If you have ever heard of Seagate (the hard drive manufacturer), then you surely know that last month they had a flurry of hard drive failures in their popular 7200.11 line of hard drives. After a couple of PR snafus, Seagate finally got their act together and issued firmware and update instructions for the affected drives. I’ve been a long time Seagate user and I have two 1TB ST31000340AS running the SD15 firmware in my ReadyNAS NV+. If you own an NV+ you can find out the model and firmware info by going to the Status->Health page on the NAS’s Frontview panel. Then click on the SMART+ button for each drive to get the info for that drive. If you don’t own a NV+, you can check out this page to see if your drives need an upgrade. According to Seagate my drives were due for an update.
It is Sunday morning and the family is away. The dog is fed, I’ve had my morning cup of tea. What’s a geek to do to pass the time before something good comes on TV? Any self respecting geek would/should be going back to bed right about now. However, I happen to be the dad of an active 18 month old toddler (what 18 month old isn’t active??) so the idea of sleeping in or going back to sleep at any point before afternoon nap time has been obliterated from my being. Even when the toddler is 2000km away, there still is no sleeping at this hour. Given that, the next course of action is to update some firmware. Naturally. Come on… you know you thought it too.
The first thing to do was to get one (and only one) of the drives out of the NAS. Since the NV+ is hot-swappable, I didn’t have to turn it off. This is good since apparently the issues with the Seagate drives occur on boot-up and I didn’t want to power down both drives at the same time in case neither came back. Although the NV+ complains (as it should), it does stay on and available. Pulling out one of the drives does risk losing everything if another drive fails. If you know nothing else about RAID, know that it can’t survive losing two drives.
Next problem. I’m a Mac head. I don’t own a modern PC. That means none of the PCs I have laying around have an on-board SATA controller. Fortunately for me I had a Masscool High Speed PCI Controller Card in my parts box that I picked up a couple months back to recover a friend’s data off a failing SATA drive. The card worked in Linux and Windows and the Seagate firmware update README said:
Use a standard desktop PC with an integrated SATA controller, or a common SATA add-in controller like a Promise SATA150-TX2.
All indications were that the card should work. But, as is evident by the existence of this post, after hooking up the drive to the controller and power and turning on the machine, the Seagate FreeDOS upgrader failed to detect the drive. You see, what the README should have said was:
Use a standard desktop PC with an integrated SATA controller, or a common SATA add-in controller like a Promise SATA150-TX2. Actually you can only use a Promise SATA150-TX2, maybe. We haven’t bothered testing the firmware upgrade on any other add-in controller card so who knows if it will work. It may not even work on the one we said. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Must be legal drinking age. Not valid in Quebec.
Since I had nothing else to do, I called up Seagate support to see if there was a list of supported controller cards that would work with the firmware. Turns out, there isn’t. The support agent was nice but didn’t have the answer I was looking for. Basically, the information in the README file is it. And obviously the language there is a bit misleading. So, I’m outta luck for now. I put the drive back in the NV+ and the drive powered up fine and is now re-initializing into the RAID array. No harm, no foul, but no firmware upgrade either. I’ll have to think about what to do next. I’d rather not buy a whole new mobo just to upgrade these hard drives, but it appears a mobo with SATA connectors is pretty much the way to go. I’ll have to think on this.