Flashing the Samsung F4 EcoGreen

WARNING: Flashing firmware always carries some amount of risk. Anything that goes wrong—power outages, a ROM that fails during the flash, etc.—could potentially render the drive unusable. Although a firmware flash should preserve the data on your drive, it is nevertheless a good idea to make sure that your data is backed up prior to flashing.

To address the firmware issues described here, Samsung has released a new firmware for their F4 EcoGreen drives. Unfortunately, Samsung released this firmware as a plain DOS executable—they provided neither an ISO disc image nor tools or guidance for creating the DOS boot disk necessary to flash their drive.

Obtaining the firmware

The smartmontools wiki has links to the firmware download on Samsung's website as well as a detailed description of the nature of the problem.

Creating a boot disk and flashing

The bootable ISO route is a messy one, as it requires either building your own or modifying an existing one. Plus, an increasing number of computers these days lack an optical disc drive. All modern computers can boot from a USB flash drive (if a computer is old enough to not support this, then it probably is old enough to have a floppy drive and it is probably too old to be using a modern SATA drive in the first place). The following are the steps I took to flash my Samsung F4 EcoGreen:

  1. Download this zip file containing the HP Format Tool and MiniDOS.
  2. Use the HP Format Tool to format an empty flash drive as a bootable drive, using MiniDOS.
  3. Unzip and copy the Samsung firmware update executable to this flash drive.
  4. In BIOS, ensure that the SATA mode is set to legacy IDE (not RAID or AHCI) and that booting from a USB flash drive is enabled (this may require that the legacy USB emulation/support setting, if present in the BIOS, is enabled).
  5. Boot using the flash drive, and run the firmware flasher. It will flash any F4EG drive it finds (it should skip over other drives), and it will indicate a successful flash with something along the lines of "download complete" (I do not recall the exact wording).
  6. If you changed your SATA mode in the BIOS prior to flashing, remember to change it back when you are done.

Note: This bug affects NCQ, so if you use you use your drive without NCQ (e.g., if you use IDE mode instead of AHCI or if this drive is connected via a USB enclosure/dock), this bug does not affect you and a flash is unnecessary.