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  • haukionkannel - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I supose that RED allso did run in cooler temperatures than the reference drives? It should have meaning when using NAS 14/7...
    Could you measure the temperature of drives and temperature of the air inside the NAS box. It would be interesting to read.
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    The temperatures inside the NAS should be roughly proportional to the power consumed at the wall. I have the power tables in the review. WD consumes approx. 15W when the Seagate equipped units consume 21W -- so the temperatures should have a corresponding decrease. Obviously, it is possible that the fans inside the NAS would be working at higher speeds to cool down the interior ; Say, with the Seagates, the fan operates at 3000 rpm, they might need to operate at only 2000 rpm with the WDs to keep the interior at the same temperature. I believe these external factors may result in skewed results and not properly reflect the fact that the Red runs cooler.

    By the way, you might be interested in what WD claims as a cooler running drive in the marketing slide reproduced on this page :
  • amikey - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    FWIW, 2 3TB RED running in DS212J for the last couple weeks - 36/40C / 97/104F

    Is that hot ? In truth, where they are could be better ventilated - shared space with a PS3.

  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    If they hold stable at that temperature, you should not be worried. The usual 'cutoff' temperature is around 55C for most hard drives. If your HDD reports more than 50C itself, I would suggest taking steps to ventilate your setup better. Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    I agree, anything under 45c is really good, anything over 50c I get worried. Reply
  • Zds - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Remember that per Google data, 37..46C is the optimal range; going either below or above lowers reliability:

    This means your drive is cooler a bit too well, if anything.
  • Konraden - Saturday, July 13, 2013 - link

    That's not really accurate. Google mentions that temperature deltas "as low as 15C" affected drive reliablility.

    They apparently were more concerned with the change in temperature of the drives than the average operating temperature. If your drive is being shocked, booting in arctic and being set next to an open flame, you're going to have a lot more issues than if it ran all day at 45C.

    [Per cited research]"One of our key findings has been the lack of a con-
    sistent pattern of higher failure rates for higher temper-
    ature drives or for those drives at higher utilization lev-
    els. Such correlations have been repeatedly highlighted
    by previous studies, but we are unable to confirm them
    by observing our population. Although our data do not
    allow us to conclude that there is no such correlation,
    it provides strong evidence to suggest that other effects
    may be more prominent in affecting disk drive reliabil-
    ity in the context of a professionally managed data center

    Google's team goes on to say that drives showing SMART errors are very significantly more likely to fail, but most of their failed drives _did not_ show SMART errors prior to failing.
  • - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I just bought 4x3TB WD Red drives. It's just too bad that the 24/7 number (from the WD site) doesn't exit. Ican't even call the number to report a defective drive (living in the Netherlands).
    I would have thought that a big company had better support. What a bummer.
  • Mixers - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    Had a look myself since I too live in the netherlands.

    Found this and hope it helps.

    Netherlands, The



    9 am - 8 pm CET
    9 am - 6 pm CET

    This is the network support number however they will provide RED support.

    I already had a go at them for not having a dutch number... They did say they were looking into it.
  • cknobman - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    My current server has been running 2 X 2TB WD Green drives since 2009 24x7 without a problem.

    When one (or both) of those drives takes a dump I will definitely look at the Red line.
  • bill.rookard - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I have to say, I've been running a 5 disk Raid5 using the WD Green 2TB's, and I had one die after 30 days (RMA'd and replaced no charge), but since then, been running it 24/7 since about 2009 as well. It's not an appliance NAS - it's a full size tower, AMD Phenom/Gigabyte board/5x2Tb WD drives running FreeNAS - and it's been (with the exception of the one failure) solid.

    When it does come around to start looking into replacements, the Red series will be worth looking at as well as I expect NAS systems to become more and more prevalent.
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    The GREEN drives are performing well for only one reason - they are not being subjected to extreme temp cycling. Constant temps increase hard drive life quite dramatically. That same drive would quickly die in a laptop that is not routinely monitored for operating temps, with cooling filters cleaned on a regular basis. Turning the laptop on and off regularly will kill a GREEN hard drive quickly.

    It is all about extremes of temp cycling. I would not risk keeping the GREEN drives, when you could upgrade to RED at a convenient point in time, rather than be subjected to recovering from an actual hard drive failure. It is quicker, simpler, and less painful to do it now before they fail. Running 3 years on GREEN is one very risky business.
  • Gr8Ape - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    i can not +1 this enough. Reply
  • dj christian - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    Which i have done. Had no problems with the Green discs since i bought them and they've been running for 6 and 8-thousand hours respectively. Reply
  • pieterjan - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Aggressive head parking (5 seconds) probably adds to the quick failure. The wdidle3 tool lets you disable it, however. In fact, except for the anti vibration feature and 24/7 support (that doesn't exist outside the US), I see little difference between the red and green drives... Reply
  • Phynaz - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Pretty horrible article, charts are unreadable.
    Actual writing is difficult to read, please be more concise.

    Oh and crap like "IT departments have been tempted to use consumer drives". Absolute bullshit. If the author has done this he should be fired from his job.
  • mwildtech - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Cut him a break man. If you don't like the article, then don't read it. Not bullshit on IT departments not tempted to use consumer drives. A ton on schools and S&L Gov IT Departments use consumer drives in their NAS devices. I know, because they buy them from me. Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Yet another useless comment from Phynass. The graphs are perfectly legible, the writing is fine, and if you've never seen an IT department use consumer drives, you've never worked with small businesses. Get a life you fucking nitwit. Reply
  • Azethoth - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    RAID: Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks.

