Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Seagate Barracuda Firmware problems

As has been widely reported elsewhere many Seagate Barracuda hard disk drives have faulty firmware that causes them to effectively freeze.

In our lab we have 12 of the affected Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB drives and 50 Seagate ES.2 1TB drives. Two of the 7200.11 have failed with symptoms that suggest that faulty firmware was the cause. I have flashed the firmware of all of the affected working drives and hope that I can look forward to a long fault free period.

One of the failed 7200.11 drives was one third of a Raid 0 array in one of our forensic workstations. This workstation needed an OS reinstallation (onto a separate single drive) and temporarily some data on the OS drive (normally backed up to the Raid) only existed on the Raid. During subsequent software installations a number of reboots were required triggering the firmware bug and a failed raid. Oh bother!

Normally data on our Raid 0 arrays is backed up but due to the aforementioned OS reinstall there was a small amount of data that lost. I therefore had to find a way to unfreeze the locked Seagate Barracuda. A considerable trawl of the internet led me to this post. Gradius2 details a fix involving a significant amount of down and dirty electronics and low level hard drive programming. Not having all the necessary adapters/serial cables etc led me to call Disk Labs. They quoted £1000 - that was a no go then. Luckily Hugh Morgan at Cy4or successfully repaired the drive broadly following Gradius2's fix for significantly less. I reintroduced the drive to the two other drives in the Raid 0 array and Bob's Your Uncle!

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