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Have Fujitsu Harddrives Been Failing in Record Numbers? 736

Michael_Angel asks: "If your hard drive has started to show garbled characters in the BIOS at boot, or just does not pick up. You may be victim to what could be the biggest hard drive manufacturer failure rate yet! Our company is small OEM system builder and we have been hit by a failure rate of %90 of the hard drives we purchased a year ago. We might be lucky because we stopped buying after rumors of hard drive issues 3 months after Fujitsu Limited made some major changes. IBM had a pretty crazy rate of failure and was telling people to turn off smart mode. I've called Fujitsu and they said that there is no problem! However, a simple search for bad fujitsu hard drives on any search engine will point to some angry folks. One notable link is this Register story." Has this problem followed Fujitsu drives into other countries, or might they be limited to the UK markets? Have you noticed an unusual failure rate in Fujitsu drives compared to hard drives from other manufacturers?
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Have Fujitsu Harddrives Been Failing in Record Numbers?

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  • Trends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:08PM (#4652254) Journal
    I've noticed one thing -

    As drives have gotten smaller/increased data density, they've become increasingly unreliable. I'm pretty sure this coincides with the new 1 year warranties (versus the older 3 year standard warranties).

    Laptop drives especially...
    • Re:Trends (Score:5, Insightful)

      by runenfool ( 503 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:12PM (#4652293)
      Its probably related to the increasing drive density - but it may also come from companies cutting costs to move more units to stay alive in the soft economy.

      Just looking down the list of comments, it does seem that everyone has noticed the increasing number (or at least it seems that way) of massive drive failures from certain manufacturers.
      • Re:Trends (Score:4, Interesting)

        by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc @ f r i i . c om> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @06:36PM (#4654699) Homepage Journal

        It's definitely related to cost cutting. The manufacturers are perfectly capable of keeping the drives reliable at higher densities - that's just a matter of using the amount of error correction, sector sparing, interleaving, scratch detection & such to bring the error rate down to a statistically insignificant number.

        The hard drive manufacturers are under intense pressure to cut costs. If they can reduce the price per unit by five cents, when that is spread out over hundreds of millions of drives, that adds up to a lot of money. Especially in this economy, this means you'll see drives made with cheaper components, with less testing done, in clean rooms that may not be as clean as they used to be, by workers that don't have the training their predecessors had, using firmware that has been hacked and rehacked until "spaghetti" doesn't even begin to describe it. (Don't ask me how I know this...)

        But this is no excuse for a 90% failure rate. Making drives cheaply is one thing, but we as customers still expect them to work for at least two or three years without problems. I still expect vendors to own up to their screwups and make them right.

        • Re:Trends (Score:4, Informative)

          by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @07:00PM (#4654920) Journal
          Fortunately, there's a fix. You can buy server-class drives SCSI drives if you're uncomfortable with cheapo ones. Sure, they're going to cost you more, but that may simply be the cost of reliability.

          It really comes down to how much you're willing to pay for peace of mind about your data. A monitor failing is no big deal. A hard drive failing can cost you years of work, source code, everything.

          Unfortunately, "backing up" is no longer a really good option for most people. Perhaps buying a second drive and mirroring, but tapes (except for the very most expensive) and CD-Rs are simply too small compared to drive size to be very useful for backup. It's actually cheaper to use a second drive to back things up these days (compared to tape). Writeable DVDs still are expensive, still aren't popular or standardized, and even when they get so, are very fragile and likely to require at least ten discs to back up a complete hard drive.

          If anyone knows of a less expensive, large-amount-of-data-per-unit backup system, I'd be interested to hear about it.

          Hard drives got too big too fast. They outstripped CPUs and Moore's law. They outstripped all competing storage devices. They actually outstripped consumer demand in the last two years or so. The people doing the research on them are *too* good. I remember buying an 80MB drive not-so-many years ago. Slow. Physically huge. Cost something like $3 per megabyte. Now drives have a price/performance ratio 6000 times better. No other product in any field I know of has come anywhere close to this.
          • Re:Trends (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kbielefe ( 606566 )
            You are assuming that people need to back up their entire drive. I use only 2.6 gigs of my 20 GB disk at work and consider my installation disks to backup 2.5 of that. You are also assuming that the average user actually fills up their hard drive with crucial stuff. Most people that really need backups don't need a backup of their entire hard drive, but they only need a backup of a specific project. And projects fit pretty well onto a CD or even a floppy disk, especially personal projects. I'd rather backup my budget separately from my ogg collection separately from my personal programming projects anyway.

            I agree with you about the ease and cost of using another hard drive for backup, though, as long as they are physically separated (at least not in the same machine, and the farther the better). I frequently copy files from my laptop to my desktop and vice versa. I also consider the local copy of my website to be a backup of the remote copy, and vice versa. I think most businesses nowadays use hard disks for most backups and only use tapes for old archived stuff.

            • Re:Trends (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Reziac ( 43301 )
              The problem with a well-established system, one used for real work day in and day out, is that reinstalling and reconfinguring everything can take far longer than even the slowest backup. I once figured out how long it would take me in realtime to redo my old Win16 system from a blank HD, and it totaled at TWO WEEKS of work at 8 hours a day. Gods know how long it would take to get my Win95 box back 100% how I want it, if I had to start over from scratch. It's not just reinstalling the software, it's remembering and finding all the little tweaks and updates you did to make everything play nice together and behave just how you want it.

              Yeah, for Aunt Minnie's email, on a box where the only stuff that ever has to work at all are Windows and Outlook, reinstalling the software is not such a big deal, and you really only need archive the user data. But not so at all for a complex system that does a variety of tasks (especially if those tasks are interconnected).

              I don't have any good solutions either, given the size of current HDs and how much data a person can accumulate (both programs and documents -- BTW my sister routinely works with documents in excess of 4gigs). A RAID server with the sole task of keeping the network backed up seems the least impractical for large setups.

    • Re:Trends (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:42PM (#4652641)
      I work for a major OEM, and we have had nightmarish issues with Fujitsu (also Maxtor and Western Digital but mostly Fujitsu).

      You need to watch out for clicking noises, "Drive Not Ready" messages, and 172x errors during POST.

      From the official Fujitsu response regarding their hard drives, it is all how you categorize the failure. If we send back 2000 drives that have all genuinely FAILED, they will look at all the drives and will count those with scratched labels as "damaged during shipping" not a product failure. This helps them skew their numbers so they meet the 3-5% acceptable failure rate. It's a creative accounting method right out of Enron.