    Gosh, am I doing something wrong using cheap drives in a RAID? Am I going to get fired?

    Do you scream when you type, because I don't want cheetos sprayed all over me. Does your Mom mind when you throw tantrums in the basement?

    PS: you need to just turn on caps lock and leave it on.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    LOL cheetos . . .

    And yeah, I guess it was an accident that SAS controllers can interface with SATA drives . . .
  • Sivar - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    "Pretty horrible article, charts are unreadable."

    I find them easy to read, but if you are having trouble you can click on each to scale it up in size. Ganesh even saved them as PNG, and kept the colors simple (as is best to do with PNG/GIF), so the fine sizes are very small and the charts look as intended (no JPEG artifacts).

    "Actual writing is difficult to read, please be more concise."
    I found the writing to be of generally high quality. Perhaps you should offer some examples of overly verbose writing. I'm not claiming there aren't any examples, just that providing some will help make your criticisms more constructive. :)

    "Oh and crap like "IT departments have been tempted to use consumer drives". Absolute bullshit. If the author has done this he should be fired from his job."
    No, it is not.
    Your experience may be limited to well-funded, large IT organizations. I have worked in both poorly funded (school / non-profit, etc.) and "by the book" well-funded companies, like the one I am in now.

    I have personally used non-enterprise drives in 24/7 RAID arrays. I researched them first, of course. Some even support, or supported, TLER through special utilities. My own home server has eight Samsung F4s that have worked perfectly for almost 3 years (not that a single data point is very useful).

    When you have a smaller budget than list of requirements, you make due, and document the reasons for the decisions made. It's part of real-world IT -- not everyone can afford a NetApp storage rack!
  • Wwhat - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    To be fair, if you compare the scaled and full sizes of the pictures and see how they don't employ the full available width (compared to the text) when scaled it does seem a bit poorly done, it would have been better to make the pictures slightly wider and slightly less tall and then have them unscaled I think, you'd have simplified things and have them sharp and clear and still not use more bandwidth or require more speed from the reader's internet. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Well Sivar, it is not even that simple. Which you probably know better than I.

    Department heads for I.T. usually get a budget for different projects. As well as different criteria for every project. So if you need blazing fast access for a very large database for mission critical information. Then of course you're only going to use the best enterprise classed hardware, perhaps in a RAID10 configuration. But redundancy does not nor ever should stop here. There may be several single drive / array redundant copies after that. With probably tape backup as well. With at least one offsite copy to top it off.

    Technically though. This drive is not dissimilar to the Consumer classed enterprise version that Seagate has been selling for years. So should be a cut above the rest. With better firmware, hardware, and Q&A testing ( hopefully ). So in effect. An entry level to enterprise drive. But whatever.
  • cashkennedy - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Yes Phynaz's comments about the article are pretty dumb, but..

    I dont think this article is very useful / and isnt fitting for anandtech because all he compares wd red drives to unspecified seagate drives that came bundled with a NAS.

    Seagate has many different models, the ones that just came out are significantly faster then the models that had been sold for last 1.5 years due to a dramatic increase in aerial density.

    Why arent these drives compaired to wd blue, wd green, and various lines of seagate drives...
  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    The Seagate drives aren't 'unspecified' ones, but the one which came bundled with the unit we reviewed here:

    The exact model number is ST3000DM001, and Anand reviewed that drive in a standalone setting here:

    That drive was released in Q4 2011. So, it is pretty recent (I guess no new internal 3.5" 3TB drives have been released by Seagate since then).
  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Forgot to mention, we can only do comparisons with drives already at our disposal. I unfortunately don't have access to 3TB Blues and Greens / other 3TB Seagate drives at my location, and if you actually look at the comments in Anand's review of the ST3000DM001, most people were actually planning to use that for a NAS. Reply
  • cashkennedy - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    That actually is the "new" drive i was refering too. If its been out since november it must have been in very limited numbers till recently. It performs really very well as a single drive, but perhaps is not well designed for NAS use.

    Thanks for the reply, I would still like to see a compairison to some other WD series's but i know that even anandtech is limited in what it can get its hands on, but perhaps you can use my comments to demand wd send some more drive your way.
  • yyrkoon - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    So what you're saying is that desktop classed systems in the IT department should use enterprise classed drives ?

    " Stands for "Information Technology," and is pronounced "I.T." It refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies. Many companies now have IT departments for managing the computers, networks, and other technical areas of their businesses. IT jobs include computer programming, network administration, computer engineering, Web development, technical support, and many other related occupations. Since we live in the "information age," information technology has become a part of our everyday lives. That means the term "IT," already highly overused, is here to stay."

    Now if you mean data centers . . . they use all kinds of hardware.

    Personally, I think it is crap. That you speak out of your backside as if you know what you're talking about. If the OP is currently working in "I.T.", *he* should be fired, and given a job at 7-11.
  • fic2 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    "Actual writing is difficult to read..."

