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Seagate continues to communicate bad news

Mel Martin

There has been plenty of confusion over the continuing saga of Seagate hard drives with firmware problems that can lead to eventual failure and data loss. We've followed the story here and here.

It hasn't been pretty for either Intel or non-Intel Macs. It would have been nice for Seagate to provide a Mac OS X-native firmware updater for older machines. There must be an awful lot of hard drives out there just waiting to fail. Many people who don't follow tech news don't even know what pain might strike them.

Mac users who had written Seagate about their problems did not get much information, but now there are some more details sent in an email to customers about the bad news for non-Intel based Mac owners. Full email reproduced below:

If you are trying to update your drive firmware with a MAC, you must have an INTEL MAC to allow you to perform this action. If you do not have an INTEL MAC, you will then need to take the drive to a PC, or a MAC with an Intel Processor. If you do not have either, you may need to warranty the drive with Seagate, and the return drive should have the updated firmware upon receipt.

If you have an INTEL MAC, you would simply need to burn the ISO file to CD using the burning utility that you have installed on your system. Once you have the CD created, you will then need to reboot the system with the newly created CD in the CD ROM bay while holding the "C" key on the keyboard to tell the system to boot to the CD rather than the internal hard drive. Once you have booted to the CD, simply follow the onscreen prompts to complete the firmware update. Older Macs that are PowerPC (PowerMac G3,G4,G5, iMac G3,G4,G5) based can not bootup to the FreeDOS. FreeDOS is the operating system that is booted to when booting to the firmware update CD. Please keep in mind that you should always backup the data on the drive before doing the update in case there is data loss. In most cases, the data on the drive should remain in tack and unaltered; however, things happen, and its always better to be prepared in case we come across any obstacles with the integrity of the data on the drive.
Instructions for updating firmware on a Intel based Mac.
1. Download and burn the Firmware ISO that has been provided to you by Seagate for your drive/s
2. Burn the ISO to a CD (how to:
3. Insert the freshly burn CD back in to your Mac.
4. Reboot
5. After the Chime press and hold the Option key on the keyboard.
6. Once you see the Apple with the spinning gear beneath, release the Option Key.
7. At this point the system will come to a screen with pictures of hard drives and a CD, the CD should be named Seagate.
8. Click on the CD
9. Click on the arrow pointing to the right.
10. At this point FreeDOS will boot and the on screen instructions should be followed.
Once again, I want to thank you for your business.. If you still need further assistance, or the information provided was not of good use, please feel free to contact Seagate Technical Support at 800-SEAGATE ( 800-732-4283).

Translation: You are well and truly hosed if you don't have access to a Mac Pro or a Windows PC that can update the firmware. People who have returned their drives to Seagate got a refurbished drive, even if a brand new one was sent in for exchange. Worse, there are some scattered reports that the replacement drive still had the bad firmware! Way to go, Seagate: if your Mac-owning user base didn't feel completely screwed over before this, we all probably feel that way now.

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