WD Red drives target network-attached storage

Add another color to Western Digital’s rainbow of mechanical hard drives. To complement its 3.5″ Black, Blue, and Green families, WD has rolled out the Red. This new SATA model is targeted at network-attached storage for the home and small businesses. The Red isn’t quite an enterprise-grade product, but it has been optimized to play nicely with the RAID controllers typically found in NAS devices. RAID controllers offer their own error-correction mechanisms, so they don’t expect connected drives to chase down errors. If a drive spends too long attempting solo error recovery, it can be deemed unresponsive and dropped from the array prematurely. The Red’s error recovery is time-limited to prevent that from happening.

RAID arrays often stack multiple drives in relatively small enclosures, and the Red has been designed to withstand the additional vibration and higher temperatures typical of those environments. It’s meant to run 24×7, too, and has a Mean Time Between Failure rating 35% higher than WD’s standard desktop drives. The Red also benefits from a longer warranty: three years, versus two for the WD Blue and Green. The WD Black remains one of very few desktop drives with five-year warranty coverage.

Unlike the 7,200-RPM Black, the Red has an “IntelliPower” spindle speed, which is WD’s way of saying “about 5,400 RPM.” That’s plenty quick for home NAS implementations, and the lower rotational speed should help to reduce operating temperatures and noise levels. WD claims the Red runs several degrees cooler than the competition, although it’s unclear whether the competing drive has a similar spindle speed.

Western Digital touts the Red’s compatibility with a slew of NAS devices from all the big names. The drive is intended to be an upgrade option for those devices, and it should work just fine in standard PCs. You can buy one today, too. Newegg has the terabyte version for $110, the 2TB model for $130, and the 3TB variant for $180. Those prices are about $10 higher than what Newegg charges for Western Digital’s Green drives. I’d pay the premium for network-attached storage, not only for the RAID optimizations, but also for the longer warranty. Of course, the Green drives used to have three-year warranties of their own.

Comments closed
    • Convert
    • 7 years ago

    I bought eight of the 2TB ones on Wednesday for two NAS projects I’m working on. Can’t wait to test them out.

    The 2TB model already has a bad review about being DOA on the egg.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    why are they holding back Intellipower 7200rpm drives? Cant say they totally suck. The green drives make good door stops.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 7 years ago

    Would these be better for a RAID 1 mass storage array to compliment an SSD?

    • RtFusion
    • 7 years ago

    So, I guess it is safe to assume that I could use four of these Red drives on a LSI MegaRaid card in RAID 5, eh? Planning on building a new system soonish with two LSI MegaRaid cards with four HDDs each to make 1 RIAD 5 array per card. My main concern was more with reliability rather than speed, as well as more space and these new Red drives really solves those issues of mine

    I think WD will gain back another customer as I had terrible experiences with their WD Green drives in the past. Went with several (have 3 now) Seagate Barracuda LP (their SATA 3 Gb/s drives) 2TB drives and no problems from them so far although not running RAID atm.

    I wonder if they will also include 4TB+ versions in the future?

      • continuum
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]s it is safe to assume that I could use four of these Red drives on a LSI MegaRaid card in RAID 5,[/quote<]I would wait til LSI confirms compatibility first. You can end up with all kinds of weird drive firmware/controller firmware compatibility issues... /me goes back to swearing at his WD RE4-GP's...

        • RtFusion
        • 7 years ago

        Hmm really? I would have thought that enterprise grade HDDs would work fine with workstation/enterprise grade RAID cards without any issue.

        I really want to get these Red HDDs on some LSI MegaRaid cards without having to go for the uber expensive enterprise HDDs. Anyone have any recommendations for other mini-SAS RAID cards?

          • continuum
          • 7 years ago

          Not necessarily. There is a massive combination of possible firmware quirks on both the drive and the controller side, most of which are harmless when combined, but some of which are immediately incompatible… and others which don’t crop up til later, which makes testing (or worse, troubleshooting a month or six later in full series production) a truly devilish issue.

          [url<]http://download.adaptec.com/pdfs/compatibility_report/arc-sas_cr_03-27-12_series6.pdf[/url<] Checking... it looks like Adaptec is the only one of the big three hardware RAID card makers (LSI/3ware, Adaptec, and Areca) who is willing to test consumer drives. I see Deskstar 5K3000's on the Adaptec 6805 compatibility list above, as well as Seagate ST3000DM001's. Note that they have specific drive firmware revisions listed. And note that just because a drive is listed as compatible, it doesn't guarantee against issues, it just means there should be fewer of them.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    Well that sucks. I just bought a couple of 2TB drives for a home NAS yesterday. If only I’d waited… I ended up going with the Seagate Barracudas (ST2000DM001) b/c they were the cheapest ($100 each). However, the reliability of these drives seem to be a real crap shoot. And I don’t know that the WD Green drives are much better – hence why I didn’t go for those instead (but they may very well be).

