back to article Seagate isolates 'potential' Barracuda flaw

After reports that its 1TB Barracuda drives are failing at an unusually high rate, Seagate says it has isolated a "potential firmware issue" that would seem to be the cause of this worldwide plague. The company will provide a free firmware upgrade for those affected by the problem, and if you've lost data thanks to this …


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  1. hikaricore


    That's awesome, I had one die a month ago and they would barely speak to me.

    So if my data is still intact they should go ahead and fix my drive and send it back to me.

    You know because 900GB of dataloss in a perfectly healthy drive is a common thing.

    Douche bags wanted me to pay them 2 grand to recover the data when the problem was theirs in the first place.

    Meanwhile I was shipped a refurbished model only after they were sure that I was really sending mine back.

  2. Kevin Bailey

    Seagate are out of touch

    I'm really surprised and disapointed that Seagate only provide a Windows diagnostic tool and only mention Windows at all. Do they not realise that these drives are probably heavily used in servers as they are the ES range (E for Enterprise) and are designed to run 24/7?

    It would probably only take a single line of bash using hdparm to get the info needed. A script to update the firmware (using wget etc) would probably be about 3-4 lines.

    Why can't Seagate even mention unix?

    Seagate had some other similar Non-Windows blindness a while back I seem to remember.

    I think we'll look around for another make of drive to use - and we buy quite a few drives as we build our own servers.

    It's amazing that some of these manuacturers don't realise a simple truth.

    Techies love open source cos it's works better than Windows and cos it's free we can use it without having to charge clients thousands or fill out requisition forms which get ignored. We notice companies who aren't OS friendly - and it's us who make the buying decisions.

    Look what we did to SCO. Look what's happening to Seagate.

    Wake up Seagate - I think I'll switch to IBM, FS or HP drives because they are OS friendly.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    URL throws error about session timing out

    so try

  4. Steve Colebourne
    Thumb Down

    Isolated? I'm not convinced

    The support site says:

    "Seagate has isolated this issue to a firmware bug affecting drives from these families manufactured in December 2008.

    "If the online serial number validation tool states that your drive is affected, we recommend that you contact Seagate Customer Support for a firmware update to your hard drive."

    I used the serial number checker on their support page, and it suggests my drive IS affected. But I purchased my drive in August 2008.

  5. Dave Silver badge

    "Seagate emphasised that there is no safety issue with these products."

    I'm trying to think of how a harddisk could be dangerous, the spinning platters encased within a cast body within a steel PC case as they are, with no flammable bits.

    The only scenario I can concoct is if they vibrated at such a frequency as to resonate with the PC, causing it to fall off the desk and squash a particularly slow cat.

    I would love to hear any other theories you gentle folk might be able to come up with.

    Health n Safety dude icon, because.

  6. Alan Sharkey

    And just how do you contact them?

    I tried contacting them via their web site (I have an affected disk). It leads you to a registration page. So, I registered. I was then told I was not allowed to log in.

    Pretty poor support if you ask me. Disk drives work 24 x 7 these days and so should the support organisation.


  7. Harry
    Thumb Up

    Intelligence at last

    But you have to wonder whether Seagate would have taken these steps had the defects not been prominently covered in the media.

    Companies like these need to understand that the best solution to a problem like this is to have a standing policy that all design defects will be corrected free of charge and ensure that its staff at all levels implement that policy the very first moment it becomes clear that a problem exists and long before the story gets featured in the media.

  8. Chronos
    Thumb Up

    Customer support

    OK, I know I bashed them in an earlier comment, but well done Seagate. Customer service: You're doing it quite well, actually. It could have been a little quicker and you really didn't need to delete all those forum posts (made it look like a whitewash job) but you got there in the end with a solution that nobody should really be able to complain about.

    A general note to anyone with a support forum: Don't delete posts with legitimate complaints, especially when they have isolated a real problem that you missed in QA. Your eventual responses will dictate whether your reputation remains untarnished or you end up with people avoiding you like the plague. Had Seagate left those posts alone then posted this solution as a response, most sane people would have no problems with the company at all. In fact, any reasonable person would have praised the excellent attitude shown in the response to this issue and seen this as a point in the brand's favour.

