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Thread: Avoid WD Red Drives for NAS applications (Any SMR Drives)

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    Avoid WD Red Drives for NAS applications (Any SMR Drives)

    I meant to post this when the story 1 st surfaced a while ago.

    If you are intending purchase some hard drives to use in a NAS (or any RAID storage) then you'll want to be sure to avoid the new WD Red hard drives as WD(and other manufacturers) have changed the method they use to record data to the disk - from CMR/PMR (Conventional/Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) to SMR(Shingled Magnetic recording). They've done this in the interests of achieving a higher recording density to the detriment of performance.

    In short, avoid SMR drives for use in RAID configurations...no matter who the manufacturer is.

    This will tell you how to identify the drives(from Western Digital):
    How to tell a difference between DM-SMR and non-SMR (CMR) drives (HDD) – compare – NAS Compares

    This article reports on testing done to demonstrate the issue:
    Red Alert: WD Sued for Selling 'Inferior' SMR Hard Drives to NAS Customers - ExtremeTech


    This vid gives summary of the above testing:
    Cheers,

    Sean

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    I'll have to pull the Red drives out of my two NAS boxes to check them.
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    ive been following this with interest for a few weeks. all my HDD's are WD red but I dont use them in a raid.
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    old news...
    I have 4 wd reds in my NAS and 3 wd blues in my main PC that are SMR,, (only way to tell is SN range)
    has the world stopped turning? no.
    am I ****ed at WD? You Betcha!
    am I gunna do anything about it? nope.
    and neither is WD..


    and its not just WD either....
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    Interesting news.
    I just checked my 4 Reds, all CMR types(as I'd expected).
    Dunno when this new SMR tech came out, but as said in the videos, this issue is very specific to RAID, and really only the rebuilding component, and that it's slow.

    I don't use RAID either, so even if I had too, I'd still get these SMR Reds anyhow, if desperately needed.
    Cheers,
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK83 View Post
    Interesting news.
    I just checked my 4 Reds, all CMR types(as I'd expected).
    Dunno when this new SMR tech came out, but as said in the videos, this issue is very specific to RAID, and really only the rebuilding component, and that it's slow.

    I don't use RAID either, so even if I had too, I'd still get these SMR Reds anyhow, if desperately needed.
    SMR has been around for a while (2013) but hoo-ha surrounding this has come about because the likes of WD have started using SMR in drives that were previously CMR based without highlighting the change. WD Reds have been very popular for NAS applications because of their excellent performance vs cost and the sneaky change has meant that people have purchased a product not fit for purpose which they otherwise may not have.

    In non raid situations this really is no issue and, as you say the issue is only evident during rebuild because of the inordinate amount of time it takes to do the rebuild. This presents two issues, a decent performance hit for a very extended period while rebuild takes place and increased risk of total data loss if another drive is lost during the rebuild.

    I think the other thing for people to be aware of is that they should not mix CMR and SMR drives in RAID because of performance impacts (SMR drives do generally perform worse than their CMR counter parts). People may want to upgrade their NAS capacity or need to replace a drive will likely go ahead buy more drives of the same type blissfully unaware of the change in architecture and wonder why things are not working as well as they once did....not ideal. In fact, there have been instances where the RAID has refused to rebuild when an SMR drive has been introduced in to a CMR based array.
    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro_The_Swift View Post
    old news...
    Might be for you ..... but it will not be for others

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro_The_Swift View Post
    I have 4 wd reds in my NAS and 3 wd blues in my main PC that are SMR,, (only way to tell is SN range)
    has the world stopped turning? no.
    Yeah, no biggie. It depends on the application. It's a risk assessment, for home applications not so much of an issue. For business critical applications it is a big deal.

    (You'll note, I wrote "AVOID".... there was no suggestion of the end of the world pending)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro_The_Swift View Post
    (only way to tell is SN range)
    Actually, it's the suffix in the part numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedro_The_Swift View Post
    .....and its not just WD either....
    Yep.... as I stated. The big issue with WD is that they made the change in drives that are specifically marketed as NAS drives with out telling anyone....that is a huge deal. Other manufacturers like Seagate and Toshiba push SMR based drives to the desktop market.
    Cheers,

    Sean

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by p38arover View Post
    I'll have to pull the Red drives out of my two NAS boxes to check them.
    I'm not sure when the change happened but it's likely that if your drives are older than say, a year, then they'll be fine. Check them none the less. Mine are five years old and are CMR...I have one that looks like it may need to be replaced and had I not known about this issue it would have bitten me on the backside big time.
    Cheers,

    Sean

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  9. #9
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    Hi all

    I have also been following this since it was first reports of poor performance started to be published. At first no one quite knew what the problem was. In a NAS setup with RAID and where it's setup for high I/O random write it's a major problem. Some HPC sites were seeing raid units automatically removed from the raid cluster due to poor performance on garbage collection & rebuilds. Three manufacturers, WD, Seagate and Toshiba have all done this just recently and there is now lawsuits from companies that have been adversely affected by this.

    In a home setup, even for steaming media, it's not at all a crucial issue. When you have purchased several hundred TB or more of disks not fit for purpose it is.

    PS. Buying a NAS for use in high performance RAID and finding a SMR drive in it is like ordering your 3.0 litre V6 Disco and driving away in it with a 2.4 litre 4cyl under the bonnet. You ain't gonna be happy.

    Mike
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  10. #10
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    One of the WD reds in our NAS has failed. It’s about 5 years old but failed a while ago. Any recommendations on a replacement? Thanks.
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