Updated: HDD manufacturers found selling slow SMR drives unsuitable for NAS RAID environments

Humza

Posts: 665   +159
Staff member

Update (4/22): Seagate reached out to TechSpot and clarified that it does not market SMR-based hard drives as NAS drives. "Seagate confirms that we do not utilize Shingled Magnetic Recording technology (SMR) in any IronWolf or IronWolf Pro drives." The company's Barracuda 8TB (ST8000DM004) and 5TB Desktop (ST500DM000) were previously called out for using SMR without specifying the tech, however, the drives are not aimed at NAS consumers and should be treated as such.

Similarly, Toshiba's P300 4TB (HDWD240UZSVA) and 6TB (HDWD260UZSVA) desktop drives aren't directly aimed at the NAS market but they also use SMR without specifying it. In its documentation for the P300, the company says that the drive "delivers high performance for professionals," so buyers should know what they're getting before making a purchase.

This leaves Western Digital, which notes that its 2TB-6TB Red drives, aimed at NAS consumers, have device-managed SMR (DMSMR), while remaining models in the 8TB-14TB capacities use CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording).

HDDs don't usually get in the limelight these days because most of us are regularly blown away by blazingly fast SSD speeds and the associated wait for the tech to get cheaper by the dollar. Mechanical drives, however, are still just as fascinating as any other storage medium and continue to be a reliable, cheap way for storing large amounts of data such as backups and media files, alongside their widespread use in NAS environments.

In such use cases, small businesses and consumers use NAS drives that are purposely built to withstand extensive workloads, with a RAID configuration meant to ensure data reliability and integrity. These setups are also demanding of high storage performance, something which SMR technology exchanges for storage density and cost.

As Blocks & Files notes, SMR disks are meant to store more data on a disk platter than conventional magnetic recording (CMR) disks by partially overlapping write tracks, resulting in much slower write performance than a non-SMR drive. The specification is also important for buyers in determining the type of disk they need for their use case.

For NAS, SMR drives are not recommended due to their slower write speeds. We'll note that only WD's Red (2TB - 6TB) drives are being sold as NAS and desktop drives without specifying SMR in their product documentation. The other models that have been confirmed include Seagate's Barracuda 8TB (ST8000DM004) and 5TB Desktop (ST500DM000), as well as Toshiba's P300 4TB (HDWD240UZSVA) and 6TB (HDWD260UZSVA) desktop drives. Those are not the designated NAS models within the companies' product lines however.

In a follow-up report, Blocks & Files also notes a senior industry figure calling out the PC supply chain for this issue, with OEMs like HP and Dell also failing to inform customers of the cheaper but slower storage technology accompanying their new machines.

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toooooot

Posts: 1,247   +576
The more I learn about them the more I realize they are not suitable for anything, except for throwing them away when they most surely fail.
Who the **** thought that making a new more unstable technology on top of technology that is already very susceptible to failure would be a good idea?
Is HDD not the quickest failing part in a pc or laptop?
Then why the heck you are driving it further into the ground!
 
I am a victim of this exact incident I once bought a 2tb seagate external HDD and what I did was put it on my laptop as a replacement bcz at the time December 2017 2tb drives were rarely found for laptops so the moment I installed Windows it started clicking and all the it guys told me the same thing that it's renewed drive and not a new one and 2 weeks ago my laptop suddenly went into bios mode and there was no drive detected I had to go through a lot to get back my data and format the whole drive and thank God even during quarantine I managed to get an SSD from a friend I used to work for in his tech store and now I have the Kingston a400 SSD and the 2tb drive is back to being external but still clicking.
 
The more I learn about them the more I realize they are not suitable for anything, except for throwing them away when they most surely fail.
Who the **** thought that making a new more unstable technology on top of technology that is already very susceptible to failure would be a good idea?
Is HDD not the quickest failing part in a pc or laptop?
Then why the heck you are driving it further into the ground!
In my personal experience, fans and PSUs have the lowest MTBF. YMMV.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,247   +576
What PSus have you had? I have to admit I nly used Seasonic and seasonics sold under a different name, and I never had one fail one me. One is as old as 8 years, another is 5.
And the fans.. Idk, they die of course but they are so cheap compared to a decent size HDD that they re not worth mentioning as a PC part in my opinion.
Thats my main complain with new HDD. You are buying 6 tb of space, but they only set one year for warranty. needless to say we all know what is gonna go with that drive any time after one year. You cant offer storage which doesnt hold over 5 years unless it is dirty cheap. HDDs of decent size arent cheap at all.
No surprise that the sales are going down many years in a row.
I wonder what warranty they offer with drives sodl to datacenters/ three years probably? Still, that's barely worht it for any other purpose than data center.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,042   +624
Yep I've been saying for a long time the WD Red are junk and well I wouldn't touch Seagate if I were in a radiation suit. Dunno about the Toshiba but here we are. Looks like crappy tech. If you care about your data you don't support this junk.
 
