My Seagate warranty saga

On 12/12/2021 (approximately), my Segate STEL14000400 USB drive would not mount, no matter where I tried, no matter which cables I used.

14TB model:

One or two days later, I contacted Seagate by phone, they answered without having to navigate too much of “press this” and “press that” land. I relayed my issue to their representative, and they issued me an RMA number.

Then to my surprise, they asked me if I was interested in having them perform data recovery. Since these were plots, I was not prepared to pay more than a few dollars. I asked their price, and they told me it was free. So I accepted.

They asked me to describe which files are most important, and a few other questions, including whether I want the recovered files to be shipped back to me on an encrypted drive. I told them “No”, to the encryption, as that will just be more hoops for me to deal with, and that the recovered data is useless to anyone other than me.

Further to my surprise, they told me that they would be replacing my failed drive under the warranty, plus they would send me an additional drive with whatever they are able to recover, and I get to keep that additional drive (this all turned out to be true).

I later found out that the reason for the free data recovery was that it was included in the drive’s warranty (which I did not know when I made the purchase).

The good news continued, because they provided a pre-paid shipping label, and there was no cost for their shipments to me. In other words, it is all free.

The next day, I printed out the UPS label that they sent to me, and shipped the drive. The label was for their Cerritos, California warehouse.

Approximately 36 hours later, I received an e-mail message from their data recovery team, that included a shipping label. This new label was for their Oklahoma City, Oklahoma lab address.

Well, this needed to be investigated, because I doubt that both of those addresses (one in CA and one in OK) are both correct.

I contacted Seagate by phone (again, they answer their phones with minimal delay), and they confirmed that the first shipping label, to CA, should not have been sent to me. That address is for basic warranty replacement. If the drive makes it there, I could kiss it goodbye. I would get the replacement drive, but no data recovery.

I live in NJ, and the shipping label was for ground service. So I had a little breathing room to deal with this.

I contacted UPS, and tried to re-direct the shipment, or to have the shipment returned to me (the sender). Well, since Seagate provided the shipping label, it was Seagate that was the sender. UPS would not honor my request.

I called Seagate, and they got UPS to update the package as “Return To Sender” (I saw it via the tracking number). But to where the package would be returned was a mystery.

The days clicked by, and no updates on the on-line tracking service. My guess was that it was on a truck, and nothing will change until the truck reached a sorting facility in CA – and that is what happened. And the on-line tracking info was updated to include that it left the CA location – but no indication to where.

Several days went by, and the package got delivered to the Oklahoma lab’s address.

I contacted Seagate, to make sure that they did not deem that package as “Why was this delivered here?”

They understood, but said that due to Covid, they leave deliveries on the dock for 3 or 4 days before handling them.

Eventually I got an e-mail message from them (the data recovery team) that they are working on my drive. I asked them about when will my warranty replacement be shipped. They told me that due to the holidays, and Covid (and aliens from the 8th dimension) that they have delays, but they see my order in the system. They also have no say in the warranty replacement, because that is in CA and handled by that other location’s staff.

Approximately one week ago, I got my recovered data back, via two drives:
– A 10TB Expansion Desktop drive (STKP10000400), and
– A 5TB Expansion Portable drive (STKM5000400).

Apparently they did not have a single drive of high enough capacity to store all of my recovered data (all plots).

I guess that most folks that purchase high capacity drives do not fill them.

And still no warranty replacement drive.

I connected one of the above drives, and it was Bit Locker encrypted. This was after I told them not to encrypt the drives. Furthermore, they did not provide the password.

I contacted them by phone. They apologized for encrypting the drives, and the e-mailed me the password. But I had no other drives to copy the data to (in order to format the encrypted drives to clear the encryption).

Yesterday, my warranty replacement drive arrived, and I copied all of my plots from the encrypted drives to my empty (warranty) replacement drive.

I tested all 128 of the recovered plots, via:
chia plots check -g plot-whatever.plot

121 passed.
7 failed.

That was interesting, because all were written, contiguously. I used the drive for nothing else. So why would 7 get corrupted? They were the proper size.

