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More on IBM 75GXP Drive Fiasco 371

Posted by michael
from the quality-control-is-priority-one dept.
FolkImplosion writes "Internal documents have been released suggesting that IBM was well-aware that its click-of-death 75GXP hard drives had a failure rate of as much as 10 times that of its competitors. IBM apparently sold drives it knew were faulty into distribution, and reportedly planned to deal with any issues with marketing spin rather than a fixing the problem. This new information should help bolster a class action suit that accuses IBM knowingly shipped defective 75GXP drives with abnormally high failure rates." The lawfirm pursuing the class action suit has a page of information, including the latest news report (pdf) on information coming out in the suits. See also our original story about the drive failures.
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More on IBM 75GXP Drive Fiasco

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  • Never a problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:00AM (#8314708)
    I've had one of these babies in my Dell 4100 for
    years and never a problem. There was a firmware
    update released ages ago.
  • Not only the 75GXP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Troed (102527) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:09AM (#8314751) Homepage Journal
    .. the same problem applied to the 60GXP and the earliest 120GXP drives (a friend just had his 120GXP click to death the other week) aswell.

    The problem can be solved with a software upgrade in the drive.

    This site has it all: http://www.pheuron.de/index.htm?deathstar.htm
  • Any still running? (Score:5, Informative)

    by eamber (121675) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:09AM (#8314752) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone still have one of these? I purchased two 30 gig 75GXP's - first one died after about 2 months. The second after 6.

    I RMA'd them - drive 1 was RMA'd a total of 6 times; drive 2, 7 times.

    I got so disgusted with dealing with them that I replaced them outright with larger Maxtor drives and haven't had a problem since.

    I sold one of the IBM drives on ebay to some poor sucker - the other one is sitting on a shelf waiting to be taken to the firing range.
  • And 60gxp? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PipianJ (574459) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:09AM (#8314754)
    Yes yes, we know the 75gxp drives were defective. But I've known about 60gxp drives dying too (And I've had one happen to me. Not a pleasant sight.) Yet noone seems to care about that. What's MY recourse?
  • by AGTiny (104967) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:10AM (#8314759)
    I have 3 of the 3-year warranty 120GB/8MB models and 1 has failed within a year. Hitachi apparently doesn't do advance-replace so I bought a new drive to replace the failed one (they are in raid5) and shipped the failed one back. When I get a replacement I guess I'll have a 4-drive array. :) I think these drives are pretty good though, and a 3-year warranty makes me feel better.
  • by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:10AM (#8314760) Homepage
    I have received two new drives without any hazzles what so ever. Impressive actually, considering the trouble I've had trying to get replacement ASUS Graphic cards etc

    Have you thought about buying an anti-static wrist strap, that sure seems like a lot of repalcements :)

  • Western Digital (Score:5, Informative)

    by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:11AM (#8314764) Homepage
    Western Digital drives have been extremely reliable for us: No failures. I haven't needed drive technical support for a long time, but a while ago WD had the best technical support. 3 year warranty on Retail boxed drives.
  • Google cache (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#8314766)
    Google cache [216.239.59.104], for those who need it.
  • by The-Perl-CD-Bookshel (631252) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#8314767) Homepage Journal
    I have a 10 drive array (75GXP series) plugging away at about 20% load for a full year now, no failures. I have always had luck with IBM drives when I keep them chilled. If you want to keep your 75gxp drives happy, or any drives for that matter, keep them cool.
  • Not surprised (Score:3, Informative)

    by GeckoFood (585211) <geckofood.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:15AM (#8314784) Journal

    I worked for a large retailer until recently and the hard drive of choice for our proprietary systems was an IBM drive of some sort. This drives were not the specific drive in question, but IBM nevertheless, and we had an unusually high and consistent number of failures with them. We finally switched to Seagate drives and the issue vanished.

    The idea tat IBM might have a drive that fails even more than the drives we had in our stores is unnerving.

