Seagate's "random freeze" problem: worse than reported?

Seagate's "random freeze" problem: worse than reported?

Summary: Reports that Seagate is having "random freeze" problems on its new 1.5 TB drives may be more serious than the company has admitted: 1 TB Seagate drives may be affected as well.

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TOPICS: Storage, Hardware
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Reports that Seagate is having "random freeze" problems on its new 1.5 TB drives may be more serious than the company has admitted: 1 TB Seagate drives may be affected as well.

Seagate on the case Seagate spokesman Mike Hall wrote:

Seagate is investigating an issue where a small number of Barracuda 7200.11 (1.5TB SATA) hard drives randomly pause or hang for up to several seconds during certain write operations. This does not result in data loss nor does it impact the reliability of the drive but is an inconvenience to the user that we are working to resolve with an upgradeable firmware.

Not great but OK if true. But then I got a note from a senior engineer at a cloud storage company:

What seagate doesn't seem to be admitting is that their 7200.11 1.0 TB drives have that same problem also.  We've had to remove from service and rebuild 2 expansion servers with overnighted Samsung drives in the last 48 hours . . . .

Pulling servers and replacing all the drives is more than an "inconvenience." It is a major operational problem.

It can kill your desktop RAID A Tech Report commenter noted that this problem can kill a desktop RAID. How?

. . . the problem may cause a RAID system to think the drive has died. The RAID system automatically removes the drive and continues to run degraded (as designed). 20 minutes later when another drive exhibits the problem the RAID system drops the second drive and dies.

Your data is in there somewhere, but good luck ever seeing it again. Yet another reason to avoid desktop RAID unless you a) know what you are doing and b) absolutely need it.

The Storage Bits take Other than airfreighting Samsung or Western Digital drives, what can you do? First, check for firmware revisions that Seagate has admitted have problems: SD15, SD17, or SD18. If you don't have them you should be OK.

If you do, what then? Cross your fingers and hope for the best. If they are in a critical RAID system you should make sure your backups are current and complete.

You may need them.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Storage, Hardware

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37 comments
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  • IMHO...

    Seagate Quality Control has been in the bucket for about 2 years now. Maybe 3.

    I've owned nothing but Seagate since 1998. Never had a drive failure, then starting about 3 years ago (around the time of the 7200.7 series), they started dropping like flies. I've had FIVE failures in just over 2 years now.

    Then there was the stupid Firmware fiasco with the 500GB drives this year.

    And now this.

    My last 3 purchases were Western Digital.
    BitTwiddler
    • Sad but seemingly true ...

      I have been using Seagate drives for years and for the first time I am having problems. Usually I just try to coax a dying drive back to life, but when I lost a nearly new Seagate 500MB a few months ago (part of a software RAID array), I just pulled it and RMA'd it back to Seagate. Now, with all of this coming out, I'm glad I didn't mess around with it. Seagate used to be at the top of my list and WD at the bottom. But maybe while Seagate quality seems to be going in the tank, WD has really gotten their act together and seem to be tightly standards compliant now (which was my beef with them in the past). And at the same time Seagate seems to be drifting away from standards compliance in order to support wiz bang Windows kudges. So WD is looking better all the time and may well be my next upgrade choice.
      George Mitchell
    • Started going downhill with the Maxtor merger

      And, haven't started back up slope, yet.
      Dr. John
    • I concur

      No argument here. Last Seagate to die on me was a week ago today. It was a replacement for a drive that had failed earlier. The first one lasted about 8 months, the second a little over 3. I suppose a third one would last a week then?
      pgit
    • others worse

      I've had worse luck with Quantum. In about 100 servers, each with 6 drives, I started having lots of drive failures (these are all SCSI drives.) Turns out, NONE of the seagate drives failed, but ALL of the quantums (about 100) did. Interesting, they were purchased over a 2 year period, so it's not a batch issue.

      I am confident seagate will get this worked out - but it is a huge black eye. My experience with other vendors has been worse however, and the warranty is still better than most.
      waltmaine
    • Drive companies change over time...

      As someone who used to write firmware for a major drive company, I can tell you that the quality of drives produced by a company changes over time. It has to do with personnel changes, management keeping their eyes on the ball, overall financial health of the company, when companies decide to jump to new technologies with a new learning curve, etc. This can even happen between various drive families of the same manufacturer. The technology is always on the bleeding edge, and drive manufacturing is as much an art as a science.

      Many people have painful stories about massive drive failures from one of the manufacturers that happened to them a long time ago. It's not surprising that as a result they vowed to never again buy drives from that manufacturer. But *every* drive company has cycled through periods of good drive quality and poor drive quality. It's a simple fact of the business for the reasons I outlined above.

