First of all, thanks a lot for this useful information! Even if I personally may not be able to or know how to follow this procedure in the end, I'm sure it will be sueful to a lot of people out there and that alone is a good reason for appreciation.
Last year I assembled a new PC which uses two Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320A disk drives, both with SD15 firmware. One is a primary drive used as system disk, and the other is a secondary storage only drive. The primary drive has serial 9QM04FVK, and the secondary has serial 9QM5MAAN. I've taken the serials off the label on the drive itself, since I can't access them both from within the PC.
The most complete story of the Barracuda 7200.11
- with serial 9QM5MAAN
The secondary drive has stopped working properly on 31 March 2009. I bought it on 11 September 2008, so it has served me for about 191 days (or 5 months and 12 days) since installation. I've had some trouble with this drive before, like once when one or two partitions disappeard. They were not visible in Windows Explorer, but the drive was detected in BIOS as usual and one of the partition was even visible but not the remaining two if I can remember. If I can remember those errors were a result of my own mess, because I once experienced difficulties expanding one of the partitions from 20 GB to like 25 GB in Windows Logical Disk Manager utility, it said something about not being able to expand the chosen volume/partition because the version of Windows Vista I was using doesn't support dynamic disks. I am using Vista Home Premium and it's true that it doesn't feature the "dynamic disk" thing, but that's OK, I don't need that. I have been using this Windows disk manager ever since Windows XP, at least, and I have been using it several times without an issue in my Vista to both expanded and reduce disk volumes/partitions. I did nothing unusual this time, just right-clicked on the disk volume and chose the option to expand it, and I ofcourse made sure there was disk space available and un-allocated to grab space from. But it attempted to make it a dynamic disk for some wierd reason, obviously, since it returned that error talking about "dynamic disks" and s*** which I didn't even ask for or chose to do. I think it was trying to convert a "standard" disk to a "dynamic" one. Vista Home Premium doesn't support that, so naturally it failed. But the most stupid thing about it is that I didn't even ask to convert it to a dynamic disk!!!...
So I heard that Partition Magic could do the job and I downloaded a copy to try it because I was recommended to use that one instead. Well, if I knew it wasn't supported by Vista I wouldn't, but now it was too late. At start-up it said it had found some error and asked me if I should let it try to fix it. Having in mind the problems I experienced with Vistas own disk utility I though it may have found something wrong, so I said yes.
The message would look something like this.
PowerQuest PartitionMagic has detected an error 110 on the partition starting at sector 2048 on disk 2.
The length of the partition in the partition table is incorrect.
The CHS length is 488390017, the LBA length is 488384496, and the File System length is 488384495.
PowerQuest PartitionMagic has determined that the length can be changed to the correct value of 488390017.
Would you like PowerQuest PartitionMagic to fix this error?
It asked the same question several times, at least 8 times, and I started to feel uncomfortable but I kept saying yes on all of them. At last the PartitionMagic interface showed up. I think it was version 8.
I can't remember if it was immidiately after this that the partitions disappeared or later or after a system restart. But I strongly believe that they disappeared after these "corrections". I think it was after a restart I didn't find the two partitions, only the third. When I then started PartitionMagic again it didn't show those same messages, but instead it indicated the two partitions that were now invisible to Windows Explorer as "BAD". So they were visible in PartitionMagic but not in Windows Explorer. What a stupid peace of software, first it says it can fix an errorous disk drive, and then it says the same disk or partition on it is BAD!! PARTITION MAGIC SCREWED ME OVER!!! AND THEN IT LAUGHT IN MY FACE!!! Then I researched a little bit and found out that others have had the same or similar experience and that it wasn't even officially supported by Vista.
The same guy who recommended me PartitionMagic then recommended me Acronis Disk Director, and I have been using that one instead ever since, without any issues.
How did I fix the missing partitions? I heard from another guy about a open-source project called Testdisk, so downloaded it, and used it to rebuild the partition tables. That solved the whole problem with missing partitions.
Now to expand the partition I wanted to from the beginning I used Acronis Disk Director and expanded it sucessfully.
