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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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  • by Artifex (18308) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:02AM (#8314717) Journal
    Any comments from pactical experience as to the quality of the drives after Hitachi bought the division and started selling them under its own name? I currently have one of the 160GB, and I bought it at Fry's back in January.
  • I have one ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robnauta (716284) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:02AM (#8314719)
    I had one. After about a year it failed, in summer so I suspect it had been running too hot. More and more bad sectors with the familiar scraping sound.

    But after I got tired of running scandisk for hours to mark bad sectors daily, I erased it with IBM's DFT (drive fitness test).
    And it has been fine ever since.

    It looked like the heat made it lose its calibration, unable to find the exact position on the disk for some sectors.
  • by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:04AM (#8314730) Homepage Journal
    that two of three HDs failed within 2 years.. :)

    Atleast I want to give credits to IBM for an excellent replacement procedure, 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...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:08AM (#8314747)
    People, get real. This is all about the lawyers.

    The lawyers are suing IBM. They are paying all the costs. The "class" is made up of losers who lend their names by affirming they bought a "defective drive."

    In the end, the lawyers will get to keep 30% to 50% of the settlement or award (the cash component); the losers will get a coupon for discounts on the purchase of IBM stuff.

    If you feel you have been wronged by because your 1,000,000 hour MTBF drive will only last 900,000 hours, simply tell 10 of your friends and don't buy any IBM stuff.

    Believe me, that's a lot more painful to IBM and a lot less destructive to our society.
  • by Glenda Slagg (464228) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:10AM (#8314758)
    If a manufacturer only guarantees an item for one year (thought I notice 90 days is often the case in the US - it would be illegal here), as what point does a failure rate occuring after that first year constitute a problem with the product. If 50% fail within two years can this actuallt be seen as a problem with the product. In our modern-age ,Just what does guarantee actually mean...???
  • by Nakito (702386) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:14AM (#8314777)
    IBM and Hitachi are two of the few manufacturers that still offer 3-year warranties on IDE hard drives. They are also two of the few mainframe manufacturers. I had thought that there was a correlation between these two facts -- perhaps that mainframe manufacturers regard storage as something more sacred or mission-critical than your average hard drive manufacturer. I am disappointed that IBM would knowingly ship drives with a too-high rate of failure. This is not consistent with their mainframe heritage.
  • by PhiltheeG (688063) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:15AM (#8314789)

    Here at work use IBM through and through. Not many problems with any Think Centres but some batches of them come with Western Digital drives inside. We replace faulty drives with Maxtor drives and have had the best results with them, although there are some that are very noisy (but haven't and won't die). Loads vary due to segment: either workstation (client server and word, no big stress) or student workstation (they've seen the worst).

    Personally, I have had horrid luck with the Western Digital JB (i.e. special edition) series. All have failed on me and I wouldn't trust them outside of an IDE RAID mirrored situation. About a dozen Maxtor drives have yet to die. I also have Fujistu, Seagate and the old IBM 8.4 original quit drives (best drive ever, IMO).

    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...

  • Re:Western Digital (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:16AM (#8314798)
    We've had worse luck with WD. Every month it seems we have to send back a drive after diagnosing a problem with it with WD's software. We've moved to Seagate and Maxtor as a result.
  • Same here (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:17AM (#8314800)
    I bought a retail 60GB GXP back in 2000 or 2001 (forget which year). I understand it's basically the same drive as the 75GXP, but with one fewer platter. It tells linux that it is called "IBM-DLTA-307060".

    This things's been in my machine running between 12 and 24 hours a day since then, and I haven't had a single problem with it. Both windows and linux have been using it. I have a passive heatsink on the drive, and my box has an adequate power supply for all the hardware in it.

    I have a feeling that many retail hdd failures can be attributed to people letting their drives overheat, or else not having an adequate power supply for their system. Such problems were endemic back when the GXP came out.

    An alternative explanation is that IBM had recently opened a production facility in Hungary. It is possible that they were still smoothing out the bumps there, so to speak.