  • by n3k5 (606163) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:15AM (#8314791) Journal
    I have received two new drives without any hazzles what so ever
    Replacing drives, even if you can stay at home with your computer and have them delivered to your front door quickly, is always a hassle. Of course, if you don't have a backup, it's your own fault, but for most people it wouldn't be reasonable to do a _daily_ backup (automatic incremental backups are convenient and don't use up much space, but most users don't want to set them up and test if they really work), and also most people don't have images of their drives, but only copies of their data, so they have to reinstall their OS and all their apps. I haven't had a hard drive failure in over ten years, so I think it's very reasonable to spend a day or two recovering if and when it happens instead of spending a lot of time on cloning my drives every day. But the day it does happen, it will be a hassle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#8314865)
    I sold one of the IBM drives on ebay to some poor sucker


    You sir, are a fuckwad.
  • Re:Reputation (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#8314868)
    I wouldn't touch an IBM harddisk (now Hitachi) with a long pole. This desaster definitely hurt the value of their storage division. I have also had very bad experiences with Maxtor harddisks from about 3-4 years back. These have been failing left and right for a couple months now, mostly just out of the 3 year warranty, plus they use ball bearings which very often became noisy after just a few months of normal use. Right now I prefer Samsung drives. These are the only consumer drivers which still come with a 3 year warranty. They are also comparatively cool running, fast and almost silent. I'm counting on the fluid dynamic bearings to stay that silent. We'll see.
  • by 13Echo (209846) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:34AM (#8314904) Homepage Journal
    I've purchased at least 6 of the 60GXP line. I've had a single failed drive in the past three years. I still need to RMA that thing, but I've just been lazy about it.

    I'm not sure that the 60GXP fall victim to the same failured that the 75GXP did. It seems to be that when IBM went to the 20GB platter sizes, and redisigned their drives, things got better.

    I have in the past had data corruptions on one or two occasions. I'm pretty sure that this was from my Highpoint RAID controller though. After I stopped using it, I never had another problem with the drive.

    I still can't help but believe that this is why IBM sold off the mechanical storage division to Hitachi. IBM claimed that they were going to work on some newer types of storage, but we've seen very little so far.
  • by daved321 (229528) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:42AM (#8314949)
    I had two 75GXP's in my main desktop machine. A 45GB for win2k, and a 30GB for linux. The windows drive died about 6 months ago, so I pulled it out and went merrily on my way with gentoo only. Then the other night gentoo hung up on me. I power cycled, and the root FS was crapped out (ext3). So that machine is now a paperweight until I get off my lazy ass and go buy another drive and sit through the painfully long gentoo installation/build process. Oh well, no harm done, all my important data lives on an old PII-300MHz in my basement with two 160GB Maxtors in RAID1.

    Still pisses me off though, I bought those drives because of IBM's supposed reliability.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:42AM (#8314950)
    Now only if we could get PNY to admit it sold defective GeForce 4 cards. Anyone tried calling their very secret tech support number to get a replacement via their "Lifetime Warrenty" lately ?
    Seems after waiting on hold for about one week will get you a live tech person who will deny your problem, but if pressed you will need to mail them your orig reciept, the name of the sales person who sold it to you and a DNA/credit check for them to even consider a return/replacement.
    If you need proof just Google PNY RMA and see how many sites you will come up with.
  • by CompWerks (684874) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:51AM (#8315003)
    I personally owned three of these drives and returned them under warranty on three seperate occasions with a lengthy letter that I did not want refurbs as replacements.

    The last time I sent them back, I had high hopes that Hitachi (who bought the hd business from IBM) would finally read my letter and send me some new replacements but no luck.

    They are now on their way to the nearest landfill.

  • by hattmoward (695554) <hatt@nOsPAm.roomag.org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:52AM (#8315015) Homepage
    Actually, temperature was an issue. If my memory is working right, the issue with the 75GXP disks was in the thermal compensation... that is, they incorrectly compensate for thermal expansion of the platters through r/w head positioning. It seems like this is actually one of the most common problems with 2.5" disks too... I've had many of those fail, and I can read from them for a few minutes until they get warm... Nothing like trying to recover the CEO's laptop using only 'dd' :)
  • by ehanneken (18998) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:01AM (#8315087)
    I've been using a 30 GB 75GXP as the sole drive in my main home PC since 1999. Its firmware has never been updated, and it has never given me any problems.
  • by zycx (36378) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:03AM (#8315101) Homepage

    Fujitsu's MPG-Series HDDs experience a similar problem (>90% failure rate due to defective chips; see The Register [theregister.co.uk]).