    Well, once you graduate 6th grade this year you will be able to understand the article a little better. Until then have your mom read and explain it to you.
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Simple: use the right tool for the job. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I work for a small company and we use consumer-class hardware fairly often for non-essential tasks. You have to, when working on a project with a limited budget. Reply
  • hsew - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I remember reading somewhere that Intellipower was unsuitable for RAID due to the fact that it is not a set spindle speed, rather a sweet spot speed determined in manufacturing. If it is in fact true that Intellipower is unsuitable for RAID, that would make these far less appealing as NAS drives. If I wanted to have a NAS I would want at least two drives in RAID 1. Why is WD shying away from 5400 RPM? It HAS a place, low power data storage! Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Why don't you read the article before you comment? Reply
  • hsew - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Because Ctrl+f didn't lead to any specific discussion on aforementioned issue... Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Well, that is marketing for you :) 'People don't like lower numbers, so let us just give it a name' must have been what the WD Marketing team must have thought.

    FWIW, all concrete proofs of the spindle speed that I have seen online point to 5400 rpm for IntelliPower drives.
  • Wwhat - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    I think you are wrong actually, WD has drives that they use the number 5400 for, it's no real issue these days because with high density 5400 is fast enough.

    And I think they actually have changeable speed drives that probably max at 5400 but also ones that max at 7200 because they have a 'green' type and non-green types with the variable speed technology, so I'm prretty sure it's not some euphemism. And I also think people are more positive to numbers when it comes to HD's rather than the unspecified 'variable', it's more a risky move for WD I would say.
  • EnzoFX - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Is it me or was there no prices listed? or maybe a comparison for someone debating between reds and greens =P. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Prices are all over the park. IIRC, the 3TB version launched at $189 [ ], but it is at $240 on Newegg right now.. I guess I left it to the reader to do the price comparison at the time of purchase :) But, thanks for mentioning.. it really was an oversight :) Reply
  • adrianblack - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I must point out the WD AV-GP line which has been out for a while were designed for 24/7 continuous and high-temp operation. I have two of these drives in my server now..... (The older 1.5TB drive has been in there for 2.5 years)

    WD says:
    "24x7 reliability: These drives are designed to last in high temperature always-on streaming digital audio/video environments such as PVR/DVR, IPTV, and video surveillance systems."

    The downside of the AV-GP line was they didn't have the idle-parking disabled, so you did have to use WDIDLE first to fix that problem. (I accumulated 245k cycles on my older 1.5TB drive before I disabled auto-park.) They have 1 million hour MTBF, some kind of optimization for better video streaming and PWL which they call preemptive wear leveling.

    So pretty similar to the RED which add the vibration mitigation and a default disable on the IDLE-Park. (WD states 1 million hour MTBF on the RED drives, by the way.)
  • Wwhat - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I think that you can't always compare drives made one year from ones made another year (or more) later, even when the manufacturer names them the same or claims the same capabilities. And I don't mean that they always get better. Reply
  • pdf - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    Disappointed that there's no mention of the fact that the rest of the WD range used to allow configuring TLER and APM, before WD purposefully gimped the firmware and disabled those options in what I can only assume was a move to force people to purchase their more expensive drives if wishing to use them with hardware RAID controllers. Reply
  • brshoemak - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    I know what you mean, I had some WD RE drives that I paid a huge premium for, but later I purchased a Caviar Black that I could configure TLER and the like. Good times.

    While I understand where you're coming when you say their tactics are shady, keep in mind in many cases there are differences besides just firmware that affect a drive. Although most drives in certain series were reliable to a degree (Samsung F4/WD Caviar Black/etc.) I wouldn't put them in an SMB environment due to hardware differences. That being said, when I need to setup another large RAID6 array, it's very likely I'll go with the drives.
  • dealcorn - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    SAS/SATA controllers typically support 8 drives in SATA mode. Is there a design feature why these drives should be limited to 5 bay devices? I appreciate that there may be a marketing benefit. Reply
  • Watwatwat - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I know on green drives its somewhere around 8 seconds, because i've disabled it before using wdidle utility, how green is it if a drive fails early because of head parking vs the extra energy use..... I somehow doubt its really green once you add it up.. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Or Black, etc? Comparing it to the Seagate and all is nice, but doesn't really tell us if it's a better suited NAS drive versus WD's other offerings? Reply
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    All these life cycle metrics I have found over the last 10 years are largely irrelevant. A single hard drive cannot even handle normal duty in a laptop that is used 12 hours a day everyday. The only aspect that is important and should be prominently displayed on your screen at all times is hard drive temperature. That is the only way to gain control of what is going to happen on your system. The other element and one you have no control over is temp cycling. It is cycling temperatures from 15C to 50C on a regular basis that will kill a hard drive, and there is no way around that simple fact which demands high quality drives be used whenever possible. All manufactures drives behave largely the same way, and are largely unfit for duty in an environment where temp cycling is the norm.

    Servers running 24/7 at constant temp will last much longer, even with GREEN drives, but temp cycling will quickly kill it even when using BLUE drives. A GREEN drive in my laptop cannot last due to temp cycling. Laptop cooling design across the board largely sucks, and hard drives cannot consistently handle temps reaching 50C, if daily usage involves temp cycling. Laptops are turned off often which stresses the hard drive.

    A Dell 1501 laptop with GREEN drive failed after 8 months, and the next one failed after 12 months. BLUE was not much better failing after 13 months and 18 months. Now I have BLACK and it has lasted 18 months so far but I will not hold my breath. Most times one is lucky and disk failure permits data to be recovered after it has cooled down,.but occasionally data recovery is not possible happened only once but painful). Backing up data every week is a pain as a lot of important data may accumulated in a week. Backing up daily takes too long and uses up too much space. Backups come at an extremely high penalty in terms of time and disk space. What we need is better hard drives.

