back to article Errant update borks Samsung 850 Pro SSDs

Turning social media against Samsung, a Facebook group has been set up to get the Korean company to fix a firmware update that borks the 850 Pro SSD. This SSD uses brand new 3D NAND and has a 10-year warranty. According to the Facebook group (requires log-in): "A few days ago Samsung published a new firmware update for its …

  1. Fuzz

    Think people

    These people upgraded the firmware on their drives with no RAID and no backup?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think people

      RAID ≠ backup.

      Plus, how many laptop computers can take enough drives to make RAID possible? Not that many.

    2. gerdesj Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Think people

      "These people upgraded the firmware on their drives with no RAID and no backup?"

      Really?

      RAID with SSD is really hard and probably doesn't work the way you think it does, it's also probably bloody stupid due to the way SSDs work. Now SSDs as cache for a RAID spinning rust array is a good idea but that is generally called a SAN and a bit big for a laptop with one or perhaps two HDD slots.

      Backups - yes good idea.

      I do find it rather sad that many Windows apps insist on installing their own auto updater thingie. Could they not register with MS and have them delivered via the built in Windows Updates mechanism.

      Now a HDD needing an auto-updater - WTF!

      1. An0n C0w4rd

        Re: Think people

        @gerdesj

        I'd be curious why RAID with SSD is "really hard"? I've seen people claim that identical SSDs in RAID are a bad idea as they tend to fail (i.e. write lifetime expire) around the same time, but beyond that I'm not sure what you mean.

        Also ZFS works with SSDs as a L2ARC or ZIL without a SAN and while it'll never fit on a laptop in that configuration, it'll work quite happily in a desktop without a big SAN.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Think people

        What are you on about? SSDs work fine in RAID arrays.

        Any SAN using SSDs for write caching will use some kind of RAID to protect data from drive failures

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Think people

          "What are you on about? SSDs work fine in RAID arrays."

          The argument I see repeated is that enabling (Intel chipset) RAID on internal SSDs disables TRIM support. However, this appears to be becoming incorrect, as Intel RST supports RAID-0 (not RAID-1) from the Z7x series up (http://www.anandtech.com/show/6161/intel-brings-trim-to-raid0-ssd-arrays-on-7series-motherboards-we-test-it).

          1. Gordan

            Re: Think people

            TRIM support never was that important in the first place with decently designed drives and firmware, and since most flash controller manufacturers started to implement transparent compression and deduplication in firmware, it is even less relevant. Filling the empty space on the drive with 0s periodically will do the exact same thing that TRIM does.

  2. Tubs

    "RMAing the drive means all your data is lost"

    Things may have changed since last time I looked, but IIRC applying new firmware to an SSD loses all your data anyway...

    Does anyone know what the new firmware was supposed to fix? Did these guys need to do an update? Whatever happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

    Edit: Looks like I was wrong on both counts!

    Samsung recommends all firmware fixes are applied.

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      @Tubs

      SSD manufacturers warn that FW upgrades MAY lose data, but only occasionally do they say a particular upgrade WILL lose data, and they tend to put big warnings around that.

      I suspect the "MAY" comes from the fact it's difficult to prove a negative. You can't prove all SSDs in all systems will upgrade correctly without data loss, so the CYA option is to put the "we may wipe your drive" line in there.

  3. dloughlin

    No sympathy here, having no RAID and no backups is crazy... especially when doing firmware updates!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think it's any more crazy than issuing a firmware update that bricks your hardware. As far as "backups", well why doesn't Samsung have a backup bios like every modern motherboard seems to come with?

      I feel pretty confident in NOT buying Samsung's for a couple years. Hell, I own a turtle of an 840 already (I'm on the complaint list). So, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (850), shame on me.

  4. DNTP

    Lager drive

    Look closely at the options available on the poll and you'll see one option is "Updgrade to a lager drive" and I have this great idea for what a "lager drive" is and I would totally want one. Is anyone from Samsung reading this.

    1. Haku
      Pint

      Lager drive?

      Ah yes, the new Pintabyte range which comes with a side order of chips.

    2. TCMuffin

      Re: Lager drive

      David Kemecsi, who created the FB book and posted the poll, is Swedish...perhaps you could post to FaceBook in Swedish and ask him to check your spelling???

  5. rproulx

    There is no room for additional HDs in a Laptop to run a RAID setup.

    My 850 pro fell victim of the firmware issue last Friday and yes I had a backup of my system. But the failed firmware rendered the SSD completely useless as it would no longer be recognized in a computer bios. The drive was listed with a corrupted name and could not be accessed to restore a backup to it. Someone did post a hack online that could restore the SSD bios if one had a functional second SSD of the same type available.