    As it stands, there may be some residual resentment over the treatment of legitimate posts in the forums, even if the offered solution is above and beyond what the warranty deems is Seagate's duty with regards to data loss.

  9. Karel Jansens

    Serial # tool appears to be b0rked

    I seems Seagate's "tool" to check via serial # if a drive is affected or not, is a bit off (or, alternatively, is a piece of **** put out to buy time, depending on how you think about Seagate). People who tried serials from dead drives, sometimes get back the message that their drive is not affected.

    I would seriously urge people not to trust this tool, but wait for more news (if that's even coming, that is).

  10. Tsvetomir Tsonev
    Paris Hilton

    "Your drive IS affected"

    Still working flawlessly, though. I'm not sure why they didn't make the update publicly available. Their support staff is in for a bad week.

    Paris, because she's so lucky.

  11. Bertie

    Support note working

    Hopeless support. The drive serial number tool couldn't find the drives so I had to open the case. Then the email support on the page you link to doesn't work. It tries a redirect to but gives some kind of password warning and bombs out. Hope it's working in the morning. Both my drives are on the list requiring the firmware update.

  12. bart

    Wow - not too little, but way too late

    This certainly seems like a good faith gesture on the part of Seagate, but it comes after too much bad faith. The problems with the .11 series has been around for quite some time, and Seagate did nothing till now? And this comes on the tails of their decision to cut their "warranties" back from 5 to 3 years.

    Their press release seems to want to spin the claim that there has been "no data loss," despite the fact that the drives become inaccessible to the user. Let's see what happens when customers start taking Seagate up on their offer of recovery. I'm sure they won't cover the folks that may have scrambled their drives with software in last ditch efforts to get data off their dying drives before sending them back. Is Seagate making any effort to make customers aware of this almost certain exclusion? And what of directories trashed by intermittent failure, without any (intentional) user intervention? I would be incredibly shocked if Seagate were offering true data recovery, scavenging file soup off a scrambled drive. No manufacturer could afford that . . .

    On the bright side, I wonder how many drive failures are controller related; this might finally set a precedent for manufacturers to actually test and repair otherwise perfectly good drives, returning them with data intact, instead of simple (and cheap) replacement.

    With supposed MTBF's from decades to over 100 years, something must be seriously wrong with accepted standards. Maybe it should be something like "MTBF 500,000 hrs (unless controller f*cks up, or plant standards not enforced, in which case you may have as little as a few minutes.)"

    Consumers should demand more. Manufactures eventually listen, especially if they face extinction, a position Seagate seems to find itself in.


  13. Dick Emery
    Thumb Up

    And so they should!

    Looks like Seagate are trying to cover their asses from a potential class action. The furor generated by this problem has got them running for cover. Still at least they are offering to recover data for free if you are affected.

    I guess it takes time and pressure from external sources to get them to admit there is a problem. Really though they should have been on this right from the get go. Way to dent peoples confidence Seagate/Maxtor.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    "Free data recovery services"

    "Seagate will provide free data recovery services."

    Ah, how generous - after their reputation took a battering, they kindly agreed to waive their usual $1000 fee for plugging in a cable and pushing a button to fix their screw-up. (Seriously - apparently that's all that's required to fix these, if you have the right cable and software. $1000 is the lowest they were asking for, too - some people reported being extorted for nearly twice as much.) Of course, as people were being sent refurbished drives, they were probably repairing them anyway - the fee was just to get your own drive with your data intact, rather than a random wiped drive from the pile. What a kind company.

  15. Jim
    Thumb Down

    So... They screw something up...

    So, they screw something up, but can you find ANY mention of it on their site OTHER than the page that El Reg has posted? Not a bit.

    Conveniently enough, I had recently RMA'd a drive that in that list. Maybe I can get my data back... But I'm not holding my breath.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh goody - another Seagate F**k-up

    This time they're offering to do something about lost data!

    Obviously they've learned from the last major ballsup but this still won't persuade me to ever put one of their drives in my servers.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank goodness!

