Apple confirmed yesterday that some Seagate hard drives that were sold with the Apple MacBook notebooks have a critical manufacturing flaw which can result in permanent data loss.
According to U.K. recovery firm Retrodata the problem affects 2.5" Seagate Serial ATA drives manufactured in China with a firmware revision of 7.01.
To determine whether a MacBook has the drive, Retrodata recommends looking under Serial-ATA for the Revision in the computer's System Profiler. If the machine is using the Seagate hard drive, then Retrodata is recommending backing up all the data and replacing the hardware.
Seagate was not immediately available for comment, but Apple spokesman Cameron Craig said the company was aware that there might be a problem. "We've received a few reports that some MacBook consumer notebooks may have hard drive issues, and we're looking into it," he said.
Duncan Clarke, managing director for the U.K. firm Retrodata, told InformationWeek the firm found that the head in the drive becomes detached from the read/write arms, causing the latter to "gouge deep scratches" in the disk. Unless the user shuts off the computer immediately, then the damage can be so severe that data recovery is impossible.
The reason is the scratches can destroy the operating parameters unique to the hard drive that recovery firms use. Without knowing the operating parameters, a recovery firm can't get the drive data ready so another computer can recognize it, Clarke said. "I'm working on a fix, but it's going to take some time," he said. "I'm not optimistic."