    So, while I have no pity for folks who do not maintain proper backups of their systems, this issue still required the SSD to be returned for repair or replacement. There are folks out there who don't have replacement SSD's available so this was a real PITA issue.

    fwiw I've done many MANY firmware updates on all sorts of hardware (motherboards, SSDs, DVD Burners, etc..) and this is the first time I've hit a problem like this. I guess it was just my turn ;-)

    Russell

    1. TCMuffin

      My new Gigabyte P34W has the Samsung 850 PRO as the "system" drive and a 1Tb Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SSD as the "data" drive...so there is room in this 14" laptop for RAID, but I chose not to run RAID.

      Even if I had my SSDs running as a RAID setup, I'd still have a dead 3 week old SSD.

    2. Fuzz

      So it turns out that IT stuff sometimes breaks. If you can't afford to be without your computer for the amount of time it takes Samsung to RMA your drive then I suggest that you need.

      1. A spare drive

      2. A warranty with next day or 4 hour support that will come out and replace parts when they go wrong

      3. A spare computer

      If you don't have these things then you need to be asking yourself the question, "Did I need to install a firmware update on my SSD?"

      Did the firmware update fix a bug you were personally experiencing? Did the firmware update provide some new functionality that you couldn't live without?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        (possibly) damned if you do, (possibly) damned if you don't

        True, but sometimes the updates correct bugs that could potentially screw your data up *further down the line* (as has often been the case with SSD firmware, esp. the earlier ones), and the manufacturer specifically recommends installation to avoid that possibility becoming a reality.

        Hence, if you're saying that prudency is taking a cautious approach by not installing firmware updates to avoid loss of the drive and / or data, the same logic could work in reverse - that you *should* install to maintain integrity of your data (if said firmware update is recommended for that purpose by the manufacturer).

        So I don't think it's fair to beat up on people necessarily for installing updates - in general, you trust the manufacturer of the kit to make that call if they say the update should be used. They made the kit. The fact that they messed up is on them, not on the customer.

        1. TCMuffin

          Re: (possibly) damned if you do, (possibly) damned if you don't

          Thank you

    3. Trygve Henriksen

      Popped open a couple of DELL Precision M6xxx, and wouldn't you know, there's a space for an additional drive.

      Quite a few other 17" models also have that.

      1. TCMuffin

        My 14" laptop has a 1Tb 850 PRO SSD and a 1Tb 840 EVO mSATA SSD

    4. Down not across Silver badge

      There is no room for additional HDs in a Laptop to run a RAID setup.

      I have had number of HP laptops over the years and all of them have had 2 2.5" disk bays.

  6. channel extended

    Samsung is cooperating...

    Perhaps Samsung is trying to cooperate with the NSA and install backdoors into their drives?

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Why did they upgrade firmware in the first place?

    Was there a serious flaw this was fixing? Or was it just a bunch of idiots who upgraded because something newer became available, or it promised 0.2% more performance? And yes, they are idiots if they upgraded the firmware on a drive (SSD or spinning) that wasn't mirrored, RAIDed or backed up!

    NEVER be an early adopter patching storage devices. NEVER. Let fools walk that plank before you, and upgrade only after it has been out a while without being recalled.

    1. TCMuffin

      Re: Why did they upgrade firmware in the first place?

      20/20 vision...the perfect visual acuity of hindsight!

      1. Tubs

        Re: Why did they upgrade firmware in the first place?

        @TCMuffin

        20/20 doesn't mean perfect vision. It's just a standard.

        Your eyesight can be better than 20/20.

        1. TCMuffin

          Re: Why did they upgrade firmware in the first place?

          I know...I used 20/20 as a figure of speech rather than as an optometrist would use it

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Why did they upgrade firmware in the first place?

        Its only hindsight if you think I wouldn't have said the same thing the day before. You would be wrong.

  8. TCMuffin

    Samsung's firmware update was applied by Samsung's Magician software...automatically for some!

    We are not idiots...and most of us had backups, e.g. as always, my data was on a separate SSD.

    Whatever the individual circumstances, Samsung thought it was appropriate to install fatal firmware on my 3 week old 1Tb £450 SSD!

    1. Fuzz

      Re: Samsung's firmware update was applied by Samsung's Magician software...automatically for some!

      You have Samsung Magician installed? And running? And you don't think you're an idiot?

      The last time I installed that piece of software it needed elevated privileges to run in the system tray, it got un-installed pretty quickly.

      1. TCMuffin

        Re: Samsung's firmware update was applied by Samsung's Magician software...automatically for some!