      Not coincidentally, Fujitsu has stopped manufacturing hard drives.
    • Re:Trends (Score:5, Interesting)

      by squarefish ( 561836 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:01PM (#4652835)
      absolutely, I've replaced four drives in the last few months for myslef and others, two 7200 rpm maxtors, a laptop Fujitsu and a standard Fujitsu. All have still been under warranty and barely more than a year old. It's interesting that a lot of these companies have now gone to a one year warranty as opposed to the old 3 year which was the industry standard for years. My next motherboard [] will have intergrated raid.
      • Re:Trends (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Killall -9 Bash ( 622952 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @04:04PM (#4653434)
        and you thought HDD fans were just for those crazy OCing kids, didn't you? I think a big part of why HDDs are failing is improper case ventalation (due to cheap-ass manufacturers not wanting to spend the extra 3 cents on a case fan, AND smaller and smaller cases beccoming more popular) combined with drives running hotter than previous ones. A few days after installing a Maxtor 60gig, i was inside the box cleaning up the spaghetti and happened to touch the top of the Maxtor.... and was scared shitless to find that it was *HOT*. 10 minutes later $7 bought me a HDD fan/drive bay mount combo. nice and cool now, and i'd bet dollars to doughnuts my Maxtor 60gig will outlast any Maxtor 60gig without a fan.
    • As drives have gotten smaller/increased data density, they've become increasingly unreliable. I'm pretty sure this coincides with the new 1 year warranties (versus the older 3 year standard warranties).

      I think this is a bad correlation. At the same time drives are getting more dense and/or smaller, more people are using them. The use of PCs over the last 4 years has greatly increased. There are more reasons to need more drive space, I have a 30 GB and a 120GB. I wouldn't have needed those 4 years ago, but now they are about 60% full. Hard drives are used a little harder now. People are modding cases, OCing their systems, and generally getting more out of the PC than they have in years past. I had a 4 GB drive fail 3 weeks after the 3 year warranty expired. Now you would be hard pressed to find a 4 GB drive. I think that manufacturers realized that 3 years is a LONG time in the tech industry. Compare the number of drives sold 5 years ago to the number sold today.

      I don't know if there is an increase in unreliability of hard drives over the last few years, but I know that instead of 1 computer I now have about 5 running at home. Of course, all this applies until one of my drives crashes, then I'll be convinced that hard drive manufacturers don't give a damn about quality anymore. :-)

      • by Matey-O ( 518004 ) <> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:34PM (#4653159) Homepage Journal
        You're also neglecting the appliances: ipods, Xboxes, PVRs all have Harddisks too.

        Between my laptop, fileserver and workhorse, plus the other oddball products, I've got 7 drives a spinnin. and three or four in a box somewhere that were too small to continue using.

        That said, i've NEVER had a drive fail that I didn't addicently cause myself. I've had a few with niosy bearings, but have found that as long as I didn't power cycle the machine they were in, they continued to run faultlessly.
      • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @05:01PM (#4653908) Journal
        I think this is a bad correlation. At the same time drives are getting more dense and/or smaller, more people are using them.

        I work in tech support for a company where the population has been largely fixed (so it doesn't matter if the rest of the world is using more than usual - I have my own data). I have LOTS of hard drives going through my hands so I'm familiar with failure rates. They have been increasing. Certainly, there are lots more drives out there, but they are failing at a higher rate.

        In years past, it was easier to deal with tech support if you could let the drive "speak" to the technician on the other end of the phone. Usually, the techs were button monkeys that didn't realize that *I already knew* the drive was bad and needed to be replaced. So in the end, I'd usually just power up the drive and give it a few good whacks on the counter. Then I'd call up support and put the phone up to the drive. This reduced call times to only a couple minutes rather than the typical 20 - 30 minutes that it took the monkey to run through the flow chart.

        Me: Here THAT? It's broken!
        Tech: Your shipping address, sir?

        Today's drives don't take much whacking as they are much more delicate. This is also evident by IBM's new Thinkpad Shock Absorber [] (page 2, feature #5). With my old Thinkpad, I once (forgive me...) had a near car accident while it was powered up. The damn thing flew across the car and smacked into the dash with nary a problem. It still works today.

        Tip: for the new one year warranty's, just buy two drives and mirror them. Whack one at 10 months and the next at 11.


    • Re:Trends (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fweeky ( 41046 )
      Although increased density perhaps makes drives a little more prone to failure, I think a big factor is how people treat their drives and where they buy them from - something that's becoming increasingly varied.

      If you buy cheapo "OEM" drives from some box stacker, chances are it'll be poorly packed, and/or handled badly before it reaches you. Manufacturers can't do much if the box shifters keep throwing boxes of drives about. Just because they're rated up to 300G+ doesn't mean you don't want to handle them like eggs.

      Heat's another factor; modern drives run damn hot - you really want a fair bit of airflow around them, either from your normal case intake fans and convection, or dedicated active cooling. Just because it runs fine doesn't mean you're not cutting it's lifetime in half, or worse.

      The warranty situation I think is more down to the price war that's occuring with low end drives rather than any real change in quality. You can still get higher end drives with full warranties, and in some cases purchase extended warranties for another $20 or so. The 97% of users who don't experience a drive failure are probably happy to keep their $20, while 90% of the remaining 3% will likely get a replacement from their retailer anyway. The rest of us can spend the extra on a quality drive :)
      • Re:Trends (Score:5, Informative)

        by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc @ f r i i . c om> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @06:51PM (#4654845) Homepage Journal
        Just because they're rated up to 300G+ doesn't mean you don't want to handle them like eggs.

        Let me give you a bit of perspective on what a "300G shock rating" really means. If you drop a can of pop on your counter from three inches, that will induce a shock on the can greater than 1000Gs. When I worked in the HD industry, I learned that simply tapping a drive with a pencil induced a momentary shock of 40-50Gs. I could fire up some diagnositic firmware on the drive, and watch the drive detect and fix errors as I tapped it with a pencil.

        Moral of the story, hard drives are fragile The only reason why they seem so tough is because the firmware detects and fixes thousands of errors that you don't even see.

    • Re:Trends (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
      For what (little) it's worth, a friend of mine had three 20 gig Fujitsu HDs (with sequential serial numbers) suddenly die on him - losing him an entire RAID array of files to oblivion over the span of a week. I don't consider 20gig (regular form factor) to be very dense, and the drives were only three years old (but magically on this side of warrantee).

      That being said, I think computing in general is progressing in quantity faster than quality - processors are getting faster, but producing a lot more heat, being more unstable, or requiring higher clock speeds to get more done (clock speed isn't everything folks), HDs are getting bigger but crapping out faster, and so on.

      I can't help but think that maybe if we focused as much effort on making things efficient as we do on making them fast, we would have much better functioning computers; that being said, I think Apple provides this very well, and can justify their higher costs that way - you pay a premium, but you get quality, not quantity. Of course, most of the world wouldn't buy that, but I know I do.

  • Oh, good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:08PM (#4652256) Homepage
    Because gathering anecdotal evidence on Slashdot is a great way to discover if there's a problem with a particular piece of hardware as opposed to just dragging whatever target company through the mud.
    • Re:Oh, good. (Score:2, Insightful)

      If you look at the number of Reg stories on this topic, I rather suspect they're doing a far better job of trashing Fujitsu's rep than /. ever could.
    • Re:Oh, good. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:09PM (#4652898) Homepage Journal
      Anecdotal evidence is good enough to make me stay away from something. It could be from a few people who I have known for years and who I trust (for instance, if I asked some fellow capable sysadmins if... say... WebSphere was okay, and they all related horror stories, I'd be leery[1]). The other is if it's pretty much industry standard knowledge (which is still anecdotal) like Packard Bell's systems versus Adaptec's SCSI cards being good or bad.