    But I really don't think it's a basic problem with the design --- my IBM GXP has behaved superbly.
  • Re:I have one ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phrasebook (740834) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:19AM (#8314813)
    I had mine fail after about 9 months, and it was also pretty hot in my case, and during summer. I also had a 60GXP in there so I was worried. After it failed I bought a new case with fans right in front of the hard drives. The 60GXP is still going fine but is extremely noisy now (not clicking, just whine).

    IBM's DFT thing didn't work for me. It cleared the drive for a little while but the noises came back and it wouldn't work.

    Didn't seem related to heat. Sometimes it'd occur as soon as it spun up, sometimes it would be fine for days. I think if it spun up normally, it would keep going ok until it was next powered on.

    Ever since then I've been paranoid about hard drives and went to the trouble of mirroring all the partitions on my server using linux software RAID-1. Works nicely and boots off either drive.
  • Failure Rates. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sentosus (751729) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:23AM (#8314834)
    The biggest question is whether or not IBM knew the drives were failures and decided to make money on the drives selling them and then dump the business when lawsuits and RMAs were getting greater than the profit generated by their sells.

    To those that RMAed more than 1 time, don't you feel like you are humping a pillow when that just can't give you satisfaction? Okay, bad part makes it to you. Okay, the replacement part is bad then we have a Quality Assurance issue. It is time to prevent the continue loss of time and break down to a new purchase.

    In addition, those that RMAed the drives should not be part of the class action since IBM would not have profitted on a low margin being compounded with continuously replacing the drives. We make $2 each, but spend 70$ building them. We are 68$ in the hole for each one RMAed. See what I am saying?

    At that point it is just Punative.

  • by philthedrill (690129) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:24AM (#8314842)

    I think the problem was obvious when looking through forum posts of users who had 75GXP drives. It wasn't the number of failures as much as it was the number of failures per user. Sure, some people didn't have any problems, but many others had multiple drive failures, and the failure distribution was statistically abnormal.

    As much as I'm happy that this is out in the open and that there's a class action suit, what will the users get out of this? In the tech world, two+ years is an eternity. Will they get the typical $20 voucher towards a new Hitachi drive while the class action lawyers get the millions? I had two fail on me in two months (on my VIA 686B south bridge while they worked fine on someone else's AMD south bridge). I had to fight IBM red tape as they kept trying to pawn me off on Acer but couldn't even give me the right point of contact at Acer (but I finally got through after six months).

    You know what they say... in a lawsuit, the only winners are the lawyers.

  • by ozbird (127571) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:25AM (#8314846)
    We had a 20GB IBM Deskstar (probably 60GXP series) HDD fail at work recently; it was part of a mirrored (RAID 1) array, so no serious harm was done.

    Being inquisitive folk, we cracked open the case to see what was inside. The cause of the failure was abundantly clear: the head assemblies had scraped the shiny, magnetic coating off about 2/3rds of the disk surface (on both sides) revealing the glass platter. I've never seen a glass platter before - they are so cool! :-D

    The extent of damage was equally impressive; our "museum" of salvaged bits includes various head-crashed platters of considerable vintages, but this disk will certainly take pride of place in the collection.
  • Re:I have one ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SpinyManiac (542071) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:26AM (#8314854) Homepage
    I've also had a IBM drive fail due to heat.
    Hitachi honoured the warranty, but I had to pay for postage to the Netherlands (I'm in the UK).

