Firmware Corruption

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Hard disc drive contains a set of service data, called firmware that controls its hardware and is vital for its proper functioning. The firmware can be compared to the Operating System installed on your computer.

Just like Operating System allows your computer to run a certain application, the firmware allows all parts of a hard drive to operate smoothly and provides an access to disc contents.

Some common symptoms indicating firmware corruption are;
  • If the hard drive cannot read the service area modules this can result in a Clicking noise
  • The hard drive spins up , no clicking, but cannot be detected by your computer.
  • The hard drive spins up , no clicking, but is shown to have 0GB capacity.
  • The hard drive spins up but cannot read your data
Firmware codes are located in the system area on data platters and in the ROM (Read-only Memory) of PCB (Printed Circuit Board). If the firmware is corrupt, the drive will fail even if its electronic and mechanical components are fully functional.

List of the modules contained on the SYSTEM AREA of modern Seagate F3 (7200.11 and above)

  Module        Sys. file          Description
  Module        Sys. file          Description
00   Defect list of SA
01 0x001A Drive information file 02 0x0019 Performance parameter file
03 0x001B P-List 04 0x003F SAP (Servo Adaptive FParameters)
05 0x0300 Manufacturin information file 06 0x0001 RAP (Read Adaptives Parameters)
07 0x0208 CAP (Controller Adaptives Parameters) 09 0x0133 SMART config (filling by pattern)
0A 0x0134 SMART Frame 0C 0x0139 Self scan log
DIC (Data integrity check), Head 0 0F   DIC Dummy file
13 0x030A Disk reestr (Security settings) 15 0x0306 Offline selfscan of surface (DOS)
1D 0x0100 Overlay 0 1E 0x0101 Overlay 1
22   File selfscan surface, head 0 23   File selfscan surface, head 1
24   File selfscan surface, head 2 25   File selfscan surface, head 3
26   File selfscan surface, head 4 27   File selfscan surface, head 5
28   File selfscan surface, head 6 29   File selfscan surface, head 7
2A 0x0093 Saved Mode pages (Edit HDD ID) 2B 0x0028 RW operations, (Translator)
2C   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 1, pattern 2D   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 2, pattern
2E   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 3, pattern 2F   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 4, pattern
30   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 5, pattern 31   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 6, pattern
32   DIC (Data Integrity Check), Head 7, pattern 33   Service file FDE
34 0x032C Packed structure descriptor COUGEN 35 0x0135 SMART

To repair firmware problems specialised tools are required to access and modify the System Area of Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi, Fijitsu, Samsung drives.
Here at dig IT we use the Dolphin Data Labs FRP tools ,see pic right, to perform these repairs and diagnosis of hard drive problems.

Dolphin Data Labs Firmware Repair Tools include fixes for common firmware problems

Seagate drives also have a Terminal Mode which allows the Firmware repair tool to initiate commands directly to the firmware of the drive. In terminal mode the drive also displays errors that have occurred during the drives spin up sequence and the following are some common errors for Seagate drives;

  • Failed to load overlay 00000004 - This is usually associated with some hardware error and can be caused by non-native adaptives (i.e non-original ROM).
  • SIM error 1002 - This message alerts us to some error with one or more defect list. Potentially P-list or NRG list can be bad.
  • SIM error 2044 - Translator tables cannot be read or are damaged.
  • SIM error 1009 - Module 17A is damaged.
  • SIM Error 203F / SIM Error 2040 / SIM Error 2044 / SIM Error 3005 - Also seem to be damaged or unreadable translator related errors.
  • LED:00000047 FAddr:FFFFFFFE - Usually this relates to Media Cache.
  • LED:000000BC FAddr:00006220 - Usually this also relates to Media Cache or some relocation parameters.
  • SIM ERROR 3005 - Mean that “format corrupted flag” in on and Translator is not loaded in RAM.
  • "No HOST FIS-ReadyStatusFlags" - (reason message: why translator is not loaded).

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