Guest 888

Seagate FreeAgent Pro - eSATA too slow

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Guest 888

Something is wrong with Seagate FreeAgent Pro external drive's eSATA performance. Not depending on drive capacity, just all of the models in this "Pro" series suffering that... Still, not sure if this concerns the production of some batches, some months or totally all...

At first the idea started from our local customers' complaints. Then I googled in 'net and found numerous similar problems arised in customer reviews on this product.

The major complaint is that using eSATA interface in these models doesn't give much faster transfer speeds than USB, for some customers it has been even lower... Usually the HDtach tests indicate STR around 30 MB/s only, in better cases up to 40 MB/s (and the very best rare result I digged out was maximum 60 MB/s). At the same time similar tests for LaCie and WD (models with eSATA) resulted usually twice better, even up to 80 MB/s (which is already the limit of internal HDD's STR itself).

The second complaint about this FreeAgent Pro is its extremely slow access times. All tests I was able to gather here and there indicated the access time in the range from 21 to 29 ms! At the same time the same tests for LaCie and WD models resulted in normal 13 to 14 ms access time.

The reason for such an anomalies is unknown yet... There may be something wrong with eSATA interface but as well with the external drive's combo firmware too. But I have no idea why the access(seek) can be soooo slow... It's even slower than for the drive with AAM on...

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Wow, I just tested my Seagate FreeAgent Pro after reading this thread. I can't get above 45MB/s using an eSATA connection and the graph is all over the place... not the usual smooth downward curve of my other hard drives. Does anyone know of a solution? Has this been acknowledged by Seagate?

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I just called Seagate support and they suggested it could be the SATA > eSATA external faceplate / adaptor I am using. Sounds reasonable. I'm gonna try a direct motherboard to drive connection with a SATA > eSATA cable. If that shows low transfer rates its got to be the Hard Disk...

No mention of a "yes this is an endemic problem with FreeAgent Pro drives", you can RMA it if you want...

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Guest 888

Some references pointing to this problem:

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2173845,00.asp

(look at the all graphs there - Seagate is in low bottom always)

http://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=49310

("The esata results for the WD are: access =13.7ms / avg read= 52.9MBs")

("The Seagate comes in at: access=21.2ms / avg read= 32.7MBs")

http://ohgizmo.com/2007/05/28/seagate-free...ts-not-to-like/

("max 39.5 MB/s")

http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-FreeAgent-Fi...iews/B000ND93DE

("HD Tach reports absurdly slow stats--eSATA, Firewire --no significant difference")

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7588_102-0.htm...ssageID=2483661

("my eSATA is transferring slower than USB??")

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/08/17/500...ted/page12.html

(STR is better but not still anything good here but access time still out of the all range)

...and there's more similar results available...

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Guest 888
I have a sata/usb combo enclosure fitted with a seagate drive and its performance are like the internal disk i have.

Do you have a Seagate internal drive put in other manufacturer's eSATA/USB combo box?

Or still that Seagate's own-assembled box "FreeAgent Pro"?

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I have a sata/usb combo enclosure fitted with a seagate drive and its performance are like the internal disk i have.

Do you have a Seagate internal drive put in other manufacturer's eSATA/USB combo box?

Or still that Seagate's own-assembled box "FreeAgent Pro"?

The enclosure is made in china :D. It's aluminium with passive cooling.

I bought it on ebay UK and the seller pre-fitted it with a 750gb seagate (the model w/ 16mb cache). Money well spent.

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Guest 888
I have a sata/usb combo enclosure fitted with a seagate drive and its performance are like the internal disk i have.

Do you have a Seagate internal drive put in other manufacturer's eSATA/USB combo box?

Or still that Seagate's own-assembled box "FreeAgent Pro"?

The enclosure is made in china :D. It's aluminium with passive cooling.

I bought it on ebay UK and the seller pre-fitted it with a 750gb seagate (the model w/ 16mb cache). Money well spent.

So, then it's another thing, not just on topic here...

The problem discussed here is sure located somewhere in bridge circuitry of just Seagate FreeAgent Pro enclosures, not in Seagate HDDs generally.

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Guest 888
I'm gonna try a direct motherboard to drive connection with a SATA > eSATA cable. If that shows low transfer rates its got to be the Hard Disk...

One of my customers already tried this too, connecting the FreeAgent Pro into motherboard's SATA port using SATA-to-eSATA cable.

As a result he got +10 MB/s more speed then but that's still very slow for SATA connection (around 50 MB/s max for a 80 MB/s max HDD). Yes true, something depends on eSATA (or SATA) controllers in computer-side but anyway I haven't seen any over 61 MB/s result got of these FreeAgent Pro eSATA connections... Most of the results still average between 30 to 40 MB/s.