All was working well since that, but after installing what later turned out to be a bad, too old or non-compatible driver for the newly purchased and installed SATA RAID controller card with the VIA VT6421 controller chip, I have been facing some serious issues with this very same disk drive that was connected to it. It was still visible but unaccessible in Windows Explorer. After several days of researching and experimenting I found a way around to access the partitions on it. It turned out that inactivating UAC in Vista allowed me to access the partitions on the drive without any issues, and once UAC was active again it got unaccessible again. Weird! Also, when UAC was inactive and I logged on to my user account, I was getting a warning message saying something about the Recycle-bin on one of the partitions being damaged and asked me if I wanted to empty it. Once I chose to empty it I think I got rid of that message for good. But it's interesting, you will never be confronted with a message like that for a very long time, perhaps never ever if you're lucky.
I let the UAC be off temporarily and was planning to backup the files from this disk drive and then re-format it, but it got totally unaccessible before I could do that. At the moment it hapened i was just viewing a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro and I noticed a slow performance almost hanging the software, so I shut down Acrobat. Then I re-opened it again with no problem and countinued to read my PDF document. Later I noticed the partitions on that drive were missing, AGAIN! I re-started the PC in order for the BIOS to recognize it again, but that didn't happen. I was still able to log on to Windows thou since the system disk seemed OK. I was confused and didn't know what to do. Then I remembered reading about the firmware problems with Seagate Barracuda 7200.11. I started to read more about it and found out that the problem affected other models in this disk drive family and not only the 1 Terrabyte or 1.5 Terrabyte models like I thought it did. Jeeezzz!! :/ I checked the serials above against Seagates serial check utility and it showed that the system disk was not affected but the storage drive was among the affected ones.
It was too late for me to upgrade the firmware on it since it was already locked in the BSY state. I have concluded that this is the case with my drive, because when it's connected the HDD LED stays lit all the time and BIOS doesn't recognize it. The BIOS does seem to be able to feel the presence of the drive on that IDE channel but it lists it as "None" on that second line at POST where it should say "ST3500320AS". It doesn't halt the system start time mutch, but it does take a bit longer for the BIOS than usual, like 10 seconds more than usual to go through the POST.
I could have just read those first reports on Barracuda 7200.11 more throughly and found out that my disk drive was one of the affected models, I could almost feel this coming. But I chose to stick with the motto "don't fix it if it's not broken" and now I have to deal with it the hard way. I've learned that prevention is just as important if not even more important than fixing problems.
About this thread
I have read the WHOLE thread of 19 pages at Seagate forum started by user Inviste. And I have read very much of the second thread here at MSFN forum which picks up where the first thread at Seagate forum left off. Since the Mods there have closed the thread it took me a while to find the solution that Fatlip was on to. I believe that this is it, rigth? Is it the official one? Or did he post the solution at some other place first, like at HDD Guru? I won't even bother commenting on Seagates behaviour towards their customers, and the Mods deleting and editing and finally closing the thread at the forum over there on their website.
I see that this one is not started by Fatlip, but it's a good one. It could have been written better thou, and by that I don't mean the somewhat bad english, I mean the disposition of the text, the linking to the adapters and other parts needed for this project. I find it all a bit confusing. I appreciate the effort and all that, and thank you Gradius2 for that! I'm just being honest. If you would like to get any suggestions on how it could be improved, I'll be glad to help out.
When or if I manage to bring my disk back to life, I'll understand better how this tutorial could be improved. I think Fatlip has suggested that he or his friend would be filming the whole procedure, but I haven't seen it yet. That could be a way to deal with it, but I personally prefer textual tutorials with lots of graphics and pictures for guidance. Pictures is something I've been missing in this tutorial, I see that Gradius2 has added more pictures when he got his parts delivered, but I'm still missing the step by step kind of instructions accompanied with i.e. screenshots of the actual terminal window.
About this firmware problem
I've chatted with Thomas M. at Seagate tech support about this problem few days ago and he told me to call Seagate company i365 at their facility in UK and make some arrangements, he said they would help me. He said they won't help with free data recovery, but with free firmware update on their expense, I would only pay the postage fee. I don't know exactly what he meant, but it sounded like he was saying that the guys there would unlock the drive if it's already in locked in the BSY state and then upgrade the firmware. What do you guys know about this?
