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ST-225 longevity

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    ST-225 longevity

    Is it safe to say that the Seagate ST-225 is the most reliable hard drive ever made? The one I have in my IBM 5150 PC came from the factory with nothing on the defect list, and even today, it has absolutely no bad sectors. It runs quietly with no bearing whine, and only makes a faint squeaky whimper when seeking. I often have to look at the activity LED to even know that it's doing something. Slow, but unfailingly reliable, and it's the quietest 5" hard drive I've ever heard -- even my 12 GB Quantum Bigfoot is louder.

    I know there were numerous different variations of the ST-225 over its long production span; mine has a date code of 8733 stamped onto the casing, has the "fancy font" ST-225 sticker, a green LED and no Seagate logo on the faceplate, and was assembled in Singapore, with the spindle motor made in Thailand.

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    #2
    Originally posted by vwestlife View Post
    Is it safe to say that the Seagate ST-225 is the most reliable hard drive ever made?
    I can only provide a single data point, and that was the ST-225 that I owned (I've only owned one). I was given it as payment for a restoration job I did on a ruined CP/M / MP/M system (owned by an accountant. He was a customer of the guy who came to me about the problem and who gave me that disk. And a controller). That ST-225 was very welcome, I had a British "almost clone" PC at the time and I got the disk and controller working after some minor efforts like burning a new EPROM due to the 'almost' part of 'clone'. Until I got the disk I only had two floppy drives to work with.

    Back to the data point.. unfortunately the ST-225 failed after only a month or so! For some reason I never got it replaced, so that was my single ST-225 experience. As I recall it didn't start making noises (and yes it was quiet, as you say, and I remember liking the little sound it made). So it was probably the on-board electronics that failed.

    -Tor

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      #3
      I've been working on an ST-251-1 recently of a similar age, it had a defect list of three entries.

      I wonder if the zero errors at manufacture is significant - surfaces on the ST-251-1 with nothing on the error map list are still pretty much clear, whilst surfaces with errors have tended to 'grow' quite a few more errors spots over the years.

      I'm going to look at an ST-412 next, which I think has no errors on it still.

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        #4
        Old hard drives are a lot like old cars -- it comes down to preventative maintennance. One of the biggest preventative measures that people today often forget to do is to park the heads before shutting it down. You just flick the power switch without parking, you risk damaging the data on the sector, or even worse physically damaging the media.

        Mechanically there's no reason for a ST-225, 238 or 251 (all really the same spindle and head mechanisms) to fail within the average person's lifetime if it's taken care of. Even drives with bad and physically damaged sectors can often be brought back from the dead so long as track 1 is intact just by using a drop of 3-in-1 under the ground strap to the spindle and a quick run-through with spinrite to mark off any dead/damaged sectors it may have gained.

        Literally one drop of oil on the bearing (which draws in via capillary action) can quiet the noisest old MFM/RLL Seagate for years and add years to it's service life so long as the heads are still moving freely and aren't scraping on the media once it spins up... and when I say one drop, I mean one tiny drop and IMMEDIATELY flip the drive board-side down so gravity doesn't pool it into the drive (possibly spoiling the media). Capillary action will draw exactly the right amount up into the bearing... I like to let them sit for about an hour board down after applying the oil, then using a loose-cloth paper towel (like kleenex viva) to soak up any excess.

        If you've never tried Viva, I HIGHLY suggest them over normal paper towels or shop-rags! Makes Bounty look like cheap garbage... and they can actually even survive a machine washing or two depending on what you use them for.

        Notice how little oil I'm saying too - another place people screw up pouring it on there like they were watering a lawn; it's kind of like the people who use heat sink compound like they were frosting a cake.

        ... and CHRISTMAS ON A CRACKER WD-40 IS NOT A LUBRICANT!!!

        I just needed to say that because I've lost track of the number of bearings I've seen burnt to a crisp (in general, from fans to hard drives... to bicycles; I do bike repairs on the side) because someone freed it up with WD-40 but then failed to give it any lubricant after. WD-40 dissolves rust and can free rusted/crusted/burnt joints/bearings, but it provides ZERO lubrication as it's a cleaner; in fact it dissolves away any grease/oil so basically you just washed away any existing lubricant!!! So many people treat it like it's lube, when you really need to get some oil in there once the WD-40 evaporates.

        Typically the spindle/bearing for the heads doesn't need extra lube because it's greased (doesn't drain away), low cycle (compared to the platters) -- and once the drive spins up the heads aren't making contact with the medium so it's a very low friction environment... most common failure point is the platter spindle bearings... you take care of those with occasional lubrication (one drop of oil every two to three years), park the heads so you don't damage the media, don't drop them or run them on their side or upside-down, an old seagate MFM drive should last a lifetime.

