Seagate Tragedy

A great tragedy occurred today. No, it’s actually not about a physical seagate, and no it didn’t happen any farther away than in my own apartment. It only involved my external hard drive, Seagate’s 500GB GoFlex Free Agent. I suppose you can imagine what happened that would make this a tragedy.

I’ve heard about people’s hard drives crashing – about them losing all their files, projects, photographs – but it’s one of those things that you never imagine happening to you. For some reason, you always think your hard drive is different and that you bought a reliable model.

Well…my hard drive crashed today. It was working fine: Andrea and I shared files, and then I tried plugging it into my computer a few hours later, happily considering which South Park episode I was going to watch while I ate my cup noodles.

But it didn’t work.

Instead I got a faint beeping sound coming from the hard drive – kind of like the really muffled noise of a truck backing up. That first telltale sign had my heart beating as I watched for it to appear in my computer.

But my computer never registered it.

I tried reinserting it, restarting my computer, shutting down my computer and booting up from scratch. I tried other USB’s in the ports and those worked fine. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone else with a Mac in the area to plug it into to check if it’s just my computer (PC’s don’t recognize it), but even if I did I doubt it would make a difference.

Around now was when the panic started setting in. The hard drive didn’t just contain South Park and about 350GB of other TV shows and movies, but also my photos from Australia and everything from Korea since I arrived. Possibly worst of all, it also had all my documents that I’d scanned for ESL teaching, including notarized criminal record check, diploma, and my contract. I’m hoping those latter ones were backed up on my 1TB backup hard drive for my computer itself, but if not…well let’s just say “screwed” would be an appropriate state of being for myself at the moment.

So, as any 21st century human would do at this point, I checked all the online forums to figure out how the hell I could fix this. Answers varied from vague to incomprehensible to completely irrelevant. But I noticed one common link for all the symptoms my hard drive was experiencing: Seagate hard drives.

Fearing the worst, I clicked on the forum page entitled “Horrible experience with Seagate product, GoFlex Desk 3TB“. And the worst is what I encountered. Below is the quote from itsthebox OP.

“Do not buy Seagate products, especially their hard drives. I purchased this product about 7 months ago and a couple days ago all it does is have a faint beeping sound and no computer will recognise it. After researching online, this is a common flaw with Seagate’s quality control, leaving your data in jeopardy! Many have complained about this online and Seagate charges between $700-$2500 to get your data back. This is a crock because its marketed as a product you can use to backup your files. I called support and they told me they have quality products, but how can they say that if their hard drives fail in just a few months! They told me that is the way hard drives are, that its a matter of when they will fail, not if. I told them they should notify potential buyers then about this but they said its just common knowledge. Right! I have old hard drives that are 10 years old still running strong. They will replace the physical hard drive, but wont recover the files, which is the important thing, as there are photos, data, files that can’t be replaced. They also told me if I am using it as a backup I should keep a copy of all files on my computer and a second copy on the portable hard drive. So basically they want you to keep 3TB of space open on your computer so that WHEN your Seagate product fails you will have your files backed up. Kinda defeats the purpose of getting a 3TB portable storage system. Also pretty scammy that they sell the hard drive, then also own the hard drive data recovery service so when it fails they can get you with a $1000+ recovery fee. Sounds like a scheme to me. I recommend you stay away from Seagate products, as their quality is sub par and their customer service is equal to that.”

I don’t want to believe this, because I’m still in the denial/anger stage of grief, but reading the reinforcing comments below (as you’ll see in the above link to the article), I can’t help but take it seriously. My memories are at stake and it breaks my heart and makes me physically ill to consider them gone forever just because of a faulty product line and a company that’s potentially and knowingly ripping off its customers.