    Fortunately, there is an unofficial tool available [storagereview.net] to recover all of your lost data.
  • by LoneGunner (636894) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:12AM (#8315166)
    I don't know much about them, other than the fact that we have a snap server that we use for daily backups for our webservers. It came with 2 of the IBM drives. Both failed within a few weeks. We got replacments and those failed as well within a few weeks. We made sure the next replacements were not the same brand, and we havn't had any problems since.
  • by SpinyManiac (542071) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:17AM (#8315199) Homepage
    You need access to a PC with burning software and a floppy drive.

    Create a boot disk (floppy) image with your burnware.
    Use the image to create a bootable CD and put the firmware update on it.

    The other PC doesn't need a CD burner. Just the burnware. You can copy the floppy image to your PC and do the rest there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:30AM (#8315290)
    There are multiple issues:

    1) Temperature is a big one. At higher temperatures, the lubricant between the platter and the heads thins out so much that the hydrostatic wedge is no longer thick enough to protect against surface irregularities - causing oxide to flake off and pile up on the head. The new firmware upgrade causes the head to wiggle slightly from track to track while idling, thus preventing the loss of lubricant wedge.

    2) Compensation for thermal expansion - this is another firmware issue.

    3) Quality of the power supply. I've never had a problem with beefy name-brand ATX PSUs. Delta Electronics is good, Antec is OK.

    4) The quality of the IDE connector and the molex power supply connector is poor. If you tweak the cables a bit, you risk a loose connection.

    5) Overlooked, but may well be the main cause - the solder bumps on the PCB that make contact with the head electronics in the drive. The quality of the solder is critically dependent on its composition. It needs to be soft enough to maintain contact even after vibrations, thermal cycling, etc. If it's brittle (which happens in high-tin variants), the bumps no longer make contact after a while, causing sporadic failures.
    You will often see one head drop out on multi-platter drives, while it happens less frequently on single-platter drives.

    The fix for this is to unscrew and refasten the PCB, or even better, use a fine-tipped soldering iron to re-melt the bumps before refastening.
  • Stick it to Aiwa (Score:3, Informative)

    by seven5 (596044) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:32AM (#8315307)
    The best part about this post was going to the lawyers' website and seeing that they also sued Aiwa for their crappy mini systems. I owned 3 of them and every cd player on them broke. To this day when i see one at someone elses house, i ask them if their cd player works. And they say, "no..."... Glad to see that someone went after them for that.
  • Re:DTLA? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:41AM (#8315385)
    The most problematic is the 75 GXP, which was available from 1 to 3 platters in capacities of 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75GB. The 75GB model has the most problems, the 15 GB the least. These have names like DJNA-30.., etc.

    The 60GXP solves some problems, but still has issues in multi-platter configurations. These are available in 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 GB capacities. The 20 has very few problems, the higher capacities have higher failure rates. These have names like DTLA-30.. or IC35..

    The 120GXP also solves some problems, but introduces new ones. On the whole they're better than the 75GXP, but not necessarily better than the 60GXP.
  • by xTK-421x (531992) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:17AM (#8315753) Homepage
    Having worked on many bad HDs, I keep this list of links to all the manufacturers HD testing programs:

    Maxtor/Quantum
    http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/downloads/powerma x.htm [maxtor.com]

    IBM/Hitachi
    http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm [hgst.com]

    Seagate
    http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html [seagate.com]

    Western Digital
    http://support.wdc.com/download/#dlgtools [wdc.com]

    Fujitsu
    http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/ [fujitsu.com]
  • Well in theory (Score:3, Informative)

    by rabtech (223758) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:16PM (#8318368) Homepage
    In theory the problem was mostly the heads accumulating some of the platter lubricant on them from continuously moving back and forth in the same area, leading to an eventual head crash (click of death.)

    Again, in theory, the firmware update fixed that problem.

    Did this help in reality? I don't know. I haven't bought an IBM hard drive in a long time thanks to this mess.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#8318520) Homepage
    IBM and Hitachi are two of the few manufacturers that still offer 3-year warranties on IDE hard drives.

    Along with Samsung and Western Digital.
  • by Creedo Kid (518684) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:34PM (#8318614)
    I have had a few of these babies croak on me...

