Since the last update I have:
1. completely filled the drive with data
2. deleted large, random areas and rewrote to those several times
3. run complete sector scans after each major overwrite operation
4. loaded and used numerous files from random areas with no problems
5. completely wiped the drive using CCleaner (3x overwrite), followed by SeaTools, followed by a complete sector scan
This was rather time consuming, as you can imagine, and it worked the drive pretty hard.
The number of bad sectors remains at 64. There is evidently no significant problem with the heads, if at all, so it's looking like there's a small area of a platter that's defective, which required some use to reveal itself. Hopefully, that's the end of it, though I still find it difficult to fully trust this drive.
** UPDATE 1/23/13:
I installed the drive on the new Windows 8 machine, wiped it and set it up as a single 2.794TB partition (you must initialize the drive as GPT instead of MBR, folks! Link to more info is in comments). There have been no additional bad sectors since #64 weeks ago. However, this is most likely due to the fact that the drive is now squeaky clean. So, the next step is to dump massive amounts of data on it (e.g., batch writing video files to numerous folders) and see if it throws more bad sectors (S.M.A.R.T. reallocation).
** UPDATE 1/6/13:
Sadly, my drive started throwing bad sectors after day 45. Ininitally, there were 36 bad sectors at once that came out of nowhere, and it stayed at 36 for a good while, but it has been dropping sectors at a rate of about 10 every week since then.
By HD Sentinel's calculation (default settings), the drive is now at 36% health. On some boots, HD sentinel shows 6-7% health, with 65k+ sectors being reported as "weak" -- a retest clears this and it returns to the previous health.
From 100% to 36% health in 2 months is cause for concern.
The unit hasn't been touched since installation, and the pc is not a LAN machine, so it doesn't get moved (i.e., shock is not the cause).
Since I needed to build a new pc for another room anyway, I'll install Win8 on the new machine's SSD, install and wipe this Seagate drive and then run a complete/long sector scan on it and see what happens.
I've deducted 2 stars for the alarming bad sector trend and will deduct another star for every 10 additional sectors that go belly up (until I'm down to 1 star, of course). I suspect it won't take long for that to happen.
I'll be back to update the continuing saga...
Original review follows:
I purchased this drive for use with one of my legacy machines (a 2003 P4 3.0c), as I had finally reached the point where the old Seagate 320GB drive was stuffed full and I ran out of things I could afford to delete. The price/size/performance numbers of this drive are excellent, so I pulled the trigger.
~~ The packaging ~~
Some reviewers mention inadequate packing. I believe this generally is only a problem with 3rd party sellers. I have yet to receive an inadequately/unsafely packaged item which was "sold and shipped by Amazon". I have had problems with dealers who sell through Amazon, however.
Stick to the items Amazon itself stocks and you will likely have less of a problem, especially with fragile items like hard drives.
My drive shipped with form fitted, soft plastic end cups for support and sealed in the factory anti-static bag -- just what you'd expect with an OEM drive. It was double boxed with airbags at one end.
It arrived safely and I've had no functional problems with the drive in the 250 hours I've put on it so far, after having run it through my torture test, which includes a great deal of sustained, heavy defrag operations.
~~ Quiet and cool ~~
The drive is virtually silent when it isn't persistently spinning down for power-saving and parking the heads. I describe how to put an end to this later in the review -- to skip the section on getting the 3TB in Windows XP, look for the "~~ That most annoying head parking, and how to stop it for good ~~" section near the bottom of this review.
Left fully on (no power-saving), my drive temp reads an average 31°C -- I have a fan in front of my HD cage, but I keep the room this pc is in relatively warm, so YMMV greatly here. In comparison, my old Seagate 320GB drive reads an average 37°C.
My old Seagate drive is still going strong (96% health) after 38,092 hours.
I hope this new drive fares as well.
~~ First order of business: scan your drive! ~~
Some people are having problems with >2GB drives in legacy systems.
