After numerous reports from end users have been popping up on the web, Seagate has admitted that an error in the firmware supplied with certain models of hard disk is leading to premature failure and loss of data.

According to a thread started on Seagate's support forum back in December, users of Seagate's popular Barracuda 7200.11 drives have been experiencing a far higher than average failure rate – so high, in fact, that users have dubbed the thread the “epic fail thread.” Drives reportedly affected include the Barracuda 7200.11, DiamondMax 22, and Barracuda ES.2 SATA drives manufactured by the company.

The problem manifests itself as an inability to retrieve data stored on the disk – with the worst affected units even failing to be detected by the BIOS when connected to a motherboard. The issue isn't a physical problem, however, but a flaw with the firmware on the drives.

After remaining silent for over a month with regards to how widespread the problem might be, Seagate announced yesterday that it has “isolated a potential firmware issue in certain products, including some Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and related drive families based on this product platform, manufactured through December 2008” which can lead to “the data on the hard drives [becoming] inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on.”

The good news for those affected by the flaw is that it can be repaired via a firmware upgrade, with no need to send the disk off to Seagate to get the problem sorted. A page on the Seagate Knowledge Base offers a downloadable firmware flasher, plus instructions on how to see if your drive is amongst the affected.

Should Seagate have done something about this issue when the failures first became apparent, or are you just pleased that there's a way to get your shiny new terabyte drive back up and running again? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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