Intel posts fix for bug that crashes SSD 320 drives

Intel is also replacing drives that have crashed because of the bug

Intel on Wednesday issued a firmware upgrade that fixes a bug that caused its SSD 320 solid-state drives to crash and lose data, months after the issue first came to light.

The firmware update addresses the Bad Context 13x Error, a bug in which power losses caused Intel's SSD 320 drives to crash. When rebooting, the bug also prevented the drive from being accessed and resulted in the system BIOS reporting a SSD 320 unit as having only 8MB of storage capacity.

Users can download the firmware update for the affected drives from Intel's website, a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail. Instructions to install the firmware are in a Read Me file.

Intel in late July acknowledged the bug, and earlier this week said it would release a firmware upgrade to resolve the issue. Intel was heavily criticized in its forums by frustrated users who said the company was slow to address the problem.

Intel said that those who experienced drive failure resulting from the bug should contact the company to get a replacement drive. Intel also said that users could conduct a secure erase of the SSD using the SSD Toolbox to make an affected drive operational, although that course would wipe out data. The SSD Toolbox software monitors and manages the performance and health of Intel SSDs.

Intel is also advising users to back up data regularly and to "follow standard shutdown procedures and to avoid unplugging of SSDs on powered computers."

The company earlier said the bug affects a small number of drives and that the firmware could be installed without a secure erase, though no lost data would be recovered.

The SSD 320 was released in March and is being used in both PCs and Apple Mac computers. The SSDs comes in capacities ranging from 40GB to 600GB.

The firmware upgrade can also be applied to Intel's X25-M, X18-M, X25-E SSDs made using the 50-nanometer and 34-nm processes, and the X25-V SSD made using the 34-nm process. Drives need to be updated to a specific version of firmware before applying the update. More information is provided on Intel's SSD firmware website.

Intel has had SSD issues in the past. In 2009 the company pulled a firmware upgrade for its X25-M consumer SSDs just a day after users complained about the software crashing drives.

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