I'll describe how I freed up the full 3TB in XP in a moment, but the first thing you should do before using ANY new mechanical hard drive is perform complete sector and S.M.A.R.T. scans to make sure you have a 100% healthy drive to begin with.
So, before you partition and format the drive, you should visit Seagate's website support section and download the SeaTools and DiskWizard utilities -- get both Windows and DOS (CD boot) versions of both programs. Burn the CD boot versions to separate CDs.
You may need to change your BIOS settings to boot the CDROM as the first device in order to run these DOS programs.
Verify you have a good drive by using SeaTools DOS S.M.A.R.T. and LONG tests.
You may be able to get Windows version of SeaTools to cooperate, YMMV.
While in SeaTools, you can check the drive information for such things as temperature, power on hours, etc.
I have my doubts as to whether the power on hours will tell you whether the drive is actually an unmarked refurb, since the factory could just reset these specs (firmware wipe) and you'd be none the wiser. At any rate, it's there for the viewing.
The latter test takes a LONG time (whoda thunk it from the name, huh?), but you want to be sure you have a good drive, right? Right! So be patient, it's worth it. After you're confident you have a perfect drive, you can proceed to setting up the drive for your system.
Boot up Windows -- you may need to change your BIOS boot order, YMMV.
~~ The 2TB limit ~~
Seagate's website support section offers plenty of material regarding >2TB with Windows XP, but for those still having trouble, here's how I freed up the full 3TB and cloned my multi-boot 320GB onto this new drive:
1. Go into XP's Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Disk Management and format the unallocated 2TB drive (I chose NTFS). This step is necessary if DiskWizard cloning function in Windows doesn't work for you (as it didn't for me) -- and the DOS version doesn't format in NTFS.
You'll only have access to the first 2TB for now, because XP (32-bit at least) doesn't recognize >2TB. Do not partition this 2TB yet, especially if you want to clone your old drive onto the new drive.
2. Shut down Windows, Boot DiskWizard CD (change BIOS boot order, if necessary) and use the Extended Capacity Manager. This effectively creates a separate hard drive, which will end up showing about 750GB available after formatting. You may be able to use the Windows version of DiskWizard's Extended Capacity Manager, but my XP SP3 didn't cooperate until I had set everything up using the DOS version, YMMV.
3. After confirming you now have a 2TB (≈1.97 available) drive and an ≈750GB drive, you can proceed to clone your old drive (or format the Extended drive if you wish; this won't matter unless you're cloning a >2TB drive). The Windows version of DiskWizard's clone function refused to work for me, YMMV. If it doesn't work for you, you'll need to use the DOS CD bootable version.
I used manual mode because I wanted a larger c:\ multi-boot partition than my old drive had, but you can use automatic (exact copy) mode if you're squeamish about these things.
What you need to remember about cloning is that it duplicates EXACTLY, sector by sector. If your old drive is heavily fragmented (like mine was, due to my lack of diligence) and you don't have enough free space on your old drive to defrag it (like I didn't), your brand new drive will be fragmented in the same way as your old drive (the horror!).
So, I cloned my 320GB onto the largest (2TB) portion of this new drive and defragged the new drive after the fact. Then, not wanting to delete most of my original/backup drive in case something horrible happened to my new drive due to Murphy's Law, I merely cleaned up my old drive enough to give me >15% free space (e.g., I deleted XP) and defragged what was left on it, leaving me with nicely defragged drives.
I know, not ideal, but as I said earlier, I had run out of things I could do without on the old drive and thus could not defrag it prior to cloning, which is something you SHOULD obviously do if you have sufficient free space for the task.
Yes, I could have made tons of backup DVD's to obtain enough free space for defrag operations, but the above method worked, probably about as quickly, and it saved my DVD blanks.
Cloning takes a long time (in my case on this legacy machine it took about 1.5 hours for 320GB), so grab a snack, go watch a movie, etc.
