B4RSK

Fujitsu IDE HDDs -- Further information

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Well, the friendly Fujitsu tech came by at work today, and we had a little chat about their current hard drive problems.

The fault with the drives is in the Cirrus Logic controller chip. This chip is clearly visible on the drive's PC board, and the ones I have seen have this information on them:

Cirrus Logic

CL-SH8671-450E-A3

They are made in Korea.

If you have a drive with one of these chips on it, there is a very high probability that it will fail. Apparently there was some sort of problem when these chips were fab'd, and now the failure rate is very high.

Here's the kicker though... Fujitsu has known about this problem for at LEAST 6 months!! That was when the very high rate of failures started, and Fujitsu started to see a lot of dead drives. So much for quick action on their part.

At least they are better than IBM, who has never admitted fault, even after years of problems.

Ian

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Oops, I guess I didn't word that very well! The Cirrus Logic chips are/were made in Korea.

If you have a drive with ones of those chips you should try to get it replaced.

Ian

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Oh yah, Fujitsu gave us 40GB WD 400EB drives to replace the dead or soon-to-die 20GB units in some of our PCs... BUT the firmware in the 40GB WD drives has been crippled to only allow access to the first 20GB!

Hmm, you'd think they'd want to try to make their customers extra happy at a time like this...

Ah well, it's going to be Dell next time around anyway.

Ian

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Guest russofris
Oh yah, Fujitsu gave us 40GB WD 400EB drives to replace the dead or soon-to-die 20GB units in some of our PCs... BUT the firmware in the 40GB WD drives has been crippled to only allow access to the first 20GB!

Hmm, you'd think they'd want to try to make their customers extra happy at a time like this...

Ah well, it's going to be Dell next time around anyway.

Ian

Use the IBM drive feature tool. It allows you to change the size settings on many non-IBM drives.

Thank you for your time,

Frank Russo

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Does anyone know what the failure more is?

I had a Fujitsu die recently and it seemed like it was either the controller or the write head. It became pretty much read only with writes attempts mostly timing out.

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Whoops, I meant to say : Does anyone know what the failure mode is?

Basically the drives seem to fail quite suddenly.

At first the machine will start to lock up. Sometimes it will freeze for several seconds and then recover, other times a total lock. When you reboot the machine, if you're lucky it will boot. If you're not lucky, the BIOS will be unable to detect the drive.

Sometimes if you shut the power off and wait awhile, you can then get the machine to boot and copy critical data off.

But without fail, once the machine has those little freezing episodes, the drive will die very soon after.

Ian

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I read somewhere that sometimes the drive works again if you put it in the fridge for some time. Long enough to recover data anyways.

The failure rate on these disks is also said to be around 50%, a lot worse than even the 75 GXP.

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Thanks for the Info B4RSK. It looks my faulty Fujitsu HD was an unrelated failure then. I was a little concerned beacuse I built quite a few PC's with "fujitsu MPG320AT E" drives about 12-14 months ago. So far it's only the one drive that has had any problems.

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The PC Association in the Uk has advised its members as follows (apologies for the long post)

Fujitsu HD Drives – Mitigation / Litigation?

More fudges than fixes.

Many people are now aware of a very high level of failure of some models of Fujitsu hard disk drives. When we originally referred to it we called it a rash, but it seems as if the rash may be the symptom of a much wider infection. The impact upon Fujitsu is unknown as yet, but the impression given is of a corporation with extremely tightly pursed lips.

Not uncommonly for a subsidiary of a Japanese company, Fujitsu in the UK are stunningly unforthcoming about the issue and will only indicate that they have had “reports from some customers regarding increased failure rates over some months” and “we are supporting them on a case by case basis”. Despite requests the company has not come forward with a clear written statement about the situation, nor detailed instructions as to how users and the channel should handle things. They will only confirm that they will attend to drives within the warranty period – where there is such a thing - and/or within the agreements they have with their direct OEM customers. What this seems to mean is that if a trader bought drives from unauthorised distribution channels they are – by and large – on their own, and so potentially are their customers.