    "Seagate emphasised that there is no safety issue with these products"

    I was starting to panic - my children and their childrens children can now sleep easy.

  18. Efros
    Thumb Up

    A company

    living up to it's responsibility, who'da thunk it!


  19. Craig

    Oh brilliant

    January 17th; I buy an 11th generation 1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD

    January 18th; I see this article.

    Oh joy.

  20. craig

    Firmware now out

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Seagate emphasised that there is no safety issue with these products"

    Patently not true. A Barracuda with firmware SD9A ran over my nan. And pulled down my shed.

  22. verdilith

    not just 1TB drives...

    it should be noted that it's not just the 1TB drives that are affected - mine is a 500GB one and bricked without warning a couple of days ago. Go onto Seagate's forums and you'll find that there are others too.

    While it's good that Seagate are acknowledging the problem (at last!) it seems to me that unless you read techie forums and news sites, you may never know about this issue til it's too late. When the drive goes, it goes. No warning, no strange noises, no odd behaviour.

    Incidentally, I'm starting to read on some forums about people who have attempted to use the firmware fix and the prog has crashed while denying the drive exists. IMO, Seagate have denied this issue for too long, then rushed a fix.

  23. Rob Beard
    Thumb Up

    Kind of restores my faith in Seagate

    This is good news, it kind of restores my faith in Seagate. It kind of reminds me of the Fujitsu drive problems back in the early 2000's, I've never bought a Fujitsu drive since.

    It's a shame though that Seagate have scrapped their 5 yr warranty. Can't say there is much reason to buy Seagate drives over Maxtor (which are pretty much re-branded Seagate drives anyway) or Western Digital.


  24. Apocalypse Later


    Who decided that "Barracuda" was a great name for a hard disk anyway? From the font of all wikiwisdom:

    "Like sharks, barracudas have long had a bad reputation as being dangerous to humans."

    "They are voracious predators and hunt using a classic example of lie-in-wait or ambush."

  25. Craig

    Can't email them

    So I'm totally unable to email them to get it resolved.

    Create account

    Attempt to log in

    "Invalid user or password"

    *Forgotten password*

    "Enter username"

    "Does not exist"


    *Forgotten username*

    "Here's your username"

    *Forgotten password*

    "Enter username"

    "Does not exist"

    Ad infinitum

    Their contact system is absolutely hopeless. I can log in to the main website part fine, but for emailing them you're redirected to another bit that doesn't seem to like people logging in to email them.


  26. Ron


    I've had seagate barracudas for quite a while now. I've taken my 2x 320gig Seagate Barracudas back to the shop around 7-8 times before they said i wasn't able to return them any more. Recently my failing seagate barracuda wasn't showing in bios and caused windows 7 to boot infinitely. Same would happen on the vista cd set-up before i ended up disconnecting them completely. Atleast I know not to get any more !

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: "Seagate emphasised that there is no safety issue with these products."

    "I'm trying to think of how a harddisk could be dangerous"

    Depends on how hard/far you can throw one.

    Ideally aimed squarely between the eyes of a Seagate executive.

  28. Benny


    "The only scenario I can concoct is if they vibrated at such a frequency as to resonate with the PC, causing it to fall off the desk and squash a particularly slow cat."

    Damn you, I now have cup a soup coming out of my nose!

    (Im easily amused)

  29. Anonymous Coward

    All is finally forgiven (formerly IBM) Hitachi.

    I think I'll go back and buy Hitachi ( formerly IBM ) drives again . I stopped buying them after several 30GB 75GXP "Death Stars" died around 7 years ago, it's time they had a chance to lose my data again.

  30. Mark S

    Serial number checker is dodgy...

    I have two 1.5 TB drives (model ST31500341AS) both purchased at the same time, both manufactured in Thailand, both firmware SD17. The serial number validation tool says one is affected by the firmware bug, the other not... hmm.

    Personally I'm going to leave the drive that has already been installed (no critical data on it, but it's a bitch to reformat and reinstall applications...) powered on and running and wait a week or so before applying the updated firmware until I read reports about whether that job has been botched as well.

  31. Luke Wells

    fujitsu need to learn from this

    OK, so some people are unhappy....

    but compared to the industry (specifically people like Fujitsu) Seagate have been really pro-active and really helpful.