    The question is, do I cancel my order and get these, even though there is pretty much no user reliability data? I supposed it can’t be much worse than what people are reporting with the new cheap Seagates…

      • 5150
      • 7 years ago

      I would.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Cancel order. Go Red.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      If the warranty is less than 3 years I would cancel.

      • continuum
      • 7 years ago

      Do the ST2000DM001’s have any record of working even remotely well in RAID? ’cause if they do, I would keep them. (even if internet forum commentary is next to useless 😉 ).

      This is a brand-new product and WD does not exactly have a good track record here…

        • cynan
        • 7 years ago

        Both Seagate and WD seem to have declining track records for consumer grade HDDs recently. And they’re pretty much the only options we’ve got left.

        The other issue is that the ST2000DM001 are currently listed as supported by the NAS I have (well the larger ST3000DM001). The ST2000DM001 have been reported to work – though how well, and with what frequency of RAID rebuilds and other problems, I don’t know.

        I inquired about cancelling, but the order has shipped. It is combined with other items, so I can’t try declining the shipment entirely (and that is also a PITA as I’m not normally at home to receive packages).

        Finally, the price. I paid just under $100 each for the Seagates including shipping. Paying for shipping to return these drives, the extra money in tax and shipping for the WD Reds, will mean I’d be paying about 50% more now for these WD Reds vs the Seagates. They may well be worth it but, well, that adds up when you’re buying a couple or more drives at a time.

        I seem to remember the good ol’ days when buying consumer grade OEM hard drives didn’t leave you with a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach…

          • continuum
          • 7 years ago

          Well if they’re listed as compatible, that’s at least something.

          IIRC Adaptec or someone does occasionally test and certify consumer drives, whereas Areca currently does not (at least not in the past couple of years, they may have about 5 or 6 years ago)… and I honestly forget about LSI/3ware.

    • 5150
    • 7 years ago

    Since we’re mentioning RAID, let me just say that RAID 5 blows.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      Blows your socks off i presume. RAID 5 is great for those who need it and have many HDD’s, but if you buy a cheap raid controller or use software raid, dont expect lightning quick speeds.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Oh really? What is your reasoning?

      IMHO only RAID that actually sucks is RAID 0, since it doesn’t offer RAID’s primary advantage: availability of your data.

        • sjl
        • 7 years ago

        Both RAID 5 and RAID 6 have the problem that if you aren’t doing a full stripe write, you have to read up to half the stripe to calculate the new parity blocks, and then write out said parity blocks. Which means that write performance [i<]can[/i<] be degraded noticeably - but not necessarily. For home use, it isn't a big deal for the most part. In the enterprise (under Captain Kirk ... *ahem* sorry), it can be. Or, in other words: know your application, and design accordingly. I wouldn't say it sucks, just that there are issues which aren't always immediately obvious, no matter which way you jump. Even RAID 0 has a legitimate place and purpose. Back on topic: it's a pity they didn't announce these last week; I would have deferred the two 3TB greens I installed in my new NAS. Oh well.

          • Convert
          • 7 years ago

          RAID controllers play a big part in this as well. It’s surprising how many business and entry level enterprise controllers can’t seem to handle anything besides a mirror or a stripe without “choking”.

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    It doesn’t approach a “rainbow” until you add yellow and purple to the mix.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 7 years ago

      The use yellow on the enterprise drives.

      • colinstu12
      • 7 years ago

      No love for orange? And yeah, I’ve seen Yellow used on their velociraptor drives.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Purple? You must have learned the colors of the rainbow from the same broken toys that my children are. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet make up the rainbow.

        • Meadows
        • 7 years ago

        In nursery school, you’d be right. Considering that light wavelengths between 400 to 700 nm are what make up a rainbow, arguing over [i<]what to call them exactly[/i<] seems useless. Edit: Also, purple is gay, and I like purple. Whack my arse.

          • willmore
          • 7 years ago

          purple is red+blue, there’s no way you could see it on a rainbow.

          It’s what’s called an ‘extra-spectral’ color meaning it is not composed of one frequency of light. Since the rainbow is a white light source broken down in to its spectra, it can’t have any extra-spectral colors in it.

