Updating Seagate 1.5TB Drive Firmware

I recently bought three Seagate 1.5TB drives from NewEgg. Before I bought them, I had read the reports of drives freezing under certain operating systems and conditions, but I was crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t experience any such issues. Well, count me wrong on this one. This morning, I started a SuperDuper Smart Update backup on one of the 1.5TB drives before leaving the house. Four hours later when I returned home, I saw that SuperDuper had not progressed past the 20% mark in the progress bar. Was this an example of the freezing issue that other people were experiencing?

[smugmug url=”http://photos.tow.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=6817162_EG5eZ&format=rss200″ start=”1″ imagecount=”100″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”lightbox” captions=”true” sort=”true” window=”false” smugmug=”false” size=”M”]

I pulled my drives out and noted the serial number and firmware version. Sure enough, the drives had the dreaded SD17 firmware on them. I called up Seagate Support, and a few hours later, they sent me a link to a website where I could download the SD1A firmware update. The process to do this on Mac OS X involved the following steps:

  1. Burn a CD-ROM that will boot up the Mac Pro.
  2. Insert only one drive at a time to update
  3. Boot up the computer holding down the Option key
  4. Following the on-screen instructions that resembled the old DOS computers from the 80s
  5. Power cycle the computer and repeat steps 1-4 for the remaining drives

Right now, I’m putting SuperDuper through its paces on PhotosOne. My fingers are crossed again that this will resolve any freezing issues with the drives!

Update December 21, 2008: So far, I’ve had no problems with the 1.5TB drives freezing
after nine days of daily use. It also looks like Seagate is shipping versions of the drive with a different firmware version.

38 thoughts on “Updating Seagate 1.5TB Drive Firmware

  1. DaHamster

    Adam, I was thinking about getting the same 1.5TB drive from newegg.com Are these drives worth buying based on your current experience?
    Happy holidays! Best Regards,

  2. The firmware update as of using it for a day seems to have resolved the freezing issue with the drive. Hopefully, I won’t have any remaining issues. I haven’t done any substantive speed tests, so it really depends on your needs. For pure storage capacity, nothing can beat this drive at the moment. Since I prefer to have all of my photos on one drive, it makes sense to get the biggest one around.

  3. Kevin Jones

    Adam –

    I have a mac mini with a Seagate 1.5 attached in a USB enclosure. Will the firmware update work using the instructions you provided (i.e. create a boot cd, connect the seagate via usb, follow the instructions)??


  4. I believe you need to attach the hard drive directly to the computer via a SATA connection. So, I don’t think it’s going to work through USB and your MacMini.

  5. DaHamster

    Kevin, I bought an Antec MX-1 e-SATA Hard Drive Enclosure for my 1 TB SATA Maxtor HD from Fry’s two weeks ago. You can either hook up the HD to your computer via the SATA or USB port. I use the USB port to connect to my PC and it works flawlessly. It is the best external HD enclosure I have ever purchased for personal use (this is my 9th external HD enclosure).

  6. DaHamster – Did you flash the firmware when the hard drive was connected to your USB port though?

  7. chad

    *sigh* I too have read about the freezing issue, but figured since it started about a month ago, they were probably out of those drives by now at newegg. I want to get 16 of them (for this raid enclosure), but I seriously don’t want to flash the firmware on 16 drives. What date did you buy them Adam?

  8. I bought them on Thanksgiving weekend. The Newegg listing shows a link to get the firmware update, so I doubt that the drives they are selling have the new one installed. Could be wrong, though.

  9. DaHamster

    Adam, I was referring to my 1 TB SATA Maxtor HD. I haven’t purchased the 1.5 TB Seagate HD form newegg.com To answer your question, I didn’t have to flash the firmware when my Maxtor was connected to my USB port.

  10. Kevin

    Is this an issue for Solaris ZFS pools? Should I update them just in case?

  11. George

    “I bought them on Thanksgiving weekend. The Newegg listing shows a link to get the firmware update, so I doubt that the drives they are selling have the new one installed. Could be wrong, though.”

    I just received two of these drives from Newegg. They are a different model and firmware than the versions that are reported to have these issues and have a firmware update for.

    Both of the drives I received are the following:

    Model: 9JU138-302
    Firmware: CC1J

    Everything I can find says that only the 9JU138-300 and 366 models are affected with firmware versions SD15, SD17, and SD18.

  12. Adam, thanks. Now I can safely go ahead with a 1.5 gig :)

    George, looks like you got a good firmware:

    http://www.drobo.com/Support/Knowledgebase.html – Article 0235

  13. I’ve two of them which I got from TigerDirect for use with my Mac Pro, both are CC1J and working fine so far. Thanks for this informative post — and the helpful comments!

  14. Brad

    Saw this today on DealMac.com …I’ll be buying FOUR of these and a Drobo :-)

    Seagate 1.5TB Serial ATA 3.0Gbps Internal Hard Drive for $106 + free shipping

    Dell Small Business offers the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive, model no. ST31500341AS, for $122.97.

    Coupon code “36$0M8DX768QV6″ cuts it to $105.99 ($0.07/GB).

    With free shipping, that’s $23 under our mention last week and the lowest total price we’ve seen. Sales tax is added where applicable.

    This 3.5” hard drive runs at 7200 rpm and features a 32MB cache. Offer ends December 31, 2008.

    You can read this online at:

  15. Brad

    Well, bad news is that before I could order the drives Dell took the deal down.

  16. Jared

    Adam, are the drives still working fine? I’m about to purchase 4 of these drives and want a little more assurance that they’re working a few weeks in now. Thanks!

