SUMMARY: basic hard drive questions

From: Ross Helfand (
Date: Fri May 22 1998 - 07:05:34 CDT

Original Question:


I have a few questions regarding hard drives. I'm going to be ordering
spare drives for our servers and Storage Arrays, and I want to know
whether it's best to order the drives from Sun or from another

I understand that performance and capacity will vary - I'm not looking
for that type of information. Not too long ago we ordered Seagate SCSI
drives to replace some bad drives in one of our SSAs. Well, it had the
wrong type of connector on it, and was useless to us. Then we found we
could order Seagate drives with the Sun type of connector (I have no
idea what the technical term for this is!). If we order Seagate (or any

other manufacturers) drives, do we lose anything that Sun would have
provided? Partitioning? Format? Firmware revisions? format.dat
entries? This is the type of information I'm looking for.

Please be patient with me - I'm still a beginner!
Ross Helfand
Census Bureau


Thanks very much to the following people:

Charles Roten <>
"Scott F. Woods" <>
"Coffindaffer, Virginia" <>
Jeff Wasilko <>
Sean Ward <>
Janet Hoo <Janet.Hoo@Ebay.Sun.COM>
Phillips Nguyen <>
Loring Safford <>
"O'Neal,Chris" <>
"Marco Greene" <>
Seth Rothenberg <>
Tim Carlson <>
Steve Lund <>
Rich Kulawiec <>
Jon Wallace <>
"Rose, Robert" <>

I received a lot of replies, and a lot of great information. First of
all, the drives I want have an "SCA-80" type of connector. SCA stands
for Single Connector Assembly, which means that power and data are built
into a single, 80 pin connector.

Quite a few people said they have been using 3rd party drives for years
without any problems. Partitioning is controlled by the administrator
in the format utility, so that really isn't an issue. The format.dat
entries are readily available, and in fact the Sun-Manager's FAQ
contains the location of a supplemental format.dat file that is
maintained by John DiMarco and contains just about every hard drive
known to man. Mounting brackets are an issue, but can be purchased
separately or exchanged from the drive I'm replacing.

Many of the people suggested that we use Sun drives, especially if we
have a Sun support contract (which we do). People mentioned that Sun
reps would tell them to replace a non-Sun component, even if it
obviously had nothing to do with the problem.

I'm still a little confused on the firmware/PROM issue. A few people
mentioned that Sun made changes to the PROM of their hard drives, and if
I bought non-Sun drives, I would lose the ability to upgrade firmware.
I'd be interested on hearing more about this, if anyone has further

We'll probably stick with the Sun drives, just to minimize headaches
with support, but I really appreciate everyone's responses. I feel like
I have a much better grasp on the subject.

Thanks again!
Ross Helfand
Census Bureau

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