      It's real simple - either you trust marketing or you trust what fellow people in the industry have observed. Failure rates and reliability are very very hard to get reliable, objective and accurate specs on. This works for praise as well as trashing a company. Look at Cisco's sterling reputation.

      I don't totally rely on it - I know a company where a dozen MySQL/Linux/Intel databases have had much better uptime and reliability than the same number of Oracle/Sun systems (make of that what you will). That dosen't mean I think Oracle sucks and MySQL is great[2].

      [1] I used WebSphere because I have heard no opinions on it, good or bad, so I can't slur or praise.

      [2] For the record, I think MySQL is better than it's reputation among DBAs and not as good as it's reputation among hobby site builders. That gives me a range somewhere between PERFECT! and CRAP! to place my position. :)


  • Hard to imagine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ekrout ( 139379 )
    Every single one of my friends here at school who purchased an IBM DeskStar-line hard disk drive had the drive fail on them less than a year after purchase.

    I never thought that dependability could be much worse than for that particular line of IBM HDDs. But, this Fujitsu story sounds like it's a dire situation as well.

    As a side note, I'd highly recommend (and do so to family, friends, etc.) purchasing only Western Digital or Seagate drives.
    • Re:Hard to imagine (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Skyshadow ( 508 )
      I dunno, I've had trouble with Western Digital drives in the past, too. In fact, I remember one of their drive lines (although I can't remember which) being notorious for failing quickly.

      Personally, I think this sort of discussion is useless just because there are people out there who have had trouble with any given manufacturer's drives.

      I think a collection of real stats which were somehow reliably collected would be really useful in terms of all this commodity hardware ("Gee, those ShitCo drives fail twice as often as most others" or "Gee, there's no difference in drive reliability, so if I got IBM I'd be paying for a brand name"). I just don't see how you'd go about collecting that data.

      • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:38PM (#4652598) Homepage
        I think a collection of real stats which were somehow reliably collected would be really useful in terms of all this commodity hardware

        Storage Review [] had such a database at once upon a time. It was widely hailed as the most comprehensive database of the kind, and pretty accurate (given that "reliable collection" is an oxymoron when it comes to the net).

        Then their hard drive crashed and they lost everything.

        Yes, it's horribly ironic. It also struck me as really freaking idiotic that a website dedicated to storage wouldn't back up their own data. I'm not an SR regular, so I didn't follow the story that closely at the time.

        As it happens, SR is now restarting the reliability database. It'll take time to get accurate data, of course, but it's better than nothing. Here's hoping they succeed.

        And that this time, they have backups.
        • On the bright side, at least they had an entry to make immediately after they started rebuilding the database...
        • Re:Hard to imagine (Score:5, Informative)

          by slaker ( 53818 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:46PM (#4653265)
          I *am* a Storagereview regular (I post there as Mercutio, the second non-admin user whose account was re-created after the crash).

          The issue was *not* a disk crash, but the fact that SR's colocation facility wanted to charge $x more to run proper backups, and SR couldn't afford it. During a regular upgrade to either MySQL or phpBB (don't remember which), their DB got dumped on accident. Eugene, SR's admin, posted very early after the site came back up that he has a small stack of DDS and DAT drives sitting around his home that he would've loved to install, if only their ISP would've let them.

          Incidently, Storage Review's [] self-reporting reliability database is back up and running now, if you'd like to participate, feel free, but I'm convinced that self-reported statistics are of fairly little value.

          Also, a lot of SR's regulars, including myself, chose to create our own community, distinct from SR, in case Storage Review either shuts down or loses its database again. We can be found at Storage Forum []. SR's general membership is not aware of our site - we don't advertise it there out of courtesy to SR's admins, but if you spent time on SR's forums and wonder where Tannin, Clocker, P5_133XL, JamesW, time and some of the other mainstays went, well, now you know.
    • Re:Hard to imagine (Score:2, Insightful)

      by escher ( 3402 )
      And I have never had trouble with the IBM Deskstar drives in my file server (been running for 3 years now). Maybe I got lucky and was shipped drives from a good batch...
    • Re:Hard to imagine (Score:5, Informative)

      by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:24PM (#4652453) Journal
      Here's just one example of an unhappy owner of a large IBM DeskStar drive:

      I have bought 4 75GXP drives all of the 60 GB variety. Initially I bought two to connect to a RAID system but one failed after only 5 months. Just as well I had my RAID set to mirror otherwise all would have been lost. I have in excess of 25 GB of MP3 files which have taken years to collect hence my need for reliable storage. I then contacted the suppliers of my drives and asked about replacement. I was told it would take at least 6 weeks as they had to go back to IBM.

      Given the importance of backup I bought a third drive whilst the 1st was being checked by IBM. Guess what 6 weeks later a second drive failed. BY this time I received back a drive from IBM. This was a second hand drive that had been returned by another customer under warranty. I know this because I was able to unerase the data on the drive and the former user was from Germany. This drive failed after only 4 weeks.

      The second drive to fail was also replaced by a second hand drive. This also is making ominous noises.

      In fairness when they work they are fast and very quiet but the uncertainty about when they will fail has left me very unimpressed. Of the 4 purchased 2 are new and working fine 1 is broken and I can't be bothered to send it back as I know they will send me another dodgy 2nd hand drive and the final one is noisy and I am sure would fail if it were used as a RAID drive.

      My advice therefore is to look elsewhere. When I upgrade my system shortly I shall buy 2 120GB drives from another supplier but I shall research carefully first.

      -- From /ibm_deskstar_75gxp/_review/393167/ []
    • IBM DeskStar (Score:4, Informative)

      by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:28PM (#4652493) Homepage

      When doing my internship a friend at work recommended IBM drives, mainly on the principle that they had the best record for reliability. I have been buying IBM drives for years now (apart from a nice quiet Maxtor) with now problems whatsoever.

      But about two years ago, my uni housemate got an IBM DeskStar drive which died on him after 3 weeks from getting it. Turns out he got the drive where they had the glass platters, and the heads on the drive literally crashed and cracked the platters. He had all his Uni work on there, although we kept yelling the work 'backup' to him. I don't know how many of these drives had this problem, but IBM pulled the drives as soon as they found out about the problem.

    • Re:Hard to imagine (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Western Digital has been one of the crappiest of disk manufacturers -
      Maybe you don't remember their massive recall in 1999 - 2000 ?
      I have a couple WDs that refuse to be slave drives on an ide channel EXCEPT with another Western Digital drive as master.

      Maybe they've had to clean up their act since the big recall but I haven't been willing to be the guinea pig to settle that question. I've also seen some Maxtor drives crapping out within 12 months of purchase.

      In general the reliability of product in the IDE drive market has sucked as margins have declined further and further with the tech slowdown. IBM leaving the market was very demoralizing to see; if anyone could have turned the trend around - started making drives with high QC and charging more and getting it, it would probably have been them. There aren't too many makes that have not experienced a quality crisis like theirs with the 75gxp deskstar product and stayed in. But they left I am sure, because they concluded that margins would never bounce back.
      And we're all gonna keep suffeing for the shortsighted cheapness of the consumer.
  • we need... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2MuchC0ffeeMan ( 201987 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:10PM (#4652274) Homepage
    we need something like the automobile industry's recall system, but it's too bad nobody tunrs in those registration cards...

    hard drives are so important, they should be the most quality product of a computer... you can replace a cpu, motherboard, etc... but without backing up, you can't get everything on a hard drive back.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:13PM (#4652299) Homepage Journal
    I wish I could remember where, but I've read about this already somewhere some time ago.