About this recovery method
Do I need to have access to two computers at the same time? If I understand it correctly I need to supply the HDD with power from the PSU of one PC (12V Molex connector) and I need another PC to interface with the HDD. Is that correct?
I have replaced the Nokia CA-53 data cable that followed with my Nokia N73 with a new one because the old one didn't work properly after some time of use (glitchy Pop-Port connector). Could I use that old CA-53 cable for this purpose? I see some users mentioning the use of a CA-42, but could I use CA-53 as well? Does that one also include the RS232/TTL transceiver in it like the CA-42?
My PC doesn't have any Serial Port, only USB ports. Do I have to use strictly a USB-RS232-TTL adapter or can I use a USB-RS232 adapter cable in combination with a RS232-TTL adapter?
Since I was unable to find the most important thing - the TTL adapter - in local stores, I visited two online stores in Sweden - Electrokit, and ELFA - the second one being one of northern Europe's leading supplier of electronics.
Here are my findings. I have posted them all so that other users from Sweden can find the stuff faster. I think Electrokit is the best equiped online store in Sweden for this kind of small scale electronics projects, otherwise for larger projects ELFA is probably the best store to go with.
Arduino USB extension (USB to TTL??)
LilyPad USB link(USB to TTL??)
RS232/TTL nivåomvandlare (level shifter, "Spark Fun" branded)
USB-seriell omvandlare FT232RL
USB-RS232 omvandlare för PC
Mät och test kablage
Kontakt PCB 2.54mm 4-pol
Kontakt med kabel 4-pol 20 cm
CR2032 batteri lithium 3V
Batterihållare CR2016/2025/2032 plast
and make a search for the stock number below to see the products.
FT232BL USB - Serial interface LQFP32
FT232RL USB - Serial interface SSOP28
FT232RQ USB - Serial interface QFN32
TTL-232R USB-TTL cable 5V I/O
TTL-232R-3V3 USB-TTL cable 3.3V I/O
USB-RS232 adaptor DB9m
ELFA also has mounting wires, jumpers or similar testing or lab kind of products, button-cell batteries and sockets and even batteries for PCB mounting. So they basically have all the stuff found at Electrokit, but they don't seem to have any RS232 to TTL adapter modules like the one from Sprk Fun, they seem to have only kits which you have to build on your own.
I would really appreciate some help with finding the parts. At least one of the online stores above (ELFA or Electrokit) should have most of the stuff, but I'm not absolutely sure what to look for and I rather not do any soldering work, especially not on the drive itself so I would prefer any method that doesn't involve soldering. So I'll appreciated any help finding the parts I need.
The terminal software
Do I have to use HyperTerminal or could I use some other terminal software? if I could use others as well, do you have any suggestions of which one? I am running Windows Vista. The HyperTerminal software that Microsoft licensed from Hilgraeve Software for Windows 2000 through XP is not included anymore in Windows Vista. I have visited the Hilgraeve website, but there it says that "HyperTerminal Private Edition version 7.0 is available for Windows Vista" but it also says that it's a "free 30 day trial". So it's not mutch of a free software after all, is it?!
Have you guys been using the trial version for this project? I'm not so willing to use a trial version of a software for such an important and crucial operations. I can't imagine that you all have Windows XP with this software included, at least someone must have met this difficulty with Vista and perhaps used another software. Any free or free and open-source suggestions are welcome. I know there are plenty open-source projects of this type out there, but none that I've used before and have any knowledge from. This is surely something that could be mentioned in the tutorial, what other alternative software could be used instead of HyperTerminal, instead of just stating that you could use your favorite terminal software besides the HyperTerminal.
The device driver
What about the device driver for the USB-RS232 adaptor? Does Windows have any such drivers built in to it, or do I have to build my own, or find one on the Internet? Will this be an issue?
I won't go into the details about the instructions for using the terminal software right now, this reply of mine has already gone wild and become a more lenghty one then I oricinally planned. So I'll just put a period here so you can catch up on what I've already written.
Thanks in adance! And I want to specially thank Fatlip and Gradius2 for their efforts on this problem!
This post has been edited by ElectroGeeza: 05 April 2009 - 08:55 AM