who can you trust your data with? WD? SG? Even Windows is no good.

It’s to the point that I don’t know who I can trust with my data.  A while back I encountered the famous Seagate firmware bug in their barracuda disk but managed to have rescued the disk.  Then recently I put together a new computer, and threw in 2 brand new 3TB drives, one Western Digital Green Caviar, and the other Seagate Barracuda 3TB (wait… didn’t I just have a problem with Barracuda?).  Because both disks were on sale so I thought what the heck, I will just use these two and will be set for a while now.

Yeah, I wish.

After about 3 months, both drives failed almost simultaneously!  I started to hear some scratchy noises, and then all of a sudden, the very last partition on each disk would show up as RAW!  (I partitioned each disk to have 5 500GB partitions and 1 remaining with whatever the size it is).  Paranoid, I ran chkdsk to see if the disks were okay, but to my surprise, chkdsk showed that both disks had hundreds of GB of bad sectors!  Imagine that!  Even if I opened up the disk and used a pencil to draw rings on the disk surface, it would take me a while to screw up hundreds of GB worth of sectors, but they just showed up in them like that.

So I used the advanced replacement program from both brands in order to copy whatever data is left on the old drive to the new one, and then DBAN the old ones and send them back to the companies.  Simple as that, aside from grieving for the lost data.

Again, I wish.

Today I just received the WD 3TB disk.  I stuck it into the Windows7 64-bit machine, but it would only be recognized by the Computer Management Console as having some 746GB, but the BIOS shows the disk as 3TB.  Googled around a bit and it seems many people suffered the same problem, and some of the solutions including updating the driver and Intel Rapid Storage Technology.  I tried to update the driver, but it says the best driver was already install, and my box is an AMD box!  I even tried ASRock’s 3TB+ unlock utility, but still to no avail.  Of course, there are other “solutions” such as getting a PCI/PCI-e disk controller card, but my PCI slots are already occupied.

So how the heck did the previous but failed 3TB disk was recognized as being 3TB just fine but this one would not work? Then it occurred to me, for the previous disk, I stuck it into a Macally SATA enclosure and partitioned and formatted it on a, get this, 32-bit Windows Vista box!  So I took the disk out and stuck it into the enclosure and booted up my 32-bit Vista box.  Lo and behold, it shows the disk as having 2794.39GB! (why not 3TB you ask? Because when the manufacture talks about TB, they are talking about 1000 x 1000 x 1000 x 1000 or 10 to the 12th power, instead of 1024 x 1024 x 1024 x 1024, so if you divide 3,000,000,000,000 which is what manufacture calls 3TB by (1024 x 1024 x 1024) you will get something close to 2793.96GB).

Well I am not claiming that Windows Vista 32-bit is able to recognize the 3TB disk.  In fact, I think all credits should go to the wonderful Macally SATA enclosure.  I could’ve but I didn’t try it on the Windows 7 64-bit machine with the enclosure because formatting the disk takes a long time and I really need to scrape the data off the failed drive.

But the more interesting twist is that, if my memory serves me right, while the Caviar green 3TB drive was partitioned using the enclosure because at that time, I had yet received the new AMD box yet, the Seagate 3TB Barracuda was actually partitioned and formatted inside the box itself.  So I am not sure what the deal was — whether Windows was indeed having trouble with WD 3TB, but worked well with SG 3TB, or the WD 3TB also being in the box influenced Windows to recognize all other 3TB disks.  With the Seagate replacement still on the way, I cannot test it right now.

But one thing is for certain.  I don’t trust neither WD nor SG disks any more.  And based on my experiences, Hitachi disks are not that great either.  So I am not sure which disk I can trust now, since SSDs are still very low in capacity.  Maybe I should just buy a bunch of pencils and paper and start writing down the bits.



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