hard Drive Failures
Initial reader feedback from the earlier post:

"Mike, I've literally lost all faith in Seagate drives. I have 6 of this model (ST31000340AS w/SD15 firmware) sitting on my desk I'm getting ready to RMA again back to Seagate for the 2nd time. They were in a 4-drive raid array that lasted 2 months before all 4 drives failed simultaneously. The replacements were then put into 2 different machines and they all 4 failed again.
Never again will I purchase Seagate drives, I've moved all purchases to Hitachi 1TB drives and I haven't had any issue since. I typically purchase 10-15 drives/month for raid arrays for clients and have never seen anything like these Seagate drives.
The kicker for me, as a customer, was having to spend over an hour on hold when I called their support to RMA the drives. I finally gave up and went home.
-Ryan G.
HoosierMac Consulting"


"I have 2 of these drives (ST31000340AS, revision SD15) in my Mac Pro. One of them is my boot drive. I installed these drives in mid-September and I have not had a single problem. Now I'm nervous, but not sure what I can do about the problem.
(I asked Phil if he could check the label to see where/when they were made.)
I had to shutdown my computer to check the labels. Both drives show the following information on the label:
    P/N 98X158-303
    Date Code 09026
    Site Code KRATSG
    Product of Thailand
    STX-ST31000340AS(B)

I do backups of my boot drive to my 1TB Time Capsule. The data on the 2nd drive (video files, disk images) doesn't change much, so I backup infrequently to an external drive. I'll be paying more attention to that from now on. ... My older drives (both of them are also Seagates, model ST3750640AS, 750GB) have been running since April and July of 2007 without any problems at all...
-Philip C."


The following is not a failure report but notes higher temperatures reported (although the boot drive typically has a somewhat higher temp than other drives due to heavier usage):

"I have four of the 1.0 and One 1.5 TB Seagate drives. One of the 1.0 drives showed that it was running 50° F hotter than the other drives. (150°F appx 65.5°C) It was nearly new and was functioning normally - as my boot drive. Needless to say, I removed it ASAP. I don't know if the sensor was faulty or if the drive was running hot. So make sure you check your SMART status.
-John C."


If you've had a Seagate drive fail prematurely or are using a ST31000340AS (SD15) drive for several months w/o a problem, let me know the details.
(Update - I've now posted a separate page with the above plus later reports/info. (Includes notes on a large number of affected models reportedly with production dates through Dec. 2008.)

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Seagate forum posts on high number of ST31000340AS (firmware SD15) drive failures
From a reader mail this morning:

"just a heads up about a growing group of people complaining about their 1TB drives bricking after a few months (weeks sometimes)
http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board?board.id=ata_drives (Seagate forums) It also seems to happen to 1.5Tb disks (even updated ones). I have two 1.5Tb disks that still work, but I'm currently looking at replacement disks to switch my data asap (and backing up !!)
-Nicholas"

The Seagate forum (linked above) has several threads on this - including one titled "Official ST31000340AS 1TB barracuda epic fail thread" where one user summarized things (edited for spelling/brevity)

"The 1TB drive failure is a very widespread problem. There are many threads from many forums (not just the Seagate forum) regarding this particular issue. I'm going to make a little summary below.

  • The problem is BIOS not detected after a few months of usage (typically 3 months)
  • This problem applies to ST31000340as, (firmware) SD15, (made in) Thailand, Seagate 1TB drive (FYI Other models can also be affected. (Per a pulled seagate kbase doc there was a long list of affected models with production dates "through Dec 2008".) The 340AS model may have the most reports due to be very popular (high number of sales).)
  • There are also problems for Seagate 1.5TB, 640GB and 500GB. The 1.5TB drive's problem seems to be fixed by the newer firmware. (earlier posts here on the 1.5TB periodic I/O stoppages problem back in Oct/Nov 2008 - reportedly fixed w/later firmware but now there's doubts about a more severe problem.-Mike)
  • Until today, Seagate denied there is problem with SD15 1TB drive. SD15 is still the newest firmware. (as of Jan 2009.)
  • If you RMA today, you are likely to get the bad drive again which is likely to fail another 3 months later. That's why I haven't RMA it yet.
  • Calling them you will get no help because they haven't acknowledge this problem offically yet.
  • Email them and you won't get any response.
  • The previous firmware SD14 has some performance issues. But I haven't heard of any dramatic failure for that version (Some Dead on arrival, but those are "normal". By fixing the performance issue, SD15 introduced some serious bug. I suspect it's 100% failure after about 3 months of usage, but there's no way to verify this claim.
  • In most of the cases (applying only to no detect issue), the data is recoverable, but you have to pay for the recovery service. I haven't heard of any free solution yet.
  • Switching the PCB doesn't work.
  • No software solution I have heard of.
  • In most cases, the drive is still intact. No abnormal "clicking" sound (if it does, it's a different issue).
  • At the time of my purchase (August), there was no negative posting regarding this issue. There were a few "Dead on Arrival", but like I said, those happened to all drives.
  • The earliest complaints regarding this issue I've seen is around late October. It's more frequent in December (someone who has more time than me may want to do a more scientific count). So this problem is just starting to surface."
  • If you've had a Seagate drive fail prematurely or are using a ST31000340AS (SD15) drive for several months w/o a problem, let me know the details. (See above for initial reader replies)
    Although I know many like Seagate drives as I've said before here, personally I've avoided their 3.5in drives due to a history of issues with early firmware on new models (usually fixed by later firmware). I've used several of their notebook drives over the last few years w/o a problem however, although there was a bad batch of some Seagate 60/80GB models that were used in some early Macbooks IIRC. (The last notebook drive upgrade I did for a friend in mid-Dec. 2008 used a WD Scorpio 500GB - excellent drive IMHO. Although it also was shipped "bouncing around" inside the box (not packed well) - so I know the complaints on that vendor's website are not uncommon.)

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