Friday, December 26, 2008

Why I Will Never Buy a Maxtor Product Ever Again

Couple weeks ago, I took a chance and declared Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois my douchebag of the year. Teach me to jump the gun.

Maxtor Corporation stepped up and took the prize with product behavior so douchebag'ish that it should be criminal (seriously). For the Maxtor weenies that are reading this, neither I nor the companies I have any influence over will ever buy any of your products ever again. That is a solemn promise, and one I will keep.

Here is the story for the curious, and for those unlucky enough to have been stung by these motherf**kers and are stumbling here through Google.

A couple days ago, I was doing a final backup of our old PC file server so I could complete the migration to our Mac file server over Christmas break: 200Gb internal drive being cloned to a 300Gb external drive in a Maxtor One Touch USB case. All our personal files, taxes, photos, etc. (the usual), with a backup procedure I've used >100 times with no trouble.

About 3 hours into the procedure, my old fileserver PC decides to die. It doesn't post, no fans spin, nothing. Dead as a door knob. I suspect a dead power supply. Alas, I now have a bad back up drive, and no easy way to back up the internal drive.

No problem, I'll pull the internal drive out of the file server and put it in the external USB case, and use the external case to copy the files to the new file server (unfortunately, the 300Gb drive in the external Maxtor case now has an incomplete backup and is useless to me).

Couple screws, pop it out, pop it in, plug it in, and my Mac tells me I have an unformatted 128Gb drive(!) Did I run into a Mac'ism? Plug it in to my wife's Windows laptop and the same thing: "E: drive unformated", with a disk size of 128Gb. Oh shit!

Fire up some low level disk management and recovery apps I have, and it finds the 12Gb C: partition, and also my data partition, which is now ~60Gb smaller than it should be with gobs of corrupted files and directories. WTF?

A Google search on "Maxtor One Touch 128Gb?" turns up the answer (take a moment and contemplate how close to magic that would have seemed to someone even 15 years ago)

Turns out the douchebags (a term I VERY rarely use, but much deserved) at Maxtor had decided that if a non-Maxtor hard drive was put into one of their external cases, they would intentionally cripple it by setting the Host Protected Area (HPA) limit of the drive to 128Gb. This is a firmware change on the drive itself, that makes it look like a 128Gb drive to the outside world, whether it is in a Maxtor case or not. Any partitions beyond 128Gb are now corrupt, and that data inaccessible.

Basically, for fear their case would be used with a non-Maxtor drive, these assholes had intentionally crippled and corrupted my harddrive, making a tremendous amount of data unreachable and unrecoverable through normal means.

(Un)Fortunately, others on the internet had already run into this mind-numbingly stupid behavior and solutions were available.

I recovered the disk by:

* Downloading and burning a bootable ISO image with the miraculous HDAT2 program from:

* Popping the now crippled 200Gb drive into an old PC case and booting up with the HDAT2 CD

* Following the instructions to quesion #6 in the HDAT2 FAQ (reproduced here):

Q6: Host Protected Area (HPA) vs. 28/48-bit LBA mode
A6: There is a problem of incompatibility on some hard drives (e.g. Seagate and/or in an external Maxtor One Touch) when you are using 48-bit command for removing Host Protected Area (HPA) created with 28-bit command.
48-bit command cannot remove HPA created with 28-bit command and vice-versa. Following solution is for disk supports 48-bit LBA mode only and if you have HPA greater than 127 GB.

"Some vendor-specific external drive enclosures (Maxtor) are known to use HPA to limit the capacity of unknown replacement hard drives installed into the enclosure. When this occurs, the drive may appear to be limited in size (e.g. 128 GB). In this case, one must use software utilities that use READ NATIVE MAX ADDRESS and SET MAX ADDRESS to change the drive's reported size back to its native size."


1. Power-on PC, boot and start HDAT2.
2. In 'SET MAX (HPA) Menu' select 'Set Max Address'. Change 'LBA mode' from 48 to 28-bit LBA mode and press 'S' key to set maximal address for 28-bit LBA mode (127 GB).
3. Power-off PC (Important !), power-on PC, boot and start HDAT2.
4. In 'SET MAX (HPA) Menu' select 'Set Max Address'. Leave the selected 48-bit 'LBA mode' (or change 'LBA mode' from 28 to 48-bit LBA mode) and then press 'S' key to set maximal address for 48-bit LBA mode.
5. After restart you should get the full (native) capacity of hard drive.

Now my hard drive again registers as a blessed 200Gb, and all the directory and file structures are sound (at least so far as I can tell).

I am doing a final clone to my external 300Gb drive, then I am taking a literal sledgehammer to the Maxtor case. If someone has the mailing address for these assholes (the home address of the CEO would be ideal), let me know and I'll mail the remains to them with a heart felt "F**K YOU!"

On a happier note, Lubomir Cabla (the author of the freeware(!) HDAT2) is a gentleman and a scholar of the first order. Lubomir my friend, I hope the $100 donation I sent you helps keep you a little warmer during the cold Czech winter. Thank you sir, you are a god send.


ROBERT said...

I have very same problemo!! Been cursing said Maxtor Corp ever since I 'lost' half my drive. So just wondering how I can make that little program work if i only have a MacPro? Can I still make the CD and how would I do that specifically and can that then boot my Intel Mac to restore the drive. If so, would you also recommend popping all my other drives to avoid any possible mistakes on my part. Thanks, Rob D

Ray Ghanbari said...

I don't know if the software I used will work on a MacPro...might be easier to find someone with a PC and not mess with it. I would definitely disconnect all the drives in the system except for the one you're trying to fix. Good luck...