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Tick tick tick... significant number of Seagate hard drives failing

Mel Martin
01.19.09
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It hasn't been a great year so far for car companies and banks. Now, add Seagate to the list of enterprises facing unexpected challenges. The big manufacturer of hard disks reports that a 'small' number of Barracuda 7200.11 drives are failing. Once they fail, the data on them is supposedly still intact but can't be accessed without expert recovery procedures. Seagate has promised to expedite data recovery for affected users, which is nice enough but cold comfort if you're among the unlucky.

Seagate offers a software utility that will tell you if your drive is at risk, but that only works on Windows PCs. The firm is providing some firmware updates for the affected, but at this point they do not appear to have an updater that will run under OS X.

The problem drives also extend to the Barracuda ES.2 SATA units and the DiamondMax22. The flaky drives could be internal models, or drives installed in external cases.

Wondering if you have one of these drives? You can use the 'more info' button when you select 'About this Mac' from the Apple menu (or just run the Apple System Profiler utility from your Utilities folder -- same result), and click on the Serial-ATA label in the left column. You'll get all your drive model numbers, and the firmware revisions. If the numbers match the bad news provided by Seagate, you'll know you may be living on borrowed time.

Lots of people around the 'net are reporting failures, and others say their drives match the numbers and aren't sure what to do without a viable firmware updater. I tried to call Seagate myself this morning and after navigating the inevitable phone tree a recording said they were too busy to take my call. I'll bet they are. Seagate did say today they will fix any defective drives and they will provide a free data recovery service. That is nice but it's a time consuming and troublesome process.

There is some talk of a class action lawsuit (of course) but clearly something is amiss with some Seagate drives so if you have one or more check them out, and hope the company comes up with some Mac friendly answers. If anyone has tried updating the firmware of a drive via Boot Camp, please advise (no, before you ask, trying to use a virtualization tool like VMware or Parallels to modify your drive firmware is neither advisable nor particularly feasible). Note that back in 2007 we reported on some problems involving Seagate drives and Apple laptops.

Here's how to contact Seagate, but I suspect they are pretty busy. No telling how many Macs have these drives in them. Apple uses a lot of different vendors, including Seagate. Check your backups, folks.

[via Engadget & The Register]

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