Seagate Issues Hard Drive Firmware Fix

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The storage vendor has been fielding customer requests for help with some of the hard drives in its Barracuda 7200.11, DiamondMax 22, and Barracuda ES.2 SATA families.

The issue, in which under some circumstances the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on, was first discovered in a few of its Barracuda 7200.11 drives, said Mike Hall, corporate communications manager at Seagate. The company issued a firmware fix for the drives last Friday.

However, Hall said, the fix had its own glitch, and so Seagate on Wednesday issued a new firmware upgrade to correct it.

At least one company is trying to capitalize on Seagate's misfortunes. The Data Recovery Group, a Southfield, Mich.-based company which repairs failed hard drives, this week said it is offering special pricing to customers looking to recover data from the Barracuda 7200.11 drives.

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In a statement, Seagate said, "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 Web site on Jan. 16. We regret any inconvenience that the firmware issues have caused our customers."

In the statement, Seagate also said that, in the unlikely event a drive is affected and the data cannot be accessed, 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," the statement said.

Hall said that firmware for hard drives in general are constantly updated. "When you issue hard drives, the firmware is ever-evolving," he said. "The firmware that ships with drives initially is probably different from firmware in the same drives shipped six months later."

Seagate has put in place procedures to improve the handling of firmware patches, Hall said. "We are revisiting this, and making sure it is never repeated," he said.

Detailed instructions on how to upgrade the firmware are now on the Seagate Web site.