As Kurt, one of our complainants, says “They referred me back to my distie - which is fair enough for normal problems, but not when it is a clearly crap product to blame.” A comment from a drive specialist, who has seen the problem now over many months is that “Up until now Fujitsu have been quite successful in trying to contain the problem on a piecemeal basis”.

Part of this stems from Fujitsu’s commercial guarantee it has with its OEMs and distributors; it seems that drives are sold with a wide variety of warranty options, ranging from “bought-out” to two years or more. Fujitsu will honour what it is commercially-legally bound to do, so if a drive was bought from a distributor who offered a three year warranty they will have paid Fujitsu for that and Fujitsu will honour it, a one year warranty will also be honoured. Many trade customers are now finding out why the same drives are cheaper through some channels than others.

When The Register (www.theregister.co.uk) first ran the story they received a level of response that was – quite simply – unparalleled. Drew Cullen says that within a few hours they had received over 200 emails from readers. The PC Association was mentioned in a follow up article, and very soon we also were getting responses – some 40+ at time of writing.

While some reports were from domestic end-users, most were from trade or corporate customers, and the stories were remarkably similar. One system builder reports he bought 350 Fujitsu drives and the same number from a competitor at the same time. To date 60 of the Fujitsu’s have died, and none of the others. Another system builder reports that 11 out of 50 have died. Someone from a local authority tells us that 20 of the hard drives in 40 systems they purchased just over 12 months ago have failed – just outside of warranty. Someone else reports 12 out of 12 drives failing, there’s someone with 50 out of 400 drives failing, and one unlucky soul with a RAID system where 23 out of the 40 drives went out to lunch and didn’t come back. It seems to be fairly commonly reported that drives fail at 12-14 months, although we’re willing to concede that drives failing at that particular time are likely to be a source of aggravated, er, aggravation and therefore, emotionally more prominent.

Inge from Germany writes: “We are thankful to hear finally from other people to have problems with Fujitsu HDD drives. We are a computer company in Germany and bought about 80 Fujitsu since 2001. Most of them we had to give back to our distributor and we got new ones back from them that have all exactly the problems you describe. In August we wrote a letter to Fujitsu Munich. Of course they said they haven't heard of this problem, and they will give us the chance to give them back until December 2002 for each $ 52, !!

What a joke, we paid 80-90€ and had a lot of costs changing and posting. And why are they doing it anyway?” Why indeed, Inge?

It has been reported to us that Compaq, a Fujitsu OEM in 2000/2001 if not now, has instigated progressive replacement schemes for some, at least, of their corporate users. A letter to The Inquirer http://www.theinquirer.net says “ … I work for a UK government agency that employs around 8500 staff. Last year, as part of the contract with Compaq, we received some 8000 Compaq Deskpro EN machines. Subsequently, due to the failure rate of the Fujitsu hard drives in them, they have undergone a huge replacement operation, with around 2500 hard drives being replaced nation-wide”. This is borne out by Terry from another corporate end user, who says “We have had 31 hard disk failures out of a batch of 250 Compaq Deskpro En pcs. All worked for about 1 year then they started failing. Compaq are supporting us well, but we have lost countless documents etc. Nobody seems to be helping proactively. “

With the foregoing in mind, it is somewhat surprising perhaps that Compaq’s new owner, Hewlett Packard in the USA issued the following statement to The Register. "HP is currently investigating reports of problems with Fujitsu Hard Disk Drives. Until our investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to speculate as to which, if any, products are affected. We will update all relevant parties as the investigation continues." Oh c’mon guys, ITS DESKPRO ENs –THOUSANDS OF THE BUGGERS.

We have had third-hand and, it must be stressed, as yet unverified reports of 12,000 drives in Tiny brand computers being replaced over a period of 14 months; certainly one PC Association member reports having to repair an unusually high number of Tiny machines with faulty hard drives.

