Users furious over borked firmware update

It has been a rough few weeks for Seagate. The company announced last week that outspoken CES Bill Watkins was being replaced by Stephen Luczo. The change came amid concerns over the company’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions.

Shortly after the announcement of a new CEO, Seagate announced that it would cut 6 percent of its workforce. The six percent cut represents 2,950 employees -- even Luczo saw his new CEO salary cut by 25 percent.

Now Seagate is dealing with problems on a hardware level. There have been numerous reports of problems with Seagate's 7200.11 hard drive models. Seagate first acknowledge problems with its 1.5TB 7200.11 HDDs back in November stating:

Some Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB hard drives may show uncharacteristic operation when used with Mac and Linux operating systems in multi-drive configurations. Users may experiences pauses in video streaming applications or a dropped drive from RAID arrays. Customers seeing these symptoms should contact Seagate Technical Support for a firmware upgrade.

Seagate attempted to repair a few broken bridges between its customers by offering free data recovery services for those afflicted by the problem, but that move still didn't actually fix the root of the problem with the drives. So Seagate issued a firmware update to address the freezing problems on the 1.5TB drives, and for many, it appeared that the SD1A firmware cured the ailments of the original SD17 firmware according to The Tech Report. However, all is not well with the SD1A firmware update according to new reports.

According to Gizmodo, 500GB Barracuda 7200.11 owners who were also stricken with the original freezing problem and later applied the SD1A firmware update are now faced with useless HDDs. Users on Seagate's message boards talk of widespread problems with bricked drives after performing the firmware update.

The 23-page Seagate forum thread reads like an obituary for dead Barracuda drives with users angry over lost data and various other ailments. "I hate this... ALL MY DATA saved up from past 7 - 8 years had been backed up on to this new drive. I cannot believe that this is happening, I am about to go crazy," reported user kenken3686. 

JATownes added, "2 x ST3500320AS now are paperweights. Both were fine, f/w update, nice heavy paper holder now. VERY ANGRY!! Just got a Phenom II x4 940 Friday, new Vista Ultimate 64, DFI 790FX, 2 x 4870 CF-X, 4GB Patriot Extreme 1066. All running perfect!! Now I just stare at a stupid desktop cause the old 80gb isn't even worth the install. I have been building custom PCs for 15 years, and have NEVER heard of a manufacturer pulling a royal screw-up like this."

There is currently no response from Seagate on whether another firmware update will be released to address the problems inherent with the original SD1A update. We'll keep you abreast of the situation as it unfolds.

Updated 1/22/2009
Here is the latest from Seagate:

Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in limited number of Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and related SATA drives based on this product platform, manufactured through December 2008. In some unique circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on.

While we believe that the vast majority of customers will not experience any disruption related to this issue, as part of our commitment to customer satisfaction, Seagate is offering a free firmware upgrade to proactively address those with potentially affected products.  This new firmware upgrade corrects compatibility issues that occurred with the firmware download provided on our support website on Jan. 16. We regret any inconvenience that the firmware issues have caused our customers.

To determine whether your product is affected, please visit the Seagate Support web site at" rel="nofollow

In the unlikely event your drive is affected and you cannot access your data, the data still resides on the drive and there is no data loss associated with this issue.  Seagate is working with customers to expedite a remedy.

For assistance, customers can send an email to Seagate:

Support is also available through Seagate’s call center: 1-800-SEAGATE (1 800 732-4283)


"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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