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  1. Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    United States
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    There are a couple of major issues with hard drives today. People replacing external drives with fakes and returning them to the vendor and SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) on many 2TB+ drives from WD, Seagate and Toshiba.

    Sorry for the wall of text.


    All this info is from

    People are replacing the drives in internals with old/fake drives and vendors are reselling them without checking.

    The days of getting “real” WD Red NAS drives in externals are gone.

    Some/many new drives are using slower write SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) technology as a cost savings. Not only is write speed to the drives slower, but SMR drives may cause issues in NAS and RAID configurations.

    Fake drives or worse in externals

    Posters are reporting that external drives, particularly WD EasyStore/Elements which are the easiest to shuck, are having the drives removed and replaced by older drives (sometimes not working) or in one case, rocks(!), then returned to the vendor. Since most vendors, particularly BestBuy, don’t check the drive before returning it to the shelf (instore and warehouse), people are getting fake drives and sometimes being accused of replacing it themselves.

    When you buy an external drive, always check it with CrystalDiskInfo to verify that the drive is the correct size and brand (one poster got a correct size used Seagate in a WD enclosure). Also check the run hours. The Seagate drive had 13K+ hours!. Run a full diskcheck and ideally a full format to check drive is running correctly,

    It’s also recommended to video yourself opening the box and testing as proof that you didn’t replace the drive yourself.

    WD Easystore/Elements externals no longer have “real” WD Red NAS drives

    I’ve extolled the value of getting real WD Red drives (actual red label or white label) in 8TB WD Easystore/Elements in the past, but those days are gone circa end of 2018.

    Reports are that the product numbers on the drives on the current externals no longer correspond directly to the Red line. They may still be Red drives, but could be any drive from the WD line.

    In addition, it’s always been speculated that while most of those drives are overruns (Red label or private brand white label), some may be drives that didn’t pass the full testing. There’s now speculation that some 10TB+ drives are larger drives that failed testing. The firmware on these drives are changed to lock out the higher capacity.
    Edit: It's unclear whether the changed firmware may cause issues in the future.

    8TB+ externals (less so with smaller drives) are still the sweet spot at ~$15-$20/TB in the U.S., but the days of getting NAS drives for almost less than half the cost of an internal are gone.

    HDD manufacturers are using SMR on drives without buyer’s knowledge

    Some/many new drives from WD, Hitachi, Seagate and Toshiba are using SMR technology without clearly listing the drives as using it. SMR was known to be required on 16TB+ drives [edit: Incorrect, all 8TB+ WD drives are currently CMR and there are CMR 16TB+ drives. I got confused because Hitachi's 20TB drive is SMR.], but is now being used on drives as small as 1TB with a single platter (2.5” WD Blue).

    SMR, as its name states, overlaps (shingles) the tracks when writing, slowing the write process. Read speed is the same as CMR (Constant Magnetic Recording) drives.

    “The overlapping-tracks architecture complicates the writing process since writing to one track also overwrites an adjacent track. If adjacent tracks contain valid data, they must be rewritten as well.”


    For archival or general everyday use, the slower write speed isn’t usually an issue, but may affect tasks such as video capture. The slowdown is most noticeable when writing multiple small files as each file has to partially erase and re-write the previous track before adding the new one. This is especially noticeable when overwriting existing files.

    Large file transfers are less noticeable/not an issue. I get ~130-140MB/s transfer speeds to my SMR drives with multi-terabyte transfers. ~30-40MB/s transfers with small files. Slower writes of small files have always been the case even with CMR drives, but the difference is greater with SMR.
    Last edited by lingyi; 22nd May 2020 at 21:57. Reason: Clarity and additional info
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