Posts in Don’t Panik

The RMA Experience – WD and Seagate

RMAs. Return Material Authorization. Warranty. Whatever.

It’s like insurance. You rather not use it. When the time comes to use it, it can be a savior.

Recently, I have a bunch of disks with issues. I happen to have lots of hard disks. Lots means lots. Excluding office and client systems, there’s quite a few in NAS boxes (4-disks usually), servers, PCs, media players, etc.

I’ve had bad experience with Western Digital hard drives for a long time now. They somehow don’t work for me. Maybe it’s my workload, maybe it’s just me. WD disks may be fine for you but it never seems to work out for me reliably. I still risk them from time to time as I prefer to diversify my disk collection. That is supposed to reduce the risk of a manufacturer going through a bad patch. Here, you will see that I have two WD disks and four Seagate disks for RMA. I have more Seagate disk failings due to the fact that about 21 of my 28 disks are Seagate…

RMA Process:

Both WD and Seagate are quite clear on the process. Login via an online portal, give you a bunch of FAQs and stuff to do before you RMA the disk. Check warranty status. Both were clear on the entire process down to creating the RMA and printing shipping label.

Score: Tie.

Once you’ve sent the disk, you do want to make sure that the disks got to their destination. Sorry but this is Malaysia and the local postal service isn’t the best but they can be pretty good (see part 2).

Monitoring the RMA Status:

Both WD and Seagate have their portals where you can check the status of an RMA. Great. After three days, Seagate’s portal showed that the drives were received. Two days later, it indicated processing was completed and even indicated what replacement drives I would be getting. Awesome. They list shipping times as 7-10 days. Not great but hey, I have a timeline and know what to expect. WD’s portal was the same for the next five days. Concerned, I sent an email. To their credit, response was by 24 hours and confirmed the shipment was received. Interesting the next day, the WD website status was updated. It took them another three full days to update the status to say that processing was done and moved to shipping. A few days later, it was updated to mention that the RMA will be shipped status as TBA. The WD updates stopped there. Eight days after Seagate listed the status as to be shipped, I got an email from Seagate saying that the RMA has shipped and the tracking number. Awesome.

Score: Seagate. All the customer wants to know is what is going on. Give me an accurate and reliable status and I’d be simply happy.

The next thing is actually beyond Western Digital or Seagate’s control. The shipping part but as Part 2 will show, it’s equally or more crucial than actually the first part. So, part 1 winner is Seagate.


[to be continued…]


Disk Failures, Updated

As a follow on to this post here, the list below is what I have in all my current running systems (excluding client and other systems under maintenance contracts). It does include systems I maintain for friends & family though.

Currently running in “production” systems (exclude laptops), like my MBA which has a Samsung SSD…

  • Corsair
    • F60 – 60Gb SSD – 2 drives
    • F120 – 120Gb SSD – 1 drive
  • Intel
    • Intel 330 – 120Gb – 4 drives
    • Intel 330 – 180Gb – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro II)
    • Samsung F3, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (QNAP NAS)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 / DM003, 1TB – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Synology DS-212J NAS
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 DM001, 2TB – 7 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid – 2 drives
Retired drives
  • Seagate Barracude 7200.9, 7200rpm, 500Gb – 3 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740, 10000rpm, 74Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD1500, 10000rpm, 150Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus 5400.2, 100Gb, SATA (2.5″) – 1 drive

RMA’d or Failed:

  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD2001FASS, 7200rpm 2TB Black – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EZEX , 7200rpm 1TB Blue – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EACS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD10EARS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Samsung EcoGreen F2 1.5TB, – 3 drives

Consolidation coming soon

With a new business with a fair amount of work coming in, there’s lots to do and even more to get started and settled in. This just adds to my list of things to do in addition to a home, a lovely wife and kid to boot. This means that I’ve got less time than ever to blog. With four blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, there’s just too many social channels that I’ll be consolidating Don’t Panik into another blog that’s has more regular updates.