          [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_%28color%29[/url<] I'm not arguing what you call the colors beyond blue in the rainbow.

    • ew
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t understand the benefit of time-limited error recovery. Either the controller thinks the drive has died and removed it due to a timeout or the drive reports back an error and the controller removes the drive anyway. The only benefit is that the drive gets removed sooner. I must be missing something.

      • cygnus1
      • 7 years ago

      a drive that reports a read error does not necessarily get removed from an array. a good raid card will recover the data from the remaining stripe data and relocate it. then mark the error-ed spot as bad and not use it any more. enough errors can lead to being removed, but a small percentage are easily recoverable and don’t call for replacing a drive.

      • bcronce
      • 7 years ago

      The drive is trying to handle advanced error correction when the RAID should be. The drive is probably fine.

      There is also a whole other issue of the drive attempting to fix errors and taking a long time but not long enough to drop from the array. This can cause the entire IO system to stop and wait, depending on the design.

      The drive shouldn’t care about losing data, it should only care about quick fix errors. It needs to make a quick decision and move on, let the RAID/admin figure things out.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      In an enterprise environment TLER is beneficial since it means the system/network remains more responsive when hardware failures occur. The controller isn’t waiting for upwards of a minute or so for the drive to report the error; it just reports the drive failure to the sysadmin, corrects the error, and gets back to the business of moving data around.

      Whether this product makes sense for non-enterprise users (or enterprise users willing to sacrifice a bit of performance and a couple years of warranty for cost savings) remains to be seen. But it is probably a no-brainer for WD since the development costs were likely minimal – all they had to do was marry the firmware from their RE/enterprise series with the Green mechanism.

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    So remove a feature from your other hard drives and then use that feature to sell a new line of more expensive drives? Just another day at WD. The sooner they get crushed under SSDs the better.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah I thought the same thing when I read this article. They at least make a passing effort at making up for it with a longer warranty, but its still a pretty assholish thing to do. Then again, with WD’s reputation they can probably easily endure what little flack they’ll get from it.

      Are current SSDs at all suitable for a NAS? I get the impression that NAS drives have higher durability and endurance requirements that current SSDs haven’t reached yet.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 7 years ago

      What feature was removed from the other drives?

      As far as I can tell, these are green drives given the “enterprise drive” treatment. The regular drives still have all the features they have, but the reds will work better in a RAID array due to the time-limited recovery feature in the new firmware.

      You can still run the other drives in RAID arrays, but they will drop out quicker then the reds or enterprise drives.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Warranties

          • Flatland_Spider
          • 7 years ago

          Warranties are a feature? I thought they were a perk.

          If that’s your main criteria, Dell, HP, or another major manufacturer will be happy to sell you a 5 year service plan if you buy a system from them.

            • bthylafh
            • 7 years ago

            Third parties like SquareTrade are also happy to sell you an extended warranty, for that matter.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            …and hard drive manufacturers will be happy to sell you a longer warranty. It’s called paying for their enterprise grade drives.

            • rrr
            • 7 years ago

            Making sure someone is to back up the product should it fail is just a perk? “Core package” of features for a product is worthless, if a product fails to work in the first place

        • Kurotetsu
        • 7 years ago

        Originally, TLER was enabled on WD Green drives, which is part of why they became so popular as NAS drives. Then WD decided to disable TLER by default on new Green drives made after a certain point (in order to promote their more expensive RE enterprise drives). However you could still re-enable it using a tool provided by WD. Then, the ability to enable TLER was removed altogether.

        These Red drives have this feature enabled by default as it was before.

          • Shambles
          • 7 years ago

          This sums it up pretty well. For some reason it seems like TR has a lot of Seagate and WD stockholders that view that site. Everytime is critize the HDD manufacturers I get voted down. Surely only a stockholder would dislike how green drives used to work perfectly in RAID until WD decided they’d cripple the green drives in order to force people into the blacks (or now in this case create the entire lineup or red drives).

            • absurdity
            • 7 years ago

            Stockholders seem unlikely, just fanboys.

          • cygnus1
          • 7 years ago

          yup. kind of pisses me off since i just bought 10 greens about 2 or 3 months ago. i wonder if you could get the red firmware and flash a green with it….

            • bacondreamer
            • 7 years ago

            Welcome to the tech industry…..where everything changes every 15 minutes….just like North Carolina weather

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, pretty much… Most of those features were found on other drives before they decided to reorganized everything.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      WD’s learning from Intel. Why keep a feature when you can turn it off and charge $$$ to bring it back?

      BTW, didn’t sandforce do the same thing?

