A technical glitch in some Seagate hard drives is causing widespread concern in the market as users lose access to their data – but a South African company has come up with a way to recover these drives, and their data, within a couple of hours.
James Grcic, MD of Computer Storage Services (CSSI), says his company has received as many as 1 400 crashed Seagate drives within the last two months.
"In the last three weeks, we have flown in professionals and worked literally non-stop 16 to 18 hours days on this drive failure problem.
"Our Midrand lab has recently discovered a breakthrough – maybe the first of its kind in the world – where we can restore these drives, and all their data, within one to three hours."
The drive problem has been public knowledge for the last two months and results from a self-bricking feature that is said to reside in faulty firmware microcode. This could become apparent during boot detection, when a drive might spontaneously lock itself up as a failsafe and won't be detected by the BIOS.
Seagate characterises the fault as "low risk", and suggesst users download a firmware patch.
"A firmware issue has been identified that affects a small number of Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 hard drive models which may result in data becoming inaccessible after a power-off/on operation," the company's Web site says.
"The affected products are Barracuda 7200.11, Barracuda ES.2 SATA, and DiamondMax 22.
"Based on the low risk as determined by an analysis of actual field return data, Seagate believes that the affected drives can be used as is. However, as part of our commitment to customer satisfaction, Seagate is offering a free firmware upgrade."
Evidence suggests, however, that the problem might be more widespread, and users whose drives have already locked themselves up won't be able to apply the firmware fix.
South African users with locked drives can take heart from the fact that local company CSSI has developed a firmware access technology and code to restore the defective firmware and make a crashed drive usable – allowing full recovery of all data from the hard drive.
The process requires the engineer to perform a sequence of operations in which the firmware is accessed and various modules restored allowing the customer to again have access to the data stored on the drive, which would otherwise be inaccessible.
The company says it can recover these drives within three hours, and reports a near-100% success rate.
It has also made the technology available to its data recovery services partners (DRSP) in Africa region.