Firmware is the computer code that runs the hard disk and makes it function correctly. It is written to the disk at the time of manufacture. Through design flaws, buggy code and various other reasons, firmware can become corrupted. Once the hard drive’s firmware becomes corrupted, access to the drive will be lost either immediately or the next time it is powered down and switched back on. The data on the drive should be fine if you decide you want to recover it.
There are some hard drives in current circulation that have known firmware faults –
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200.12 and ES.2 models
- Various Seagate SCSI hard disks
- Maxtor DiamondMax 22 models
(For specific model numbers click here)
The failure symptoms of these drives are
- They will power up normally (no unusual sounds etc)
- They will not be incorrectly recognised by the computer. – in nearly all the examples above, the drive will still be detected by the computer but will show up as being ‘0 bytes’ in capacity and you won’t be able to access it.
Other Firmware Faults
In addition the above faults with are drive specific, SMART failure can occur on any drive – These are often reported as ‘Imminent SMART Failure Detected’ during the boot sequence. SMART is a collection of drive unique diagnostic data. Sometimes the data in these tables can fill up and overflow resulting in an error. The error rarely stops disk access, but if you do see this error it’s a good idea to copy the data off the drive onto a new one.
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