Thanks for great article. Anyone know which model of the Synology nas on the top of this post? Any link to product would appreciate!
 
What PSus have you had? I have to admit I nly used Seasonic and seasonics sold under a different name, and I never had one fail one me. One is as old as 8 years, another is 5.
And the fans.. Idk, they die of course but they are so cheap compared to a decent size HDD that they re not worth mentioning as a PC part in my opinion.
Thats my main complain with new HDD. You are buying 6 tb of space, but they only set one year for warranty. needless to say we all know what is gonna go with that drive any time after one year. You cant offer storage which doesnt hold over 5 years unless it is dirty cheap. HDDs of decent size arent cheap at all.
No surprise that the sales are going down many years in a row.
I wonder what warranty they offer with drives sodl to datacenters/ three years probably? Still, that's barely worht it for any other purpose than data center.
They can be very reliable. I have never had a HDD fail and I have a 74 GB WD Raptor spinning into its 15th year. Games only, no critical data of course.
 

Markoni35

Posts: 677   +229
I bought an older version of Seagate as a side drive and was just about to buy the latest version with more cache...... thank you for the article. Turns out my older version is a lot faster.
 

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,598   +1,479
Staff member
Update (4/22): Seagate reached out to TechSpot and clarified that it does not market SMR-based hard drives as NAS drives. "Seagate confirms that we do not utilize Shingled Magnetic Recording technology (SMR) in any IronWolf or IronWolf Pro drives." The company's Barracuda 8TB (ST8000DM004) and 5TB Desktop (ST500DM000) were previously called out for using SMR without specifying the tech, however, the drives are not aimed at NAS consumers and should be treated as such.

Similarly, Toshiba's P300 4TB (HDWD240UZSVA) and 6TB (HDWD260UZSVA) desktop drives aren't directly aimed at the NAS market but they also use SMR without specifying it. In its documentation for the P300, the company says that the drive "delivers high performance for professionals," so buyers should know what they're getting before making a purchase.

This leaves Western Digital, which notes that its 2TB-6TB Red drives, aimed at NAS consumers, have device-managed SMR (DMSMR), while remaining models in the 8TB-14TB capacities use CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording).
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,247   +576
They can be very reliable. I have never had a HDD fail and I have a 74 GB WD Raptor spinning into its 15th year. Games only, no critical data of course.
Ah yes, those pre TB drives. No, I dont doubt those. But let me recall from memory: 1-4tb, often 2.5 drives, they are made of **** and sticks. Simply horrendous.
I find it sad that customers didnt get the message when most drive makers changed their warranties to 1y for most consumer drives.
I think people didnt understand that it was exactly it meant, it meant that after a year too many of them fail, and replacing them all would mean no profit for makers.
If I had money to sue them, I would force them to sell all the drives with 1y warranty stating that they are very unreliable and shouldn't be used for storing valuable information. A not for storing personal information label could work too.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,042   +624
Update (4/22): Seagate reached out to TechSpot and clarified that it does not market SMR-based hard drives as NAS drives. "Seagate confirms that we do not utilize Shingled Magnetic Recording technology (SMR) in any IronWolf or IronWolf Pro drives." The company's Barracuda 8TB (ST8000DM004) and 5TB Desktop (ST500DM000) were previously called out for using SMR without specifying the tech, however, the drives are not aimed at NAS consumers and should be treated as such.

Similarly, Toshiba's P300 4TB (HDWD240UZSVA) and 6TB (HDWD260UZSVA) desktop drives aren't directly aimed at the NAS market but they also use SMR without specifying it. In its documentation for the P300, the company says that the drive "delivers high performance for professionals," so buyers should know what they're getting before making a purchase.

This leaves Western Digital, which notes that its 2TB-6TB Red drives, aimed at NAS consumers, have device-managed SMR (DMSMR), while remaining models in the 8TB-14TB capacities use CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording).
Nice to know. Still... with Seagate's "legendary" reliability I'd hard pass on their products. And I certainly don't forget how they claimed SSDs weren't a substitute for HDDs as they didn't dev SSD products for years. Not a company worth supporting imho.
 
I had relied on WD Reds and Blacks for my customers RAID NAS's and backups. Fortunately they have been reliable drives- in 140 offices, RAID failures have been low. We've upgraded many to 8TB Reds, however over the past 2-3 years there are a number of these that were replaced with these 2-6TB WD reds and blacks. I have no idea how many are being used for backups. There's no way we will be able to justify replacing these unless they fail. Time will tell. I also can't justify to the higher powers that exist paying the premium for Enterprise Golds or HGSTs especially entire sets of pairs- sadly only unless we see a number of failures first. I probably be replacing these with the Red Pros on a case by case basis. .
I see that WD is wanting to move to this technology and recently stated that something like 50% of all its data center drives will be shingled drives by 2023.