    Hard drive classifications are really fiction. GREEN (occasional use) means guarantied to fail in under 1y in a laptop used everyday all day, but at constant temp will last longer. BLUE means not much better than GREEN and likely will not last a year when subjected to temp cycling in a laptop. BLACK means better than blue drives but watch your temps closely, and clean out your laptop cooling filters twice a year, and try to keep temp under 45C. I doubt that RED is much better tan BLACK, even as a single hard drive in a laptop that will be subjected to temp cycling on a regular basis.

    Scrap GREEN and BLUE drives as they are not fit for laptop duty where temp cycling will kill them quickly. BLACK and RED is all you need offer. All hard drive categorizations need to be able to handle extreme temp cycling before being offered to the public. Get out of the business if you cannot make such hard drives.

    Hard drive metrics and marketing brooh hah hah is largely an attempt to distract us from the real issue of TEMP CYCLING. Hard drives are badly deigned devices no matter how you cut it, if they cannot be expected to last 5 to 7 years when subjected to extreme temp cycling. Laptop manufacturers too get a clue and make laptops that can be properly cooled.

    Let us send a message to Western Digital, and refuse to buy anything other than BLACK and RED drives, especially when temp cycling is going to be the norm. The only systems that could possibly handle the crappier drives are servers which will be running at near constant temps 24/7. All laptops should have nothing in them except RED drives, but don't be fooled, even these RED drives are not particular good unless they can be made to last 5 to 7 years in a laptop.which I seriously doubt as evidenced by WD 3 year warranty

    We need one more chart showing how a hard drive performs when subjected to heavy loads, with one temp cycle per hour from 15C to 50C. When Western Digital provides a PINK drive with 7 year warranty, designed for extreme temp cycling, then I will be impressed and not before.

    Enterprise hard drives in a laptop will surprise you. They do not last as long as you think they might, when subjected to extreme temp cycles. There is no such thing as a laptop that does not provide an extreme temp cycling environment for a hard drive, which will greatly stress that hard drive and greatly shorten its life.

    I agree with this article - buy RED - but I would qualify that statement with never buy GREEN or BLUE ever for any purpose. These latter drives have been expressly designed to skirt the fringes of mechanical failure as close as possible - they are designed to last on average no longer than they need too, which translates to - guaranteed to fail rather often. Yes the premium of the RED drive is worth it, but that premium exists only because the GREEN and BLUE crappy drives exist at all. There would be NO premium if the RED drives were the lowest quality drive offered.

  • kyuu - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Yeah! Let's only buy the manufacturer's most expensive products! That'll show 'em!


    Anyway, any data showing these supposed super-high failure rates among the green/blue lines, or just ranting and anecdotes? Besides, in laptops, most people are getting whatever the OEM stuck in it. And there's no magical solution to notebook cooling, especially with the drive towards thinner and lighter. You just have to be prepared for the inevitable failure of an HDD. It's a sealed mechanical device -- it will fail.
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    The original hard drive in the laptop can be replaced from the start and then every so often replace it before it fails (possibly if you are lucky).

    There is data out there, but what I am talking about is my own experimentation and testing and experience. GREEN AND BLUE suck like you cannot believe. It is all quite logical really - 24/7 certification means the ability to provide reliability despite heavier work loads and temp cycling. All I did was to understand what lack of this certification means, and test under those conditions. It means marginal reliability by definition, but also this marginal reliability feature element is overtly engineered into the drive by designing for lower cost using purposefully minimalist mechanical constructions. They build for less and then charge less. The problem is they have gone too far, and are deluding themselves that it is an acceptable approach to achieve the bottom line, but in reality their definition of less is too low a level of quality causing a high turn over in failures. We fall for the lie, and believe we can live with less.

    It is not about sticking it to them by buying their more expensive product, but rather about buying what you need instead of letting their marketing making you believe what you think you need. Savvy. Caveat Emptor - you take control of what you need to have, and stop them sticking it to you. Yes, and what you need definitely costs more. Then again one could just become a victim of failing trash, where one spends days recovering from a crash.

    24/7 certification means the ability to provide reliability despite heavier work loads and temp cycling. Is there any reason for settling for less - I don't think so. Even a laptop needs his level of reliability as user data really is that important.
  • Watwatwat - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    whats for certain is that even their greens need cooling, i've had green external drives, and running seatools tests on them they get toasty, i popped the plastic usb case off after running the test and guess what, the drive was almost too hot to touch. thats a green drive!

    sold with 1 year warranty by western digital, in a usb case with no ventilation, again, its not so green if its made to die early.

    they couldn't even be bothered to include a few holes n the plastic case for even a little air flow..
  • Peroxyde - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Sorry for the silly questions, but can you please explain if there would be any harmful effects if the WD Red is used in the following scerarios? If not suitable, what would you advise to use instead? The goal is good reliability, storage capacity, performance is desirable but not the highest criteria.

    1. As standalone Hard drive (the only HD in the computer)
    2. In external USB enclosure, USB 3.0
    3. As second HD, just for storage

    Thanks in advance for any advice
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Good reliability and low power consumption is my first criteria, but the latter cannot be used to sacrifice the former. Both criteria lead to longer life cycles. The lower power GREEN and BLUE drives are designed with an eye towards rather low cycle life, and therefore low power as a criteria for these drives makes no sense whatsoever. It seems the only way to get reliability is to stay away from cheap low end consumer hard drives which is most of the drives out there.