The above journey took numerous phone calls, to keep the failed drive from getting lost in the Seagate ecosystem. Thank goodness they answer their calls.

If the above were Western Digital, I would have had a better chance of seeing Moses show up pregnant on the news.

Now if I could just get sync’d.

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The corrupted plots probably got messed up during whatever crashed the original drive. It would only take a bit getting flipped/dropped to make them worthless. They could still show the same size. Just be happy you got any of them … and two additional drives.

Glad it all worked out.

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They should not get corrupted … I used recovery software call Wondershare Recoverit to bring 330 plots back to life from 2 seperate 18TB seagate drives.

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Do you have your hard disks and PC on UPS?

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I forgot what they told me failed (kicking myself for not writing it down).
But I believe it was something to do with how the drive interfaced with the controller (perhaps it was the controller?).

The only thing that I can think of is that I loop a keepalive.bat script to prevent any drives from sleeping. If that drive got whacked out when it was writing a few bytes of data to the drive, then maybe those bytes overwrote bytes in the wrong sectors?

My script writes only a dozen characters to each drive. And it writes the exact same characters to the exact same file (forever overwriting the same tiny file, sleeping for a few minutes, and repeating).

The drive in question probably does not need to be kept awake by my script, because it is not one of the culprits that are hard-coded to sleep. But my script gets its list of candidates to write to, based on first running “chia plots show”, and using those results to send a few characters to all of my plotted drives.

Well, yes, it was nice to get most of my plots back. But it was nicer to get the free drives. :slight_smile:

I suspect that my recovery was simple for them. I believe that all they had to do was crack open the USB’s casing, and plug the SATA drive in to one of their computers, and copy the files to the other drives that they sent to me. I doubt that they even needed recovery software. I bet that my drive, once freed of its connection to the failed USB component, simply worked – in the clear.

Yes.
APC BN1500M2

I have been using an UPS since my first computer – a 486, 66mHz, DX2, running DOS 5.0.

I plug just about every item of value into an UPS (or a quality surge suppressor), because I used to have TVs fail, and microwave ovens fail, etc. It has been 20+ years since those failures, and I credit the power protection for ending the failures.

I no longer have to reset blinking digital clocks, or be inconvenienced with any failures (like wanting to warm up food in the microwave, only to find out that the microwave has other plans). Everything just works.

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All things considered, it actually doesn’t sound like that bad of an experience. Seems like they really went all out to try to keep you satisfied. I wish EVERY company did shit like this! Might have taken a while to get everything back due to the shipping snafu, but hey, shit happens. Good for you for getting a new warranty replacement and a couple of spare storage drives!

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It was bad and it was time consuming.
Granted, it was all due to the initial screw-up with the wrong shipping label that they sent to me. But that mistake took a lot of effort to keep from getting worse and getting corrected.

It lingered for weeks. No fun.
And then I got back encrypted drives that I could not use, that I told them not to encrypt when they asked me whether or not to do so.

I give credit to the personnel that helped me. But they have some incompetent people there creating problems, that other conscientious and skilled personnel fix.

In the end, it all worked out. But frankly, I would not want to repeat it for a free drive prize.

I wrote my saga for two reasons:
– Firstly, primarily to vent. I am glad it is over with.
– Secondly, for anyone that pursues a warranty replacement. Hopefully, if they read this, they will not get tripped up and will have a smooth transaction.

I believe that Seagate has policies that really do have the customer’s best interest in mind. So I give them credit for that, and I appreciate their mindset.

Western Digital is the opposite. They look to screw their customers out of every dollar and warranty claims. Cross your fingers that you never have to deal with Western Digital support services.

Lol. Sadly I’ve got about 40 WD 14TB drives sitting in the room next to me lol. They were super cheap though!

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@RobbieL811 I have numerous WD drives, too.

I had two failures, from their G-Technology line.
It was a nightmare dealing with WD, including making contact with them.

I also have many Elements drives and EasyStore (Best Buy) drives.
So far, they are working with no issues. But heaven help me when one of them fails. I almost wish it would be beyond its warranty period.

It is as though WD attends used car salesman conventions, and slimy lawyers conventions, and hires the worst of those they encounter, and has them run WD’s warranty department.