There’s a time for everything under the sun and there’s a time to start and a time to end. Ten years blogging this blog is a nice mile stone for consolidation. Once I revamp my other blog, I’ll post another notice here. After that has been done, I will configure all domain look-ups to be forward there. This blog will stick around though as an archive.

Just got unifi-ed

When Telekom Malaysia (TM) announced their Fiber to the home broadband initiative, I was rather excited as broadband speeds in Malaysia have stagnated over the past couple of years. Initially when I jumped on to the DSL bandwagon in 2001 with a paltry (by today’s standard) speed of 384kbps down and 128kbps up. It was a big improvement over any 33.6 or even 56kbps modems of the day. Fast forward 10 years and internet speeds have doubled or tripled many times in neighboring countries and all we’re stuck with is 2mbps DSL. 4mbps is available but few areas could even qualify with the poor quality of cabling or exchange equipment. My home couldn’t even get past 1.8mbps due to the distance from the exchange.

It took TM about a year plus to reach my backwater housing area. The good thing is many others have sacrificed their effort and time to enable TM to iron out the kinks in the system and to improve the roll-out, delivery and implementation service. After all, there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of homes to install.

The good is that they no longer need eight guys to install like for my parents home, a year back. The bad is that they still are not coordinated with their contact center and appointment scheduling system. It still takes an entire day but most of it will be spent waiting and waiting or cleaning up. If you’re lucky, everything goes well after install otherwise, you’ll end up waiting for new modems, BTUs, and more technicians.

For me, the install was a breeze. Minus the five hours waiting for the installers to show up. When the appointment time said 9:30am to 2:30pm, I assumed the install will complete within that window rather than start at 2:45pm! Anyway, my install was through the ceiling so all was needed was a hole drilled through the outside wall to get into the ceiling, pull the fiber and drop it into my central cable drop. My home, fortunately for the TM installers, had a central cable drop where all ethernet, phone, cable TV, etc are laid down so drilling through the wall took the longest time. The Brits build houses to last in the 60s.

Fortunately for the installers, I also provided the ceiling light and ladder otherwise they would have come to grief with such a miserable ladder of theirs. Also to their benefit, my entire house is wired with CAT5e (long story why it’s not CAT6) so again, the rest of the setup was a breeze. Plug the Fiber BTU here, LAN to WAN port, IP TV out to Port 2 (next to my TV), Phone out to Phone Distribution panel and viola, IP TV works, we got internet and the rooms have phone lines! Hallelujah!

Since I had a Cisco VPN Router & SPI firewall going, I wanted to junk the crappy DLINK DIR615 that came with the package. The router has caused grief to many users due to it running custom firmware, lack of security (all wide open settings), poor wireless and network performance, and more. The problem with using your own router is that the incoming network has three VLANs and if you didn’t care about the IP-TV, you can go ahead. I paid for all services so I damn well want the access.

Solution was simply replace the DIR615 with a VLAN bridge. I used a MikroTik RB250 for this purpose. If anyone wants a pre-configured RB250, drop me an email. I have the RouterBoard Rb750GS as well but for the moment, I wanted to continue using my Cisco router.

Here’s the TM Fiber Broadband Termination unit (BTU)

The crappy D-Link DIR615 which was quickly replaced…

My Cisco VPN and IPS/IDS Firewall

The Huawei IP TV Set-top box (STB). Still a bit laggy when watching internet streaming content

The awesome MikroTik RB250 VLAN Bridge.

I really need to fix my cabling mess! For now, Yellow is WAN link, white is Internal network, Blue is POE, green is for Voice and now Red for IPTV.

 So how does it perform? The good is that it works pretty much as it is advertised. No complaints until the service starts going down or becomes unreliable but overall, my satisfaction is high. Minus the setup, installation part of course. Your mileage may vary and depending on your home and where you want certain components, i.e. IPTV, Wireless, phone, etc, the process might cost you a fair bit and be more trouble than in my case.

Testing 1-2-3…

This is just a test.

More coming soon and the theme will be slowly worked on this week. Apologies for the mess. Renovation in progress!