    I've been wondering if the recently revealed electrolytic (ha, spelt it right that time) capacitor problem (bad taiwanese electrolytics) was related.

    On a different note, Seagate's ST380023AS and ST3120023AS (Serial ATA) drives which were expected in Mid-October, then late-November, are now, according to a Cnet article a Seagate employee who shall remain nameless, pointed me to, is indicating shipping dates in Mid-December.. hopefully the two are unrelated.

  • Fujistu HD's (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:13PM (#4652306)
    I'm the help desk coordinator at a school district in WA. Just guessing, I'd say we are at about 35% failure for drives bought in the summer of 2001.
  • Yep (Score:2, Informative)

    All our desktops (Compaq Deskpro ENs) had fujitsu drives in and we were getting a failure every week last summer. IT department wasn't happy about having to swap out and re-Ghost over 100 drives... Replaced them with a mixture of Western Digital and, i think Seagates.

    (this is in the UK btw)
  • Warranties (Score:3, Interesting)

    by insanecarbonbasedlif ( 623558 ) <> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:14PM (#4652324) Homepage Journal
    Most manufacturers have dropped their three ytear warranties down to one year as well. This seems to be a trend after several companies in the storage business merged... lack of competition affecting QA and Warranties?
  • by vertical_98 ( 463483 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:15PM (#4652333) Homepage
    But seriously, I have a 5400rpm 1.2g Maxtor that has been in use for over 4 years. I had a 7200rpm 20g Seagate that crashed after 14 months in a machine. I think the combination of high rpms with super dense platters is what is causing the most problems.

    Of course, My father thinks that people just don't give a shit about quality any more.....

    • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:44PM (#4652667) Journal
      I hear people swearing allegence to a particular brand of consumer Hard Drive all the time, but I don't buy it.

      It sucks that your Seagate died and I'm not trying to convince you to buy another one, but in general the reliability for Seagate, Maxtor, and WD's consumer drives are all about the same. If you had bought a defective Maxtor you'd be saying the same about Maxtor and praising the new Seagate you just bought.
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:45PM (#4652674) Homepage
      I think the combination of high rpms with super dense platters is what is causing the most problems

      Well... kinda...

      A vast number of problems are being caused by the side effect of high rpms and dense platters -- heat. Modern drives get really, really hot, and most people don't adequately cool them. Heck, they don't even adequately cool their CPUs.

      Look at the operating temperature of your drive. Get a probe thermometer and read the ambient temperature of your case. Then realize that the air around the drive is probably 5-10 degrees C hotter than the ambient temperature, and unless you've specifically addressed it there's little or no ventilation of the drive cage.

      So most people end up operating the drives in excess of their rated operating temps... and they fail.

      There are some easy things you can do for drive ventillation - the easiest is to put the drive as far down as you can get in the case. Most cases vent from bottom front to top back. Take advantage of that. More extreme measures involve mounting a heat sink on the drive or even fans (either on the drive bay or to the sides).
      • There are some easy things you can do for drive ventillation - the easiest is to put the drive as far down as you can get in the case. Most cases vent from bottom front to top back.

        I have found that an effective way to ventillate an entire computer, including hard drives, is to remove a side of the case an position a desk fanto blow directly into the case at full power. In all seriousness, it's *very* effective. It may be a little noisy, though.
      • by Virtex ( 2914 )
        the easiest is to put the drive as far down as you can get in the case

        Interesting idea. I hadn't thought of that. For my computer, I mount my 3.5" hard drives in removable 5.25" drive bays. The bays are made of aluminium to help dissipate the heat, and they have a small fan in the back to help circulate the air away from the drive. Of course, the only 5.25" drive bays in my case are at the top of the machine.

        I originally bought the drive bays years ago because I noticed how much heat there was between my two drives. Given that there was only a couple millimeters of space between them, the heat had a difficult time escaping. I wanted to put more space between the drives, but my only 3.5" bays were taken by the hard drives and a floppy drive.

        The drive bays cost me about $50 each (I bought two), which seemed expensive, but as I think about it, I've never had a hard drive fail on me. These days, you can get similar drive bays for $10-$20 each.
      • "So most people end up operating the drives in excess of their rated operating temps... and they fail. There are some easy things you can do for drive ventillation - the easiest is to put the drive as far down as you can get in the case. Most cases vent from bottom front to top back. Take advantage of that. More extreme measures involve mounting a heat sink on the drive or even fans (either on the drive bay or to the sides). The world is run by idiots because they're more efficient than hamsters."

        I think that power is also an issue. Some power supplies have very weak +5V channels that often drop more than 10%. (*cough*Enermax*cough*) This can also kill a nice HDD.

        About heat: One other good strategy for keeping your drives cool is to use a cooling bay. Instead of having 2 x 40 GB maxtors right on top of each other due to the small amount of room in my case, I put one in a 5.25" cooling bay with an integrated fan to get good airflow. This can also prolong the life of your drives.

        The cooling bad was pretty cheap (only CAD$10 refurb) but the suction is definitely present through the unit and since it's front loading, I can easily swap drives without opening my machine.

        Some modern cases now adays have a cooling fan right next to the HDD mounting area, which is also good for keeping things frosty.

  • Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsar Ivan IV ( 73505 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:15PM (#4652334)
    If you do a search on the net for _any_ manufacturer or _any_ line of products you are likely to find a number of unhappy customers. Every hard disk manufacturer has sent out a bad batch on occasion -- I've had various people recommend to me at different times "Never buy Maxtor" or "never buy Seagate" or "never buy Western Digital" and so on .. because that particular person had a bad experience with a drive.
  • wha? (Score:2, Funny)

    by meekjt ( 94667 )
    How is 90% a failure rate? 100% of all hard drives are going to fail sometime.
    • Re:wha? (Score:3, Funny)

      by kermyt ( 99494 )
      On a long enough timeline everyones survival rate drops to 0%. The first rule of Fujistu is... you do not talk about Fujitsu.
    • Re:wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:26PM (#4652469)

      How is 90% a failure rate? 100% of all hard drives are going to fail sometime.

      To paraphrase Twain, the difference between "90% failure rate in a year" and "90% failure rate sometime" is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.

  • I have a Fujitsu drive and I've cut a hole in it and added a window. It still works fine, but if it stops working I'll never know whether it was due to my customization or not.
  • by HealYourChurchWebSit ( 615198 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:16PM (#4652353) Homepage

    This isn't the first time The Register has fried Fujitsu' sushi. Check out an article from this past September entitled PCA attacks 'shabby' handling of Great Fujitsu HDD fiasco [].

