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Seagate Hard Drive Fiasco Grows 452

AnInkle writes "Two months after acknowledging that their flagship 1.5TB Barracuda 7200.11s could hang while streaming video or during low-speed file transfers, Seagate again faces a swell of complaints about more drives failing just months after purchase. Again, The Tech Report pursued the matter until they received a response acknowledging the bricking issue. Seagate says they've isolated a 'potential firmware issue.' They say there's 'no data loss associated with this issue, and the data still resides on the drive;' however, 'the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on.' If users don't like the idea of an expensive data-laden paperweight, Seagate is offering a firmware upgrade to address the matter, as well as data recovery services if needed. By offering free data recovery, Seagate seems to be trying to head off what could become a PR nightmare that may affect several models under both the Seagate and Maxtor brands."
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Seagate Hard Drive Fiasco Grows

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  • by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:07PM (#26492837) Journal

    You better believe PR nightmare. After this how many will ever trust either the company or their products again?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:12PM (#26492885)


    Over the past 20 years--its never been a question of the "perfect storage media vendor"--its been a question of "who has screwed me--lately?".

    --JSS, fromer Amiga HW Engineer, Rework tech of 400,000 defective Seagate HDD's, Class of '94.

  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:25PM (#26492975)

    Sadly, the AC is mostly correct. Everyone has brands they love and hate according to how often they've died.

    I abhor Maxtor and love WD. I've met other techs that love Maxtor and abhor WD.

    It actually just so happens that I'm using a Seagate 320GB in this machine and it's started to act funny lately. I've never had an issue with their drives before, but then... I haven't used them much.

    With this report, I may just buy another WD and replace it rather than wait for something to happen.

  • by Kent Recal ( 714863 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:32PM (#26493027)

    I will.
    Shit like this happens from time to time, read up on IBM's legendary "deathstar" fiasco to see how to really turn such a thing into a PR disaster.

    Seagate on the other hand is acknowledging the issue and seems to be communicating about it as open as possible. Plus they offer RMA and recovery services. What more can they do, really?

    We have bought almost exclusively seagate for our S-ATA disks over the past 5 years because their failure rate has consistently been lower than that of the competition. They have a reputation to lose and it seems like they're trying their best to keep it.

    I see no reason why one screwed up model should remove my trust in a company that has served us well for so long. Cut them some slack and compare your historic failure rates of seagate drives versus others.

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:33PM (#26493043)
    Now I can finally say I told you so to all the Seagate fanboys who wouldn't stop circle-jerking when I kept saying that after a decade of frontline support I know that Seagates have a higher rate of failure than even their higher marketshare can compensate for. I kept getting fed the same old lines about how long their warranties were and how that made everything ok. Nevermind that this offer of data recovery is a last-ditch desperate measure that's an exception to all precedent. In most cases when I've been ring-side to a Seagate failure all I could do was point and laugh and say 'How good is your warranty at getting data back, bitch?'

    I always buy WD, and in the dozens I've bought only one failed, infant mortality, and it was replaced less than two weeks with virtually no hassle.
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:34PM (#26493049)

    So we're going to lynch them for being open and honest that their drives have a problem and they're doing everything possible to minimize the harm to their customers? My, my, how progressive of us all. We're going to rail on them because they only made a firmware patcher for Windows. Well -- color me silly here but this is an emergency patch. It's an issue that's been discovered fairly recently and so they haven't yet made a firmware loader for other operating systems that makeup Help your community instead of bemoaning your minority status. I've never understood why a community of technical people can be so smart except when it comes to their choice of operating system, where they promptly start screaming "help, help, I'm being repressed!" This behavior is tolerated inside the linux/free software community and I'm at a loss for why... At least in the GLBT community, we tend to give these people a loving, but firm kick in the ass, not indulge them. You all could learn from the example.

  • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:39PM (#26493095) Homepage

    I will. All companies will have a problem from time to time if they've been in the game long enough. At least Seagate is showing they will stand behind their product and offer assistance to help the user get their data back.

    Mistakes will always happen, it's their response that counts.

  • This is exactly right. As a matter of fact, over the years it's really been a cyclical thing. For a few years, Seagate drives will be great and say WD drives will suck horribly. Then for a few years, Seagate drives will suck and IBM has great drives. Then a few years later, IBM drives suck and Seagate is good again. Though as far as I can remember, Maxtor has always sucked and getting bought by Seagate didn't help.

    Anyway, I haven't purchased any drives lately, but due to the 5yr warranty and my past experiences, I've always leaned towards Seagate. I will probably avoid the new 1.5TB Seagate in light of recent events, but most likely in a few years Seagate will have great drives again.

  • by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @11:51PM (#26493215) Homepage

    If you can't make the fucking effort to go read the article and follow the links, why should we do it for you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:01AM (#26493293)

    And I've had 2 WD Caviar 160GB drives that crapped out on me in the 9 months before I switched manufacturers. Thank god for backups.

    That's the problem with anecdotal recommendations. They're always true, but rarely useful in the "statistically relevant" sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:11AM (#26493355)

    Right. Because if I need to make an update to the drives in my critical hardware, I am DEFINITELY going to download something from The Pirate Bay instead of getting it from the official support channel. I mean, come on--some guy on Slashdot told me it was just as good.

