on November 29, 2012
If you're looking at this review, you're probably in the market for some honkin' big drives to stuff into a server or a NAS box. These Western Digital "Red" series drives are probably a total waste of money if you're planning to put them into a regular PC. If you're not doing a raid array of some kind, then save your money and buy the green or black series drives instead. If you're looking to set up a raid array of some sort, these are a bargain. They aren't the fastest drives, but they are rated to run 24x7 serving up data! Their 3 year warranty is above the current industry standard for consumer hard drives.
For my home-made FreeNAS (google it!) NAS/Server, I bought 5 WD Red drives from Adorama (purchased through Amazon) and 1 drive directly from Amazon.
The one drive from Amazon came very well packaged, double boxed in what looks like a WD cardboard box with a shock absorbing cradle. Very well packaged for shipment. Honestly, Amazon has been stellar for packaging boxes for shipment.
The 5 hard drives from Adorama came in a big box which 'clunked' when it was tilted. Opening the box revealed some big plastic pillow air strips, and 5 loose smaller boxes. Inside each of the smaller boxes was a few pillows and a factory bagged hard drive. There were not enough pillows in each box to securely cushion the hard drives against rattling around, so there's a high likelihood of damage in shipment. BAD SHIPPERS! NO DONUT!
Anyway, getting on to the performance of the drives... I'm running 6 drives in a ZFS RaidZ2 array. They are all controlled using an IBM M1015 PCIE 8x SATA 3 controller which has been flashed to be an HBA providing JBOD to the ZFS OS. That's a lotta acronyms! The speed of the array is quite fast... more than fast enough to saturate a gigabit network. I currently have about 5TB of data stored on the 10TB array.
On to the bad stuff...
One of the drives (I haven't checked the serial number to see which shipper it came from) is starting to give signs of premature failure after about 70 hours of operation. During a scrub of the data pool, drive DA5 is experiencing unreadable sectors. Luckily ZFS is able to calculate the correct values for the corrupted data, and is busily recreating the data onto another part of the drive. ZFS rocks for data reliability! If the drive does turn out to be bad, I have a WD Green 3TB drive that I can put into the array as a hot swap temporarily until the failed drive can be replaced. *UPDATE* The ZFS scrub just finished, and it repaired 1.53MB of data, with no data loss. Did I mention that ZFS rocks?
Warning/Advice about Data Storage:
Note 1: If you're going to be using these drives, or any data storage device for that matter, make sure that you take into account that these are highly fragile and delicate devices which can be easily damaged in shipment, or just plain up and fail when you least expect it. You really need to use some sort of redundant array of drives so that if one drive fails, your data doesn't vanish. In my case, the final configuration is going to be 6 drives in a RaidZ2 (dual parity striping), which means that my data stays intact and accessible even if 2 drives fail simultaneously. Also, there is going to be a 3TB Green drive as a hot spare that can take over for any failed drive in the array. With the hot-spare, my data can survive the loss of 3 drives without losing data (as long as the failures don't happen all at the same time).
Note 2: Always, always, always have a backup. In my case, I have two external 3TB USB3.0 drives which will be used only for backup purposes. Every so often, I'll backup the critical data onto the drives and stash them in my locker at work. If you don't have TrueCrypt, google it and see why your backup removable drives should be using it. If someone steals the drives, they only get the drives and not my data.
I'm giving 5 stars for the drives that work... 1 star for the failing drive... averages to about 4 stars score! I'll update this review once I have details on how the drives do in a week or so. Currently it ain't looking too good for drive DA5!
on August 3, 2015
I am sorry but WD's warranty is a joke. Bought two brand new HDDs, one failed a few months after being in my RAID 1 NAS. Returned under warranty (had to pay for shipping) - got back a RECERTIFIED HDD. Which, of course, failed after 1 month and lost ALL data. Returned it again (had to pay for shipping) - again got a RECERTIFIED HDD which was simply DOA and could not start at all. So their "5 year warranty" is simply feeding you with faulty recertified HDDs until you run out of money for shipping them dead ones. Great idea, WD. Sorry, cannot trust you my data anymore. Going to your competitors.
on January 6, 2014
So WD apparently has no ability to perform the most basic configuration management at their factories.