    To me I do not differentiate between standalone, external storage, second hard drive, desktop or laptop, as these all demand good reliability and low power consumption for the best possible price. Performance is the next important criteria, but it is a fallacy to expect good performance from a 5400 rpm low power drive, and I no reason why the minimum spindle speed should not be 7200 rpm. Lower spindle speeds appear largely in the realm of low end consumer drives where reliability is very poor. Hard drive crashes plague the computer world because the majority of products are bad in the extreme, long lasting cheap consumer drives in some configurations notwithstanding. Just because someone says that they obtained a 3 year life span with cheap consumer drives, does not make them good drives generally, because that long life example is not typical for the majority of real world usage conditions. I now have a lower boundary criteria - "if it does not last in a laptop then it is not good for any purpose bar none".

    So all this translates to never buy anything less than 7200 rpm to ensure a good shot at performance, and search for good drive designs with the lowest power consumption to have a good shot at longer life spans in any situation. Picking a low power drive simply to achieve low power drain, is more often than not the same thing as purposely selecting a LOW quality drive in terms of performance and cycle life, and such a definite requirement is very rare indeed. Why bother - extremes of low power means low performance, and often also very short cycle life.

    There is very rarely a situation which does not demand extremes of temp cycling of the hard drives, which is what will lead to shorter life spans and hence poor reliability. I have come to the conclusion the classifications of standalone, external storage, 2nd drive, laptop, etc are not particularly useful if reliability and performance are important - and since when are these never important. These classifications have become justifications by the manufacturers for designing - "only as good as needed" devices. It is an excuse for designing crap product

    Western Digital BLACK or RED is a minimal consumer drive quality level to be used in any application, and anything less reliable should never be graced with your dollars. Less reliable drives lasting for years in some particular situations is largely a myth - it happens only if certain criteria are meet, namely, low loads and small temp cycling, which rarely occurs in the real world of consumer computing. When looking at Western Digital drives, always stay away from GREEN and BLUE drives, simply because components are designed to last only under certain special conditions, and I believe these special operating conditions in practical terms are just a myth. In essence these manufacturers (marketing honchos) give credence to conditions of "LOW THERMAL CYCLING", which they then decree is a significant portion of the market place, when in reality it really does not exist, and only gives them an excuse to design "only as good as needed" devices. The existence of the low quality drives permits them to charge more than they normally could for the better drives. Don't believe the hype, the more expensive drives are required for good reliability and performance. apparently good news about GREEN and BLUE drives notwithstanding.

    Don't ever buy too cheap, if you want to avoid repeated disk crashes, and there is nothing wrong with periodically replacing working drives with new ones periodically to avoid the inevitable disk crashes. Even good drives eventually fail. If the manufacturer specifies a 3y warranty, then replace the drives every 2 years.

    You asked for advise on selecting drives, but what I am giving you really reads as a recipe for spending more money. You will not regret it.

    What does "Drives certified for 24/7 really mean?" It means better able to handle temperature cycling arising from inadequate cooling or heavier loads, while still permitting reasonable cycle life. Reliability comes from 24/7 certification, with drives designed to handle extremes in both peak temperature and temp cycle, and drives not so certified belong to the mythical world of operating conditions where thermal cycling is less important. I have to realize all situations require 24/7 certification and to believe otherwise is a risky business.

    So buy BLACK drives for all your applications as a minimum and occasionally you will need RED for better reliability. Personally I reckon RED only for me after prices have settled in the months ahead. I wonder if they make 2.5" RED drives.
  • Peroxyde - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Thank you very much for the thorough explanation. With too much emphasis on NAS usage with the Red, I am still wondering if technically they can still function as a single drive outside of a NAS. Should people who don't have NAS device avoid buying the RED drives?

    Let's try a real example:

    USB 3.0 External Drive: I hesitate between Caviar Black 1 TB, 5 years warranty, $100 et WD Red 2 TB, 3 years warranty $140. I am torn between the 5 years warranty of the black and the 2TB of the red. Reliability is the most important. This external drive will travel often and will be frequently powered on/off. What would you choose?
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    BLACK is cheaper but quality is a lot better than GREEN and BLUE, and BLACK may well be a good choice reliability wise.

    If RED is good for multi-drive RAID.operation, then it is definitely very good in terms of reliability in single drive applications. The 5 year warranty on BLACK seems a better deal right now. RED is new and needs time to unravel its true nature. BLACK has 300,000 load/unload cycles while RED is rated at 1,000,000, but the BLACK drive draws a lot less power. I would go with BLACK's 5y warranty instead of RED's 3y warranty

    Make sure you have enough cooling and you know the drive's temperature during heavy loads.

  • Peroxyde - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Cool thx. BTW, In the example above Black is not cheaper. It costs $100/TB while the Red is $140 for 2TB. I'll follow your advice, will buy the 1TB Black for now. Reply
  • - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    I have just read the SPCR review of RED drives, and these may well be a better choice all round over the BLACK drives, especially given the energy efficiency numbers, and the fact that 7200 rpm drives are not able to consistently outperform these 5400 rpm RED drives.

    Note that the 1T RED drive performance is quite a lot less than the 3TB drive, but is more energy efficient. The 3TB performance is good.

    That RED 3y warranty is likely based on a NAS configuration (a harsher environment), which means a standalone drive is likely approaching a 5y warranty equivalent. I am beginning to change my mind on that BLACK drive purchase even with that 5y warranty.
  • Watwatwat - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    Of course they function like any other drive outside of nas.

    worrying too much about reliability misses the point, you should buy two because one will fail with your data, its just a given, you need backup. don't buy yourself a false sense of security.
  • - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    I agree. Use that 2nd hard drive to replace the 1st drive BEFORE the warranty runs out, regardless of whether the 1st drive still seems OK.