  • by radish ( 98371 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:12AM (#26493361) Homepage

    Well I only buy Seagate, and of the dozens I've bought...well they're all still working thanks. Anecdote's are pointless, Seagate are doing the decent thing here - saying we screwed up (it happens) - here's a new firmware and if you lost data we'll pay to try and get it back. That's a lot more than they're required to do and more than most companies would do. I don't see any reason to give them a hard time, or stop buying their products.

  • by daoine_sidhe ( 619572 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:18AM (#26493411)

    I can tell you from my decade of experience as a technician and running a small shop that Seagate HDDs have the lowest failure rate in the business.

    See how that works? This is why anecdotes are useless.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:04AM (#26493759)

    Question: How do you know the failure rate of the other companies' drives, when you almost exclusively buy Seagate drives?
    Those two or three other drives are far from a usable statistic don't you think?

    So what's left is what you heard, or what you remember from 5 years before.

  • WTF-trust. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:35AM (#26494407) Journal

    I agree. [msfn.org] And yes I own two Seagates and I've also owned IBMs as well so I'm familiar with HD failure. My issue isn't so much the failure although the "death without warning" isn't reassuring. The way Seagate handled the matter is why I question wither people can ever trust them again. Hardware can be replaced. Trust not so easily.

  • by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:16AM (#26494623)

    Why are you buying a bunch of drives in bulk and then using them all at the same time? I think the Google study found that drives manufactured in the same plant, at close to the same time have a greater probability of failing in twos or threes within short periods of time. Why not play Hard Drive Roulette and throw a WD, Seagate and whatever else you can find in -at the same time-? Sure, your drives won't all have exactly the same read/write speed, but the odds of those drives having anything in common hardware defect wise is minuscule.

    Here's the relevant quote:

    "Failure rates are known to be highly correlated with drive models, manufacturers and vintages [18]. Our results do not contradict this fact. For example, Figure 2 changes significantly when we normalize failure rates per each drive model. Most age-related results are impacted by drive vintages. However, in this paper, we do not show a breakdown of drives per manufacturer, model, or vintage due to the proprietary nature of these data." from http://research.google.com/archive/disk_failures.pdf [google.com]

    What this should tell you as a sysadmin is: stop equipping your server with X brand spanking new bleeding edge Ys from manufacturer Z. Sprinkle a few more letters in there, mix it up. You're less likely to wake up some morning and find that you had two drives kick the proverbial bit bucket in a two hour timespan.

  • by Zymergy ( 803632 ) * on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:53AM (#26494771)
    I'd wager ALL (or a good portion) of the magnetic hard drive manufacturer's BEST people are working on their prototype SSD units (NOT magnetic drives and their respective firmware)...

    Magnetic Media Hard Drives have now entered the time of their final epic journey to join their ancestors, Betamax, Cassettes, and 8-Track (et al.) at the great campfire in the sky...
  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:32AM (#26494947) Homepage Journal

    The only way to solve potential problems is proper backups, otherwise any HDD purchase is playing Russian roulette.

    As has been said before, all of the top companies have had cyclical QC problems. Contrary to your statement, WD is absolutely no exception.

    Anecdotal evidence is worthless to begin with, and the above statement doesn't even have that to back it up.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:34AM (#26495491)

    But (and this is the crucial difference between you and the OP), you bought the drives from Dell (who presumably manufactured the server which they were to be fitted to) on the express instruction that they had to fit a particular server model.

    It's therefore Dell's problem to get it right and the drives can keep on going back until they do.

  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @09:00AM (#26496131) Journal
    We need a "paranoid" tag.
  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @09:45AM (#26496387)

    Linux has something like a 50%+ share or more of the server market. And guess what, dude, most of those have hard drives.

    And for total computers- all non-MS-Windows machines adds up to probably more than 15% of all computers. Even if you were WalMart and turned away 15% of your potential customers, you would go out of business.

  • by dosguru ( 218210 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @11:55AM (#26497239)

    Why would someone just buy drives like that? If there is that large of a need for space, go buy a good array from Sun, NetApp, Hitachi, IBM, EMC, or a smaller vendor. Let them do the testing, warranty work, and integrity and let you work on your business. What do you do if you need more space than a DAS RAID can fit?

    With iSCSI, FCIP, FOE, 10GbE, and FC being much cheaper/free than years ago why use DAS disk? Slice those big drives into RAID 6 and then into whatever sized LUNs you need. 5GB for a boot? Well you can fit 200 onto a RAID group. Need a 5TB Lun with good speed? Grab 1TB from several different RAID groups and have the array controller stripe for you. 8Gbs FC is out now, 2Gbs FC is really cheap with used equipment. iSCSI is pretty much free. You can even virtualize whole arrays so if you give someone 1TB and they only use 5Gb, only 5Gb is actually in use on physical disk. If you buy a deduplicating array it'll even eliminate redundant information for you depending on how you set it up.

    If you value stability, flexibility, and redundancy and don't like employees wasting lots of time on hard drive testing and fixing, go buy the right tool for the job. Large arrays are also usually 'greener' since they can use drives much more efficiently if set up correctly. One 15K RPM 300GB FC RAID set at full IO load can beat hundreds of cheap SATA drives at low utilization for IO. If space is there problem then there are ways to work that too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:56PM (#26500451)

    You are CTO of a company and you spend time running around fixing hard drives rather than your techs. I smell fish.

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