Seagate Sea Chest Utilities and Stupidity

Greetings fellow storage enthusiasts!
Let me tell you a story of woe and humility.

Recently after hearing about a lovely site call serverpartdeals from the 2.5 admins podcast, I decided it was past time for me to replace some of my aging drives while also kicking Western Digital to the curb (for personal reasons). So I picked up a set of very nice factory recertified Seagate Exos X14 12TB drives. A handful of days and a border crossing later and the drives show up at my door. The packaging was fantastic and I was excited to try them out. While waiting for the drives to come up to temperature (it’s rather cold here currently) I was reading the datasheet on the drives and I saw they were capable of 4k native sectors. This made me wonder “why not convert them from the start?”.

Anyone familiar with these things may already be getting a sense of dread for where I’m going.
I tossed the drives into my server, a Dell R710 with raid controller in HBA mode, and started getting familiar with the Sea Chest tools from Seagate.
This is where “stupidity” part of the topic comes in.
I repeatedly ignored obvious and clear warnings against doing that I was doing and proceeded to give the command to change the sector size. The tool makes it very clear that if this process is interrupted the drive is basically a paper weight unless I send them in for repair. I hit enter…
Process failed.
“Weird, must be a fluke” my ignorant monkey brain says. “Let’s try it on the other drive” …
Process failed.

Friends, I’m not proud to tell you that within hours of receiving these two drives I hosed both of them.
So now my options are to reach out to Seagate support and hope for a miracle, or cut my losses and consider it a lesson learned, or semi-blindly attempt a very sketchy serial console repair.

So please take my story as a word of caution in case you are considering doing something similar, and DO NOT try to do this on an HBA or RAID controller with multiple disks attached since it will almost certainly fail and leave you sad.

P.S. If any of you know how to fix this I would be very interested in hearing how.


Your story hurts my heart, but I think you already summed up your realistic choices. I’d probably at least try reaching out to Seagate support… But personally, I’d definitely go with the “I screwed up, can you help?” angle instead of the “you owe me help” angle. Good luck!

Seems most storage devices these days still default to 512 sectors emulated instead of native 4k for compatibility with legacy operating systems.

Did the process fail instantly, or did it seem to make some progress before failing?

It was near instant failure.
It is on a Debian 12 install and I had the journal streaming in another window to watch for errors, I was able to see right away that the bus had reset.
The drives no longer register on the HBA. I’ve read that can be due to how the HBA goes about doing the detection. Something about checking for capacity and write-ability. In my desktop PC they do register but writes fail and SMART data is all but totally missing. I am hoping Seagate support has some magic I can try to recover them.

Thank you for the sympathies.
I will certainly reach out to them and for sure will own up to my mistake.

I have had issues with SSDs on some HBAs in that they may not support trim. I wonder if you connected the drives to more conventional ports (like motherboard SATA ports) to see if the process may work. You might even increase the chance of success if you could do this on Windows.

If these are SAS drives, then probably not going to work.

Thanks HankB, I appreciate your suggestion.

I did try them both on a standard SATA port with no luck. The HBA was actually the most likely cause of my whole problem it seems. Pretty much everything I was able to find in my research said that an HBA with multiple disks attached is almost guaranteed to cause a bus reset when issuing the sector resize command from the Sea Chest Utils. I just wish I had seen that warning before starting. :slight_smile:
Neither of the drives were SAS, which actually limited some of the tools I could use to try and fix them.

I do feel like you are trolling me a little with the Windows comment, though. I know some tools target Windows only but for the functions I was working with I needed something as low level as I could get. I feel using Windows would have made it more challenging to ensure nothing else was trying to access the disks. Per the Seagate Sea Chest Utilities recommendations I could have booted into DOS but I didn’t trust my very aged knowledge of DOS so I didn’t attempt it.

I did reach out to Seagate though, and in a show of fantastic customer service they agreed to accept the drives for a potential RMA. It required much patience with their online “live chat” interface but it was worth it. Just waiting to hear back about the final verdict. Wish me luck!


No troll intended. I am a little frustrated that tools available for Windows are not always ported to Linux.

1 Like