    I bought a 120GB while I waited for my 60GB to get back, and stuck the PC in a new case with four 80mm fans. One fan blows over both hard drives, and I haven't had trouble since

    On the other hand, my laptop has had a 20GB Hitachi (pre IBM) drive, a IBM 40GB and a Hitachi/IBM 60GB. None have given any trouble, despite getting pretty hot. It looks like laptop drives don't mind the heat as much.
  • by Warpedcow (180300) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:27AM (#8314860) Homepage Journal
    I'm in a similar situation - I have 4 of the 3-yr-warranty 180GB/8MB models in a RAID 5 array (with the addonics scsi to ide adapters). I've had them for about 8 months now, no problems. I also have an older IBM 120GB drive that still works fine. My parents and sister have had 40GB and 80GB IBM drives with no problems for years, except when I dug around in my parents system and when I put it back together, their 40GB seems to have some really bad sectors... I was able to recover most of the data off the drive though... I blame this incident on myself and not IBM (since it failed right after I dickered around with it).

    Also, I should note that my RAID 5 of the 180GBs gets VERY heavy use.

    I wonder if drive temp has anything to do with these problems? My 180GBs and 120GB are right next to two case fans, they stay really cool...

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • by Baron of Greymatter (156831) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#8314870)
    I don't know about the desktop drives, but my employer uses the Travelstar 20 and 40 Gb laptop drives. Our manufacturer in Korea used them because they were manufactured there and there was no import duty on them.

    I should say "used to use" them. About 30% of those drives died by the time our customers received the product they were installed into (voicemail systems - 24/7/365 uptime required). Now our customers are pissed and threatening to sue us.

    We ordered our manufacturer to switch back to Toshiba (which is what we used previously). They work.

  • by Marxist Commentary (461279) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:29AM (#8314878) Homepage
    it is never in the interest of a corporation to stop any product from coming to market NO MATTER WHAT. There are intense pressures from higher management to perform, and to hell with the consequences.

    Sure, this is "just" a hard drive, it can be replaced. What about when corporate negligance leads to permanent damage of people (e.g., health care)? What about deaths at the hands of corporations?

  • by nblender (741424) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:38AM (#8314926)
    I mentally switched to IBM drives a couple of years ago so whenever I bought a server or configured one for a client to purchase, I spec'd IBM drives. Now I'm back to Seagate. A friend was pro-maxtor all the way. Out of 100 drives in various servers, he's had to replace about half of them. Most of them upwards of twice each. He's disgusted. Another one of my clients spec'd a RAID array out of 120G Maxtors. 2 out of 4 disks have already been replaced..

    I can't believe no one is going after Maxtor.

  • by Andreas(R) (448328) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:55AM (#8315035) Homepage
    I have a IBM deskstar with firmware ER4OA44A, and the firmware utility recommends I update the firmware to A45A version. I downloaded the update, however, I don't have access to a floppy-drive to boot the update disks.

    So, is there another way to do this? (ie. I have a CDR recorder).

    Anyone got a tip for how to flash without a diskdrive? I promise +5 karma :)
  • by Stavr0 (35032) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:02AM (#8315099) Homepage Journal
    Take them apart with a Torx#0 and get the bitchin' strong rare earth magnet inside.

    - You can use it as a fridge magnet. Keep a pry bar around to detach it
    - Stick one on a toolbelt, it's strong enough to hold a magnet!

  • Re:Minor correction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weileong (241069) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:06AM (#8315131)

    If you *are* being serious - then why are you posting as an AC?

    I'm hoping I'm not being trolled, but as a person who has had 75GXP failures AND still have a handful of (very lightly used) 75GXP drives, and really hope that it's not a 100% failure rate, and could do with I-am-willing-to-back-up-what-I-am-saying accounts, which is needless to say not the case with AC posts.

  • Re:I have one ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:26AM (#8315249) Homepage Journal
    I've had decent reliability with Maxtors (my only problem was tied into me not quite getting the IDE cable plugged in all the way), but every WD I've had has died. I have NEVER had a single problem with Seagate drives, though.

    My current system has a 4.3GB Quantum (now Maxtor) Bigfoot CY as /home, and an 8.4GB Seagate (out of an old HP supermarket-grade box) as /.
  • Unfortunate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ktulu1115 (567549) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:30AM (#8315285)
    As most people have agreed, this is a bad mark on IBM's record. I respect them for their pro-Linux attitude (despite the fact it may partially be due to retaliation on MS) and think they have contributed a lot to the field, this is why it's so unfortunate.