    It makes me wonder if The Register, or at least one of the writers there, didn't get stuck with a few sand grinders doubling as hard drives.
  • One word... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dannycim ( 442761 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:17PM (#4652358)
    Maxtor. We have over 5000 PC Workstations at my previous job. We've had problems with just about every manufacturer (Quantum, Seagate, Fuji, WD, etc...) except one: Maxtor. Personally, I've got around 8 of them at home, 3 up and spinning 24/7 and one actually trashing all around the place continously (compiles, builds, rendering, etc...) and never had a bad block.

    Does your mileage vary?
    • Re:One word... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Fugly ( 118668 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:45PM (#4652677) Homepage
      .....We've had problems with just about every manufacturer (Quantum, Seagate, Fuji, WD, etc...) except one: Maxtor....

      Does your mileage vary?

      My ex-roomate had two 8GB Maxtors fail on him when we built his PII a few years back. The first one failed within a day of use. He called Maxtor who were very helpful on the phone and sent an advance replacement. The replacement drive lasted a little over a year.

      Regardless of brand, there are only two types of hard drives out there:
      1) A hard drive that has crashed
      2) A hard drive that is about to

      I think we're slowly reaching the end of magnetic media's life as our primary secondary storage mechanism. There are just too many delicate moving parts requiring extreme precision to even function due to the density of data we're storing. I think we'll see more and more solid state storage solutions replace hard drives and more optical solutions used for backup.
    • Re:One word... (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0xA ( 71424 )
      Well I too have seen it with every manufacturer including Maxtor.

      Maxtor 1.2 GB to 2.0 GB models were horrible, I was a tech in a retail store at the time and we sold a bunch of NEC desktops with Maxtor drives. Got a lot of them back with dead drives.

      I've seen bad drives or batches of drives from every manufacturer, there is no best brand IME.

      Sounds like you've been pretty lucky.
  • Lotsa Fujitsu Drives (Score:3, Informative)

    by truffle pig ( 555677 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:17PM (#4652363)
    I don't know I have a bunch of Dell Servers that are using Fujitsu Hard Drives in RAID Arrays. In the past year and a half of using the dells with Fujitsu drives, we have only had one drive our of about 40 go bad. I can't speak to their IDE drives but the hot plug SCSI's are working pretty well.
  • Our experiences (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Superfreak ( 27384 )
    I work for a small company as the solo-IT guy. We have had a total of 18 Fujitsu drives, all 10GB, from one batch purchase in October, 2000. I've had one failure out of them, and we're at the two year mark, so I certainly haven't seen a fail rate anywhere near whats described. Just another anecdote for the pile...
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) <> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:18PM (#4652374) Homepage Journal on.htm []
    These cases are being brought on behalf of purchasers of the MPG3xx series hard disk drives, irrespective of the entity from whom it was purchased. Additionally, Hewlett-Packard is sued in connection with its sale of the hard drives as components in certain HP computers and its processing of warranty claims. Please note that the MPG3xx hard drives were also distributed to retailers and to other computer manufacturers, although none of them have been made a party to the litigation at this time. []

    This took me 5 seconds. -8&q=fujitsu+hard+drive+failure&btnG=Google+Search []. I'm not sure what the point of this "Ask Slashdot" is, is the person just trying to inform everybody that there is a problem with Fujitsu drives? I didn't see an actual question in that "Ask Slashdot" except for the ones Cliff tacked on.

    • " the person just trying to inform everybody that there is a problem with Fujitsu drives?"

      Well, judging by his user details []:

      User #624901

      Michael_Angel has posted 0 comments.

      has submitted 1 stories.

      Have Fujitsu Harddrives Been Failing in Record Numbers? on 12/11/02 18:06

      that's exactly what he's trying to do.

      Sounds a bit fishy to me. He wouldn't happen to work for a competitor, do you think?
  • I have about 60 fujitsu drives at work. One failed a couple weeks ago. However my friend with same job at another location has sent back around 20 drives if not more, in the last few years. While hearing from yet another friend who worked for the state that he had fujitsus failing all over.

    I think so.
  • Failed Drives (Score:2, Informative)

    The company I work for built and installed 15 systems with identical configurations, all having a 20Gb Fijitsu hard drives. Each system was installed within the same week. Approximately 10 weeks later, each of the hard drives failed, in almost the same order they were installed.. I'd say this is definately a problem they need to look into.
  • IBM 300PLs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mechamse ( 515842 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:20PM (#4652392)
    I work for a large Oil Company in the North West US. We have roughly 1500 IBM 300PL systems in our inventory. Of those 1500 we have had to replace 700 or so Fujitsu HDDs due to various problems. Fortunately for our sake, IBM was using a mixed hardware pool when our systems were built because out of 1500 systems, all of the Fujitsu drives have now been replaced. Now we are suffering through Maxtor drives, but that is a tale for another day. This to me seemed to be a huge problem. We filed a complaint with IBM on this issue for not having a recall of the effected drives. IBM and all of the service centers in our area know of the problem, but that doesn't seem to be of importance.
    Not only is this the largest mass failure of a product, but also probably the largest cover-up to protect all of the parties involved.
    What really takes the cake on this whole issue is the pure audacity of Fujitsu in making this appear to be within the bounds of standard failure. That will keep me from ever using their equipment.
  • One of the many harddrives I have is a Fujitsu and they are prone to go bad, but as much as you say. I replaced 2 out of 20 that I have. I even got a better replacement because they were out of the drives I bought 2 1/2 yrs ago. So, I am happy.
  • by Brett Glass ( 98525 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:20PM (#4652402) Homepage
    Before I buy a hard drive, I always ask data recovery companies what they think of the most recent models. This page [], created by Drive Service Company says the following about Fujitsu:

    Fujitsu (Desktop drives only) Their 10, 15, 20 and 30gb desktop models have been failing left and right with either servo loss or electronic failure. Notebook drives are only so-so but are no longer manufactured. They have had so many returned drives, that they have stopped making drives all together.

    It then goes on to say:

    Fujitsu Notebook drives of any kind are prone to head crash, desktop drives are bad now too, sorry. Again, they have stopped making drives and now barely support what is left out there.

    Believe it or not, their most recommended brand is now Seagate (the high end models). And they strongly recommend anything with a SCSI interface over IDE -- not for performance reasons (there's really not that much difference if you cache) but for reliability.

    • On reading your cited reference -- this guy doesn't like ANY hard drive, at least not for long, which tends to make me wonder -- after all a data recovery person isn't going to see the mass of live drives, only the dead ones. I notice he didn't make any attempt to correlate marketshare vs number of dead HDs that come into his shop. Also, recommending SCSI over IDE for reliability doesn't necessarily wash either.

      Frex, Micropolis -- at one time rock-reliable SCSI HDs. But their final year's worth of SCSI HDs (mostly sold by surplus dealers after Micropolis went tits-up) have had, in my observation, a near-100% failure rate. Bad handling in transit or bad HDs? We'll never know.

      As to what I've heard locally about Fujitsu -- the general comment is "really unreliable", especially their SCSI HDs. I've never bought any Fujitsu HDs but at one time had been looking into 'em for consumer SCSI. No one had a good word to say about 'em, including HD dealers.

      Too bad their HDs aren't as durable and reliable as their floppy drives. I've got several Fujitsu 1.2mb 5" floppies dated 1986 that still work just fine, and some were the everyday data drive for systems in the pre-HD era. Don't think I've ever seen one fail yet.

