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Things I learned about the Seagate Exos drives and how to fix them if you encounter random shutdowns or read errors


isvein

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Hello :)
So this is ether something everyone know about, or very few has experienced, because when I got problems with a brand new Seagate Exos X20 20TB, the information on how to get them to work on an none-hardware-server (as most of us uses at home) was not easy to find, so I put down my experience here, just in case someone else may get the same problems as I did.
This does not happen on all configs, and are my experience. It all seems to boil down to if the mobo, HBA, sata-controller supports EPC or not as far as I understand.
If you don`t experience any of this things with your setup, no need to do ANYTHING!
This information is for them who experience the same as me.
My drive is an
Model ST20000NM007D sata, none-SED

-----------------------------------------

Problem 1: Power

This drive does NOT like molex to sata power adapters. While I did get it to work, if connected to an adapter, in Unraid, it spits out a lot of read errors. When connected directly to psu power (sata 15pin power) this does not happen. Same seems to happens with my WD Red 10TB drives.
As far as I understand, none of these drives uses the 3.3v, so I don`t get why this happens with converters, but it does.

Problem2: Backplane:

I tried to use the exos in my Chieftec Backplane CMR-2131, this did not work at all, tried with different bays and an 2nd one as I have 2, same happens. Once again I think this has something to do with power as this backplane, 2*5 1/4" to 3*3.5" bay uses 2 molex as power.
My recommendation is not to use this backplane with exos drives, may be the same with other consumer backplanes that uses molex as power.

Problem3: Drive shuts down/parks head every minute:

This was the hardest one to figure out but I found the answer over at r/datahorder.
Enterprise drives have certain features I did not know about when it comes to power balance and the Seagates has a feature called EPC that I`m not sure what does, but as far as I understand it parks the read/write head  very often. Real server hardware works with those features, but an desktop/workstation board does not, so for us we need to turn those features off in the drives firmware.
(yes, I guess this is over simplified but I don`t know how this really works in a real server, and the post over at r/datahorder recomended to turn both of them off for home-use)

Once you know how to turn it off, its not that hard :)
I will tell how to do this on Unraid, but you can also do this from Windows. I assume you download on an windows or linux desktop

-First we need to download SeaChestUtilities from Seagate
-Unzip the folder and go to Linux-->Non-RAID-->x86_64
-Here we need 2 files: "SeaChest_SMART_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static" and "SeaChest_PowerControl_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static"
-Make an new folder on the Unraid USB, I named it "seagate" and copy the files there (this can be done from unraid with the
Dynamix File Manager plugin)
-Open an Unraid terminal and we need to edit the "go" file
-"sudo nano /boot/config/go"
-add the following lines to the end of the file:
 

cp -r /boot/seagate/ /usr/local/sbin/seagate
chmod -R +x /usr/local/sbin/seagate

This copy the files from the usb to an location on the unraid ram drive and makes the files executeable. Files on the usb cant be executeable.

-Reboot Unraid

-After reboot, open an terminal and "cd /usr/local/sbin/seagate" You should see the files in here now.
-First we need to find the exos drive by running:

 

./SeaChest_SMART_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static --scan

-Find the right drive by serial number and take an note of its number "/dev/sgX"

-then run the two commands:
 

./SeaChest_PowerControl_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static -d /dev/sgX --powerBalanceFeature disable
./SeaChest_PowerControl_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static -d /dev/sgX --EPCfeature disable

 

-This should turn both features off and it should be remembered though reboots.

-The following commands can be used to check if EPC is turned off:
 

./SeaChest_PowerControl_x86_64-alpine-linux-musl_static -d /dev/sgX -i

 

Down under "Features Supported" it should say ETC and nothing next to it, that means its turned off.

------------------------------------

After I plugged it in directly to psu and turned off said features, it been working fine with no random read errors :)
I be doing this if I get more exos drives in the future.