        I have Samsung Magician installed (and running) to enable Rapid mode to improve the performance and reliability of my SSDs...and therein may lie the problem...a member of our group has found...

        "Oficial FAQ on their [Samsung's] site sais it should be disabled but that information isn't easy to find and should be a warning in magician"

        Whatever...Samsung software and firmware have destroyed my 3 week old SSD and that's unacceptable.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Simple IT rules:

    1) Don't have automatic updates turned on. Let some other poor sod guinea-pig things for you. Press the button at the end of the week if you absolutely must (and if the drive was working, and the firmware has no release notes affecting yourself, why would you press the button?)

    2) Don't update without backups. Because, you know what?, any update can break your machine.

    3) Don't update without backups.

    4) Don't update without backups.

    5) Don't store all your data in one place anyway.

    1. TCMuffin

      1) Disagree...if you don't update your PC you are vulnerable to hacking

      2) Agree and I do

      3) Agree and I do

      4) Agree and I do

      5) Agree and I do

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Hacking your SSD because you didn't update the firmware?

        You have bigger problems than just your SSD then.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There! Made it disappear!!

    Samsung magician software does it's magic.

    --

    In defense of those who were "stupid, and chose to flash the firmware" the Magician software does run all the time by default and offers to "upgrade" (I think, I only have older 830/840's).

    Maybe the firmware should require we step away from the friendly "everyday tasks" Gui, or challenge with a firmer level of "are you sure?", "do you have current backups?", "one last warning without backups you do risk total data loss - proceed y/N?"

  11. BlartVersenwaldIII

    Samsung honour role

    The last time I installed Samsung Magician to see if it had any firmware updates for the 830 SSD (it was about to be replaced by an M550 and the 830 was going to go in a linux box), it not only stuck itself into auto-startup but also added a scheduled task to start it up if you deleted the entry. Cunning. Why on earth samsung think it's a good idea to have it running 24/7 I have no idea. From reading the forums it seems it's not that the firmware was bad but that samsung magician's update process was what b0rked the drives; updates from the ISO worked fine.

    Still, the prize for most pig-like SSD management software has to go to Crucial's new "storage executive" which is a 150MB download and runs as a java web service.

    Looks like keeping a bootable USB stick around for firmware updates is still a good idea.

  12. picturethis
    Coat

    Samsung "Magician" software...

    Now you see it (your data) and now you don't.... (Poor name for a product, IMHO)

    Sorry, I feel for anyone that has been caught in Sammy's FUp.

    Coincidently, I have a brand new 850 Pro waiting to install into my laptop as an upgrade in speed and size (scheduled for this weekend). Wow, I am fortunate to have waited a couple of days before doing so. Four or 5 years ago I got caught in the Seagate firmware bollox (something to do with the firmware's log files at powerup IIRC???) with their 1TB drives. I have 4 of them, but again, fortunately I powered them all off before they became bricked, waited for a firmware fix and was able to apply it to all of them. The drives are still working to this day.

    Now I wait to hear from lord Sammy for a fix. Samsung is slowly creeping up on my list of shit companies not to do business with.

  13. Ribblethrop

    Is it really Samsung that are the shysters though, or the tech reviewers who lauded the drives as the best. One notable website changed tack to Samsung, recommending the latest drives after originally not doing, their cited reason: everyone else said Sammy's are the best, so we have altered our review to reflect that. Thanks Obama!

  14. TCMuffin

    Para 5)...let's hope that Samsung tests its SSDs more thoroughly than its firmware...

    "A response from Samsung Mexico

    How the exchange works:

    1) We receive your information (You need to do this now)

    2) I send you a RMA ticket number within 72 hours of receiving your reply

    3) You will then ship the SSD to us.

    4) Once it has been signed for at the dock, it takes us 3 to 4 business days for us to exchange the drive. We send it back to you at no cost

    5) You receive a recertified SSD (which is a refurbished unit but it is tested by us!)

    The (somewhat) fine print:

    We will replace your unit with a recertified unit, which works as well as a new unit. This is all we have for exchange

    Upgrades cannot be requested either. The full warranty policy is found here.

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me right away. Our support hours are from 9am-9pm EST Monday to Friday.

    Thanks!

    David P ௐ

    Total Tech Solutions, Inc.

    Samsung Factory Service – SSD & Memory Department

    E-mail: dpisciotta@totalts.com"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aargh

    I got an 840 *and* an 850 a couple months back. If Samsung doesn't come up with a fix that doesn't involve transplanting my SSDs into a Windows box I'm just gonna wipe 'em, give 'em to some kid who's got time to patch 'em, and replace them with Intel SSDs, and blacklist Sammy for a few years.

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