Top critical review
2,866 people found this helpful
POWER OF ONE or WEAKNESS OF 0.67 - how to avoid getting the bad drive version...
on October 20, 2012
UPDATE April 2016
Please note, that Reviews for many very different Seagate drives are mixed together on this page. As such, unless a review specifies which model it is for, it won't necessarily be helpful for the purchase you're trying to make. This review is for a specific 2TB model only. Though it does shed some light on Seagate's general business practices, other drives will differ.
UPDATE January 2014:
Thanks to information from many useful comments, a short update:
1) The problem is still the same as it was. Both 2TB drives are still being sold with the same model number. Due to changes in serial nunbers, depth of the drive housing's indentation has now become the best way to distinquish the drives (see user images - bottom right of Amazon's product page)
2) When I wrote this, I didn't feel up to offering an alternate drive recommendation, as my own opinion is based on personal experience and hence anecdotal. Many people asked, but I only answered in email, without adding a recommendation to the review.
Since Backblaze's (an online data backup company) massive long term test, their blog and extremetech's article based on that (see comments, page 26 for a link), I'll just quote their blog: "If the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives. They have been rock solid, and have had a remarkably low failure rate."
So, is that data even relevant for the average home user? I would say yes, because continuous, heavy use of large numbers of drives is the only way to get any half-reliable comparison. Among consumers, usage patterns are simply spread too wide: if someone only turns on their computer 15 times a year (my aunt), any drive will be the same as any other drive, cause with so little use, they will all last till the lubricant in the spindle dries up, and she'll tell anyone who asks that her drive is great. This inability to compare reliability in the consumer space has bolstered sales of shoddy drives for a long time.
If you do use your computer frequently, installing drives exhibiting a <1% annual failure rate at Backblaze certainly beats installing drives with a 15% or even 120% annual failure rate.
ok, so this drive is listed as the "Seagate ST2000DM001" and guess what; other than that it sports 2 Terabytes, it tells you nothing whatever about what drive you'll end up with, because Seagate has chosen to obscure and omit relevant Data between different builds with vastly different performance.
The short advice: Only purchase versions xxExxxxx [and possibly x24xxxxx - x24 is unverified info so far, see notes below] of the 2TB model. This uses 2 platters and 4 heads.
It performs 30% better than the version with 3 platters, which has an xxFxxxxx [or possibly x36xxxxx] designation. Avoid those!
You'll need to contact the seller and ask them to check the code on the drive. If they can't verify, don't buy it, better to get a drive from a different company, where its hopefully not a surprise game of what's in the box.
S - SU - Suzhou China
W - WU - Wuxi China
Z - TK - Korat Thailand
F = 3 platters with either 5 or 6 heads (bad 2TB drive or good 3TB drive)
E = 2 platters with 4 heads. (good 2TB drive)
D = 1 platter with 2 heads. (good 1TB drive)
Weight info received in a comment here, suggests that the 'good' 2-platter drive weighs 534 grams, while the 'bad' 3-platter drive weighs 624 grams.
Seagate used to embed the information about their drives in the model number, but now they obscured it, so they can pawn off whatever they want. Send a WxE model to Publications who test drives, and then ship the crappy WxF model to unsuspecting customers who may never realize they're not getting what they thought they were buying. This should really be illegal.
NOTE 1: This was written for the 2TB drive. It turns out Amazon also shows this review for 3TB drives. This info does not apply to 3TB drives, the 3TB drives always have 3 1TB platters. (or not, there have been reports of 5 platter 3TB versions, if you know anything more, let us know)
NOTE 2: comparison test results - since links get killed in reviews, I'll upload an image to the product page.
NOTE 3: A relevant post on Seagate's forum stating that these Barracuda have been crippled through redesign [see the link in comment 143 below, page 15]
(Apparently, links are permitted in comments)
NOTE 4: Someone commented that Seagate removed any reference to the 2 platter version of this drive in the manual (something which is usually only read after the purchase)
NOTE 5: Someone explained that Seagate made this change due to the flooding of their plant in Thailand. This is not quite correct since chinese 2 platter 2TB drives are also in circulation.
NOTE 6: While the channel still has drives with the numbering scheme as described above, there appear to be at least some drives with a new numbering scheme like "Z240PJB3". Would be great if it read out like x24xxxxx, where 2 stands for 2 platters and 4 stands for 4 heads, then this would be one of the good drives while something like x35xxxxx would be the bad drives. (this is just a guess so far, its not verified)
NOTE 7: Someone added that 2 platter drives (based on other pictures) are 'thinner' with deeper indents on the bottom and top and have a dot matrix code on the bottom right third of the top next to the label. (note that labels are not safe indicators, as they could change an older factory to add barcodes or switch to their latest labeling system any time they wish)
NOTE 8: Seagate has reacted and added more drive info on this product page, advertising "POWER OF ONE" meaning 1 platter per terabyte. This is good news, but that doesn't mean you can relax and just hit the 'buy' button:
a) channel inventory of drives manufactured prior to this "Power of One" initiative will be around for some time to come, so you still need to verify.
b) the specifications sheet Seagate still links on this very page (as of June 28, 2013) shows 6 heads, 3 disks for the 2TB version. With conflicting information, its still a little hard to tell for consumers if they're getting "POWER OF ONE" or "WEAKNESS OF 0.67"
Once Seagate "fixes" their spec sheet info for the 2TB drive which directly conflicts with the "Power of One" advertising, I'd be happy to change my conclusion below. After all, it would mean they decided to be honest and transparent again, rather than hell bent on destroying the reputation of their 'Barracuda' brand.
But right now, what is the point of advertising "Power of One" while saying their 2TB drives have 3 platters with 0.67 TB at the same time.
Seagate's real reason to obscure drive information is being able to use lower bin or older tech platters that can only hold ~670 GB, so they use 3 platters. This is a fine business decision, but an honest company would give it a new Model number/name, as its a different product with lower speeds, lower reliability and higher weight.
But why be honest, if you can cheat and make a few dollars extra per drive, by selling it under the same name as the better drive, which has been reviewed extensively and lauded for its higher speeds?
Last Update: June 28, 2013 (in response to Seagate's new additions to this page and with thanks to Alex and J. Goodman)