These are some real problems experienced by ST31000333AS and Seagate hard drives in general that we see in our lab. We are not affiliated in any way with hard drive manufacturers. All the information below is based solely on our experience and we do not make any claims regarding reliability of the specific model. We see mostly failed drives in our lab and therefore we don't have complete statistics.
Originally in a MyBook external drive, the MyBook started wearing down 6 months after purchase: light clicking sounds with constant spin up/down every few minutes. The drive stopped working one day and froze my OS, after which it would no longer spin up. Removed from MyBook case and attempted installation as Internal Slave drive, but it was unrecognized by the BIOS (most likely unresponsive).
Markham, Ontario, Canada
Seagate Barracuda drives, and especially 7200.7, 7200.8, 7200.9 and 7200.10 series have a very common problem with heads. Seagate introduced new technology in this line - special coating for the platters that was supposed to protect magnetic layer. But in fact it caused more problems than protection. Under special conditions this coating starts to flake and tiny bits of this substance stick to the head read/write elements. Reading becomes more and more unstable, the drive starts losing tracks and at some point typical symptoms or bad heads appear - clicking, knocking, sweeping sounds: , , making the data inaccessible.
Typically data recovery in this case involves opening the drive in class 100 clean room and replacing head assembly from matching donor. But our engineers have developed special technological process for cleaning the heads and quite often it is sufficient to temporarily repair them for successful recovery. The fact that we often don't need to order donors for such drives makes data retrieval in our lab less expensive for our customers.
Drive ST31000333AS is detected on boot sometimes, but attempts to recover or read data fail. No clicking sounds, appears to power on and spin up properly. Tried running spinrite, wd data lifeguard diagnostics, wasn't able to see the drive most of the time.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Another common issue with Seagate hard drives is damage to the components on the circuit board(PCBA). Hard drives in general are very vulnerable to overheating, power spikes and surges. Bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to burn spindle motor controller driver(SMOOTH chip) on the logic board. If this occurs the computer would reboot itself or shutdown completely, you would normally notice acrid smell and when powered on the drive would not spin up at all.
Non-spinning could also be a symptom of seized motor on multi-platter Seagate Barracuda drives. The drive would also make buzzing sound like it's trying to spin up. Data recovery in this case requires transplanting platters from bad drive into donor in clean room environment.
Seagate laptop Momentus drives also share some typical 2.5 inch HDD problems. One of them is heads sticktion to the platter surface.
Heads are normally parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, but sometimes due to a fall or abnormal termination they fail to return to their regular parking position and are left on the surface. Immediately after the motor stops spinning they stick to the ideally smooth surface and it becomes impossible to release them without proper tools and experience. Don't attempt to open the drive by yourself - you will damage the platters for sure and this could make all your data unrecoverable.
The drive was connected to a PC when there was a power failure on the PC. After that the disk drive was not seen by windows XP. When I power on the disk drive, the motor spins up and I think I hear a single click. The motor don't spin down. On a running drive, the motor spins up then the heads move on the disk drive several times.
There is one more problem that is typical for all hard drives: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media the platters are covered with starts to degrade and bad sectors develop.
Whenever the drive hits such unreadable bad sector it could start scratching, freezing, ticking and sometimes loud clicking: . This leads to further damage to the surface and causes more data loss. As soon as you start experiencing such symptoms while reading important files stop the drive immediately to prevent further data loss. In our lab we use special imaging hardware tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring checksum check. That's usually the only way to retrieve as much data as possible from these sectors.
Seagate drives operate under special firmware microcode that could also fail sometimes. Typically hard drives with corrupted firmware spin up normally, do not click but still fail to initialize. Such drives could have one of the following symptoms:
HDD is not found in BIOS at all
shows up with wrong S/N or capacity,
fails to read any data or boot up operating system.
If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail", "No operating system found", "Drive Mount Failure", "Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter", "USB Device malfunctioned", "S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed" or some other BIOS hard drive error message on boot. One of Seagate's latest family, Barracuda 7200.11, specifically with FW versions SD15, DE12 and HP24, has especially high firmware failure rate. In such cases hard drive either doesn't show up in BIOS at all or identifies with 0 capacity. Unfortunately it is impossible to repair such drives without special equipment capable of accessing and repairing firmware modules in the hard drive firmware zone.
If you experience any of the symptoms described above with your Seagate ST31000333AS please feel free to contact us to get upfront quote on data recovery from your failed drive.
If you hear your Seagate hard drive making some other unusual noises visit our Hard Drive Sounds page for more examples.
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