      I think with the corner-cutting that all the HD mfgrs have been doing of late (cf. the recent cut in consumer-HD warranties to one year) we're going to see a steep increase in crap HDs from everyone, at every level. :(

  • by 19Buck ( 517176 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:21PM (#4652406) Homepage
    I recently ended a Contract position i was working as a Service Technician for Gateway. My job was basically to perform diagnostics and replace parts on the systems (duh!).

    I can tell you from experience, that Fujitsu drives were easily, by far and the way the most failed brand of drive that we replaced. It used to be Maxtor's that died in record numbers some time back, but the difference there is that Maxtor's were much more widely installed.

    A majority of the time that we had a system in with a bad HDD failure, we'd say "I bet it's a Fujitsu".. 90% of the time, that's exactly what we'd find inside the computer. After a while, we just stopped doing diagnostics troubleshooting on Fujitsu drives..we'd just close the system up and order a new drive.

    And if we got a Fujitsu drive back as a replacement, we wouldn't even install it, we'd close it up and send it back requesting another replacement HDD.

    They stopped us from doing that, said we couldn't send back drives that were working fine just because we didn't like the brand. So.. we said "ok", and resigned ourselves to the fact that the unlucky customer who got a Fujistu replacement drive would be back within a month.

    And guess what? A majority of the time.. they were.

  • by twoslice ( 457793 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:22PM (#4652420)
    I found the actual cause of the Fujitsu HD malfunction...PrOn!

    Apparently they are very allergic to PrOn and the more PrOn you have the more likely they are going to die.

    And from all of the horror stories posted here on /. about bad Fujistu drives it is probably true!
  • by 1by1 ( 620777 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:23PM (#4652440)
    I know that there in the west of Ireland that we are having severe problems with Fujitsu drives, especially ones beginning with the serial MPG3. The drives seem to have been giving up the ghost in high numbers for the past 6 months. (ie: in September, one site that had 15 PCs suddenly had 3 hard drives go in a period of 5 days...all three were Fujitsu with that serial number.) I seem to be receiving a call about once every two weeks now about a failed drive, and the majority of them have been Fujitsu ones...
  • by CrackHappy ( 625183 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:24PM (#4652450) Journal
    I owned a small computer shop for three years. We used Fujitsu drives for about one of those years. The main reason was to drive down our costs. However, it turned out that it cost us more in the end. We had a failure rate around 60%. Most of the failures were not spectacular, which made it worse! Strange things would happen. This was about 6 years ago, so I'm not surprised to see that they're having even worse trouble now. I also recommend Western Digital. They have been quite reliable for a long period of time for me and my users.
  • by shomon2 ( 71232 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:27PM (#4652484) Journal
    Yes, I had this problem on my puter: I have a compaq that comes with "same day support" - which in spain can mean a lot of things. One day my drive broke down. It was a fujitsu. The tech guy came the next day with a new one and even let me keep the old one for a few days while I submerged myself in hardware trying to mount it and copy my stuff out. Yes I do keep backups, but it's nice to just copy stuff back exactly how I had it.

    Second time, same problem: hard disk just stopped. Same exact one as before (although I don't remember what it is just now exactly). The same day technician this time was a few days later than last time, because they'd "had to order the part from madrid". The guy didn't even check the drive. He just changed it. He said: All these fujitsu's just crash on us. I don't even check them anymore to find out why. We ordered in a seagate. This time everything was lost. The computer couldn't even read the broken drive.

  • by occamboy ( 583175 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:28PM (#4652491)
    A very large problem here is that almost everyone buys on price alone. Over the years I've seen a number of manufacturers of really superior stuff get beaten up because manufacturers and consumers are so price-oriented.

    IBM and Fujitsu hard drives used to be the best -- really really solid and reliable. But they cost more. I remember when, several years ago, Fujitsu dropped their drive prices to bring them in line with seagatemaxtorquantumwesterndigital... -- I was surprised that Fujitsu could build a much better drive than their competition, at the same price. Turns out that they actually could not -- Fujitsu drives quickly started getting ungood.

    Sigh. I'll gladly pay a little more for quality, but since few others will -- I'm hosed.
  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:30PM (#4652513) Homepage
    The ex-girlfriend (still friend) had her hard drive failing. "Okay, order a WD, I'll come by and replace it." So she did, and the WD was DOA, and we end up out at Staples paying too much for a smaller Maxtor. But even too much is so cheap these days. Given that drive manufacturers are barely holding on in this market, and are all scrimping on quality control, does it even make sense not to install drives in pairs with RAID/0 mirroring? The cost of the second drive is far less than the time involved in even doing regular backups (although these are still a good idea for when to tornado strikes), let alone restoring a system.
    • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:37PM (#4652592) Journal
      "does it even make sense not to install drives in pairs with RAID/0 mirroring?"

      Well, in all honesty, that statement doesn't make much sense as is. ;)

      RAID-0 is striping, meaning there's no redundancy. RAID-1 is what you're looking for; that's mirroring. As for your question, it makes sense if you have valuable data and need maximum uptime to run a RAID-1 array. Extra costs are somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 for the card and the extra drive, unless you go el-ultracheapo, in which case you probably don't care anyway.

      The short answer is for the vast majority of home users, it doesn't make sense. For anyone running a home office, it should be one of a couple different backup methods, as it only guards against physical failure.

    • 1. Buy a Promise PCI HD controller. The ATA 100 one is available everywhere for 49 bucks. Maxtor sells these branded as their own too. 2. On the way home, stop at Radio Shack and buy two 120 ohm resistors. 3. Do a Google search to get the instructions on how to convert it to a RAID controller. If you are able to solder 4 connections, you can do this mod. in 30 minutes. It's beyond easy. 4. Get yourself a HD the same size or bigger then the one you want to mirror. Brand doesn't matter. I bought a Maxtor 60 gig for 99 bucks that had a coupon inside it for a $50.00 rebate to get their controller card free. 5. You're done. Okay it was only four steps. The ATA 66 Promise card can also be modded and doing so is even simpler then the ATA 100 one. I've done many of both and never had a single one go bad. The ATA66 card can be found as cheap as 20 bucks.
  • Bad News for Sun (Score:4, Informative)

    by niola ( 74324 ) <> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:30PM (#4652515) Homepage
    This is not a good turn of events for anyone who buys hard drives from Sun. At Princeton University, every time I order a hard drive for my Sun servers, it is actually a re-badged Fujitsu as of this past summer. Prior to Fujitsu all Sun drives were actually Seagate, and they were very reliable.

    Though I find this news disturbing, I have to say I have personally not had a failure of any of my Sun/Fujitsu drives yet. Knock on wood...

    Perhaps this problem is not in the higher-end 10k RPM SCSI drives?
    • Re:Bad News for Sun (Score:3, Informative)

      by autocracy ( 192714 )
      Sun buys from a different pool of hardware than the rest of the world. A Fujitsu drive bought from Sun will be better quality than one straight from Fujitsu... it's part of the deal they have. Fujitsu can't afford to have Sun come crashing down on their heads either. Same things goes for pretty much any part from Sun. If you've ever wondered why a 128 MB stick of RAM costs so much, it's because Sun will guarantee it...