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I think you are right. I can't be bothered to spend money on a cable and trouble shoot this and that with Seagate tech support when EVERYONE seems to be having the same problem. I asked the store I got it from for a refund. Failing that, I will just buy an Antec MX-1 enclosure and transfer the hard disk myself. Luckily, the Seagate Freeagent Pro 750GB cost around the same as a bare 750GB hard disk when I was purchasing it, so although this problem is annoying, I won't be much out of pocket.

Anything to cut down the 3 hour backup time! It should take around 2 hours with a fully functional eSATA connection.

I bet the eSATA implementation is somehow bridged through the USB controller.

Stupid Seagate.

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I just swapped the hard disk (7200.10 Seagate ST3750640AS 3.AFK) out from the Freeagent Pro enclosure into an Antec MX-1. The Antec enclosure has been tested on many sites as giving eSATA performance around 2MB/s less than internal mounting; to all intents and purposes the same.

HD Tach shows the access times remain 21.5ms. (should be in the region of 14ms)

The Max data throughput will not go above 68MB/s. (should max out at around 80MB/s). The HD tach graphs as a flat plateau around 60MB/s until near the end (500GB > 750GB) where it tails off normally.

However the average transfer rate has increased to 61MB/s which is a huge improvement over the 40MB/s that the Freeagent Pro enclosure was giving.

I think the Freeagent Pro hard disks are either firmware limited or are disks that didn't make it through regular testing.

I am keeping mine. But to anyone else considering a Freeagent Pro; just buy a bare drive and a quality enclosure like the Antec MX-1 which has cables / accessories included . It will cost roughly the same and give better performance.

Edited by student

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just to make doubly sure, I connected the Seagate disk with a straight SATA connection, mounted internally. The figures were the same as tested before in the Antec MX-1 enclosure. Its definately the disk.

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Guest 888
just to make doubly sure, I connected the Seagate disk with a straight SATA connection, mounted internally. The figures were the same as tested before in the Antec MX-1 enclosure. Its definately the disk.

Now it really looks like it's both the disk and also FreeAgent enclosure - both have problems with speed throughput, causing together such an extremely poor result... Oh yes, count this just another Seagate's mystery!

I think there must be just firmware problems also here. Too much of them happened recently with all kind of Seagate products...

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I just got off the phone with Seagate support.

The 40MB/s ish transfer rates that have frustrated us are on spec. The support guy said the actual max transfer rate of the Seagate Freeagent Pro connected via eSATA was 44MB/s or there abouts. I kept asking about ripping the drive out and doing a firmware update and was eventually put through to a very helpful level 2 support guy.

A firmware update is on the way in 2-3 months that should improve performance. It's actually testing right now, but won't released it until its been properly evaluated. If the my Freeagent Pro was intact, they would also have been willing to do a return / exchange. 888, it might be worthwhile for your customers to go down this route, and exchange their Freeagent Pro's for an equivalent desktop hard disk and buy their own eSATA enclosures.

I invalidated my warranty by opening mine up so I couldn't do an exchange. They also couldn't or wouldn't do a firmware update for the hard disk taken out from the enclosure. Apparently, firmware version 3.afk was specifically tuned to work with the Freeagent enclosure / interface and is different and apparently non upgradeable from their desktop models. I think they see the thing as a complete package rather than an enclosure + seperate drive.

So there is it. Frustrated Freeagent Pro eSATA users can either wait for the firmware update or get on the case to Seagate and get their drives refunded or exchanged. I would do the latter as they said something about eSATA being implemented through USB2.0...

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doing some googling... I think they use 3.afk firmware in Tivo's as well. Maybe the firmware is tuned for silence and low heat generation. The Freeagent Pro was certainly quiet.

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Guest 888
The 40MB/s ish transfer rates that have frustrated us are on spec. The support guy said the actual max transfer rate of the Seagate Freeagent Pro connected via eSATA was 44MB/s or there abouts...

...they said something about eSATA being implemented through USB2.0...

Omg... that's a really weird idea from them! Totally killing the purpose of eSATA...

If they don't know how to make a good eSATA interface then it's better to implement a simple mechanical switch between the drive and bridge circuit - just switching the drive's output directly to the eSATA jack then...

Maybe the firmware is tuned for silence and low heat generation. The Freeagent Pro was certainly quiet.

Of course it must be really quiet if its average access time is 21...28 ms! But, somehow couple of other manufacturers offer very quiet drives with normal seek times too!

Yes true, generally external backup storage does not need fast seek times but still... I feel Seagate made it too much slow...