        Oh yeah, that's another place people often ruin the old drives; trying to run them on their side or upside-down -- they weren't designed for it and all the literature for them says don't do it! Board down metal cover up ONLY on the old drives. You run them on their nose (faceplate down) during park or seeks to the outer tracks it's possible for the drive to overseek past the media completely ruining the drive as the mechanical stop flexed with the added gravity... it's why some manuals for them say it's ok to run them nose-up, but not on their side, nose down or upside-down.

        Which is part of the problem buying them used -- if you can find them in old machines they have likely only ever been used in, you're probably golden; bare drive of unknown history, it's a craps shoot... that gets worse and worse every year.
        Last edited by deathshadow; January 4, 2012, 02:45 AM.
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          #5
          I have two of those Seagate ST-225s in my Kay Pro PC-10. One of them came with the computer originally, and the other one I picked up from somewhere else. I also have another ST-225 that I got somewhere else also, and I believe that one works too. The two in my KayPro work awesome. Of course, I haven't turned on that computer in (realistically) maybe 6 years. I said 10 in an earlier post, and then realized it's actually been only 6 years.

          I love the ST-225... but wouldn't exactly call it quiet. haha... if by quiet you mean the sound of a 747 powering up it's engines, yeah, it's a very quiet hard drive!!!

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            #6
            I recently recycled 10 or more st-225's but yes I agree they're very good as long as they have been treated kindly. Very versatile.
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              #7
              I've only had a couple in my time back in the day, but I installed quite a lot of them. I never saw any with NO defects on the defect list, usually 5-10. One of the ones I owned developed "sticksion" and the spindle motor would fail to start. Usually a sharp tap to the side of the drive would do it.

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                #8
                The ST-225 and ST-251 drives were our mainstay back in the PC/XT and AT days. Nice drives, and yes, very reliable. I installed dozens.

                I'm looking for one or two ST-225s right now, to add to my DEC PDP-11/23+ system. I have a RQDX3 controller, and have read the plans for creating an interface cable. (I read with sadness billdeg's comment about recycling them...if any more come up, please give me a ring?

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                  #9
                  A lab I worked at had 2 Vectra 286 PC's that were used as terminals connected to a minicomputer. They ran 24/7 for almost 10 years and the ST-225 drives in them never went out.

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                    #10
                    Although I still have a ST-225 (the last one I have), and it still functions well and still has no flaws, the first couple of versions had a problem with a custom chip on the logic board that would burn out regularly. Later versions corrected the problem, but, replacing that chip was horrendously expensive and was Seagate's Apple /// and almost ruined their reputation.

                    I find the 251s to be much more robust. In fact, I have a -1 unit that I use to test MFM and RLL controllers that sat in someone's garage for about 20 years with no bubble top. All I did was put a new top on it, screwed it down and away it went. It's been working ever since.
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                      #11
                      Statistical flukes, more than anything, I suspect.

                      I think it's more a matter of getting a "good" drive, where everything was done just right and the drive not being abused. I've still got a Quantum Q540 in service and Maxtor and Priam MFM drives that still work just fine when I bother to take them off the shelf.

                      Heck, I suspect there are some JTS drives that are still working...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                        Heck, I suspect there are some JTS drives that are still working...
                        Must be a statistical fluke that a JTS Champ actually worked more then 6 months in a machine! Luckily they were rare. Most of the machines I pulled them out of were computer show specials in the worst ways (crappy PC Chips motherboards, cases with razor sharp edges and no slot covers... ugh).

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                          #13
                          I have ONLY evere seen TWO dead ST-225 drives EVER.
                          They were both hpwever the model with a SCSI interface so I'm not sure if the logic board itself was at fault or the mechanics but I say it's the board.
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                            #14
                            Originally posted by njroadfan View Post
                            Must be a statistical fluke that a JTS Champ actually worked more then 6 months in a machine! Luckily they were rare. Most of the machines I pulled them out of were computer show specials in the worst ways (crappy PC Chips motherboards, cases with razor sharp edges and no slot covers... ugh).
                            I still see cases with razor-sharp edges. It's getting to be a habit to work them over with a sandpaper block so I don't slice my hand open when I pick them up.

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by njroadfan View Post
                              Must be a statistical fluke that a JTS Champ actually worked more then 6 months in a machine! Luckily they were rare. Most of the machines I pulled them out of were computer show specials in the worst ways (crappy PC Chips motherboards, cases with razor sharp edges and no slot covers... ugh).

                              Oh man, I can't STAND those computers. I rarely see those anymore, usually even the cheap ones have the edges rolled. I'm sure they probably still exist, but I haven't been in the habit of buying those cheap cases anymore. I had so many of those when I was a kid.

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