ST373454LC Unusual RAID drives

ST373454LC Unusual RAID Drive
ST373454LC Unusual RAID Drive

We have recently recovered a RAID 5 array which consisted of three of these ST373454LC SCSI hard drives. These are solid, weighty drives, which don’t give off a great deal of vibration, despite spinning at 15,000 rpm; 3 times faster than most laptop hard drives!

Upon opening one of the drives for cleanroom rework we discovered why these drives  spin so quietly. In the picture below you can see that although the drives are standard 3.5″ form factor, they actually have 2.5″ disk platters. These smaller disks create less drag, and therefore can spin faster without stability problems.

Inside a ST373454LC Hard Drive
Inside a ST373454LC Hard Drive

These drives are not alone in mixing up the form factors. The popular WD Raptor drives also use a similar design.

Downside?

Of course the biggest downside to using smaller disks is the lower storage capacity. Typically SCSI hard drives are much lower capacity than their SATA counterparts, so this trade-off is acceptable for the speed and reliability increases. The relatively low capacity is further mitigated when the drives are used in RAID arrays.

Bigger Hard Drives of the Future

The Register has today posted two articles about the ongoing battle to expand hard drive capacities.

First is an actual device for sale, a 2TB Western Digital portable drive. This drive has a fancy new case and USB3 connection. It contains backup software and also the option to encrypt the data with a password. I wonder if it encrypts the data by default like some of their previous portables. (A bad thing!)

Second is a futuristic announcement from Seagate about their new HAMR technology. This new tech uses a laser to heat part of the disk before magnetising it. This apparently allows for much higher densities, theoretically paving the way for 60TB hard drives. There doesn’t appear to be any products using this technology at the moment.

60TB drives will be fantastic for backups, but horrible to backup without a new, faster form of connection. These would take almost forever (exaggeration) to fill up by SATA.

This news helps prove that hard drives are far from dead. It will take a long time until SSDs can cope with such massive capacities, at a similar cost to these beasts.

Seagate Full Disk Encryption FDE

Seagate FDE hard drives encrypt the data automatically as it is read and written to the drive. As you save data to the drive it is encrypted immediately and can only be accessed when you input your user name and password. The drive will then be temporarily unlocked and allow the operating system to boot. Once the drive is powered off, it will be automatically locked again.

We have received several of these drives from customers who cannot access their data due to a hard drive failure. You may still be asked for the password, but the laptop will then fail to boot. This can be as a result of bad sectors or electronic problems. We can overcome virtually any type of failure and can return your data back to you decrypted and fully accessible on a new hard drive.

See our Seagate Data Recovery Services for more info.

USB Powered Portable Hard Drives Failing To Spin

We see a lot of portable hard drives that don’t spin up when plugged into a USB port. All brands of hard drive can be effected including Hitachi, Western Digital and Seagate. The problem can be caused by power loss or sometimes due to mis-plugging of the USB lead. This causes the internal read heads to sit on the disc instead of parking on the ramp at the side.

The only way to overcome this problem is by taking the hard drive into our clean room to replace the damaged heads with good ones. This allows us to copy the data from the drive and store it on our server.

The repaired hard drives are not suitable to be reused after this sort of work as they will not work correctly, or fail after a very short time.

Toshiba Desktop Hard Drives

Western Digital Toshiba Drive
Western Digital Toshiba Drive

Western Digital want to buy Hitachi Global Storage. The FTC will only allow this if WD sell of some manufacturing capabilities to Toshiba. This seems to be due to some anti-competition type laws. The strange thing is that Toshiba don’t currently make 3.5″ drives, so perhaps we will see some strange Toshiba branded WD drives? Who knows.

Maybe it will be like when Maxtor were bought by Seagate and brought out the STMXXXXXXXXX drives, which were simply Maxtor branded Seagate drives.

Complicated stuff. Read the overview at Slashdot which has links to the FTC etc.

ST9320421ASG Head Crash

This hard drive was from a Macbook Pro. As you can see in the image, loss of data was caused by a severe head crash.  The damage is so severe you can actually see through the top foil layer to the glass platter beneath. Another good reason why Mac users should make sure they backup regularly.

ST9320421ASG Head Crash
ST9320421ASG Head Crash

RAID 5 HP Smart Array E200i Recovered

Smart Array E200i SaS Drive
HP Smart Array E200i SaS Drive

We have just competed a successful recovery from an HP Smart Array E200i RAID array. Not a standard case this. It had x3 DG146BB976 2.5″ SaS drives, two of which had been overwritten with a new RAID 1 mirror.

We found the disk order which was not the same as the labelled numbers. This is often the case. Also, due to the rebuild that had occurred we had to drop one of the disks and virtually rebuild it using the parity information from the other disks.

3 DG146BB976 SaS ST9146802SS Drives
3 DG146BB976 / ST9146802SS SaS Drives

Seagate Head Crash

This Seagate ST31000333AS 1TB drive suffered a head crash resulting in severe media damage. The contamination caused by the damage can be seen on the disc surface as well as the internal filter. The filter is usually white but is now silver metallic in colour as a result of the contamination. The customer did not have any indication that this was going to happen.

Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS
Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS

 

Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS
Seagate ST31000333AS Filter

Badly Damaged Heads

Working inside a broken hard drive today we came across some of the most damaged read / write heads we have ever seen. First, below is an example of how the heads should look. Notice how straight they are at the ends. Then below are the damaged heads. They are at 90 degrees to the discs (tomb stoning) and would have been scraping the inner disc surfaces to pieces. Bad times!

Good Seagate Heads
Good Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads

If you ever hear scraping, scratching or screeching noises from your hard drive, turn it off as soon as possible. If left too long, it could scrape all of the magnetic coating off the discs until there’s nothing left to recover.