We understand that the problem is centred upon an EPROM losing setup information. This is apparently borne out by a “white paper” on Fujitsu’s support site which also contains “ a firmware modification which will improve product reliability”, termed Fujitsu HDD Flash, which is applicable to the MPG3xxx drives manufactured before February 2001, here: http://www.fel.fujitsu.com/home/drivers.asp?L=en&CID=1 (When we originally spoke to the company they omitted to point us towards this – we wonder why?). At time of writing we have not had a response to our question as to the original date of the release of this mod. Neither do we know if this is a complete fix, but with reports of replaced drives also failing we guess that it’s far from 100% proof. But again, with no open and straightforward statement from the company we are left with conjecture. That “… will improve product reliability” is the closest anyone’s seen to an admission of product unreliability.

We have also had it reported to us from a highly reliable source that Fujitsu was aware of the problem some 18 months ago, and is similarly well aware that the failure rate can indeed be as high as has been reported. The company is not willing to make any comment about the actual failure rate. We would speculate – and stress that it is speculation - that with the rate of fail that has been reported, there may well be a basic design/component flaw that could implicate not just the 3% that Fujitsu originally admitted to, but could well exceed the 30% - 50% that we have been told about. But as we say, until the company comes clean, we can only speculate.

A letter to one news source says of the problem “It was particularly prevalent in the 10 Gig series, so much so that our IT department received a program from Fujitsu to identify potentially faulty drives. The problem has been acknowledged for a while - they just didn't bother telling anyone. There was also a second problem with the drives leading to catastrophic failure - this just needed a drive ucode upgrade to fix though.”

The “they just didn’t bother telling anyone” comment is especially critical. If it could be proven that Fujitsu knew of a component or design fault that would be likely to cause a higher than expected rate of failure, then they really should have done all that was in their power to mitigate the damage caused. In UK law anyone who feels they have been damaged by a product failure has – generally – a six year period in which to pursue their claim. If they were successful in such a claim then the court, in assessing damages, would take into account what action the defendant took to mitigate the plaintiff’s losses.

Of course, any user complaining of the costly consequences of their data loss will, no doubt, be reminded of the standing recommendation to always back up data.

Users are losing data, system builders and dealers are losing their reputations and their profits to this problem; we feel that the issue of timely and proper action to mitigate the impact could well be a key element of any legal claim against the company. We have heard talk of “class actions”; but whilst joint action by several plaintiffs is common in the USA it generally doesn’t happen here, although it is possible for several actions to be brought simultaneously, and then one of them to go forward as being the biggest/most representative, and if the action succeeds for that first one to be used as a precedent.

However, and we must stress this to our Members and readers, YOU are now aware of the possible scope and scale of the problem. If it might impact YOUR customers YOU must mitigate its effect or you might otherwise lay yourself open to legal action from your customers.

You might wish to consider sending an advisory notice to all your customers, suggesting that – as usual – they make sure their data is always secured by a current backup. You might even take the opportunity to sell back up devices. And if you have a customer that has lost valuable data, it is, despite what you might hear, possible to recover it – or most of it - in most cases. It’s not cheap – upwards of £900 a pop to recover the data and supply it backed up on CD and also copied onto another hard drive – but that’s chicken feed to someone who’s just lost 6 months work of video production, or last months data. PC Association Members should put their customers in touch with PCA Member and hard disk specialist 1st Computer Traders – your customers will thank you for it and commissions on work carried out might help balance some of your own losses. If you aren’t a PCA Member please mention this item. 1CT are on 01827 5555.

Back in August, Fujitsu’s European VP, Adam Harris (late of Opus/Tiny Computers) denied reports that the company was seeking a buyer for its disk drive business “We have no current plans to sell our HDD business that I am aware of." This is no great surprise. Our correspondents tell us they wouldn’t ever buy another Fujitsu disk drive - they certainly wouldn’t want to buy the business.

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I'd have to agree with some points on that post.

Deskpro EN machines with the 20Gb Fujitsu. Got 3 here, all three had drive failures. One of the machines was used for about a week before the drive blew up. They're now running Samsung V20s.

I see a fair number of dead Fujitsu drives in PC repairs here, too. Huge proportions compared to Seagate/Maxtor/Quantum/WD/IBM. Yes, even the 75GXP is proving to be more reliable than the MPG Fujitsu!

