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IBM's New Hard Drive Diagnostic Technology Offers Computer Users Peace Of Mind

Keeping hard drives 'fit' saves customers time and money

SAN JOSE, Calif - 29 Jul 1998: . . . IBM today announced a new technology called Drive Fitness Test (DFT) that lets users easily and quickly test the health of their IBM desktop PC and notebook hard disk drives.

Research done with system manufacturers shows that the majority of the time when hard drives are sent in for replacement because a problem is suspected, the drives are fine.

DFT can reduce this unnecessary inconvenience of returning a healthy drive. It is stored in a "secret compartment" on the drive, and can be invoked even if the PC's system software is not working properly.

According to Michael Mitoma, IBM's program director of hard drive customer satisfaction and quality, "DFT is designed to give users peace of mind and save them time and money. We want users to know that they can avoid the loss of their data when they unnecessarily send their drives in for replacement when computer problems are encountered. Keeping the user in mind, DFT is fast, accurate and easy-to-use."

Here's how DFT works:

When a customer suspects a system problem may be related to the hard drive (if the computer's operating system does not boot properly, for example) the user calls the system manufacturer's technical support telephone hot-line for assistance.

Before DFT, the limited diagnostics that could be performed over the phone often identified the hard drive as the culprit, even though research shows that the majority of problems are not related to the hard drive.

With DFT, the support person over the telephone can guide the customer to easily check on the health of the hard drive. With DFT this can take less than two minutes. "It is important to immediately check the status of the hard drive when a problem is suspected because that is where all the precious data is stored," said Mitoma.

The user will see one of these four possible messages on the computer screen when using DFT. The first three scenarios are rare, according to Mitoma:

1. The hard drive is defective.
2. The hard drive will fail.
3. The hard drive is damaged by shock.
4. The hard drive is not defective.

Acer Incorporated, Dell Computer Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM, with its award-winning ThinkPads, and several other manufacturers all support the standardization of the hard drive architecture that enables DFT. Some have begun evaluating this technology and are working with IBM to test it. Users should expect to see notebook systems and desktop PCs using DFT soon.

There is no extra cost from IBM to the user for this new technology.

According to Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a computer industry consulting firm, "IBM hit it right on the head with a valuable program test for both users and OEMs to assure them that their disk drives work."

Forty-two years ago, IBM introduced the world's first hard disk drive and currently offers the industry's highest capacity desktop PC and notebook hard drives. IBM also offers high-performance, high-capacity server hard disk drives. The company also holds the world record for putting the most bits per square inch on the disk platter of a hard drive.

IBM hard drives are designed for use with storage-intensive applications such as multimedia, digital photography, graphics, CAD/CAM and downloading large files from the Internet.

A white paper about Drive Fitness Test can be found on IBM's web site at http://www.ibm.com/storage.

IBM plans to work with the NCITS T13(ATA) committee in order to help standardize the hard drive architecture that allows DFT to be stored on the drive so other drive manufacturers can adopt this technology.

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IBM is a registered trademark and Drive Fitness Test is a trademark of International Business Machines Corportion. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Contact(s) information

Michelle McIntyre
IBM
408-256-7589
mc@us.ibm.com

Veronica Lopez
IBM
408-256-7573
vlopez@us.ibm.com

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