It’s partially my fault in that I didn’t research Seagate before I bought it: it was impulsive. I clearly remember the moment I bought it. I was working at Indigo and a coworker told me Future Shop was having a huge Boxing Day sale. He’d run over during his lunch break to get something and made it back within half an hour. I’d been needing an external hard drive, so I managed to run over after work before catching my bus home. The place was a mess, but an employee asked me what I was looking for and took me directly to the aisle, putting the Seagate hard drive in my hands. Quick as that, he brought me to a hidden cash for small purchases and I was in and out in under ten minutes.

That was Christmas 2012, so it’s just over a year old – well under the two-year warranty. Not that I have my receipt or knowledge of their whereabouts, what with me being in Korea.

I have no idea what to do.

So I’m asking you guys: has this ever happened to you? Do you know anywhere to recover data that doesn’t cost $500-$2500?? Is there any hope for my lost photographs and documents?

Any help at all would be massively appreciated: I’ve sent Seagate an email, but I don’t know what good will come of it.

9 thoughts on “Seagate Tragedy

  1. Oh no!! That’s awful Marta. 😞
    I know how you feel. That’s why I now always use the Safely Remove Device before unplugging anything. We used to have a hard drive with all our photos & games on it. Certain (unnamed) children use to plug & unplug the device frequently until one day it stopped working. I’ve even had some of my IT co-workers try to repair it but to no avail. And the data recovery service cost was too prohibitive. 😞
    According to the article below, there may be a free diagnostic tool available. Good luck!


    1. I’ve contacted Seagate though I think they’re independent of Apple sadly. Would be wayyy too convenient that way XS contacted Seagate in hopes they’ll get back to me though!


  2. FWIW, dont commit to any costly fix yet, unless there are extenuating circumstances. You should be hearing from Michael Wimble fairly soon. If theres a way to remotely repair it, hell figure it out. Your mom also knows him. And he reads your blog and loves your writing. Given that you guys are 17 hours apart, thats pretty cool!



    1. Wow that would be amazing!! I would dedicate a blog post to him and send a care package of Korean goodies if he finds a way to fix it 😀 thank you!


      1. Seems like my previous comment attempt didn’t take. There are probably only two things I can do here. First, I could contribute to the Save Marta Foundation to help you get Seagate or any of the other recovery companies to attempt a seance with your dead drive. If you want to go down that path, do an online search and look to see how destructive their recovery attempt will be, so that if they fail you may still have an option to try somewhere else. I’d be happy to help with a monetary contribution. The entertainment value alone is a good value for the price.

        If your disk is at the stage of making sick cat noises, no disk analysis software is going to help–either the controller board is fragged or the motor is now worth slightly less than its copper value. There is one thing I could try, which friends of mine sometimes succeed with–if you shipped your drive to me, I’d go to Weird Stuff down the road and find a mate, pull out it’s controller board and do a swapsies and see if that recovered your drive. If that worked, I could clone your drive for you. 3TB drives here cost only slightly more than a pack of Cracker Jacks, and 3TB drives are new enough that there is some chance I could find a mate. But, if I try this, there is a very good chance I would totally wreck the drive, so it’s your “Plan D” option. Any disk recovery operation would try this themselves before resorting to the heavy, expensive operation of opening the sealed chamber and attempting reading using a different set of heads. If you use a disk recovery company, there isn’t anything I could do that would be any where as effective as them.

        I don’t think any of my ring of friends has any contacts with disk recovery companies, but I can ask. I’m always amazed who is 2 contacts away from me. I’ll start with a request on Monday via my ham radio friends, which is heavy in techie and nerdie connections.

        If there’s any more I can do, don’t hesitate to ask.


      2. Wow thank you! This has filled me with so much hope!! Hopefully I won’t have to extort you for money (though I greatly appreciate the offer) and I’ll see what Seagate has to say for themselves, fingers crossed soon. Should it come to plan D….well, I suppose that’s what it would take. I’ve read about that process online and it came out sounding very much 50/50. So from your more reliable opinion, how much is “a very good chance” that it might get wrecked? Any idea about previous success rates?

        And if you do happen to have any 6 degrees of separation with a disk recovery company, that would make my life!


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