Once again the "load cycle count" issue has returned to their line of drives. If you don't know what this is you can Google, but basically the drive repeatedly parks the drive heads, thousands of times a day, because of an improper firmware setting on the drive. The drives are only rated to 600,000 load cycles and with them ticking of once every few seconds the drive will exceed its rating in less than a year.
This can be corrected by the user but it is a pain and requires you have certain hardware/software to do. Probably beyond most users. Exchanging the drive may or may not help because you have no idea if the next drive will have the same erroneous setting.
This has happened many times in the past few years, check the reviews for this and other WD drives. WD acknowledges this is the incorrect setting as do many NAS vendors that recommend these drives. And yet, WD can't seem to help itself from setting the IDLE3 parameter wrong every few months. This is a sign that they simply are unable to perform basic configuration management in their production facilities. If you can't manage that you don't belong in the HD business.
For reference, Google WDIDLE3 for how to fix this problem - but you better have a machine you can boot to a DOS image in order to use it. Alternatively return your WD drive and buy the equivalent Seagate drive instead. They have a nice NAS ready drive equivalent to the WD Red and they know how to set IDLE3 correctly.
For users who do not know about the "load count problem," here is an explanation and solution.
Since this hard drive's introduction, users have consistently reported premature failures and data corruption. These complaints were well warranted, for the manufacturer has shorten the life cycle of this computer component by design.
The source of the problem is Western Digital's attempt to make the device "more green" - use less electricity. One way to accomplish this goal is to park the heads on a plastic pad after eight seconds of no read/write requests instead of allowing them to float over the spinning platters of the hard drive. This adds up to 10,800 cycles each day. The numerous scrapings gradually wears out the heads. According to some literature, 250,000 to 1,250,000 cycles will result in damage that will lead to read/write errors. If you do the math, data corruption will begin within 23.148 to 115.741 days if you are employing the hard drive on a heavily used server. Regular consumers will not notice read/write problems until later. Some WD drives reported 3,000 to 5,000 cycles per day. At this rate, the first instances of data corruption will begin within 83.33 to 250 days.
From my experience, early data loss will not be noticed by the average user. There are no signs of trouble if work files are not accessed, edited, and save. With numerous usages, lost sectors on the hard drive appear and indexes become corrupted. Then, damages become apparent. During bootup, Windows OS will begin employing Check Disk (chkdsk/f) to repair errors. Chunks of bad information get deleted and corrupted indexes are re-corrected during the process. Eventually, 50%-to-60% drive gets wiped out before the user realizes the problem. He accesses a file, and there is none. Using a file manager, further examinations reveal other missing data. This degradation takes time - months to a year depending on computer usage.
Nevertheless, six years of complains have forced the manufacturer to do something - provided a firmware fix. WDIDLE3.EXE software is used to reset the parking cycle to as high as five minutes. For normal users, this change brings down the parking cycle to 133 per day. This is within the industrial average. Most drives experience 10 to 200 per day and are rated around 600,000. WDIDLE3.EXE can also turn off head parking. Unfortunately, this is not recommended. Users have reported that drive speed was reduced to a crawl or exhibited read/write problems.
This solution is a masterpiece in public relations. Instead of deactivating or eliminating the eight second head parking cycle on newly manufactured drives, WD forces the user to make the firmware change after the sale. The process is not easy, and the company's website does not explain or provide any information - it provides just the software. The procedure requires unplugging all other devices that are connected to SATA ports and numerous resets to the BIOS. The computer must boot in DOS via a CD or USB 2.0 thumb drive and typing the required codes. Just finding the necessary software to create the booting device is a pain.
As a result, non-technical consumers will not do anything and allow their hard drives to malfunction. For the "techkies," it will take hours of research, internet searches, and trial-and-error. Hopefully, they will also be discouraged. In one stroke, the company has placated the critics and still maintain high sales volume.
I have already done the necessary work. So, here is the easiest procedure using a booting USB 2.0 drive.
GO TO GOOGLE AND DOWNLOAD THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMS. . . . I can not provide links because the Amazon server automatically deletes their location.
. . . . . HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
. . . . . Z-Zip
. . . . . wdidle3.exe
. . . . . FreeDOS (fd11src.iso)
DO THE FOLLOWING IN THIS ORDER TO CREATE A BOOTING USB 2.0 FLASH DRIVE.