  17. Yup, they are working fine for me. When you buy them, they will probably have the new firmware already installed.

  18. Mike

    Just received today (Jan 7, 2009) one of the Seagates from Newegg. I had thought that the dreaded SD17 firmware would be through the system by now, but no such luck. The label does indeed say SD17.

  19. Rick Stroh

    I have a Macbook Pro (Santa Rosa) I took apart to run my FW update on 4 new Seagate 1.5TB drives (from fwCC1G to CC1H). I’m able to boot off the CD okay, but the update fails with the following message:
    Seagate Firmware Upgrade Utility v4.57

    Scanning for controllers…
    Scanning for devices….
    Scanning for devices on Generic PCI ATA…
    Found 1 Device
    Scanning for devices on Generic PCI ATA…
    Found 0 Devices
    Scan complete, 2 Controillers and 1 device detected

    Exit with Code 2


    Error: Specific model not found. ST31500341AS expected.

    I assume it’s not liking being behind a 2nd controller. I don’t see any other SATA connection available to try getting on the other SATA controller.
    Seagate tech support told me I have to upgrade it on a PC, and Mac wasn’t supported for FW update…

    Any suggestions outside of trying to locate a PC?

  20. How are you connecting the hard drive to your MacBook Pro? I thought the only way was to use a desktop Mac and replace the existing hard drives with the ones you want to update.

  21. Jimmy


    What CD image did you use to boot your Mac Pro? I didn’t think the Mac’s EFI would let you boot a DOS CD.

  22. Seagate gave me a link to an ISO Disk Image with which I used to boot the Mac Pro from.

  23. Rick Stroh

    Guys, thanks for the reponses.
    I took apart the Macbook Pro and swapped out my normal drive with the 1.5TB Seagate drive. I then successfully booted off the CD, which I created from the ISO image provided by Seagate (same as Adam). I haven’t had a chance to try anything different since…
    Since I have the CD burnt, I’ll see if I can find a Mac desktop to try.

  24. kenny

    I have a mac pro from early 2008 and i took out all the hard drives and am trying to flash each of my seagate 1.5tb drives. i can boot off the cd but i keep getting this error

    Seagate Firmware Upgrade Utility v4.57

    Scanning for controllers…
    Scanning for devices….
    Scanning for devices on Generic PCI ATA…
    Found 1 Device
    Scanning for devices on Generic PCI ATA…
    Found 0 Devices
    Scan complete, 2 Controillers and 1 device detected

    Exit with Code 2


    Error: Specific model not found. ST31500341AS expected.

    does anyone have any idea why this is happening?


  25. Not sure what’s happening here. What’s the firmware on the 1.5TB drives that you’re trying to update? It’s shown on the sticker on the top of the drive.

  26. Don’t know what to say… maybe a call to Seagate Support is in order again? Have you tried putting the drive in a different drive bay (i.e. 2, 3, or 4 instead of 1)?

  27. kenny

    I have. Guess I’ll call Seagate again. Thanks anyways.

  28. kenny

    Did you have an apple raid card installed in your mac pro because thats what seagate says is causing the problem for me.

  29. No RAID card is installed in my Mac Pro.

  30. Seems like even with the newest drives, even in non-RAID situations, even with the newest firmware (SD1B and CC1H), people (including myself) are still having issues.

    I have 6 of these drives currently. I’m waiting for two more I RMA’d to come back. Of the 6, all are “Current” on firmware. 4 run SD1B. The other two run CC1H. All 6 have issues, some more than others.

    3 of them run pretty smooth most of the time. If you go to copy a file bigger than 40MB or if you are streaming from them, they will give you intermitten pauses. Sometimes the pause is 5 seconds. Sometimes it more like 15-20 seconds.

    1 of the remaining ones will go 3-4 days without a problem and then, suddenly, just disappears from the drive pool. A reboot normally fixes it.

    The other 2 have strange drive write issues. Sometimes you write to them and all is well. Othertimes, you get cyclonic redundancy errors or the whole system locks up.

    I’ve never had problems with drives in this computer. It really is something to do with these particular drives. I’m holding out until Seagate either has a cure or Western Digital releases the 2TB Green Drives. Something has to give.

  31. Codec

    I have five ST31500341AS in a raid 5 array under linux. All were flashed from SD19 to SD1A using the firmware posted on newegg. So far the drives are working flawlessly. All SMART test and seagate test pass, no freeze behavior, no errors.

    I am looking for reliable information on whether or not to upgrade to SD1B but have not found any yet. The Seagate forums are useless. Would appreciate any good pointers.

  32. Leo

    Serious bit of thanks to you Adam!

    I sat on the sidelines long enough and am going to go ahead and upgrade.

    You’re a saint!


  33. Just got another set of replacements for my 1.5s. Both boot this time. One gives CRC errors. The other clicks like crazy, but seems to be holding up. Ugh. I’m about to offload all of these and just move back to 1TB Western Digital Drives.

  34. Filip

    Hi Adam,
    I have been reading your article about your seagate 1.5 Tb hard drives (the ones that freeze), I have bought a computer with one of these installed, and I am very worried. How did your drives turn out, do they still work, did you have any problems?
    Does the firmware update resolve all the issues? I have ordered my pc a few weeks ago, and I am waiting for it to arrive. I think it has the new firmware on it.
    Any help would be nice

  35. Since the original article is so old, it’s a safe bet that the new 1.5TB Seagate hard drives have the latest firmware on it.

  36. Filip

    Also how did your hard drives turn out?
    I am curious, are they still running well?

  37. No problems with the drives. They are running fine (knock on wood).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: