On the Edge of the Network

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Fake Death of a Crucial M4 SSD

While making some Hyper-V configuration changes on my home server, my Windows Server 2012-based server suddenly went BSOD and immediately restarted. On reboot, I found that the motherboard could no longer detect the boot drive (a Crucial M4 512 GB SSD) BIOS.

The M4 contained the OS partition for Server 2012, as well as several Hyper-V virtual disk files for several VMs that I was using for testing purposes. My primary data files were unaffected, as those files are stored on a 6-drive RAID 10 array configuration. As I maintained an OS daily snapshot image on an external 3 TB drive, I wasn’t too concerned about the loss of OS data. What was annoying was that I was facing the ordeal of having to send in the M4 back to Crucial for an RMA, wait for a replacement to arrive, and spending quite some time to restore the OS partition configuration on the replacement SSD drive.

As the sudden BSOD and non-detection of the M4 was very unusual, I did some research on what could cause this issue. Apparently, the problem was a bit more common than initially thought, as there were several other M4 owners that encountered the same issue. It seems that there is a rare intermittent power loss bug that affects M4s with firmware version 040H. I guess I was the lucky one, as my M4 was on firmware version 040H and encountered that “rare” bug.

To address the issue, Crucial released firmware 070H (latest firmware as of this post) earlier this year. However, I was still faced with the problem with reviving my M4, as the server could not detect the drive, let alone update the firmware on it. After speaking with Crucial tech support, they assured me that the data was highly likely to be fully intact and suggested that I power cycle my M4 a few times to revive the M4. Apparently, Crucial implemented a built-in fail-safe recovery mechanism in the M4 drives for such issues.

Power-cycling the M4 involves hooking it up to a PC or laptop with an available SATA power connector (with no SATA cable attached) and leaving it on for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, power down the PC/laptop and disconnect the M4 for approximately 30 seconds. After power-cycling my M4 a few times, my server was able to detect the M4 again and was able to boot into Windows Server 2012 without any issues.

I immediately performed a data integrity check on the M4 and surprisingly everything was intact. Running CrystalDiskInfo on the M4 512 GB SSD indicated it was in “Good” condition, running at 98% life. After running a few more drive integrity tests, I flashed the M4 to firmware 070H, as it fixes this power loss issue.

To summerize, if you suddenly find that your Crucial M4 is no longer being detected, make sure to power-cycle your drive a few times before shipping the SSD back to Crucial for an RMA; chances are that your M4 is not truly dead. Also, with issues like this and the 5200 hour bug, it is very important to keep your Crucial M4 SSD(s) updated on the latest available firmware. Either way, it’ll save you a lot of time, not to mention keeping your files. It certainly saved me quite the hassle.

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