Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to update Samsung F4EG's dodgy firmware

Today I joined the NAS club and purchased a Synology DS212j. Inside I threw in my existing Samsung HD204UI 2Tb hard drive, and upon starting the NAS I saw a warning about a firmware update required on the drive. Apparently there is a flaw in the drive's firmware where disk writes can become corrupted when the write cache is enabled. Data corruption is nasty stuff, so it's an important update.

The NAS unit cannot update firmware, so I had to take the drive out again and reinstall into my PC.

The first issue is that since Samsung and Seagate have joined forces, the FAQ relating to this problem (http://www.samsung.com/global/business/hdd/faqView.do?b2b_bbs_msg_id=386) has vanished. That link now goes to Seagate's home page. Searching the site yields no useful information about the problem.


So let me spare you some trouble. You can see the old FAQ entry in Google Cache. The direct download link to the firmware is here: http://www.samsung.com/global/system/business/hdd/faq/2010/12/16/621878F4EG.zip (583kb). The zip contains one file - F4EG.exe

Next step is running it. The FAQ mentions bootable media but fails to provide any further instructions. It has to be a clean MS-DOS shell and that might be tricky for many of you (it was for me), so these instructions will help you create a bootable USB key with a Windows 98 version of MS-DOS on it. Note that the instructions mention 'CTXXM.EXE' - if you replace that word with 'F4EG.exe', then that's all you need to do.

Now it's simply a matter of restarting your machine, boot from the USB key, type "f4eg" and let the patch do it's work. When it's done, turn off the PC (don't restart - turn it completely off) and leave it a few seconds before booting up again.

My biggest gripe here is that Seagate's web site has tossed away extremely important information for owners of these Samsung drives. I found out the long way. I hope these instructions save someone from wasting a few hours trying to piece it all together themselves.

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