Lol. Yeah. That’s what I picked up too. The good ole $200 Best Buy deal. Too good to pass up. My partner and I picked up 25 on that sale. Just got done plotting them a few weeks ago. Brought us up to 625 TiB. Hoping to pick up some good used drives at a good price the way the XCH market has been going lately.

Honestly, this worked out for you far better than I thought it would. I started to cringe when I started reading your situation 'cuz I figured they would completely lose the drive and claim it never arrived or something because of the wrong shipping label.

I’ve had a home NAS for many years now with 4 Seagate drives in it and have dealt with at least 5 or 6 drive failures over the years. If they failed within the warranty period, Seagate would replace them, but would always require me to ship the failed one to them before they would ship out the replacement–unless I wanted to pay for some special service.

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Are you sure they were actually bad plots ? I’ve used chia plots check before with no options and it doesn’t always say that plots are good. Issue more challenges and it does. Not to be trusted on a whim IME.

You’d be better off writing different data each time - writing the same data might not actually prevent sleeping depending on cache algorithm. I do this on all my drives every minute by writing the date and time to the file, which is always unique.

Chia can possibly deem a plot as invalid, if all of its 30 (default) checks do not pass. It is a long shot, but possible.

In my case of my 7 failed plots, they really did fail.

Chia bombed out of the check with errors. I do not recall the errors. But errors they were.

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I suggest you do not write to the drives to keep them spinning. I created a script on my Linux farmer that reads few random sectors from the drives to keep them spinning and that is much safer in case there is a power outage. Plus when you are writing to the drive with high cache size it does not guarantee that it will wake up as it all depends on drive FW and how it handles cache flushing.

Regarding these Seagate HUB ext. drives I suggest you stay away from them as the integrated USB hub adds to the number of USB devices connected to the PC and every PC has a finite maximum number of USB devices you can connect to it’s USB controller. I actually had to strip the drives out of these enclosures and just use them separately as the onboard USB hub was causing too much problems with just few of them connected at a time. BTW these include standard desktop Barracuda drives (aka Green drives).

When it comes to external drives my favorite are WD EasyStore & Elements as they are FAST (~200MB/sec) and you can read SMART data through their onboard controller at least under Linux which will give you heads up in case the drive is close to failure.

Seagate RMA is actually much better compared to competition as I recently used it myself when replacing a USB 3.0 drive that started to transfer at USB 2.0 speed only, but because of lack of SMART support and generally being slower than WD I tend to stay away from them.

When using APC you should also connect it to PC via the com port and setup the PC to gracefully shut down after a specific amount of time on battery or otherwise it adds as much protection as a power strip. When PC shuts down it will park the heads on all HDDs which will prevent corruption from occurring when power eventually fails.

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Speaking about safety, you don’t need to touch platters to keep the drive from spinning. You can use smartctl, and only talk to the controller:

smartctl -n never /dev/sdX

Most likely for Windows, you will need something like “-d sat” or “-d ata” to cross the USB bridge. To check which one to use, run first “smartctl --scan” and the output will tell you what/if to use for -d flag.

If for some reason ‘-d never’ flag doesn’t work for you, you can use ‘-d sleep’

One advantage of that is that you can parse the output of that command and create some alerts if any of drives goes to a standby mode, so you will know that you need to shorten the timeout time.

https://linux.die.net/man/8/smartctl

Believe I tried everything I could think of to keep the drives spinning and the aggressive FW on the USB drives would ignore it all so this is why I had to create a script and run it via crontab every minute to keep them spinning.

Some drives have multiple power states which allow communication with controller but still spinning down the platters and you can try tweeting the advanced power management to no avail :confused:

Did you try smartctl? That is one of the most robust HD utils, especially for Linux.

When you run that command, it will come back with the current state, so you can check what a given HD has. The newer drives have sleep for the logic board, but that sleep should still keep platters spinning.

Yes, no joy on most of my HDDs. Just like I said I use it to keep track of my WD EasyStore/Elements.

The only sure way of keeping the platters spinning was through the script and this works for ALL drives. Some of them have VERY aggressive FW settings and I have to run it every minute for some drives.