    If you don't keep em cool the klickity-klickity will munch your bits like homer eating a hamburger...

    I've got one running 24/7 but with a 3 fan bay cooler blowing over it....

    It's noisy....but not as noisy as "Klick-Klick-Klick"..hehe

  • by Eldric (35216) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:47PM (#8318743)
    Between 1988 and 1991 I was running a department whose responsibility it was to set up IBM PS/2 Model 80's for a pharmaceutical firm. We were moving the model 80's so fast that offtimes when the truck came in, they would be moved directly from the truck to the setup room and bypass the stock room entirely. Typical setup day was to get 20-30 machines set up, add on cards installed, Dos installed, and running loop diagnostics overnight for a 24 hour burn in before they were repacked for delivery to persons at the pharmaceutical firm. Our task was to unpack the 80's from the boxes, examine the work order, install the needed PS/2 microchannel adapters in the machine, configure the hardware accordingly (which meant getting the machine to recognize the card(s) using IBM configuration diags) and then format the machines drives and install dos. Loop diags were loaded and the machines were run overnight. Normally if a failure occurs with a factory machine it happens within the first 24 hours that it is run.

    Problem was, we were unable to make delivery most of the time, ON time. Not because we were slow or slacking off, but because simply between 10 and 50% of the machines we pulled off of the truck were DOA. I sh** you not. True story: one time we opened two PS/2 Model 80's in the setup department and neither one of them had a motherboard. Systems were due for delivery to researchers the next day.

    IBM said (when we called them on this outrage) that since we were a dealer, and since we had accepted delivery of the machines, at that point it was we who were responsible for fixing the machines and getting them out.

    Sometimes we had the motherboards or defective parts in stock. Most of the time we didn't. The real fact of the matter was revealed later when we found out that IBM was unable to keep it's manufacturing schedules, and as a result was purposely shipping incomplete or untested hardware directly from the assembly line. We became convinced that in most cases, when a factory machine came in bad to us, that it had in actuality been evaluated as bad, but SHIPPED ANYWAY.

    Therefore, to make a long story short, we in the setup department were forced to become an unwilling extension of the IBM factory assembly line in the late 1980's early 1990s.

    I like IBM drives. But when a pinhead manager at IBM makes decisions like the IBM model 80 fiasco and the 75GXP HD drive series fiasco, then those pinheads need to be called on this via the public at large, and their asses need to be fired. If the company is made to be accountable for it's shortcomings, then it usually somehow magically and miraculously tends to work it's shortcomings out of it's system. I know for a fact that IBM can produce quality computer subsystems that rival anybody else. The key to keepig that quality up is the public holding them to account for their piss poor managers.
  • by Lord of Ironhand (456015) <arjen@xyx.nl> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:17PM (#8319077) Homepage
    From what I see at deal sites like fatwallet and bens bargain's, overall drive quality has gone down in the past year or so. Some drives are over abused though, as I've seen people rip DVD's and re-encode to the same drive and wonder why they fail after about 8 months...

    As others have pointed out: bullshit. I have had rarely used drives fail all of a sudden, and others survive years of continuous random read/writes.

    Also, ripping a DVD is not even very heavy work for a HD, since it's mostly sequential writes. Nothing compared to what a HD in a busy usenet server has to go through.

    Bottom line is, you can never predict when any type of drive will fail, so make backups. I've had three HD's fail during the past half year; I sent them back to Maxtor and recieved a better drive in return for each of them. Since I had backups, I don't complain, even though the quality of harddrives seems to be lower than it used to be.

  • by billybob (18401) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:20PM (#8321123)
    IBM and Hitachi .... Samsung and Western Digital

    And Seagate -- I just bought two 160 gig baracuda's, they are excellent drives (speedy and quiet), running in RAID-1. They have a 3 year warranty
  • Re:IBM is big (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2004 @06:20AM (#8324800)
    So true. I work for IBM, and we have had plenty of IBM 75 GXP disks failing in my division, and we couldn't get any information from the hard drive division about what was going on. It was like the people there were working for a different company.

    This is so typical IBM. In fact, often the most difficult customers we are dealing with, are the INTERNAL customers :)

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