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Category Archives: tech_support

Seagate hard disk drive support is a joke

I have a server with two Samsung HD204UI 2.0TB hard disk drives.  After an upgrade from Fedora 14 to Fedora 15, I noticed this in /var/log/messages:

smartd[952]: Device: /dev/sdd [SAT], opened
smartd[952]: Device: /dev/sdd [SAT], SAMSUNG HD204UI, S/N:S2H7JD1Z905144, WWN:5-0024e9-00414f050, FW:1AQ10003, 2.00 TB
smartd[952]: Device: /dev/sdd [SAT], found in smartd database: SAMSUNG SpinPoint F4 EG (AFT)
smartd[952]: Device: /dev/sdd [SAT], WARNING: Using smartmontools or hdparm with this
smartd[952]: drive may result in data loss due to a firmware bug.
smartd[952]: ****** THIS DRIVE MAY OR MAY NOT BE AFFECTED! ******
smartd[952]: Buggy and fixed firmware report same version number!
smartd[952]: See the following web pages for details:
smartd[952]: http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386
smartd[952]: http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/smartmontools/wiki/SamsungF4EGBadBlocks

Yikes!  Better take care of this immediately.  I definitely don’t want to lose data!

[You might ask: why the slam against Seagate if this is a Samsung drive!?  Because Seagate bought Samsung’s hard disk drive business.  I don’t even fault Samsung for the bug.  We all make mistakes.  This is about Seagate’s support and how absolutely horrible it is.]

Problem #1: the link to the problem on the Samsung website yields a 404.  So I go to the Seagate website and search around.  It’s much harder than it should be to find what I want.  I find two pages (here and here) with information on a firmware update for the HD204UI.  The second one doesn’t seem like the one, since the model # is suffixed by “/JP1” and “/JP2”.  So, I go with the first one.

So, I copy the file to a USB thumb drive, print the instructions and boot up to flash the new firmware.  Here are the instructions:

  1. Please download the file.
  2. Save the .exe file to a bootable media, like a CD/DVD, a USB drive, or a floppy diskette.
    Do not remove the bootable media once the file is copied to it.
  3. Shut down the computer.
  4. Connect the drive to the primary master position in the computer.
  5. Boot your computer from the bootable media, which will launch the firmware flash program.
  6. Run F4EG.exe
  7. When the system displays that the firmware flash has successfully completed, remove the bootable media.
  8. Shut down the computer.
When I run F4EG.exe it does this:

When I run the program immediately again, it doesn’t even find the drives:

If I power cycle and rerun the program, I always get the first pictured results above.

Also, when I run the firmware updating program, the lights on both drives stay on until power cycled.  I tried leaving the machine at the DOS prompt for 15-20 minutes to see if the lights would go off, but they don’t.

Problem #2: from step #7 it says I will see some sort of confirmation of successful completion, but all I see is “download complete” and some other stuff.

Problem #3: the first time, I reset rather than power cycled the computer.  The phrase “shut down the computer” is a little ambiguous, so why don’t they say “power off”?  I mention this to their support (that turns out to caused them to assume I reset in the middle of the procedure).

Problem #4: the firmware flashing procedure doesn’t change the version number, but if the utility is run again it is supposed to say the firmware is already up to date.  Well, mine doesn’t.  As an engineering manager and software developer, it is one of the worst sins you can ever commit, having two things that are different be labeled the same or be indistinguishable from each other.

Sometime before 1/22/12 I submitted a support ticket on their website.  I don’t remember the exact date, but let’s give it to them that it was only a day or two.   I described what I did and problem #4 above.  On 1/23/12 I got a canned response that didn’t acknowledge anything in my email.  I replied on 1/24/12 and resent the message again on 1/27/12 because I got no answer.  On 1/30/12 I get an email from them:

Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 14:43:28 +0000 (GMT)
From: Seagate Support <discsupport@seagate.com>
Subject: Regarding Your Seagate Case #…

Dear …,

Thank you for sending your Seagate E-mail inquiry.

If you look at the drives can you see the new firmware on the drives?

WTF?  That’s what I asked, how to tell if the firmware flash worked, and now they’re asking me?!!?!

I immediately reply (on 1/30/12)  and get another reply on 1/31/12:

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 13:37:49 +0000 (GMT)
From: Seagate Support <discsupport@seagate.com>
Subject: Regarding Your Seagate Case # …

Dear …,

Thank you for contacting Seagate.

The previous email instructed you not to reset the computer during the flashing process. If you did it could have caused harm to the drive.

If the new firmware did not flash correctly, I would try again, this time DO NOT reset the computer during this process.

I didn’t reset during the process but after the process.  I had explained this previously.  I replied immediately (on 1/31/12) and again asked:

I will ask AGAIN: who do I tell if the firmware flashed properly?

You are going to love this reply.  On 1/31/12 I get this back from support:

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:14:11 +0000 (GMT)
From: Seagate Support <discsupport@seagate.com>
Subject: Seagate Case …

Dear …,

Thank you for your reply.

According to the article http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/smartmontools/wiki/SamsungF4EGBadBlocks If you attempt to run the patch after it has been successfully run it will generate an error stating the patch is already installed.

They’re pointing me to a non-Seagate website for support information!

At this point, I’m pretty fed up.   On 2/11/12 I reply that I see no error or message stating the firmware patch has already been applied.

On 2/17/12 I get an email back telling me about the second firmware patch (HD204UI_JP.exe).  So, I go ahead and try that one, but it does the same thing as F4EG.exe.

Also in the 2/17/12 email was this gem:

If it still does not say it was updated successfully, then I would recommend replacing the device.

Wow.  Just wow.  I replied asking how to get 2 new drives.  Problem is, this is a production server and I’ll need to get new drives before removing the old ones.

At this point, I will never personally buy a Seagate drive again.