. . . . . 1. Install Z-Zip
. . . . . 2. Use Z-Zip to extract HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and FreeDOS iso.
. . . . . 3. Install the HP software.
. . . . . 4. Install a USB 2.0 flash drive on one of computer's USB 2.0 ports.
. . . . . . . Right-click the HP icon.
. . . . . . . Go to COMPATIBILITY/PRIVILEGE LEVEL.
. . . . . . . Check RUN THIS PROGRAM AS AN ADMINISTRATOR.
. . . . . . . Exit the program.
. . . . . 5. Activate the HP program by clicking its icon.
. . . . . . . Select FAT for FILE SYSTEM
. . . . . . . Place a check mark on CREATE DOS STARTUP DISK
. . . . . . . Go to USING DOS SYSTEM FILES LOCATED AT and point to the
. . . . . . . . . . subdirectory of the FreeDOS files. It is \FREEDOS\SETUP\ODIN
. . . . . 6. Format the USB 2.0 flash drive. Depending on the size, it will take time.
. . . . . 7. Use WINDOWS EXPLORER to copy WDIDLE3.EXE to your formatted USB 2.0 flash drive.
SHUT OFF YOUR COMPUTER.
. . . . . 1. Deactivate all devices connected to your SATA ports by pulling out their two cords. You do not want WDIDLE3.EXE to corrupt their firmware settings.
. . . . . 2. Connect your Western Digital Red Hard Drive.
RESTART YOUR COMPUTER.
. . . . . 1. Go into your PC's BIOS setting.
. . . . . 2. Turn AHCI off. This will enable your flash drive to be recognized.
. . . . . 3. Set the thumb drive as the first bootable drive.
. . . . . 4. Save your BIOS settings and exit.
RESTART YOUR COMPUTER. Your thumb drive should boot the computer and go into MS-DOS.
. . . . . 1. Type "wdidle3.exe" without the quotes and press ENTER. This will activate the program.
. . . . . 2. Type "wdidle3.exe /r" without the quotes and press ENTER. This will show the current timeout. The factory default is eight seconds.
. . . . . 3. Type "wdidle3.exe /s300" without the quotes and press ENTER. This changes the autopark timer to 300 seconds or five minutes - the maximum allowed.
. . . . . 4. Type "wdidle3.exe /r" without the quotes and press ENTER. This will check that the hard drive has accepted the change.
. . . . . 5. Shut off your PC.
IF YOU NEED TO PROCESS ANOTHER HARD DRIVE, pull out the two connecting cables, attach them to the next Western Digital Red drive, and repeat the above process.
ONCE FINISHED, TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AND PLUG YOUR SATA DEVICES BACK.
. . . . . 1. Turn on your PC
. . . . . 2. Go back into your PC BIOS setting.
. . . . . 3. Turn AHCI on.
. . . . . 4. Change your boot order.
. . . . . 5. Save your settings and exit.
This is a lot of confusing work. Unfortunately, there is no other alternative for fixing a flawed hard drive and preventing it from self destructing. . . . It is your money.
on November 5, 2013
Load cycle count issue has returned. Seems to a problem with Netgear readynas, synology and qnap NAS units.
Red drives up to 3 tb are ok with these devices, but the 4 tb accumulates load cycles very rapidly, potentially shortening the useful life of the drive.
on March 17, 2014
Purchased 5 of these drives and put into a very low-use server in RAID5. The activity on the server is very low, until night time when we do mysqldumps to it, so it's only used for about an hour per day to store files.
So far, it's been about 40 days, and one of the drives already stopped working. Since this was a RAID5 volume, the server is still alive. Unfortunately, I have to buy a replacement of the same drive since we need to have the same exact drives for the raid to work.
For comparison, I had 12 desktop class seagates in a similar backup server for 4 years (2TB drives) and not a single one broke. WD has been producing more and more crap recently. We've had similar luck with our enterprise class drives from them too.
on August 28, 2013
Wow. Just wow. The four drives arrived in a huge box with extremely insufficient padding. Even the anti-static bags are dented from the drives hitting each other. Amazon was great handling the return, but these drives definitely didn't arrive in the Frustration Free Packaging or anything like it. If I could give SavingCOST a negative score, it would be -1billion the packaging was that bad.