Alert! Seagate barracuda & DiamondMax drives are dying en masse due to firmware bug. Seagate reacts.

January 18th, 2009 9 comments

Seagate hard drives from the Barracuda 7200.11, DiamondMax 22, Barracuda ES.2 SATA, and SV35 families, Seagate FreeAgent® , and Maxtor OneTouch® 4 may become inaccessible when the host system is powered on.  In other words, they turn into bricks.  If you are unfortunate to have one of these products and have not upgraded the firmware (i.e. if you are unfortunate enough to have one of these products and don’t cruise the Seagate support site on a regular basis), then a firmware bug will instruct the disk to turn itself into a brick some day when you power it up.  Do NOT power off any computer that has the following disk drives until you check the firmware.  Seagate is quietly offering free disaster recovery assistance, firmware updates, and software to determine if you have a disk that is running the evil firmware.  This “boot-of-death” bug rivals the infamous IBM Deathstar which lead to a successful class-action lawsuit. Read more…

How do you diagnose problems with tape drives and/or autochangers?

January 17th, 2009 No comments

TapeAlert is the street-name for the ANSI specification that governs hardware diagnostics for tape drives, libraries and autochangers.  It was “invented” by HP, and well established as an industry spec.  Pretty much everything from IBM half-million dollar robotic systems to consumer-class entry-level DAT drives from HP support the spec.  More information on the spec can be found at the TAPEALERT.ORG Read more…

How to disable UAC prompt for specific application

January 6th, 2009 1 comment

This is how you can use Microsoft’s toolkit to remove the annoying UAC prompt for specific applications.   This patch is a must for the MS-DOS CMD interpreter, as well as any command-line program which requires administrative access. Read more…


Google disk reliability paper

January 5th, 2009 No comments

Google released a study of 100,000 consumer-class ATA disk drives that revealed a wealth of information including S.M.A.R.T. data analysis; drive temperature vs. disk failure rates; annualized failure rates; and survival probabilities. 

Percentage of failed drives with S.M.A.R.T. errors

Percentage of failed drives with S.M.A.R.T. errors

Read more…

Disk drive temperature coolers may be waste of money.

January 5th, 2009 No comments

These charts from the google study of 100,000 consumer-class ATA disk drive study show that you are probably throwing money away on disk drive coolers, as disks fail more often at LOWER temperatures. At the very least, have the drive cooling vendors supply data that proves that cooler disk drives last longer. :) Read more…

Secure Erase and checking for random data, erased disk drives

January 3rd, 2009 No comments

Below is from the smartmon-ux manual, and shows examples of commands one can use to see if a disk contains random data, as well as how data was distributed on a disk before and after running the Secure Erase command. Read more…

DoD Secure Erase

January 3rd, 2009 3 comments

Users want and need a simple and secure way to erase all their data from disk drives, when releasing them from their physical control for resale or repair. Over a third of drives resold on eBay contain personal data such as credit and medical records.  These drives come from PCs, servers, ATM machines, banks, and workstations. It is important to initially emphasize that erasure security can only be relative. When handling data classified at secret and higher, the edict is that ‘data must be destroyed using methods that assure that legacy information cannot be recovered by any means’. Government document DoD 522.22M is commonly quoted on erasure methods, and requires physical destruction of the storage medium (the magnetic disks) for data classified higher than Secret. [Ryk: subjective in most cases to the sensitivities of the Cognizant Security Authority responsible for the storage asset of data.]

However, even such physical destruction is not absolute if any remaining disk pieces are larger than a single 512-byte record block in size, about 1/125” [Ryk: this size is currently 1/250 of an inch due to the chemistry of current high capacity storage media] today’s drives. Pieces of this size are found in bags of destroyed disk pieces studied at CMRR. Magnetic microscopy can image the stored recorded media bits, using the CMRR scanning magnetoresistive microscope. Physical destruction nevertheless offers the highest level of erasure because recovering any actual user data from a magnetic image requires overcoming almost a dozen independent recording technology hurdles. This is an example of “exotic time consuming technology” necessary as the barrier to data recovery for the highest level of erasure security. Even if these hurdles were overcome, about an hour would be required to recover one single user data block out of millions on the disk. Recovering substantial amounts of data in less than months requires that the disk be intact and undamaged so that heads can be flown over it to obtain data playback signals, and also overcoming the technology hurdles. Simply bending a disk makes this impossible.

Read more…

SCSI Format Unit Command options

January 2nd, 2009 No comments

 The SCSI FORMAT UNIT command is used to format a SCSI, FC, SAS, or any disk that utilizes the SCSI command set into logical blocks.   One would send this command (or run an application that sends this command) to to zero all of the data on the disk (if the command is used correctly).   If you just changed the block size of the disk from 512, to 520/528 or vise-versa, then you must also make sure the disk is reformatted before you can use it.  

In order to have the desired effect, you must make sure that whatever format utility you use sets the parameters you desire.  The various built-ins that come with IRIX, Solaris, etc, don’t provide a mechanism that lets you control all of the settings you may need. Furthermore, the default values may or may not be reasonable.  

Read more…

General thoughts on data security, destruction, protection

January 2nd, 2009 No comments

There are several ways to destroy the data on disk drives.  This entry covers the basics of them and exposes their relative risks. Read more…

What can you do with intelligent (SES-compatible) enclosures?

January 2nd, 2009 No comments

Here are some examples of scripts that I have written using the command-line engine in smartmon-ux.

Emulate the typical LED and alarms one would see with a hardware-based RAID controller so an appliance that uses software-based RAID has same look-and feel …

Read more…