WD Red 4TB which uises SMR. EFAX uses SMR

US Law firm working on class-action lawsuit against WD over SMR issues

US-based class-action lawsuit experts ‘Hattis & Lukacs’ are inviting those who are affected by reliability issues consistent with SMR-based HDDs. This started with the problem affecting SMR-based Red series. Many NAS users with this HDD found unfixable problems with one of the two models of the WD Red series HDD. The earlier one used CMR, while the latter used SMR drives. WD did not disclose the recording method until the fallout of this problem.

What’s wrong with SMR?

The Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) provide more storage space at the cost of performance delays. The first models of the WD Red series were the EFRX which used the Conventional Magnetic Recording. The EFAX variations used SMR.  For many types of users, it is not a problem. Other HDD manufacturers like Toshiba and Seagate use SMR in many of their HDDs. This should be reliable enough for secondary storage. But the performance delay is what causes the issue for NAS specific workloads. This is more important as WD Red is a NAS specific drive. Many NAS manufacturers even list WD as a preferred choice. The issues varied between the inability to build RAID arrays and couldn’t make ZFS format.

WD’s Response

After narrowing down the issue to the EFAX HDDs, some reached WD’s channel partner and a customer rep. Contrary to a pile of complaints and observations, both defended SMR’s reliability. But complaints from many users kept coming. Eventually, WD had to give an official response. WD gave assurance to help users about this issue. But it was still adamant about the reliability of SMR-based WD Red HDDs.  The company also suggested that people should consider purchasing WD Red Pro and WD Gold instead.

Prolific firm to steer the class action lawsuit

“Hattis & Lukacs” is not new to handling class action lawsuits against tech companies. The firm won key cases against McAfee, Dell and TracFone. However, the firm is inviting everyone using SMR-based HDDs. This is probably because WD never advertises the recording type until now. Since this will affect specific workloads, its best to get everybody with such drives as plaintiffs to make a case.

The firm issued the following statement:

Customers are complaining that this switch has resulted in drastically slower write performance and storage failures, especially when used in RAID configurations such as in network-attached storage (“NAS”) devices. This secret downgrade, apparently done to cut costs, is particularly harmful and deceptive because Western Digital advertises and promises that WD Red hard drives are meant for NAS and RAID use. But it is widely accepted that the SMR technology is wholly inappropriate for RAID and NAS device usage and can cause poor sustained write performance and failures on RAID rebuilds. In addition, Western Digital also switched some Blue and Black drives to the slower SMR technology.

The firm listed specific models and a contact form for those in the United States. Seagate and other HDD manufacturers do use SMR. But the issue came up with WD so far. We’ll just see how news progresses in the future.

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