    When you buy higher reliability drives this is not false security, just good business. False security is when one fails to also use backups.

    Using backups, and hope that cheap GREEN and BLUE drives will be mitigated is a false hope. Recover from a failure is invariably always a very expensive proposition.

    Isn't buying two the point about satisfying that worry? Backups are always a pain, cost money and time, and are painful when you have to resort to using them. Changing drives early invariably affords less pain.
  • SunLord - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    WD Red is un-gimped Raid friendly version of Green drive just like the RE drives are un-gimped raid friendly versions of Black drives. The only real differences between Red and Green is the firmwares they ship with having different settings the internals are all identical just like it is with Black and RE drives. I will admit the I've not taken apart a red drive but I have taken apart a Black and RE 1TB drives made with in 3 weeks of each other and they were 100% identical save for the stickers any Reply
  • - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    And yet experience under load yields a different result, despite the fact that they look the same inside. There is something else afoot here besides firmware. Reply
  • Dzban - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    1. Any good recent 7200 RPM drive
    3.same but you could use "green" type drive if you would store
    not frequentlyu used files like media
  • - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    The term "not frequently used drive" reveals nothing about usage. A single usage event could last for 30 minutes. Doing this once a day qualifies as not frequently used. However during that single event power dissipation could cause temperature to rise very high, and this extreme thermal cycling dramatically reduces hard drive life cycle. The low power drive causes peak temperature to be high due to inadequate cooling due to the drive's physical construction in part. So what does "low power and not so frequently used drive" really mean. Typically it means low quality, low reliability and dubious low power capability.

    Just focus on good quality drives from the start in all situations and spend the money to make life more simple. GREEN OR BLUE drives are just not worthwhile for any application. Open one up and take a look. BLACK is better so use it everywhere. RED appears to be better yet, so maybe we should use that one in every situation instead.

    ECO drives are not worthwhile.
  • probedb - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    Odd, I had a Blue running as the OS drive in a server for 2-3 years without failure before I replaced with with an SSD.

    Open one up? What would that tell us exactly?
  • - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    Yip it happens - depends on temps and temp cycling. Proves nothing, except that you likely did not drive them particular hard. One guy got 3y with a GREEN in a server.

    I ran two Blues in a laptop and these only lasted approximately a year each. All depends on what these drives are being subject to on the one hand, and how well they can take on the other hand.

    I monitor drive temps all the time - like watching the fuel gauge on my car - and I know at all times how hard they are being driven. I make sure they always have the best possible environment to operate in because they will be driven hard. I have far less trouble with BLACK drives.
  • - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    A Blue drive for an OS drive in a server with low temp cycling will last that long. The thermal environment is what makes it last. The drive is not however designed for temp exceeding 45C with extremes of thermal cycling.

    Good drives consider elements such as: Stiffness of components; thickness of magnetic coating on the discs; cooling design, electronic design, firmware. To the trained eye you will see a big difference in design between say a BLUE drive and a BLACK drive.
  • _niko_ - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    According to WD since i mailed them asking a few questions regarding this straight after the pressrelease.

    Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support. My name is Michael.

    The WD Red drive is designed to fit into a particular niche in the market. These drives were designed to be compatible with RAID enclosures of 2-4 bays. The list of tested and supported RAID enclosures are included below.

    1. Synology, QNAP, D-Link, Drobo, Netgear, and Thecus.

    2. It would be best to contact these enclosure makers for a list of specific models campatible with WD Red drives.

    The WD Red drive is built on Green technology, this is not a RE or Enterprise class drive. There is no TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) enabled on this family of drive. TLER is used only in our RE or Enterprise class drives. These drives are not designed to be used in Enterprise environments.

    The drive has four means of error recovery:
    1. ECC On-the-Fly
    2. Preamp Thermal Asperity (TA) Compensation
    3. Read/Write Retry Procedure
    4. Extended Read Retry Procedure

    The heads do park after 8 seconds using our No Touch Ramp Load Technology.
    Parks the recording heads off the disk surface during spin up, spin down and when the drive is off.
    This ensures the recording head never touches the disk surface resulting in improved long term
    reliability due to less head wear, and improved non-operational shock tolerance.

    If you have any further questions, please reply to this email and we will be happy to assist you further.

    Western Digital Service and Support
  • - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    And what did you learn from that WD response? Not a whole lot. A RED drive is certified for 1,000,000 load cycles, while GREEN, BLUE, BLACK are significantly less, so how could they possibly be based on the same so called GREEN technology. Pure marketing hype nothing more is what WD sprouted forth.

    Ipso facto the RED drive cannot be built on GREEN technology. It just sounds nice. 1,000,000 load cycles is a lot different from what the GREEN drive is capable of, and it certainly has much more to do with hardware technology than just plain firmware tweaks.

    The Enterprise RE4 and XE drives are rated at only 60% of the load/unload cycles of the RED drive (600,000 as compared with 1,000,000). RED is not GREEN technology - sorry WD - at least not in terms of what's in the GREEN drive per se, and as much as WD would like us to believe RED is not suited to ENTERPRISE loads, they are simply just lying. Warranties differ 3y as against 5y between RED and Enterprise, and what enterprise drives are paying for is the higher warranty and commitment WD offers (plus slightly better hardware).