4. Having freed the last TB of your new drive, you can go into Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Disk Management to confirm the drives are all present and you can format this last TB to your liking. The last TB will appear as a separate physical drive. While in Disk Management, you can change the drive letters and names as desired (you cannot change the physical drive NUMBERS in Disk Management).
Performing the above left me with 3 "physical" drives: This new drive with 2 partitions, the original 320GB drive and the last TB of the new drive.
~~ That most annoying head parking, and how to stop it for good ~~
That scraping noise you're hearing is NOT A DEFECT! Please do not send this drive back based on this noise -- doing so only leads to the marketplace being swamped with refurbs because there was nothing wrong with the drives!
The noise is a result of Seagate's power saving design, which spins down the drive to a slower platter speed and parks the heads during periods of inactivity.
A huge problem with this concept is that Windows, at least XP, won't leave the drive alone long enough to make parking viable, as it's accessing the hard drive frequently, even when the user is doing nothing on the pc and all TSR programs are closed! Thus, this parking/scraping noise is very frequent in some cases (average interval was 30 seconds in my case).
This is the only noise I've heard coming from this drive, and it was as bad as if not worse than fingernails on a chalkboard (the horror, part II!). I even resorted to creating a script which would frequently read a bit from the drive in order to keep it constantly active.
If I had not gotten rid of this annoyance, I would have returned a 100% healthy drive for this reason alone. Are you listening, Seagate??
Fortunately, you CAN stop this irritating behavior, at least with certain firmware versions. The drive I was sent was made in Thailand, dated 08/12 with firmware version CC43.
Now, the good stuff (at last).
Download Hard Disk Sentinel (hdsentinel dot com).
In addition to providing you with more info than you ever wanted to know about your drives, the trial version will let you change the APM (Advanced Power Management) setting for this drive (with CC43 firmware at least; YMMV with other versions, but they should also allow it).
Not wanting to completely do away with all power savings, I tinkered for a while and discovered that an APM level of 128 stops the parking/spin down noise. Levels lower than 128 do not stop the noise, they progressively increase the spin down level, which in turn increases the time it takes for the drive to spin up to normal platter speed; you can hear this as you set the level to lower and lower numbers.
Levels higher than 128 also stop the noise, but they result in progressively less power savings.
Imagine that, if only Seagate had shipped this drive at default level 128 instead of the 125 it shipped with, few people would be complaining about this issue!
~~ Final verdict ~~
This is a highly recommendable, virtually silent drive with plenty of storage space and excellent price-size-performance numbers.
Speaking of numbers, compare this drive to the much revered and coveted WD Black:
Seagate 3TB (ST3000DM001): max sustained 210MB/s
WD Black 2TB (WD2002FAEX): max sustained 138MB/s
Seagate 3TB: latency 4.16ms
WD Black 2TB: latency 4.20ms
Seagate 3TB: seek time read <8.5ms, write <9.5ms
WD Black 2TB: seek time ?? (not available, on their website anyway)
Seagate 3TB: 24dB idle, 26dB operating
WD Black 2TB: 29dB idle, 30dB seek mode 3, 34dB performance seek (mode 0)
Seagate 3TB: operating 8W, idle 5.4W, standby & sleep .75W
WD Black 2TB: operating (read/write) 10.7W, idle 8.2W, standby & sleep 1.3W
Reliability/integrity specs are identical. The only thing the WD Black has going for it is its additional 3 years of warranty coverage -- no, that's not a typo; I ran a warranty check on my new Seagate 3TB and it came back as 2 years, not 1.
Better performance with 1TB more storage than the largest WD Black. My previous experience with Seagate, combined with the above comparison sold me again on Seagate.
Seagate just needs to tweak their APM a bit to prevent unnecessary returns and bad feelings about Seagate "green" insistence (yes, I know other manufacturers also use APM). I should deduct a star due to the effort the end user must go to in order to quiet the annoying APM noise, but I feel the above positive aspects make up for this.