    Did Fujitsu offer to recover data from 1.5 million faulty drives which featured a faulty chipset that they were fully aware was faulty (as they were sueing the manufacturer) ? Or did Fujitsu deny the problem forever....... Fujitsu MPF/MPG drives ring a bell with anyone?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Sod it.

    That's the final nail for Seagate from me. The warranty thing nearly sealed it, now I have a potentially volatile 750G 7200.11 in by backup box. Great. And I get a 503 from the Seagate website. I'm glad the backup of my backup is a Samsung!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Emphasizing that there are no safety issues is not nearly worrying enough. Seagate should immediately rush out a statement denying that there have been any fatalities.

  34. Chris Forker

    Frustrated Customers

    Just have a look and see how frustrated customers are:

    I made a technical request to seagate on the 12.01.09 and not even a beep when I started to have problems.

    Right now I am ordering Western Digital drives. Seagate will never be used again.

  35. Tim Harrison

    Wot website?

    Am I alone in finding all these Seagate support links lead to essentially blank knowledgebase pages?

  36. Richard Cartledge

    I can't even access their page relating to this issue

    Service Temporarily Unavailable

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

  37. Jamie Kephalas
    Thumb Up


    lol. That is all.

    "The only scenario I can concoct is if they vibrated at such a frequency as to resonate with the PC, causing it to fall off the desk and squash a particularly slow cat."

  38. Michael Jarve

    A terrific waste of 10 minutes...

    I tried the above referenced link to the new firmware (SD15->SD1A), but although my drive is affected, supported by the firmware, detected by the utility, the update died, saying it could not find the "expected" drive. Really, now?

    At the very least, it did not kill the drive (or otherwise make matters worse).

    Comon, Seagate! Do we really want the company that inherited Maxtor to be remembered only for techies building walls out of bricked drives?

  39. David Barr

    Western Digital are no better.

    I RMA'd my Raptor drive to WD, I sent it by insured, recorded trackable post, and it arrived on the 10th of December. They say to allow 7 days for them to update their systems (surely they barcode scan every package that arrives?), but nothing appeared. I requested a response from them, 2 weeks later nothing, but they flagged the support request as solved. I requested another response. Finally it got to the 3rd of January, they day they were supposed to charge me for the replacement drive they had sent out in advance, and nothing. A few days later they finally responded saying that they had not received the faulty drive, and unless I prove I sent it they would charge me. Finally after having to scan the receipt they've dropped the issue.

    It tends to be the case that companies within a sector compete on customer service, where the competition has none, there's no incentive for them to excel in it.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Firmware update fails

    This would be good news except that the firmware update crashes with a segfault! Loads of posts at seagate, msfn and other forums about it. They really need to get their act together

  41. James Hayes
    Thumb Up

    Updated firmware released

    I had the same problem with failing upgrades on the ST31000340AS drives.

    Checking Seagate's site an updated install package has been released at 22:15 UK time which appears to have done the job.

  42. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    I can't wait for the recession to go full steam

    "It tends to be the case that companies within a sector compete on customer service, where the competition has none, there's no incentive for them to excel in it."

    There will be very obliging low-paid customer service representatives with excellent diligence real soon now.

  43. Chris Mellor

    Update to the firmware fix

    Sent to me:-


    I've got a couple of the ST31000340AS drives and the original upgrade wasn't working for them at all - it couldn't detect the right drive when you tried running the upgrade util. I checked back to the same page on Seagate's site and saw they've released an updated version of the fix at 22:15 UK time today (19th Jan).

    Thought you might be interested to know.

    The updated version appears to have worked successfully with the drives now showing the updated firmware version.



    Cheers .... Chris.

  44. John Bishop

    Screwed up disk!

    Well I upgraded my drive with the SDA1A firmware (500Gb 3500320AS) last night and now it's screwed!

    After re-boot, get a message about missing system disk

    Trying to re-install windows 7 beta (which installed and ran fine last night before the firmware upgrade) says -

    Windows cannot install on this disk - ensure the disk controller is enabled in the BIOS

    Looking for a revised firmware file, the web site says (as of 13:50 BST) 'This file has been temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation.'