      I have no connection with Sun other than I want to own some of their equipment...

  • by msoftsucks ( 604691 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:30PM (#4652518)
    I had bought 15 such drives 1 1/2 years ago for custom clones. All of these drives have since died. Never again will I buy Fujitsu. Its not that they died (other vendors are no better). Its the fact that they lied, and gave me no support in resolving the issue. They didn't even care that their products were failing with such a high rate. In that same period of time, I had bought some Western Digital drives, that have since died also. But when I called WD, and gave them the S/N they sent me a replacement drive, no questions asked. Compare the two and tell me who you would like doing business with. Vendors who don't stand by their products should be run out of business. Would I buy a Western Digital drive today? You betcha! Would I buy another Fujitsu? No way! Not even if they paid me!
  • Fujitsu MPG3307AT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yoink! ( 196362 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:30PM (#4652521) Homepage Journal
    I've had a 30GB 7200RPM Fujitsu drive for some time now... it's been in use at least a year and have not seen any trouble with it yet. The article did scare me into making yet another backup, but seriously, there are a lot of good posts here talking about how we tend to blow everything out of proportion. Yes, the register seems to have quite a bit of proof of faulty drives, and yes, this drive isn't exactly the cream of the crop. I can say that it has been doing it's job, and so far it hasn't made any strange noises or emitted any foul odours. On the other side of the consumer spectrum, it's not unusual for an automobile manufacturer to recalls tens of thousands of automobiles for "issues" that can actually result in death, yet people continue to drive those cars (many of whom didn't even get the recall notice and are driving potential execution chambers.) The fact is, at least with disk drives and data, if you don't have a backup then it's your own damn fault. It's like preventive health care for your information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:33PM (#4652555)
    I worked on an IT project at Western Digital. The drives that pass quality tests with flying colors go to customers like Dell, Compaq, etc. The lower quality ones go to Frys, Comp USA, etc.
  • RAID (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrroot ( 543673 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:34PM (#4652569)
    As the quality of drives is getting worse, more people will be turning to RAID to protect their desktop storage. It's no coincidence IDE RAID is becoming more common on motherboards, and the hard drive manufacturers aren't going to shed a tear about selling twice as many drives.
  • by docstrange ( 161931 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:35PM (#4652573) Homepage
    One of the desktop models that we ordered for widespread deployment in our enterprise was the compaq ipaq desktop. The 10GB Fujtsu drives that came in the 866mhz ipaq desktop. "Hard Drive Model MPG3102A" are failing left and right. I would estimate that I have had to replace on average 2 of these drives a week for the last few months. The drives started to magically fail after about a year of use. Fujutsu says that the drives should be covered under compaqs warranty. (which is only 1 year, and since gone), and refuses to help us replace their defective drives. The funny thing is that these drives have a known hardware flaw, and there is a firmware out there that tried to fix it. All of our drives have the alleged "fixed" firmware, yet they still are failing. If anyone wants a box of the 50 or so fujitsu paperweights that I've got over here please let me know. I really wish we didn't have to eat the cost of all these drives.
  • by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:51PM (#4652732) Homepage
    We too have had a failure rate of over 50% on 10Gb Fujitsu HDs about 18 months old fitted to our early Compaq DeskPro EXDs. Compaq have a BS firmware fix [] that doesn't work. We insisted that Compaq give us replacements for ALL the HDs, which they did, but they won't admit to the problem.

    If you've got a installation of more than a couple of these HDs you'll *know* about the failure rate. If not, then the 10Gb unit is part MPG3102AT dated early 2001 - if you have one of these replace it NOW. I guess that MPG3204AT, MPG3307AT and MPG3409AT are faulty too.

    There's an interesting thread here []. But trust me, if you have a home PC with one of these units in, replace it right now.

  • by Psychotext ( 262644 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:52PM (#4652740)
    I work for a large soft drink making company that through a third party contractor ended up with Fujitsu hard drives in all of the equipment that we use to control the blending and dosing (Putting in bottles) of our drinks. About 6 months ago we started noticing failures of these machines in large numbers but could not work out what was causing them.

    We initially put it down to heat (Surely these drives can't all be naturally broken) and fitted expensive cooling gear. They kept failing.

    We then thought that it was the contractor messing with the machines that caused the failures so we put in better access control (Simple key to allow dial in). This didn't fix it either.

    It was only when I ordered 80 western digital hard drives and started replacing the Fuji's once they broke that we started noticing that the WD drives were not breaking. We are currently scheduling downtime of the plant to replace the rest (Not easy given it all runs 24x7 and we are always behind schedule).

    Needless to say we are not happy at all. I would hate to think how much money all that downtime has cost the company, and how much lost sleep the IT team has had to endure from the endless call-outs.
  • Which models? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:55PM (#4652766) Homepage Journal
    It's pretty stupid to say "Fujitsu hard drives are bad" without giving model numbers. IBM drives were fine, except the horrid GXP line. The MAN-series 10K RPM SCSI drives I have at home are all running beautifully. As far as I know, it's just a certain line of cheap IDE Fujitsus that are displaying these problems.

    Please be more specific.

    - A.P.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @02:55PM (#4652774)
    Some time ago we built a system which had roughly 150 IBM Travelstar, 20GB notebook drives in it.

    Whenever we turned the system on, there would almost always be some drives (roughly 3 or 4) that made 'clunking' sounds for about 20 seconds. Consequently, the system that one of those drives was in would not boot because it couldn't read from the drive. It wouldn't always be the same drives, but some would do it more frequently than others.

    Originally we ran these systems with a in-house written BIOS, but in the end we where able to reproduce the problem without a BIOS chip at all (that is, the clunking would happen, of course the system would never boot). We looked at the power up voltage and it was well within spec.

    IBM engineers came over to look at the problem and took a drive with them to analyze it. Nothing came out of that exercise and we ended up swapping all the drives for Toshibas, after which the problem never occured.

    What amazed me was that IBM recognized the problem and never came through with an explanation, let alone a fix.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:06PM (#4652876)
    I have a 6 gig Fujitsu that has the goofiest jumpter settings. In one mode you set one jumper across a pair of pins like any other drive, in another mode you set two jumpers, one in the normal fashion and another *horizontally* across one of the pins used for the other mode, in a manner normally used to park jumpers on drives that have all jumpers open for some modes.

    I neglected to do this properly -- I couldn't believe it worked that way -- when adding it as a slave drive and it corrupted the master drive, sinking my system.

    It's the only drive I've ever seen that used jumper settings in this manner. I haven't used the drive much, so it hasn't failed...yet.
  • Single Drive RAID (Score:3, Interesting)

    by superid ( 46543 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:11PM (#4652916) Homepage
    Highpoint chipsets are cheap, I've got two motherboards with them built in (and unused)

    In a heartbeat I would buy a 40 GB drive that was actually internally mirrored 40's. Yes, I will pay a significant premium for integrity.

    So, manufacturers, build me a single drive form factor hard drive, with 1 ide connector that is in fact a RAID 1 array!