    • sircharles32
    • 7 years ago

    The heads don’t park themselves nearly as much as the Greens do, so I’d say that’s a win even for those of us who role our own home servers. The head parking was the biggest headache with the Green drives, as the system would think the drive was faulty, and kick it out of the array.

      • Frith
      • 7 years ago

      The head parking can be disabled on the Green drives with the [url=http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=609&sid=113<]WDIdle[/url<] tool. You can either set a time in seconds or disable the head parking completely. Disabling it is always the first thing I do when I get a new WD drive.

      • Flying Fox
      • 7 years ago

      Link? I would like to see evidence of that.

        • stdRaichu
        • 7 years ago

        If you google for something along the lines of “western digital load cycle count” or “wd lcc” you’ll find a bunch of stories about it. You can see synology’s dedicated LCC forum here: [url<]http://forum.synology.com/enu/viewforum.php?f=124[/url<] The basic problem was that WD had tweaked their firmware to align solely with windows' disc access patterns, and this involved parking the heads after 8s of idle time. By default, ext3 does a writeback check every 5s, which keeps waking the drives up, leading to repeated parking and almost instant unparking of the heads (which was audible as a repeated clicking noise). In certain scenarios this could create parking/unparking on each drive several times per minute. The LCC count is a SMART attribute, and flagged to throw an error once it reaches a certain threshold. Similarly, some arrays are configured to throw a disc out of an array (or at least set off the alarms) when a SMART attribute goes into "error" status. And as these arrays are often created with a whole bunch of identical discs added at the same time, you'd often have a fun time where multiple discs were ejected from the array within hours of one another. When I'd set up my first QNAP, I noticed that the LCC count had gone from 0 to ~1500 within the space of a couple of days, and the error threshold was at something like 200,000. Hence it became best practice to use the wdidle util to disable the extremely aggressive head parking both to reduce noise/wear'n'tear and ensure your discs weren't thrown out of the array prematurely.

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    Nice timing, one of the 2TB Greens in my NAS died last night – wouldn’t be so bad except that its mirror apparently died some time previously and my NAS didn’t bother to tell me. 🙁

    It seems like I will be able to recover the data from it (and many things that were on it were also in other places) but I’m not sure I’ll get away clean. I could very well end up with a pair of these Red drives next week.

      • Visigoth
      • 7 years ago

      I certainly would. StorageReview already reviewed these drives and they compare VERY favorable against the competition:

      [url<]http://www.storagereview.com/western_digital_red_nas_hard_drive_review_wd30efrx[/url<]

    • adisor19
    • 7 years ago

    Yeah, I’d pay 10$ more for an extra year of warranty as well. However, i prefer the Black version with the 5 year warranty.

    Adi

      • cygnus1
      • 7 years ago

      the warranty is honestly the smallest selling point in the list. TLER is pretty major for NAS. I wish they’d have come out with this line of drives a while ago. when people were hacking the firmware on the greens to turn on TLER they should’ve realized this market existed years ago

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        +1 to you for every time I’ve had to do this!

    • bthylafh
    • 7 years ago

    Would this be beneficial for soft RAID, like Linux’s mdadm?

      • cygnus1
      • 7 years ago

      it’s beneficial for any raid, it just depends on the implementation. you can probably tweak a linux softraid to wait longer than your drive attempts error correction. but for raid cards and a lot of nas devices, that’s not possible because it’s hard coded in a firmware or embedded OS. the article doesn’t really explain that a standard drive will spend a long time trying to read a sector that it’s having trouble with before giving up, sometimes up to a minute. while it’s doing that, it doesn’t respond to the controller. when a raid card or nas device sees no response from the drive for more than a set time period, it assumes the drive has failed and takes appropriate action. if it’s a redundant array it will go into a degraded state, and possibly engage a hot spare to rebuild the content of the drive that is just trying to correct a read error. if it’s a non-redundant array you could lose the entire array instead of just one stripe.

      • stdRaichu
      • 7 years ago

      In every implementation of mdadm I’ve seen in vanilla distros (as opposed to customised NAS distros, etc), mdadm won’t chuck out any disc that stops responding (or has patchy response), so the lack of TLER wasn’t really an issue for people like me doing linux softraid on commodity hardware. You can test this yourself by putting in a known-faulty drive into an existing array and watching mdadm try (vainly) to rebuild/resync the array whilst dmesg fills up with ATA errors.

      However, the synology and QNAP NAS units I’ve used have definitely timed-out discs… but then they’re not using vanilla mdadm. I expect most other NAS distros are the same.

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