Seagate Momentus Drive Failures [Updated]

Just recently we have had an influx of unrecoverable Seagate Momentus 2.5″ hard drives. These drives are used in most of the Apple portables from the Macbooks to Macbook Pros and also in laptops from other manufacturers. Ranging from 60-120GB they seem to suffer from some sort of media defect. Most of the problems we see with these drives are head crashes, where the read/write mechanism contacts the disc surface, removing some of the magnetic coating. This damage is not always visible on the top surface of the disc so can be difficult to confirm. If we do see damage then we would not usually attempt any rework, due to the almost instant contamination of the new component. After many failed recovery attempts and much money wasted on replacement mechanisms we decided that we should just inform our customers of the problem before they send us the drive as we have only had one single successful recovery from these drives. I have listed some affected model numbers below for information purposes only. Please be aware that we have no information about how widespread this problem may be. We do only see defective drives in our line of business!

  • ST98823AS
  • ST9100823A
  • ST9408114A
  • ST9120821AS
  • ST94011A
  • ST96812AS
  • ST94813A

Update 21-9-2010:
We are still receiving a trickle of these drives in for diagnosis. Unfortunately they are still unrecoverable. There must be loads of people still using these, without any idea of the potential failure that awaits them.

6 Replies to “Seagate Momentus Drive Failures [Updated]”

  1. I think we should start a class action suit in court against Seagate and Apple who put some in their machines.

    In fact am getting pretty determind to make a film about it as I lost 5 years worth of my work and business and the first drive and a backup drive!

    They have known there was a problem with this drive for sometime and not informed anyone they should protect their data!

    If you want bring Seagate to Justice there is a US based lawyer who is starting a suit because of another hard drive issue.

    Get in touch with me. Join together and see justice done!

  2. Hi Treeguru. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve suffered from this drive problem. You are not the first and unfortunately won’t be the last. We have known about this problem for over two years but we don’t have any budget to advertise these problems. Unfortunately for you, most people don’t find this blog until it’s too late.

    I am not aware of any lawsuits relating to these drives and Apple. It is pretty standard policy for laptop manufacturers to only cover the hardware cost when it comes to hard drives.

    Although I don’t agree that manufacturers should be held liable for data recovery, I do think they could make more effort in explaining that the hard disk in their laptop is a delicate piece of engineering and should be backed up regularly. The sad fact is that all hard drives will eventually fail, it is just a question of timescale. We have seen drives fail within weeks of manufacture. There may be a correlation between the increase in drive capacity and track density, and faster failure rates but this is purely speculation.

    Our personal view is that Apple should have sent out e-mails to all MacBook owners warning of the possible problem and suggesting backups and maybe even replacements. They must have a customer database with contact details for a large proportion of MacBook owners.

  3. MacBook w/SEAGATE ST98823AS failed and I’m royally p****d off. Does anyone know if there is anyone or more people seeking legal action or willing to do so thru a class action suit? Disclaimers about the contents of the drive not being protected are ridiculous. That would be like saying your car is insured but not the passengers. NONSENSE. ITS TIME MANUFACTURERS WERE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR SHODDY PRODUCTS. MAC SHOULD BE A PART OF THE LEGAL ACTION.
    My old PowerBook G3 lasted for 10 years. This hard drive was a little over 2 yrs.
    The anguish this whole thing is more than I could have imagined. I trusted MAC based on past experience. More fool me. But having said that . . . I’m not satisfied and won’t be until something is done.

  4. I just had the Seagate 160GB Momentus 7200.2 catastrophically crash this morning on starting up. Makes a finger along a comb noise. It is in a Dell M4300 that is 4 mths old. I have 10 days of data on it that I cannot recover without spending $2000 with 50% success rate.
    The old Dell had a Hitachi drive in it and that worked fine!


    1. That drive may have different symptoms to the usual fault. The common drives are Seagate Momentus 5400.2 from MacBooks. We would be happy to look at the drive for you. There is not much an end-user can do when internal rework is required. With regard to the old Hitachi drive, we do see a fair amount of those for recovery too. The best way to protect your data is to copy it to many different brands of media, in different geographical locations, in the hope that one of them will survive if something bad were to happen. Sorry for the doom and gloom but all hard drives fail. It is just a matter of time!

  5. i can verify this as a problem on the seagate ST9100823A pulled out of a powerbook g4.

    there is a horrid mechanical clicking sound, an attached drive light from an ata to usb board comes up solid red. sounds like the head mechanism is borked and its scratching the disk surface.


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