Sunday, April 24, 2005

Problems with my hard drive backup -- Vantec cartridge incompatible with Seagate Barracuda 200GB drives.

I outgrew my 80GB backup drives in my Vantec EZ-SWAP cartridge (see Backing up a mixed OS X and Windows 2000 Home Network) and confidently ordered two 200 GB Barracude ATA drives. I was sure it would be a half hours work (max) to swap out the 80 from the Vantec and put in the 200. Wrong. The 200 GB Barracudas don't work in the Vantec cartridge, though they work fine as regular drives.

The BIOS recognizes the Seagate perfectly during initial startup. The hang occurs after the POST is complete, when Windows starts up. The yellow and green lights on the front of the drive light up and the system waits about 20 seconds. Then the system continues and the Windows splash screen appears with its progress bar. The progress bar continues to move, but the system never gets past this point.

I hear a 'zuttt' sound every 20-30 seconds when these drivers are powered up in the Vantec.

I've tried many tricks, including configuring the Seagate as a 32GB drive using the jumpers. I've tested with two identical Seagate drives, two different IDE cables, two different controllers (Paradise and MB IDE). I've tried Master and cable-select configurations. I've confirmed that the Vantec EZ-Swap continues to work very well with my 80GB drives. I've confirmed that the drives work fine outside of the EZ-Swap cartridge.

In short, the 200GB Seagate Barracuda ATA ST3200822A appears to be completely incompatible with the Vantec EZ-Swap.

The Vantec support people actually answered an email, but they've had no ideas. My guess is that the Seagate can't tolerate the minor signal degradation created by the IDE cable splices to the cartridge.

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