      As a general rule beyond this particular Seagate problem, if it's been a few years since your last horrible experience with a drive company, and you are having problems with your current drive company, it's probably worth evaluating the previous drive company again.
      zackers
      • Thanks

        You know, you are absolutely correct.
        I've sworn off Maxtor, because the last time I used them I went through three, and someone else was returning one. When I called Maxtor, they asked what they could do for me. I replied "Why replace the drive, of course. Oh, and with a Western Digital, this time". lol. Fortunately, I did find the receipt, and was able to do so on my own.
        But, soon, WD wound up on my bad list as well, as every drive I had ended up failing. And not so long into it, either. So much for the addage "Hard drives usually dont fail after the first 30 days".
        My Seagate has been solid so far. And, with the 5 year warranty, that makes it very appealing to me. But, having merged with Maxtor, I can only wonder how things will go. I've already seen that SG has cut the warranty to 3 years on some drives. And now with this issue, not only with the 1.5 but also the 1 TB drives, and knowing my great luck with drives, I have to reconsider my previous statements, and take your thoughts very seriously. Esp. since what you said makes a ton of sense.
        Thanks for a reminder of what we should already know, but, dont necessarily.
        LegendsOfBatman
  • RE: Seagate's DRM code ?

    Hum, the new DRM code Microsoft asked for was not fully baked, eh?
    Brent R Brian
    • Unbelievable...

      Microsoft is to blame for Seagate's issue? Serious?!
      jmiller1978
  • 'senior engineer at a cloud storage company'

    [i]We've had to remove from service and rebuild 2 expansion servers with overnighted Samsung drives in the last 48 hours[/i]

    What? No names? How do we know that actually happened?
    GuidingLight
  • Que?

    Why "Yet another reason to avoid desktop RAID".

    If that was enough, then we should not buy:

    - set top boxes

    - MP3 players

    - mobile phones

    - ...

    - ...

    - computers

    - .... ad nauseum,

    because if the DOAs and failures themselves don't get you down, then the service will.


    I recently had my Acer Aspire 2TB Raid 5 NAS box indicate that a HDD had failed. Fortunately, reseating it fixed it all up.
    However, if I was to avail myself of the warranty, I needed to send the WHOLE box back.
    Now, why would I buy a NAS box if it needed to be down for several days. All I really should have to do was pull out the dud, send it off under warranty and let the box rebuild itself when I got the replacement back. Or better still, buy a spare and never be down except for the swap time (not hot-swap). I asserted myself and they agreed that a technician would do the replacement on site if required, though I am not sure that it would be free.
    Patanjali
    • Great little NAS box by he way

      bit slow, but great for backups
      Patanjali
  • Any company using SATA drive ....

    for serious data storage deserves what they get. SATA drives from any vendor are made a lot cheaper than SCSI. Construction is different and quality of parts is different. This is a fact. You get what you pay for.

    My servers run SCSI drives 100%. I have yet to have a drive fail. My desktops run SATA and the failure rate is ever increasing.

    If you use SATA drives it is a matter if when and not if you are going to experience failure. Get over it and buy the good stuff for your server farms.
    bjbrock
  • Just checked, have about 90 1TB with SD15 :(

    So will be putting in a quick order for WD drives ASAP. I hope Seagate gets their act together, they are RAPIDLY becoming my UNFAVORITE vendor :<
    terry flores
    • Why Order more drives?

      Just flash the drives with the updated firmware.
      jakesty
  • MADE IN CHINA

    Need I say more?
    NotMSUser
  • RE: Seagate's

    i read about these problems with the seagate drives from user feedback on some online retailers. i decided to just a pay a little more for a wd drive. the wd drive is working great. its the worse feeling to have your data sit on a dead drive.
    larahs
  • wouldn't expect anythingn less since Maxtor Merge

    As soon as Maxtor merged with seagate, I knew that Seagate is no longer one of the top HD's to buy. I wouldn't suggest anyone buying a maxtor for any reason, it is the most un-reliable media storge device ever since they came on the market. To bad for Seagate... They used to be a pretty good choice. I speak from experience your wasting your time and money I couldn't stress that to much... And I will be happy to tell that in person to anyone that thinks differently or works for Maxtor... The evidence is clear... They suck.
    Morphyous
    • Maxtor used to be better than Seagate

      In the late 1980ies, Maxtor had larger, faster, and more reliable drives than Seagate. They started losing the fight around the same time Hewlett-Packard closed it's disk manufacturing division and Seagate introduced it's 9GB drive.
      914four
      • RE: Maxtor used to be better than Seagate

        Back in the late 90's, I purchased a 4.3GB Maxtor HDD. Within a year the drive died. It was the one and only Maxtor I've ever bought. Nothing but Western Digital or Samsung for me.
        jmiller1978