    Thankfully this problem doesn't effect me as I use almost all SCSI devices [njit.edu], however I have noticed my IBM SCSI [hgst.com] drive hasn't quite been up to par recently. And I had to RMA it already once... hmmm. I think I'm sticking with Seagate from now on, I love my ST336607LW [seagate.com]. :)
  • Re:Reputation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tedgyz (515156) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:31AM (#8315294) Homepage
    To put it another way, "The enemy of my enemy [MS] is my friend."

    And, yes, I have RMA'ed 2 deathstars. I have a 60GXP waiting to be RMA'ed.
  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:34AM (#8315319) Homepage Journal
    If you want reliable glass platter drives, try Toshiba laptop drives. I think my 810MB drive is glass, and it only has ~200K in bad sectors, due to the laptop being stored in a truck in the middle of August :-(... Before that, it had ZERO bad sectors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:34AM (#8315326)
    I hate to point this out but should should do the whole backup thing. I mean even a high reliability HD occasionally fails.

    It's funny you say that. The only hard disk failures in the last 3 years for my company have been with high-grade scsi drives used in raid arrays. No data loss, due to raid & a good backup strategy, and the drives were replaced under warranty (5 years for high-grade scsi drives).

    The ordinary ide drives used in desktops have had no failures in this time period. Even though the raid disks get much more usage, this is a bit odd.
  • Re:Reputation (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:38AM (#8315355)
    What about them? Only the non-retail drives with 8MB cache come with a 3 year warranty. All retail packages and all 2MB 7200rpm drives have a 1 year limited warranty. Yes, they are pretty quiet, but Samsung's are even quieter.

  • It constantly amazes me how bad technological companies are at relationships. Having sold bad drives damages IBM's reputation enormously. Many managers of tech companies seem to believe that business is 98% technology and 2% relationships. Probably it is more like 50-50.

    Relationships with employees are part of the relationships of business. Perhaps 10 years ago, Intel forced employees to take a pay cut just before business became extremely profitable for Intel. In my opinion, Intel has a history of pushing its employees too hard. Look at the result. Look where Intel is now: AMD is ahead in 64-bit processors.

    Of course, Intel managers undoubtedly have rationalizations for this, but in extensive conversations with Intel employees, I have developed the idea that there is a connection between Intel's lack of interest in good relationships and Intel's recent poor performance.
  • by abb3w (696381) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:30AM (#8315882) Journal
    They ALL suck. I've had within 90 day failures for all of the big name ATA drives. It's an inevitable byproduct of the ever-increasing data densities and the ever-tighter profit margins. They all have decent customer service (so far) when it happens as far as replacing the drive, but that doesn't help for the data.

    As a result, I now require all new desktop computers for the college department I work for to come with three hard drives; a RAID-1 mirrored pair for the OS, and an external hard drive (ATA to USB/FW box + OEM drive) for doing daily backups on. (Weeklies go to the server, which has a more complicated backup arrangement). It's added about 15% to the cost of the build to the local white-box outfit... but now I no longer fear hard drive crashes.

    I fear hard drive thieves. =)
  • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:14PM (#8316311) Journal
    It's funny. We have fora such as Slashdot and Groklaw, where information gained from hundreds of dedicated people are put to the common good. We have systems like Linux and GCC that are similarly the result of large common effort.

    What is lacking is a good system for tracking hardware failures. All we have are anecdotes, until somebody gets sued and we can see their internal documentation.

    Imagine, though, that there was a system for tracking hardware. Whenever you would get a drive, you'd put it into the common database. Serial number, model number, date and place of manufacture. Granted, this would take a few minutes. When (not if, they all die eventually) a drive fails, you would call up the record and mark it, along with (perhaps) the symptoms associated with the failure.

    But, if tens of thousands of people did this, you would quickly build up a spectacular database of hardware reliability. You would be able to instantly see what drives were better than others, or see if quality was slipping or improving for popular drive makes as time went on.

