Muschamp Rd

The worst hard drive experience ever?

November 13th, 2020
LaCie d2 Professional

When I got a new MacBook the other piece of computing hardware on my wish list was a new hard drive to backup my data as my Time Capsule is getting long in the tooth and unreliable. Little did I know my loyalty to a brand would prove so frustrating.

The hard drive actually died on the first computer our family ever had. It was an IBM PS/2 Model 30 286. We didn’t have any fancy backup system, but I remember when they replaced the hard drive under warranty they put in a bigger drive. So from an early age I’ve known hard drives can die.

Maybe the worst experience I ever had was having to take my PowerBook to a servicer depot in Beijing as they too did not believe the hard drive was really dying. I made an emergency backups on my iPod, on CDROM, and eventually on a random drive I bought at a random shop in Beijing. At least I was able to complete a backup.

New Hard Drive

I recently bought a LaCie d2 Professional. This is the drive Apple sells in the Apple Store as an option to replace the Time Capsule which they no longer sell. I didn’t go to the Apple Store, I was actually willing to take my chances with whatever drive Best Buy or Staples had in stock when my Time Capsule repeatedly failed to backup, but a coworker and a big Amazon fan convinced me to buy the drive I really wanted on Amazon and to wait a couple days rather than risk catching Covid shopping in the real world.

So after much research I bought a new big fast professional server grade hard drive to backup my silly photos and iTunes playlists. It arrived relatively fast from UPS. I got it from a third party seller on Amazon. I took some pictures, even one comparing it to a the first external backup drive I ever got, a LaCie d2 Triple Interface, which supported both Firewire and USB. That drive is still running and if I used my G4 would still be backing it up.

Size comparison between two LaCie d2 hard drives

Zero Backups Completed

This new professional server strength hard drive completed zero backups. It booted up fine, it connected to the mothership to register, it was found by Time Machine and reformatted. I started a backup, I even cracked a beer and fired up Sid Meier’s Civilization VI but when I stopped playing I learned my backup had failed.

My LaCie d2 Professional worked at the very beginning

No problem I’ll start another backup and it’ll finish by the time I wake up, but no the drive seemed to mysteriously turn off and on. I reported the problem many times. I got many form emails asking my to try unplugging it, try a different cable or a different computer. The drive would not start up when you plugged it in, nor would it stay on long enough to do anything but take a picture and complain online.

If at first you don’t succeed, complain on Twitter!

If I hadn’t complained repeatedly on Twitter using Untappd of all apps, I doubt I’d have gotten anywhere. I made the mistake of recycling the original box on the second or third day. Back when I thought it was just falling asleep before completing a backup. But no, this is a known issue apparently for which LaCie blames Apple. No where on the box or the main product website or Apple’s own store website does it warn about buying and relying on the LaCie d2 Professional as your backup drive.

I tried to update the firmware but considering the drive only started up randomly and indiscriminately I think I failed. Eventually two different support people came to the conclusion that since my drive wouldn’t start up, wouldn’t backup, and was less than a month old, perhaps it should be replaced under the five year warranty.

The drive is in the mail

So yesterday I filled out more forms and took the hard drive to the local post office and paid 50 dollars to send it back to Mississauga. I don’t know if the saga is finally over or whether I need to update the firmware on the replacement if one ever arrives. I do know that I won’t be so quick to buy a LaCie drive again. I also will be more willing to buy at a local store, even a chain store so I don’t have to deal with the same repetitive form email and tweeting @LaCieTech randomly to finally get some service.

The Drive Has Been Returned

So I’ve been tracking my package on Canada Post’s website, it was delivered successfully, then I actually got a text confirmation that my “Seagate RMA request has been received”. Of course I also got two more emails asking me to take surveys, surely my previous survey responses and this blog post have informed Seagate and LaCie of my dissatisfaction with my new hard drive purchase and the service I received.

For posterity below is proof Seagate received the drive from me and acknowledged it.

Replacement Drive

Eventually I got a brand new replacement drive from California. I wrote emails and direct messages to LaCie asking them what to do with it. Eventually they got back to me and suggested I call support. So I spent part of my Christmas vacation on hold with LaCie.

New drive in box

Eventually it was decided to plug it in and immediately update the firmware. I’d already read off the serial number and signed for the package so they must have known exactly what drive I had. Of course it didn’t boot up. After much swapping of cables it did, the problem was actually the power outlet, it was not giving power to the drive. Once the drive had power and I successfully updated the firmware I started to backup.

Successfully updated the drive's firmware

This time it did not say the drive needed reformatting but I did get some error messages including one about making an unencrypted backup of an encrypted drive. I’ll have to sort it out eventually and move the drive to where I want it, but for now I’m patiently waiting for it to successfully complete a backup which is more than the last drive did. Then maybe I can crack a beer and play a video game, last time I apparently celebrated too early. There is approximately 19 hours to go in my backup.

Finally making a backup

If you have hard drive horror stories with LaCie or Seagate or any other brand you can leave them below. I’ll update this post if I ever get another drive and successfully complete a backup, in the mean time it is Time Capsule until it finally fails forever.


  • Muskie says:

    Well I think my LaCie d2 Professional has completed several successful backups. It is plugged into my CalDigit USB-C Pro dock and it complains when I swap between my work and personal computer. But it seems to be working, I’ll probably move it as the big blue light is often in my light of sight or just behind my laptop screen. So when it is blinking it is annoying. I wish my dock had a few more USB ports but I plugged a four port hub in and I may have to get an even bigger hub someday, but I’ll probably move the LaCie disk to the lower shelf which would require a longer cable. But not today, today I will write my year end blog post, hopefully 2021 is a much better year.

  • Muskie says:

    I couldn’t figure out where my comment went, but new comments seem to be at the top now. Updating this WordPress installation is something I should do, but Lacie finally answered my message on Twitter and told me to call, so I’ve been on hold for over 20 minutes. The drive has never been plugged in to either power or my Mac, and I just want to know do I have to update the firmware and in what order should I do things? Register with the mothership, update firmware and then reformat for Time Machine?

    When I finally got through after confirming my name, number, email, and serial number they decided this was a Level 2 problem and I was back on hold. How can buying a brand new external hard drive be a level 2 problem, this one I’ve literally never plugged in, what does it say in my file?

  • Muskie says:

    So on Friday I got my drive back, actually I think it is a completely new drive, it is in a sealed LaCie box. I’m not recycling any boxes this time, but on the outside of the box it says it works with the latest version of Mac OS X yet that is exactly what they blamed when it stopped working last time. I have Mac OS 10.15.7, can I just plug it in and it will work? Last time it worked, it registered it started to backup then it failed. So I guess I’ll tweet at them, I already emailed but it is the weekend so I’m not expecting an answer so the safest thing is just leave it in the box until Monday I think.

  • Muskie says:

    I resized the images in GraphicConverter 9 again to be 600 pixels wide but not perfect squares, so no diagonal line. I’m glad Seagate acknowledged receiving my drive, but I still think if they had a better website and better online support especially through Twitter I could have gotten the drive to work, or maybe it just was a dud, but it did work well enough to connect to the mothership and pose for pictures…

  • Muskie says:

    For the record my RMA number is 110708894. Also amusing is GraphicConverter 9 seems to have introduced a line across two of my photos that I resized using that program. The line is perfectly diagonal and isn’t in the app itself, but now I see it after publishing this post, but I want to publish another post on another blog and I don’t want to spend my Friday night complaining online about a dud hard drive, but I’m not going to forget this experience LaCie and I want people to know I did not appreciate the same form email over and over when apparently the problem is actually know. This drive perhaps could have been saved if you had better support people.

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