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Issues with Seagate SMART reporting Revieled!

Issues with Seagate SMART reporting Revieled!

Having used Seagate drives for years I have found them to be pretty reliable, however in the last year or two I have started to encounter issues with them. Most notabily with the SMART data features of the drive.

For those of you who do not know, SMART data is a section on your hard drive designed to record information in regards to it's performace. In this you can find things such as the number of seek errors, drive memory errors, bad sector counts, etc, etc. This is great as you can look at the SMART data and know if the drive is starting to go bad, before it actually does go bad.

The problem with Seagate drives and this is that they don't use standard SMART data, they kinda just do their own thing.

If you use any common drive utility such as Spin Rite, HD Tune, or even some BIOS reporting tools you will find that right out of the box there are SMART errors. I have commonly found that the ECC, and Seek errors are way off the chart right from the get go. Normally this would tell me that the controller board on the drive is bad and I need to do an RMA on it. However you will get back a new drive, test it again, and have the same issue... over and over... and over...

This is caused by the fact that Seagate uses their own error monitoring and recording and it uses the SMART data area to record this information. This would'nt be a problem, if every motherboard, RAID controller, and monitoring program on the market was'nt built to expect normal SMART data to be present. What happens is that you will install the new drive, and it will run fine for awhile until a reboot, or power off event. Then the motherboard or RAID controller will re-initialize and see the SMART data is reporting HUGE errors. You then get prompted that your drive is failing and it needs to be replaced ASAP. In some cases with a RAID controller it will disable the drive thinking it's bad and force it into rebuild or recovery modes.

The only way to prevent these issues is to turn off SMART monitoring on your motherboard, or RAID controller card. Which completely defeats the purpose of the SMART monitoring features. Making the problem worse is that you can't use Seagate's drive monitoring programs while the drives are in a RAID configuration (a true hardware RAID that is). So all you can do is wait for the drive to physically fail.

I hate to say it, but I can no longer recommend Seagate drives because of this. Seagate, if you read this, I like the idea of you having your own monitoring utility. I like that you want to keep your own information, but try storing that information in another section of the drive and not where other information is supposed to be. SMART monitoring was intended to be universal and you come along and break it with no regard for previous, or current implementations. Further you don't even make a note of this on your support site, or on your RMA page.

Plus like it or not, I physically CAN NOT use your drives in one of my systems because it ALWAYS checks the SMART data and it see's the out of wack numbers and disables booting from the drive. I am physically prevented from using your drives in one system because of what you've done.


Last Updated: 11/24/2009 03:17 AM

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Seagate SMART Data Error Seek ECC rate hard drive

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