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Can confirm the exact problem with Fujitsu 20g drives from Tiny machines. Failed just on the guarantee time for two of my customers who have replaced their hDDs at considerable expense having contacted the Tiny/Time link-up. I also contacted Fujitsu and was given the run-around. They were trying to blame overheating etc etc etc etc but at no time did they indicate that this was aknown problem.

They also confirmed they do not honour any guarantee directly but only through distributor or OEM. Have decided to return all the Fujitsu drives I have purchased over the past two years on the basis their is a known potential fault admitted by Fujitsu and as they are taking no public stand or issuing any statements then I MUST protect my customers interests.

Any views on this procedure ???

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Does anyone know what the failure more is? 

I had a Fujitsu die recently and it seemed like it was either the controller or the write head. It became pretty much read only with writes attempts mostly timing out.

Interesting. I recall seeing another thread on this board inquiring about the availability of HDs with write-protection. Now we know that Fujitsu drives can be used for this, sort-of. :)

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What about the MPF3204AH? I've seen people with MPG3204AH post, but does anyone know if my drive is possibly affected too?

thanks

Your hard disk is not affected by this problem, only MPG Series is affected. Also, only desktop hard disk has this problem but the Enterprise Model (MAN Seres) of Fujitsu is still of high quality and performance.

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Now that I have verified I have a dead disk drive, (Fujitshitu MPG3102AT), is there any methods to retrieve the data? Is there any businesses that are going to specialize in Fujitshitu hard drive repairs? And also how about a nice little class action lawsuit?

Paul :oops:

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It has come to our attention, although everyone seems to think differently, that the MPF3204AH and, indeed, quite possibly most all other drives of this ilk are affected to varying degrees.

We are seeing more and more failures with identical charateristics and symptoms as the MPG series drives.

Be warned and cover yourselves. These were fairly common units in lower cost raid arrays as well as PC's.

Fujitsu will never admit liability unless forced to by law and even then they will challenge the ruling purely due to the claims for data loss would potentialy bancrupt them.

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hmm, my MPF3204AH has been acting up recently. When I cold boot, it sometimes sits there clicking away, click-pause, click-pause... and fails to be recognised. If I switch off, then back on it recognises it but goes into the BIOS and says my CPU frequency is incorrectly set, and locks up. I then switch off, switch back on and it works fine. I haven't had any problems once its on, just from a cold boot.

(At least I think its my Fujitsu, from the boise its making. My old seagate is louder and sounds different, but I suppose it might be that after all...)

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i have 7 HD drives from them but they are all SCSI can you find out anything about any problems with them to date (6 months ) all are working find mine are made in the philippines but i understand that the chip is the bad boy from korea

thanks

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Got at least 2 of these b*stards here. One has failed and, thanks to yet another user who doesn't follow backup procedures, contains an important mail file. The drive does not currently register at boot at all. I've noted comments re: waiting and cooling down the drive, I'll try both. Should these fail, what do you think, would transplanting the PCB from currently working drive onto the dead one get it to register properly? We think the 2 drives are identical but don't yet have possesion of the second one to confirm that.

Rgds,

Guy Matthews

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Guy,

Any board from the same drive type ie MPG, MPF will do. The difference is basically within the code on board which is the seat of this problem. The platters and heads etc. are the.

If in doubt check the full specification of each drive in the picobird series, but as a rule heads, platters (disks) and ribbon connections are all youre interested in.

Regards

George

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In responce to other queries; the classic symptoms with this range of drives is occasional write errors and boot problems then the blue screen whilst working followed by imminent death.

SCSI devices are an entirely different bread and to date no known occurances have appeared, although it would be a good idea just to run the diag utility occasionally as with any highly important drive particularly those running 24/7.

As a point of interest it is not the first time Fujitsu have cocked up a design. About six years back they messed up big time with a DRAM module and had been in production for some six months before one of our techies pointed it out. No recall was made but the dye was scrapped and relaunched under a different part number.

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i have 7 HD drives from them but they are all SCSI can you find  out anything about any problems with them to date (6 months ) all are working find mine are made in the philippines but i understand that the chip is the bad boy from korea

thanks

With regards to SCSI Drives (MAN Series), it has no problem related to the MPG Series because it does not use the Chips that caused the problem. You can still rest assured that it has good quality.

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