4 Replies Latest reply on Dec 28, 2011 9:05 PM by curiouscat

    Intel SSD back to life success story (using Linux Live CD only)


      As many of other guys who have experienced that, I woke up one morning with "Operating system not found" and BAD_CTX as serial number.

      I was thousands miles from home and I only had the laptop itself and Ubuntu Live CD.


      I immediately started reading this forum and found the following:

      - the contents of the drive is not restorable in any case;

      - latest firmware 0362 (for my intel 320 series) does not resolve the issues;

      - the best way is to begin an RMA procedure to stimulate Intel fix their ****.


      Unfortunately it's not so easy to RMA the drive in a country where I was especially when you don't have a printed purchase confirmation.

      The support also INSISTED on using a SSD Toolbox tool which is Windows-only, requires:

      - Java

      - .NET 3.5

      - Windows Media Player 11 redistributable

      Pretty odd requirements for an SSD diagnostic tool which is Windows-only, ergh?

      So I spent the whole day trying to work around space limitation issues when running from flash, installing Wine, installing DLLs to prove to WMP11 my "Windows" machine is "Authentic". I've tried several different Wines, several DLLs. All with no luck. My hot kisses to this tool's developers.


      So I've started to dig deeper on my own.

      Install the tools from:

      $ sudo apt-get install hdpam partx smartmontools

      Ensure there's no partition table:

      $ sudo partx -s /dev/sda
      partx: /dev/sda: failed to read partition table

      $ sudo smartctl -s on -d ata -A /dev/sda -T verypermissive
      smartctl 5.41 2011-06-09 r3365 [i686-linux-3.0.0-12-generic] (local build)
      Copyright © 2002-11 by Bruce Allen, smartmontools.sourceforge.net

      SMART support is: Unavailable — device lacks SMART capability.
      Error SMART Enable failed: Input/output error
      Ensure we have serial number corrupt and 16 cylinders only:
      $ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda




      ATA device, with non-removable media
      Model Number: INTEL SSDSA2CW080G3
      Serial Number: BAD_CTX 00000150
      Firmware Revision: 4PC10302

      Logical max current
      cylinders 16383 16
      Okay, after all all we need is to restore the correct cylinder number (so that current = maximum). There's a very dangerous command in hdparm, called --dco-restore which is intended to reset device configuration to factory defaults. Unfortunately it was also failing with IO error!
      So I had to take the known road and perform Secure Erase. There are several different methods to perform it and there are methods that didn't work for me. In any case we need to:
      - cheat on ATA controller to allow unsafe operations
      - perform unsecure operations to bring device to a working state
      The unsafe operations are blocked on OS load to prevent malicious activity, but if you unplug your drive and plug it it again in OR just put your machine to sleep and wake it up. If your Live CD doesn't come with suspend functionality baked in, you can install pm-utils and issue "sudo pm-suspend" command. So I've closed my lid.
      Set a master user and password:
      $ sudo hdparm –user-master user –security-set-pass abc /dev/sda
      Run ONE of the following commands:
      $ sudo hdparm –user-master user –security-erase abc /dev/sda
      $ sudo hdparm –user-master u –security-erase-enhanced abc /dev/sda
      No idea which one will work for your device. I've ran both. Before running each one you should cheat on ATA controller and set master user/password.
      This should restore the drive to be able to perform operations, but I'm not sure if it restores the cylinder number, so I also did the following:
      $ sudo hdparm --dco-restore /dev/sda
      There's a special key you should add so that the command succeeds, I'm intentionnaly not writing it here so it's on your own risk, as this command is described in docs as "EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, DON'T RUN".
      This is it. Reboot and install your OS from scratch.
      Most of the times this works, but the drive may ramain slow, buggy and fail again (sometimes same day).
      Firmware updates doesn't help.
      So the best solution is get money from Intel and buy another drive (X25M-G2 and Crucial M4 seem to be the most robust on the market according to this http://darkstone.tweakblogs.net/blog/6956/ssd-betrouwbaarheidsonderzoek-de-resultaten.html).
      Intel, you're the most known software/hardware giant. Please fix your:
      - support, so they can provide useful technical information;
      - tools, so they can run in any environment with no tricks with Parallels, external drives and need to install Windows;
      - firmware for cutting edge technology so that it doesn't ruin the drive contents
      Thanks everyone for attention, hope this topic is helpful for Intel SSD owners.