[nSLUG] Strange crash

Dop Ganger nslug at fop.ns.ca
Fri Jul 25 18:06:04 ADT 2003

On Fri, 25 Jul 2003, George N. White III wrote:

> On Fri, 25 Jul 2003, Dop Ganger wrote:
> > Needless to say, I now recommend to anyone I ask to stay far, far away
> > from Maxtor drives...
> Overall your experience seems about average, but it is a mistake to think
> that current Maxtor drives are more failure prone than other models.

This is across a range of Maxtor drives ranging in size from 20 to 80 gig,
with different types of bearings, cases, interfaces (ATA66 to 133), etc. I
realise that Maxtor may change their design and come up with a fix (I
remember WD going through a similar phase in the mid 90's), but I don't
want to guinea pig for them.

> The factor that should be considered in buying drives is the effectiveness
> of the vendor's replacement policy.  Do they have a good web site with
> drive info and diagnostic tools (needed to get the information for a
> warranty claim)?

Their support is piss-poor. The powermax utility they provide works great
if you have a definitely dead drive (ie, the SMART utilities under Linux
can tell you it's toast), but if you have a marginal drive it's useless.
One of the drives, for example, had bad patches that would work after
re-reading, with a net result that throughput from that section would go
down to 500 blocks/sec, from around 42000 blocks/sec (I think, from
memory). The powermax utility said this was fine.

I also had issues with support not knowing anything about their drives and
not being willing to ask product engineers for details. The drives in one
customer's system, in a raid array, were consistently generating
notifications that attribute 200 (or possibly 201 - I don't recall
off-hand) was changing, by a value of +/- 1 to +/- 15. My own suspicion
was that this was a thermal recalibration report, but I wanted
confirmation so I called Maxtor. I had to explain to the first level
support (a) what S.M.A.R.T. was, and (b) what thermal recalibration was.
After that, I got booted up to 2nd level support, where an extremely
aggressive woman kept telling me that if the drive passed powermax it was
fine, and they didn't support Linux anyway. I convinced her to try and
find out what attribute 200 was, since it was something the drive was
reporting back as being supported but was a manufacturer-specific
variable. After a week or so she called me back to tell me she couldn't
find anything for Maxtor drives, but that she found a page on Gateway's
site saying that that attribute on Western Digital drives meant the drive
was not a Western Digital drive (!). I asked her to contact the engineers
to find out what the attribute meant, and she told me she wasn't able to
do that as they were in a different city, and she was also apparently
unable to email them. The customer called me the next day to tell me all 3
drives had locked up overnight and he had decided to replace them, so at
that point it became moot anyway. The WD drives he has in there now have
worked flawlessly for the past 4 months or so.

Gosh, re-reading that paragraph I come across as awfully bitter. I'm not
usually, it's just incompetence like that really irritates me.

> Can you return the drive to the dealer where you bought
> it or do you have to ship it to the USA?

In most cases, we're the dealer and we just RMA it back to the distie
anyway. In other cases, it's up to the client to handle RMAs.

> Do they promise to deliver a replacement for a failed drive within a
> certain period or will they make you wait 6 months?

Good grief. Are there really manufacturers that do that?

Cheers... Dop.

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