Seagate M9T saga02. Dec '14
In September of 2014 I ordered one of those fancy new 2TB disks for my laptop. It was foolish of me to order it from eBay hoping to get marginally lower price of 94 GBP, that's roughly 115€ or 150 USD. As the advertisement said it was a brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged 2.5" internal SATA harddisk, this however was not exactly true.
Manufacturer price policy is rather silly so these disks within external enclosures are actually cheaper than the ones designed for internal use. Scammers buy these disks within external enclosures and resell them as internal disks.
The main problem here is that the manufacturer warranty is void and if you attempt to send such disk to Seagate customer service they will tell you the manufacturer warranty does not cover these disks. Buyers are of course not aware of this and once the disk fails, there is nobody to turn to except the seller on eBay.
By default the disk has no power management turned on and it seems to be doing silly thing in such case. For instance heads are being parked after 3 seconds of idling which seems to be a bit excessive. Western Digital disks also have such "feature" called IntelliPark 3. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that most USB-SATA bridges don't pass power management commands and disks intended for such enclosures should park heads as soon as possible to avoid damage. I am also going to assume that Windows sets power management for internal disks so disks aren't going to go nuts.
After about month of using the disk I noticed that the load cycle count had exceeded 30000. Load cycle count refers to number of times the harddisk head has been parked in the safe zone and for most modern disks it's around 600000, so within month I had used up 5% of the designed limit.
Once the load cycle count issues emerged I first queried Seagate whether there could be something wrong with the firmware:
Dear Lauri VÃµsandi: Thank you for contacting Seagate Support. I am sorry that hear that you having problem with your the cycle count of your drive. Unfortunately since the drive serial number S32WJACF104748 was taking out of the encloser the warranty was voided. The drive was not meant to be use as a internal drive. I suggested you take the drive out of the computer and connect it to a Window PC and test with Seatools. http://www.seagate.com/gb/en/support/downloads/item/seatools-dos-master/ Unfortunately we do not support your version of Linux. I apologizes for the inconvenience that may cost you.
So besides being oblivious about unicode on 21st century they also don't support Linux. The fact that the disk was taken out of an external enclosure and the warranty was void came to me sort of a surprise because the seller on eBay didn't mention any of this.
I tried updating the firmware but the SeaTools of course are only available for Windows and even there the firmware update feature does not work.
Seagate eventually confirmed that the error was displayed because there were no firmware updates available for the harddisk.
Returning the disk to seller
When I queried the seller about the lack of manufacturer warranty he never gave me really proper answer. He was pointing on the other sellers that they're doing the same as if that was some sort of excuse. I had to leave negative comment to get thing going. He agreed to refund the disk so I sent it back on 30th of October, 2014 to the address he provided:
Richard Ponniah 21 Bourne Valley Road Poole BH121DX United Kingdom
According to package tracking 2 he picked up the package on 5th of November, 2014. Further communications have proven fruitless and so far I haven't got my money back. The whole eBay and PayPal have been so mechanized it's nearly impossible to get contact with human customer service. E-mails sent to PayPal and eBay customer service haven't been responded. This seller goes by many names and he's also known as Rich Woody. I have now multiple e-mails provided by him aswell: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. His eBay page 1 has surprisingly positive feedback and I am guessing the buyers are also clueless about the scam.
Note that I can't change my feedback to negative anymore nor can I add another follow-up, this seems to be another interesting "feature" of eBay. When I click on "Leave Feedback" link on his store page eBay is just saying "You have no transactions for which you can leave Feedback".
Harddisk firmware engineers could be less of a morons, the harddisk controller already has a lot of resources so why not implement proper heuristics to determine optimal head parking interval?
I am surprised about how far we've come when it comes to customer service. eBay and PayPal have mechanized the whole process so it's nearly impossible to talk to a human about your issues. I strongly discourage buying expensive stuff via eBay and if you happen to do that, make sure you don't revise negative feedback before you've sorted out the issue.
PayPal even dared to send feedback survey about the customer service I never had. Here PayPal again demonstrates their lack of knowledge about international business by using some obscure charset instead of unicode:
I eventually bought disks from local reseller who has a phone number and a face. I was baffled by the seller attitude as Richard pretty much validated the scamming by saying that others are doing the same. He still owes me more than 100€.
Fixing power management for M9T disks
The power management issue was mitigated simply by switching this disk APM value to 254:
hdparm -B 254 /dev/sda # The disk stops clicking in that power management mode hdparm -S 24 /dev/sda # Suspend disk in 2 minutes
The disk "forgets" it's power management settings unlike my SanDisk SSD and systemd screwed up few bits aswell so tweaking hdparm resume scripts 4 might be necessary.