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My FreeAgent Pro 320GB is connected with a USB2.0 cable, and runs about 5 times as fast as it did with a Sata-to-eSATA connector to the backplate, then a 3ft eSATA cable to the baseplate of the drive. Either way, the baseplate becomes too hot to touch.

Seagate tech support suggested I get a PCI eSATA controller, but (a) is that really going to make a difference to the speed, (B) I don't have an open PCI slot (2 PCI and 3 PCI express), and ©, why should I cough up for a controller, only to find that the drive is still not appreciably faster than USB?

And what's the deal with the overheating?

Has anyone successfully used an eSATA controller with this beast?

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My FreeAgent Pro 320GB is connected with a USB2.0 cable, and runs about 5 times as fast as it did with a Sata-to-eSATA connector to the backplate, then a 3ft eSATA cable to the baseplate of the drive. Either way, the baseplate becomes too hot to touch.

Seagate tech support suggested I get a PCI eSATA controller, but (a) is that really going to make a difference to the speed, (B) I don't have an open PCI slot (2 PCI and 3 PCI express), and ©, why should I cough up for a controller, only to find that the drive is still not appreciably faster than USB?

And what's the deal with the overheating?

Has anyone successfully used an eSATA controller with this beast?

This is basically the scenario that I went through this last month. You can read about it in more detail here:

http://seventhfury.blogspot.com

This is an overall frustrating problem. The fact that spent a bunch of time trying to impletment an eSATA connection to my computer only to find that the USB 2.0 driver is faster really irks my chain.

I guess I'll stick with USB 2.0, although it's really disappointing that SeaGate even put an eSATA output on the FreeAgent Pro if it was going to be that slow. I'd have been happier with FIREWIRE 800.

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an eSATA card isn't going to work. The eSATA transfer rate of the Seagate Freeagent Pro is 44MB/s max according to Seagate Technical Support. Its the actual Freeagent Pro enclosures eSATA connection that causes such low transfer rates. If you rip out the 7200.10 disk like I did (see above) and put it into another enclosure, the eSATA average transfer rate bumps up to around 60MB/s. The disk itself is also firmware limited to keep it cool and quiet. It has greatly increased seek times (22m/s) and a lower max transfer rate (65MB/s) compared to its desktop 7200.10 brethren (14m/s, 78MB/s)

Edited by student

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I just happened upon this thread from a web search... boy, are you guys going to be happy... :-)

I bought the 750GB FreeAgent Pro a few days ago and saw the same absymal ESATA performance.

I did some research.

I found this little gem posted in a review on NewEgg's website:

http://support.seagate.com/rightnow/downlo...SATA_Update.zip

This is a firmware update that will completely transform the ESATA performance!

After the update, HDSpeed is reporting ~61MB/sec read performance on my PC... still a 22ms access time, but a drastic increase in read/write performance over ESATA!

My notes on the firmware update process:

I didn't install the included JAVA VM as they directed as I already have JAVA VM V1.6.0, so installing 1.5.x was unnecessary for me.

For those of you who have never used the Oxford updater before (I've used it many times before on Oxford chip firewire enclosures).. do be careful and don't change anything you aren't sure of. Follow the instructions provided with the update and you should have no problems. Note that you may have to scan the USB bus a few times until it picks up the FreeAgent.. that's okay.

At the end of the update (and the updater says that the update was successful), the drive will just sit there glowing at you - that's normal. At this point, you need to unplug it to power it off. Wait 10 or 20 seconds... then you can power it back up and either check the esata firmware version using the oxford updater (with the drive still plugged in via usb) or unplug from usb, plug in your ESATA cable back in and reap the rewards immediately.

Also, on my machine, the drive had to be re-recognized by XP after the update (in my experience, typical behavior after an Oxford firmware update). Also, I have not tried this update on Vista, but I would think that it would work fine.

GOOD LUCK!

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Great! 4 weeks, after I spent another $70 AND trashed my 5 year warranty, they issue the update! The tech support guy I spoke to was unwilling to give a firmware update release date, and said it could take upto 3 months + there were no performance guarantees.

Looks like it performs at the same rate as mine in an Antec MX1 enclosure... GOD DAMN YOU SEAGATE!

Edited by student

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Great! 4 weeks, after I spent another $70 AND trashed my 5 year warranty, they issue the update! The tech support guy I spoke to was unwilling to give a firmware update release date, and said it could take upto 3 months + there were no performance guarantees.

Looks like it performs at the same rate as mine in an Antec MX1 enclosure... GOD DAMN YOU SEAGATE!

The update has existed since August, 2007, at minimum. That is the date of the review on Newegg which contained the link I provided here.

Sorry about your issues, but when someone goes out of their way to help you, you could say thank you.

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