November 3, 2004

Danger Lurks in Defective Computer Products

Even though computers are a vital part of modern society, containing information that must be worth Trillions; somehow, the entire industry seems to be excluded from the practices and safeguards we demand in everything else that we buy.

Imagine, if you will, an automobile that was virtually guaranteed to suffer two blowouts, roll, and then explode because the gas tank was punctured by one of the tires; always when running at highway speeds.  Lawyers would have a field day, congress would enact legislation; in short, things would be changed. My analogy may seem extreme; but, if you read on, you may find there is more validity in it than not.

Since 2000, almost every manufacturer of the hard disk drives used in PC's, Apple's; servers and workstations alike, has produced at least one series of defective drives.  Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, Maxtor, Quantum, Seagate, and Western Digital are the preeminent names and Fujitsu alone produced almost seven million of their defective series.  These drives have been used by Dell, Gateway, HP, Compaq, IBM, Apple, Sun, and anybody else you care to name.

What is different from past problems with hard disk drives is the nature of the failures.  Without exception, the failure is sudden; giving no notice whatsoever, and the loss is total.  Once failed, the drives no longer come ready and the unlucky owner has little or no chance of ever recovering their data.  The specific cause of failure varies from manufacturer to manufacturer; but, the result is the same.

What is truly wrong with this situation is that it is known by both the manufacturers of the hard disk drives and the vendors that use them.  Dell, IBM, Apple, et al, know about the problems and which specific computers are affected yet they do nothing about it.  No recalls are sent, no notices are posted on the support pages for the affected products; the whole matter has been left as the ultimate in buyer beware. 

Just as bad, support for hard disk S.M.A.R.T. reporting, a feature which allows the drive to report impending failure, has been included in both the rom BIOS and Windows since 1996, but is typically disabled in the rom and has no application checking status in Windows; though writing such an app is trivial for any of the manufacturers.

So, in a nutshell, we have numerous manufacturers knowing they have defective products in the marketplace doing nothing, or even deliberately hiding their knowledge of those defects and preventing users from any warning of the impending failure.

Since it is a fact that 50% of businesses fail following the kind of loss this represents, why will nobody do anything about it?  The losses are several billion dollars per year in the U.S alone.

Below is a partial listing of the drives involved.

If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to contact me by Email or by phone.


Davis M McCarn
184 Eaglecrest Drive
Matthews, NC 28104Mouse Copyright 2004 Davis M McCarn
(704) 882-7551 or

Please note: All of these represent a catastrophic failure.  Once it has happened, the drive no longer exists as far as the computer is concerned.

MPF or MPG just about anything. 10 and 20 Gigabyte models circa 2000 & 2001.  Defective IC's and corruption of special data kept on the media.  Failure rate approaching 100%!

Deskstar 60/75GXP series 10-75 Gigabyte models.  These drives idle the heads at the same location, eventually chewing up the media and the location is critical to system operation.
Travelstar (laptops) 10-60 Gigabytes

DK23 series extensively used in laptops. 10-60 Gigabytes

541DX series. 10-40 Gigabytes.  Corrupts the defect list kept on the media.
540X series.  10-80 Gigabytes
6ELxxx series. 20-120 Gigabytes.  Runs too hot and corrupts the media.

Fireball lct series. 10-20 Gigabytes. Also chews up the media.
Fireball AS20 & AS40. 20 & 40 Gigabytes.

Several models in Barracuda III and IV
U Series 5. 10-40 Gigabytes

Western Digital:
WD200, 400, 600, 800, 1200 series. 20-120 Gigabytes.  S.M.A.R.T. - The early warning mechanism for the hard disk becomes corrupt resulting in "click of death"  This drive series represents the largest number of irrecoverable drives I have seen and, while I do not yet know the cause of their failure, I have proven it to be on the media and not due to any surge or mechanical abuse.

I am sure there are other drives I have not yet encountered while performing data recovery services; but, these alone represent well over 100 million drives.


Davis M McCarn 2004 All Rights Reserved