    Soon, much like the moderation system of Slashdot has truly raised the level of discussion here, you would find that the reliabilty ratings driven by this database would force manufacturers to make higher quality drives -- they'd know that they could never force crappy drives on the market as IBM is alleged to have done here.

    Now, I'm not volunteering -- yet. But I could be interested. There would be insane pressures from the manufacturers to influence the results, and there would no doubt be some attempts made to stuff the ballot box. But, it would be a good thing.

    Thad
  • Re:Reputation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PhotoBoy (684898) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:33PM (#8316471)
    I agree, I'm pretty certain that the reason for IBM ditching their hard drive division was because 3 generations of their GXP drives had been failures. The last generation of GXP even came with a warning to only use the drive for 8 hours or less at a time(!).

    I've been through 4 IBM "DeathStar" drives and all of them broke down. In the end I just asked the nice people at OcUK to swap it for a Western Digital which has so far lasted longer than all 4 IBM drives put together.

    So in true Comic Book Guy style: Worst. Hard-drive. Ever.
  • by WNight (23683) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:07PM (#8316950) Homepage
    It's your responsibility to save your work too, but if I turned your power off and lost even 15-minutes of work for every employee at your company you'd all of a sudden be calculating the damages I'd caused.

    Unless you've got a constant-running save process that saves multiple levels of undo, and your backup process mirrors this to two seperate locations, on the fly, you're going to lose data if your drive dies. Backing up simply changes this from months to days, or at best, hours.

    What really pissed me off about this is that when I called to return the drive to IBM I spoke to, supposedly, the manager of that department (Mario) and he crossed his heart and swore that the GXPs were great drives and that he hadn't heard of any defect in the line, etc. I even quoted articles on StorageReview and cnet he held to his lies. Just admit it and replace it - don't make me jump through hoops and blame me, then finally only replace it with another decative 75GXP. Fuckers.
  • Re:Reputation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lee Cremeans (873) <leec@gtgi.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:35PM (#8318625)
    I bought a IBM 75GXP 20GB back in late 2000, before the news about their QC broke. I was pretty impressed with it at the time; it was quieter and cooler-running than the 9GB Seagate Medalist Pro 7200 it replaced, and it was super-fast for the time.

    Eventually though, it developed bad sectors, and by then (2002) I figured it was time to send it back. I moved my work onto a 36GB IBM SCSI drive until I could get something better. I eventually replaced the 36GB with a 120GB Seagate 7200.7 Pro (8MB cache), which I'm quite happy with (fast and much quieter than either the 75GXP or
    (especially) the 36GB!) When I finally sent the 75GXP back, I noticed that the replacement drive had several things about it I didn't like...partially stripped screw heads, for one, and a noise on startup that suggested the bearings were damaged. Since it worked otherwise, I decided to save it for something non-critical.

    Judging from those two factors (initial failure of the drive, sloppy workmanship on the replacement), something was definitely amiss in the state of IBM/HGST. I did read the Maximum PC article (we have a copy of the Feb/2004 issue here at the office), and that made me feel that much better about having gotten a Seagate drive again.

    -lee
  • Terrible Hardware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caspper69 (548511) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:17PM (#8319076)
    I was going through my previous orders for systems that I have built over the years, and I thought for sure they were 75GXPs. Unfortunately I was wrong. I purchased over 20 hard drives, all IBM Deskstars: 60GXPs, 120GXPs but only a couple 75GXPs. EVERY SINGLE DRIVE HAS FAILED. What a crock. I still have several sitting here. It would have been nice for IBM to let us know about these failures at the outset, because I had to eat the cost of those drives, and I'm not a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. I was just a college student who made money during that time of my life selling white boxes. And now, since I only have two 75GXPs, I'll still never see any restitution from IBM.

    It makes you wonder what the world would be like if there had never been Microsoft... Not that it's a lot better now, but think of what could have been.... shudder...

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