Wherein I Move a Lot of Words Around

On the importance of knowing what you've made

I have four Backup Plus Desktop drives. Two were bought two years ago and two last year.

All of them had an issue where they would drop off the USB bus sometimes and require a power cycle to return. I looked around and found a firmware update that promised a fix. However, it would only apply to two of them (the newer ones). The older ones (which looked identical, of course) didn’t show up in the tool.

Too busy to be bothered, I let this go for a while and just dealt with it.

Recently, however, I decided to RAID them together as a backup device for my server’s RAID. (How do you backup a RAID? With another RAID.) Well, you can imagine how well RAID likes it when a disk randomly falls off the bus.

I looked into this further and found something darkly hilarious (after trying to update the firmware again). Those older drive models that wouldn’t appear in the updater? System Profiler showed them as having a USB identifier of 0xa0a1. The new ones have 0xa0a4. Seagate omitted an entire line of devices from the update tool.

Well, okay, Seagate can eat an RMA then, because a drive falling off the bus is a failure in my head (and my warranty is up in September, so this is my window). I went through the process on their site several times and was rejected every time with an invalid product ID.


That’s the only conclusion I can come to. The firmware updater hasn’t heard of them and the warranty system hasn’t heard of them (kind of — the checker gave me the dates just fine, but I couldn’t start an RMA).

In the end, I found that using the part number of the newer drive with the serial of the older worked to get it in the system.  Clever, no?

Well, it would have been.  Turns out that while that let me send in the RMA, their system appears to know about that model somewhere deeper in the system and when I got my two replacement drives one was the newer a4 ID and the other the older a1 ID.  Lovely.

I did have a solution at the ready, though.  I have yet another drive of that model that I use as a solo backup drive for my Mac.  The USB widget attached to it read as an A4 so I swapped out that part and carried on with the only A1 device being the one that is intermittently connected to my Mac, and where a random long-term drop off wouldn’t be noticed.

Lesson: if you get a Seagate Backup Plus drive, ensure the USB family ID is 0xa0a4 and use the latest firmware.  They’re pretty solid devices at that point.