    Checking the Seagate forums, lots of people are having the same problem

    I've always used Seagate, never had any problems. Argh!


  45. Anonymous Coward

    Be Worried...

    This has been going on for longer than the article suggests. I updated a friends set of 4 disks in early December cos the patch was only issued for PC and he's on a mac...

    However the patch was taken offline again for validation... Looks like it's not sorted out yet.

  46. Justin Baker

    Don't update if you have a 500 GB drive

    I have one of the 500 GB drives affected by this issue according to Seagate's KB article (ST3500320AS, original firmware SD15). My drive updated successfully to SD1A but is no longer accessible by my computer. Head on over to Seagate's community forums or MSFN for an idea of what a clusterf- this is turning into. I hope this gets resolved soon. What's that article on the front page of El Reg about there not being any bad storage anymore...?

  47. zebthecat

    Update to the Update to the firmware fix

    ...the fixed firmware fix was pulled this morning - it was broken.

    From what I can gather from the forums it bricked previously good 500GB drives and wouldn't work at all on other model numbers.


  48. Karel Jansens

    Seagate pays theregister?

    You people (as in: the register et al) are apparently quick enough to report when Seagate "fixes" things, but not to be heard from when their "fix" f**ks things up even more. How big is your take anyway?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Article is untrue.

    There is no new firmware, Seagate are ignoring all emails to "discsupport".

    As yet customers are *STILL* in the dark.

  50. Chris Mellor

    LImits to data recovery service

    Sent to me:-


    You reported on the 18th that Seagate was offering free data recovery services for their dead drives. Apparently that's no longer the case. When they issued that firmware update that bricked all their 500GB 7200.11 drives (apparently they don't believe in testing) they also amended their firmware update page:

    "As Seagate does not warrant the data on your drive, In addition to regular back-ups, if possible, your data should be backed up before upgrading the drive firmware."

    This is echoed in this forum post:

    "This is a good place to reiterate part of Seagate's warranty policy: -- What Does Our Warranty Not Cover? Our warranties do not cover any problem that is caused by (a) commercial use; accident; abuse; neglect; shock; electrostatic discharge; heat or humidity beyond product specifications; improper installation; operation; maintenance or modification; or (b) any misuse contrary to the instructions in the user manual; or (c) loss passwords; or (d) malfunctions caused by other equipment. Our limited warranties are void if a product is returned with removed, damaged or tampered labels or any alterations (including removal of any component or external cover). Our warranties do not cover data loss – back up the contents of your drive to a separate storage medium on a regular basis. Also, consequential damages; incidental damages; and costs related to data recovery, removal and installation are not recoverable under our warranties. -- This is not unique to Seagate. We know of no storage company that includes data recovery as part of their product warranty.

    Again, please make sure that you always have a backup of all important data. A backup is defined as a copy of data in a second, separate storage media of whatever kind. More information on backups found here.

    Feel free to discuss do-it-yourself fixes. Please be aware that some, many, or all may void the drive's warranty, so if you have any questions about the method you see here, your best bet is to contact Customer Service directly whether by phone, email, or chat."

    Looks like they're not offering it after all. Which I suppose is logical from a business standpoint. Providing data recovery for all those bricked drives wouldn't be cheap.



  51. Bob Smits

    Anyone got a screenshot of the original Seagate promise

    Now that Seagate are apparently reneging on their original promise to recover our data for free has anyone got a screenshot of the original promise to do it? All I can find are reports from other people, not Seagate.


  52. John Bishop

    New firmware means no data recovery needed

    Installed the new firmware last night and it restored the PC to it's previous state

    It;'s the firmware that was knacked - once restored to working everything came back OK


  53. Karel Jansens

    Let's not rejoyce too soon...

    @ John Bishop:

    Have you checked your drive's cache since the reflash? People report on Seagate's own forum that after reflash their cache comes back as 0MB.

    If that's truly the case (but who knows? Seagate does not answer questions in their own forum), then this "fix" is not a fix, but a deliberate disabling of one of your drive's features.

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