Image: Western Digital

Western Digital’s Red NAS drives have been put under a bad light recently for employing shingled magnetic recording (SMR), an arguably inferior technology that has allegedly resulted in worse performance and RAID headaches (e.g., rebuild failures) for storage enthusiasts. The company has released a new statement in an attempt to fan those flames, but unfortunately, there aren’t any apologies here, nor technical insights that demystify just how good (or bad) its 2 TB – 6 TB Red HDDs really are.

WD’s primary rebuttal is that, yes, these drives employ SMR technology – and it works swimmingly. “SMR is tested and proven technology that enables us to keep up with the growing volume of data for personal and business use,” the company wrote. “We are continuously innovating to advance it. SMR technology is implemented in different ways – drive-managed SMR (DMSMR), on the device itself, as in the case of our lower capacity (2TB – 6TB) WD Red HDDs, and host-managed SMR, which is used in high-capacity data center applications. Each implementation serves a different use case, ranging from personal computing to some of the largest data centers in the world.”

Any legitimate issues appear to be chalked up to user error, however. While RAID is never explicitly mentioned in its statement, WD appears to reference those problems in a line regarding Red NAS HDDs being utilized in “system workloads far exceeding their intended uses.”

Amusingly enough, the company’s solution for that is to just buy more expensive SKUs, such as the WD Red Pro or WD Gold drives. “If you are encountering performance that is not what you expected, please consider our products designed for intensive workloads,” it suggested.

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1 Comment

  1. Hmm I was going to check Backblaze reports to see if they had any data on these drives, but the most recent I saw (3Q19) didn’t have any WD drives at all in it

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