Seagate ST3000DM001 platter damage

HDD Failure: Seagate “DM001” Grenada series

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive Recovery Case Study by Administrator

Seagate “DM001” Grenada Data Recovery Methods

CDR – Manchester Data Recovery Services – has noticed a high incidence of failure in the following Seagate 3.5″ desktop drives:

  • ST1000DM003-1CH162
  • ST1000DM003-9YN162
  • ST1000DX001-1CM162
  • ST1000VM002-1CT162
  • ST1000VM002-9ZL162
  • ST1500DM003-9YN16G
  • ST2000DM001-1CH164
  • ST2000DM001-1ER164
  • ST2000DM001-9YN164
  • ST2000VX000-9YW164
  • ST3000DM001-1CH166
  • ST3000DM001-1ER166
  • ST3000DM001-9YN166

These HDDs are from the ‘family’ of drives with the Seagate “Grenada” engineering architecture. CDR has observed that frequently the platters on these disks start to degrade and have unreadable sectors. Bad sectors is a very common sort of disk failure. However, the rate at which these DM001 disks degrade once they have started to fail is alarmingly high. Continued read attempts on a failing DM001 series HDD can quickly lead to a much more serious failure, including firmware failure, head-assembly failure and platter damage. These are described below.

As a consequence of the high rate of degradation, it is important to keep a DM001 series disk powered off an seek professional data recovery services. CDR has received a number of DM001 disks in, where owners or PC Shops have left the hard disk reading for extended periods and the end result has been platter damage. This platter damage has then resulted in all data being unrecoverable.  Use of appropriate disk imaging equipment (DeepSpar, PC3000) is essential to avoid unnecessary wear on the failing HDD.

Firmware failure

Due to the large number of bad sectors, it is frequent for the HDD’s firmware to fail. Failure usually relates to the bad sectors being assigned to the  ‘Growth Defect List’ (G-List). A typical scenario of firmware failure is when the disk powers on and sounds normal. However, it is not recognised by any computer. In this case, it is necessary for key functions of the HDD to be disabled. When powering the HDD on an AceLabs PC3000 the HDD will frequently get to a ‘ready’ state. However, when any command is sent to the HDD it will give a ‘busy’ status and will no longer respond to commands. It is necessary to send commands via a terminal connection and alter the Saved Mode Pages and to disable a number of the functions (see below).

SMP Seagate

Some cases of firmware failure can be more complex and require more advanced methods to allow the data areas of the HDD to be accessed.

Challenging mechanical failures

For the DM001 series HDD, there can be a relatively short period between media degradation and read-write head failure. Failure of the read-write heads is normally indicated by a clicking sound. These Seagate HDDs will usually ‘spin up’, then make a number of clicks, and then spin down. The drive will appear to then be powered off. However, the printed circuit board (PCB) is still live.

Access by terminal connections gives a distinctive output. Below is a screenshot providing the terminal output of an ST3000DM001 with a head-assembly failure.

Seagate DM001 head failure

Typical terminal output from a Seagate DM001 series HDD when the read-write heads have failed

Boot 0x40M
Spin Up
FAIL Servo Op=0100 Resp=0003
ResponseFrame 05C0 0051 03B4 2D40 0008 0000 0000 0000 0FC7 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 09AA EB88 40A8 2CDC EAA3 BC0F 7850 E686 B707 735E 0000 007F 0000 0000 001F 0004 0010
FAIL Servo Op=0100 Resp=0003
ResponseFrame FE40 0054 03B4 2D80 0008 0000 0000 0000 0FB9 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 09AA EB88 40A8 2CDC EAA3 BC0F 7850 E686 B707 735E 0000 007F 0000 0000 001F 0004 0000

When replacing the mechanical components of the DM001 series of disks there are a number of challenges. Donor parts can be hard to match due to variations in the pre-amplifier and the head-map. It is not possible accurately determine these by manufacturer label on the outside of the HDD. This means that we frequently have to try a number of different donor drives before a match is found. However, all of our quotations include the cost of up to three donor HDDs.

A common fault discussed

Information on hard disk drive failure can be found on the HDDGuru forum. It is also a place where data recovery professionals discuss matters to HDDs and SSDs that they have in for recovery. The DM001 series is discussed widely, including the requirements and limits of recovery. Inspection of this forum will reveal that the DM001 series HDD is regarded very poorly by data recovery professionals.

Below is an image of an ST3000DM001 which was examined by CDR. Prior to receipt, this HDD had been handled by a PC Shop which had made a number of unsuccessful recovery attempts on the HDD, and they reported that the disk degraded during their recovery attempts. In this case, there was damage to the top surface of the top platter. This HDD is unrecoverable by any data recovery company. Unfortunately, we see many instances of this type of media damage in Seagate DM001 series hard disk drives.

Seagate ST3000DM001 platter damage

There is a relatively high incidence of media (platter) damage in Seagate DM001 series hard disk drives.


Contact a professional

For the best opportunity of a successful recovery in Seagate DM001 hard disk drives, it is worth contacting CDR at the first instance of failure. Please keep the hard disk drive powered off.