    I suspect RED would do just fine in an enterprise environment, just need to change them out more often in line with the 3y warranty, and you would still be saving money. I bet that 5y warranty on BLACK is going to be phased out pronto.

    These companies think we are stupid, and in reality these drives jockeying for different markets is sprinkled with a lot of marketing effluvia. I would rather listen to the engineers but they are not allowed to speak.

    Comparing RED to Enterprise RE4 specs I would take the RED anytime despite the lower 3y warranty, where the latter offers 66% more load/unload cycles, draws much less power, and offers 70C operating temps rather than 55C. Imagine lower power and 15C higher operating temp limit. Looks like a good Enterprise drive to me. What WD really meant by RED drives not being designed for enterprise environment is really this: "You have not payed the premium for 5y warranty therefore we will not support it in that application". Who cares, we intend to forcibly replace them before the warranty is up anyway.

    I like these RED drives from what I can see at first blush, and I fully intend to use them in Enterprise environments without asking for WD permission. I am a programmer, so my NAS drive is always operating in an Enterprise environment loading scenario. My servers will be upgraded to RED.

    I hope they make 2.5" RED drives so I can replace my BLACK drive with a RED drive in my laptop.

  • DLeRium - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    Comparing a RED drive against any other drive is pointless unless its the WD Green. What you're trying to establish is whether a new "NAS" specific drive has any benefits.

    The Green drive already represents a 5400 rpm storage drive that's popular in NAS applications. YOu could compare against other drives such as the Seagate or Hitachi or Samsung green drives, but differences could be attributed to how good the drive is to begin with. A WD Green drive is the correct benchmark.

    What the hell did I learn when you benched against a 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda? NOTHING. You could've benched a WD Green against a 7200rpm Seagate or Samsung 2TB against a 7200 rpm drive.

    I realize HD reviews aren't AT's specialty, but if you read StorageReview's WD Red review, at least it makes sense. You need to be making logical comparisons.

    I'm sure people look for BMW 335 reviews are also comparing it heads up against a Prius. Ugh.
  • DLeRium - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    better yet you could've compared Red vs Green vs Blue vs Black. Reply
  • andersenep - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    I've been using the WD green drives in my file server for over 4 years now. Initially, I did not know to disable the intellipark feature with the wdidle utility, and racked up some ridiculous load cycle counts (about 150k) on my first four 1TB drives. Despite this, the drives lasted over 2 years before I replaced them with 2TB drives for more space; not because the drives had problems. I still use those same drives in a RAID 10 two more years later on my desktop.

    I really don't see any reason to spend $50-80 more a drive for a "feature" I can enable/disable myself. I've read so much negative stuff on using WD green drives in RAID/NAS, but I haven't had any issues personally.

    Seriously, $50 (2TB) to $80 (3TB) more per drive for what?? No thanks. I'll take the cheapest, low power drives and regular backups any day. Hasn't done me wrong yet. I also have a bunch of Samsung green drives that have performed just as admirably as the WDs for even cheaper (on sale).
  • - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    This works fine as long as you can control drive temperatures, and minimize excessive thermal cycling. One important element of the RED drives is that they are rated to 70C operating temperature instead of the usual 55C, so these drives are going to be more reliable.

    It is possible this higher temp capability may trickle down to future cheaper drives making your approach even more viable.
  • andersenep - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - link

    An 80mm and 120mm fan keep them idling at about 36C (and they are pretty quiet about it) in a relatively cramped case. Even under extreme prolonged load I would be surprised if they ever got over 55C. My thermostat stays at 25C/78F.

    As for thermal cycling, I admit that I leave the thing running 24/7 which probably costs me a pretty penny over the long haul. I keep meaning to plug it into my killawatt out of curiousity.

    I wouldn't mind paying a little extra for the 3 year warranty, but for what these things cost I could buy a couple green hot spares and still come out $150 ahead (using 2TB drives).

    For a home NAS, green is the way to go. Just turn off intellipark. If you're leery of all the bad hype with the WD green drives, samsungs cost the same price and I've had good luck with those for about two years as well now. If you are using any sort of mass storage without a reasonable level of redundancy and regular backups you are just asking for trouble.

    I was moderately interested when the red line was announced, but I can't see any added benefits that justify the premium price.
  • - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Your sentiments will be shared by others, thus keeping RED drive volumes low, and this will lead WD to drop prices to where they are supposed to be.
    Just wait a while and watch.

    Hard drives exceeding 45C start to fall off rapidly in terms of cycle life, while the RED drives may perform as well with temps reaching as high as 55C. The RED drives below 45C are likely to last a very long time with load/unload cycles of 600,000 matching Enterprise drives.
  • quanta - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    It isn't so much the testing methodology is flawed, but the reviewed drive model for the Seagate drive. Seagate has been making 7200rpm Barracuda with 1TB platters (non-XT) for quite some time, yet only the 500GB platter version of Barracuda XT is used in this review. If Barracuda XT must be used for the test, it should be the 3TB version, which has slightly higher density (600GB), or the Seagagte Constellation ES.2 counterpart. Reply
  • quanta - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Never mind the 2TB claim, the test did use the 3TB drive. But still, the tested Seagate drives have such huge density disadvantage, it's disappointing that Barracuda XT/Constellation ES don't have the new terabyte platter models. Reply
  • stoked - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Just ordered 14 of these for a Supermicro 24 drive bay chassis. Crossing fingers we won't have any issues with the LSI 2108 controller and these drives. Reply
  • - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link


    The secret is in the technology.
    WD’s exclusive NASware technology improves NAS storage performance by reducing common hard drive concerns in NAS systems including concerns for things like compatibility, integration, upgrade ability, reliability and cost of ownership that are experienced with a hard drive designed for desktop computers. Our exclusive technology, NASware™, makes WD Red thrive in the demanding small-NAS environment.