    • by dsb3 ( 129585 )
      > So, manufacturers, build me a single drive form factor hard drive, with 1 ide connector that is in fact a RAID 1 array!

      And, when one drive fails, you want to replace both together instead of just replacing the bad one and remirroring??

  • by Faramir ( 61801 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:16PM (#4652971) Homepage Journal

    I cannot give you any kind of meaningful data, except this: in the last three years, in environments that are probably equal mixtures of Fujitsu, IBM, and Maxtor (in terms of IDE drives), I've seen far more Fujitsu drives die than anything else. At my current company, I've had 75% of my Fujitsu drives die, without a single other failure.

  • by Dr. Ion ( 169741 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:46PM (#4653266)
    I've been pretty happy with my sample of *two* Fujitsu MPG3409AT drives. They're silent, run cool, and serve up 40GB each without hassle for about three years so far.

    My beef is with the IBM Deathstar GXP drives.. the 60 and 75GB drives last 1 to 6 months, and then get read errors. I have one drive that has been RMA'd four times. I don't dare install the replacement drive.
  • by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @04:04PM (#4653433)
    The downward price pressure on hard drives has been extreme in the last few years, and now wer're paying the other price - in reliability.

    I worked for several years for a company which designed and manufactured ICs for hard drives (I worked on read channels, but the company made other chips as well, such as preamps and servo controllers). There has always been competition and downward price pressure in this market, but early on, both the ASPs and the product lifetimes were somewhat reasonable.

    Over the last 5-10 years, things have changed a lot. The lifetime of a drive product is very short (sometimes as short as 6 months), and each new generation is so much faster and denser than the last that many of the critical components require a from-the-ground-up redesign with very little being borrowed from the previous generation. This, combined with lower ASPs than ever, have made it more and more difficult to be highly profitable as maker of chips for hard drives. Companies that are successful have engineers working very long hours to do it. Several companies have left the market entirely, or have taken on other product lines as well

    And this is just the ICs. I'm sure manufacturers of other drive components (platters, heads, etc.) have seen similar erosion of product lifetimes and ASPs.

    The end result of all of this it that there will be an inevitable hit in quality and reliability. There's really no other choice. When customers are once again willing to pay $200-$300 for a current technology drive, you will see the quality go backup. Even today, SCSI drives, which are generally more expensive then IDE drives are also more reliable, as many posters have pointed out.

  • Oven chips ;) (Score:3, Informative)

    by Epsillon ( 608775 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @06:33PM (#4654676) Journal
    OK, I have a Fujitsu MPG-3102AT date coded 2001-03, right smack bang where the problem occurred. It's also dead, an ex-drive, if it wasn't screwed to the drive-bay it'd be pushing up the daisies... The problem is reported to be with the controller chip, one Cirrus Logic's CL-SH8671 batch coded 450E on mine. I contacted Fujitsu (being unfotunate enough to have purchased mine from a computer fair, silly sod) and found that they DON'T hono(u)r the warranty for end users! The b@stards! Last time I buy a Fujitsu drive. The problem with the chip is that Cirrus, in their infinite wisdom, changed the material they use to encapsulate this huge QFP IC without telling anyone (so Fujitsu's story goes) and subsequently the reflow ovens in the SMD process were not reprofiled to take into account the new properties of the material they used. So the *chip* ended up either cooked to the point that ingress of moisture became possible during heat-up/cool down cycles or didn't reflow properly so ended up with dry joints on the legs because the new material leeched the heat away from the joints. I tried reflowing mine on an SMD rework station and no joy so I suspect the former. Can't believe they say there isn't a problem, especially when they're rumo(u)red to be currenly in dispute with CL over this batch of ICs which they claim were sub-standard. If they were so sub-standard, how di they get through QC, humm? IS ther a QC dept.? Draw your own conclusions!
  • Poll? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Openadvocate ( 573093 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @08:28PM (#4655583)
    Isn't this something you could put in a poll?
    (o) I own a Fujitsu and no problems.
    (o) Fujitsu 0wned my harddrive
    (o) I don't own a Fujitsu and no problems.
    (o) I don't own a Fujitsu but many problems.
    (o) I want a Fujitsu so I can get problems.

    etc etc
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @09:40PM (#4655945) Homepage
    Most tech veterans from the pre-Windows era will already know this but for everyone else:

    Hard drives fail.

    They always have, they always will. They're mechanical, and even better than that, they're magnetic. That's how it is. You should plan to have to replace your hard drive every 1-3 years at least, if not more often than that, depending on workload and conditions. That's how it's always been. For the people saying 'but... I've never had a hard drive fail...' -- you're lucky as hell, but someday your luck will run out.

    Even backup solutions fail.

    Removable storage is mechanical as well. There are a lot of variables. Years of experience taught me the following lessons:
    • If you don't maintain removable storage backups (i.e. not just RAID-0 sitting inside your computer), you will lose data, sooner or later. Period. Some component on your power supply (even your high-end redundant power supply) will blow and take the entire system out with it. Or someone will acidentally bump into the case and cause a head crash. Or you'll have an earthquake. Or the sprinklers will come on because of a fault in the fire system. Or something. Trust me, it will happen.
    • Never use a single magnetic backup solution as your only solution, or you'll come running to your one set of tapes the day your hard drive crashes only to find that the secretary has been holding notes to that particular file cabinet with a nice magnet... it never fails.
    • Always keep at least one relatively recent set of backups offsite. Hell, put them in your desk at work, or in your locker at the gym, or in your safe deposit box, or at your mother-in-law's house. If your house or business burns down, you will be glad that you have your data saved somewhere.
    • If someone else manages your server (i.e. you're paying big bucks to some hosting company), be sure you pay extra for good backup service. Trust me, they will happily lose your data through some dumb operator error, and they'll be happy to tell you that they won't be held liable when you're yelling at them on the phone.
    • Make sure you back up often, but also keep a number of backups stretching back several weeks at least. Trust me, at some point you'll be glad you can go back and restore that 'old file' you deleted, or the old system, before the root kit that you haven't noticed for two weeks was installed.

    This may all seem excessive for the "home" user, but if you're anything like me (these days I'm a writer/photographer), being a "home" user can often mean that your entire livelihood and household are tied up in your data.

    As for me, myself, personally, right now I keep my nightlies on a rotating group of 14 8mm tapes using an Exabyte 8505XL drive. I use only data-grade tapes from major manufacturers. I run drive diagnostics often. I never use a tape through more than 10 passes. For my really important data, I also use 9.6GB DVD-RAM for redundancy. I would never consider working without backups, simply depending on this brand of hard drive or that one to not fail. I've lost too many hard drives over the years (ever seen a platter on an 10" drive crack and bits go flying everywhere, cracking the other platters and half the windows in the room?!) ever to be naive enough to trust one again.

    Point of post: BACK UP YOUR DATA. Never think of a hard drive as anything other than short-term storage. Never think of any magnetic media as anything other than short-term storage, or you'll be crying sooner or later.
  • by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2002 @03:34AM (#4657530) Journal
    I've seen 100% failure rate on a batch of 10 and 20 gig Fujitsu drives installed in the summer of 2001. They started failing after 10 months or so. This was in Norway.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein