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Hard Drive Firmware Update/Recover by Yourself

June 4th, 2009

firmware update We know that up to 60% of hard disk drive failures are caused by firmware corruption. Just a little damage is enough to render a hard drive totally unusable. In such cases hard drive becomes inaccessible and sometimes can completely disappear from the system.

“For example, a hard drive can lose its parameters such as device model number and capacity. When it happens, there is no access to partitions and files. In most cases the problem is caused by firmware damage.”

What is firmware?
Firmware is software which is embedded in a piece of hardware. You can think of firmware simply as “software for hardware”.

Where the firmware stores?
Modern disks normally have their firmware codes located on data platters and also the PCB board.

Why firmware is so important?
Without the firmware, no communication will be possible between the PC system and the hard disk. If the firmware area is corrupted, the drive will appear to have failed even all the electrical and mechanical components are still fully functional.

The symptoms of firmware corruption:
1. Drive powers up, but is not recognized /defected by the computer
2. Drive powers up, but is recognized wrongly, sometimes with nonsensical characters, manufacture alias (Such as N40p for Maxtor 6Y and etc ;);
3. Drive freezes during booting up;
4. Drive detect in wrong Capacity, such as 80 GB detected as 1Mb;
5. S.M.A.R.T error;
6. Drive is locked by human error; such as Hitachi hard drive by a drop; it is a self protection method of HDD design;
7. Drive clicking ;( it can be caused by firmware too, the heads try to read the SA on platters and can not positing)

How to update/recover hard drive firmware by yourself?

In fact, in many drives the firmware can be updated under software control, very much the same way that a flash BIOS works. Unlike the system BIOS, this is only very rarely done, when a particular sort of problem exists with the firmware logic that can be fixed without requiring a physical hardware change. You can check the drive manufacturer’s web site for more details. For Example: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 Command Queuing

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on the expensive data recovery tools, such as PC3000 or HD Doctor Suite, how do you recover hard drive firmware corruption? Here are some free firmware recover tools , hope them can help you:

A-FF Repair Station

  • Diagnoses the Firmware Area and hard drive mechanics and displays a short summary of hard drive’s health;
  • Reads the Firmware Area;
  • Extracts and analyzes all firmware structures;
  • Rebuilds damaged parts and writes the firmware back to the drive.

All the operation is absolutely safe to the data (partitions and files) and takes no more than 20 minutes.

Maxtor Firmware Repair 2.0
Aiming at solution for typical firmware malfunction of Maxtor 541DX (2B020H1 2B010H1), which may manifest itself as follows:

  • HDD is not identified or identified by its factory alias “Maxtor Athena”;
  • HDD starts the motor and then hangs.

Seagate Firmware Repair 5.0
Aiming at one-key solution towards typical firmware malfunction of Seagate Barracuda VII drives, which may manifest itself as follows:

  • HDD is not identified or identified incorrectly;
  • HDD starts the motor and then hangs.

Please share your ideas here!

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