    NASware Enhanced reliability.
    Your NAS systems is always on, a highly reliable drive is essential. With a 35% MTBF improvement over standard desktop drives, the WD Red drive is designed and manufactured to be a more reliable and robust solution.

    NASware 3D Active Balance Plus.
    Our enhanced dual-plane balance control technology significantly improves overall drive performance and reliability. Hard drives that are not properly balanced may cause excessive vibration and noise in a multidrive system, reduce the hard drive life span, and degrade the performance over time.

    ================ WD speaks with forked tongue ====================
    So now we have a better balanced drive to reduce noise, vibration and improve drive life cycle. Are we made to believe this requirement of RED drives is only needed in a 24/7 NAS environment? This is rubbish, balanced drives are needed everywhere.

    Desktops running for 8 hours every day is certainly ON for a long time and qualifies as 24/7. But is it not also true that unbalanced drives in a desktop will also reduce drive cycle life? So why is it OK to put such unbalanced drives in desktops which are expected to last just as long as NAS systems? Why is it OK to put a lower quality drive in a desktop and insist a better quality drive is needed for NAS.

    Pure Crap. Desktop drive cycle life is just as important. Why is it OK to increase the risk of a drive crash on a desktop, while one goes to great pains to reduce this risk on a NAS system?


    Western Digital is admitting that GREEN and BLUE drives are CRAP and not suitable for desktops, in part because they are not suitably balanced. Or put another way, they have designed the cheaper drives to be less balanced by design, and dictate that desktops will be subjected to higher reliability risks in terms of disk crashes. By their own admission inadequately balanced drives lead to reduced cycle life. In reality there is no difference between NAS and DESKTOPS in terms of needed cycle life, and what is plainly obvious is that RED drives really constitute a MINIMAL quality for desktop too.

    MARKETING BROO HA HA - just another fancy term for Corporate lying.


    What we need is a way of measuring drive balance quality in hard drives, and stick it to them when reviewing these hard drives. We need to be able to measure the WOBBLE FACTOR to gain control over drive quality assessments.
  • Hot_Jane - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    If these "red" drives are so much better, and more durable, than their "black" drives... why do the "reds" have a 2 *YEAR* shorter warranty????

    (anandtech foolishly compares warranties only on the drives that are even LESS than the "reds".)
  • Casper42 - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    Sale today on Red
    $149 / 3TB
    Limit 3
  • andrewket - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    I followed your link. I'm showing $169/ea. Is there a coupon code I need to use? Reply
  • Brian Carter - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    As a photographer I'm concerned at the low throughput of the NASPT photo album. Why is the throughput so low? Reply
  • No Saint - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    How reliable is RED for use as an OS drive (Main drive). I got to ask cause, where I live to most shops warranty means squat as they still charge me for RMA of drives over 1 year.

    There is only 1 shop where which doesn't charge me for RMA for hardwares over 1year period. I would prefer to get Black Caviar 2tb but its out of stock and their supplier told them they are unable to get new ones since for now, I am seriously think of getting RED 3tb as its about same price range.

    I do download a lot, plenty of drives in past died quickly under a year. That includes Seagates, Maxtors, even Western Digital Blue and Western Digital Externals. Only drive that is reliable so far is Caviar black surviving over 2.5 years. Could I go for RED as an OS as I am going to install Windows 8 or should I bite the bullet and spent more cash on RE drives which IMO are rather expensive right now for 2tb.
  • cyriouslydylan - Thursday, November 29, 2012 - link

    As of this posting, getting a 2TB Red drive is only about $10 more on amazon than getting a 1TB black drive. Would there be any problem using a Red drive in a standard desktop environment? Reply
  • nico82 - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    would you recommend this HDD also for "normal use" (second HDD in a desktop system)? I'm looking for a internal HDD to save multimedia files (OS running on SSD), and I was oriented on a WD Green, then I saw this one.

    If you recommend it, does it need to be configured by internal/external tool? How?

    Thank you very much

  • CambridgeAudio - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - link

    What does it mean "time to complete transaction" in the article. Time for the transaction of 4kB?

    How can you tell by just looking at the numbers on top of these disks if they run 1 tb or 750 gb platters?

    Btw WD tech support is useless. I ask a well defined question. All you get back is their marketing talk. What horrible tech-support is that?
  • Shiitaki - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - link

    What I am most interested in isn't raw performance, anyone interested in raw performance would build their own nas using real computer parts, not the toy atom cpus found in Nology/etc. The question is will the drive be reliable 3 years from now? Does the hard drive vibrate? I'm not talking about a fussy nit picky thing, I'm talking about will it shake my entire tower and desk like the last pair of Wester Digital Black drives I had did? I'm using WD blues atm and I can reach over and feel them vibrating the side panel of a 30lb steel computer case, despite being mounted using vibration isolators. When drives used to cost 200 and up, seems they were much better made. It's great to buy a drive for 100 bucks, or is it? Maybe the 150 bucks that a Red costs is the price of a well made drive, or is it a 100 dollar drive with a fat profit margin? That's what would have been interesting to find out. Reply

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