(and yes, this took some weeks to figure out for me. Ran a lot of smart tests,  even forgot the power thing, connected working drive into molex adapter after moving case and parity got ruined because the read errors so had to rebuild after using correct power connector)
(hopefully someone else can explain to me WHY some drives just don't like molex adapters. I also don`t know if this is specific to the X20 drives or all exos drives)

 

 

 

 

Edited by isvein
title was not complete, my bad
  • Thanks 2
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4 hours ago, isvein said:

So this is ether something everyone know about, or very few has experienced, because when I got problems with a brand new Seagate Exos X20 20TB

Thank you for the report.

Could you please provide the model number?

The problem might only be applicable to a certain model(s) and/or the particular bus interface (SATA vs SAS).

 

https://www.seagate.com/content/dam/seagate/migrated-assets/www-content/datasheets/pdfs/exos-x20-channel-DS2080-2111GB-en_SG.pdf

  • Like 1
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11 hours ago, isvein said:

hopefully someone else can explain to me WHY some drives just don't like molex adapters

There is no reason other than either the adapter itself or the whole power chain being too lossy and the adapter just being the last bit too much.

 

I've got 10 Exos/Ironwolfs in service and none of them has ever needed "special treatment" regardless of the set up/use case. There must be issues with the rest of your hardware set up.

Edited by Kilrah
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12 hours ago, isvein said:

Problem3: Drive shuts down/parks head every minute:

According to this post the EPC timings problem seem to be related to HBAs:

 

"Some kind of activity that I haven't identified yet―possibly some mildly intensive I/O―puts the drives into a state where they're not doing EPC anymore.

I want to blame the LSI HBA because I bought 4 more Seagate Exos X20 hard drives, put them in another server that doesn't have an HBA (direct SATA to motherboard), and saw that their EPC timers were working as advertised with no fuss."

 

https://github.com/Seagate/openSeaChest/issues/111

Edited by Lolight
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1 hour ago, Lolight said:

Connected to an HBA, SATA card or motherboard ports?

I think it was connected to the HBA all the time, not sure if I ever tried directly to mobo.
Its an Dell H310 6Gbps SAS HBA.

 

Edit: My bad, I tried the drive also on my desktop with an X570 board, same problems there, the drive shut down every minute before I turned off the EPC and power balance.
 

Edited by isvein
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  • isvein changed the title to Things I learned about the Seagate Exos drives and how to fix them if you encounter random shutdowns or read errors
  • 3 months later...

Thanks for sharing your research! Sounds like a serious strenuous voyage with your X20s

Got one (ST20000NM007D-3DJ103) in my Win11 Machine and had no problems at all so far. Will get another one for my Unraid system an will come back to you with the result.

I do not use HBA / adapters between the mobo and the drive though

Edited by Jabberwocky
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/29/2024 at 9:45 AM, Jabberwocky said:

Thanks for sharing your research! Sounds like a serious strenuous voyage with your X20s

Got one (ST20000NM007D-3DJ103) in my Win11 Machine and had no problems at all so far. Will get another one for my Unraid system an will come back to you with the result.

I do not use HBA / adapters between the mobo and the drive though

 

After some testing i have the Seagate X20 up and running in Unraid without any further "special treatment" but i am not using any HBA / adapter in my setup

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  • 4 weeks later...

I bought 6 of these about 2 months ago. None of the problems you've experienced. I have them connected to an LSI 9211-8i. 

 

Thanks for the heads up though. I've been through some of the troubleshooting you did and appreciate you posting here.

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  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)

Was bored so messed with the EPC on my Exos and other Seagates. Personally, the drives are rated for 600,000, so it was more of an OCD thing to me. For example, one of my Barracuda has 50,000 load cycles in 6 years, and my 2 EXOS have 25k in 2 years. Yes, it's a ton more than drives that don't do that stuff (I have 8-year-old WD Reds with under 500 load cycles), but the drives are built for it, and can obviously handle it. I think I would be worrying about other problems before any of the drives got near 600k load cycles. But hey, I got around to dealing with it eventually.

Edited by Lebowski89
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