WD Reds, the CMR SMR fiasco

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by tommage1, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    As most know WD changed the 2-6TB current model 3.5 reds to SMR without informing the public. Which caused a lot of grief. The EFAX models. Now they are doing something new. The SMR EFAX 2-6TB models are still marketed as Reds. But they have "rereleased" the EFRX Reds, they now call them "Red Plus". And are CMR, as the EFRX always was. And they have the "Red Pro" model which is CMR. So when buying a 3.5 WD Red 2-6TB you have 3 "choices" now, the Red, the Red Plus and the Red Pro. This is really fun huh? Stick with the Purples for Tivo or better yet IMO the Seagate Skyhawk.

    IMO they should have the Red and Red Pro like they always did, CMR, and the Red "Minus", the SMR Reds ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  2. kdmorse

    kdmorse Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    Honestly, once they screwed with the line, breaking SMR and CMR lines out into two differently named lines was the right thing to do. It causes some confusion for those who weren't following along (a drive bought as a Red, that was CMR, is now considered a Red Plus, but of course the label on the drive hasn't magically changed). But the end result is perfectly straightforward. Except, for old stock and entries that still exist on websites from before the renaming. ;)
     
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  3. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but IMO they should just get rid of the SMR Reds period. You pay for a premium specialty drive, you get CMR. SMR for desktop/laptop/storage only. There are many blanket recommendations in TC for WD Reds. Which USED to be ok. But now, with the new naming procedure, a "Red" will be SMR. Only "Red Plus" or "Red Pro" will be CMR. I think it is true for all capacities too, even the 8TB and up, and under 2TB (looks like the 2.5 1TB is now called "Plus" also.) As you say, there is going to be confusion with old stock and used drives. Which is why I will stick with Seagate, as long as pricing is the same or close. Good luck to those new to group looking for drive recommendations, going to see a lot of blanket "Red" posts, I know some people got stuck with the SMR reds already, before WD "confessed" so no one knew why they didn't work.
     
  4. UCLABB

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

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    I noticed some sales on the Red Pro and wondered what was up. Thanks for the heads up, but of course I’ll forget which is which if and when I need a new drive.
     
  5. UCLABB

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

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    I was going to recommend a red (that’s what I used about a year ago) to someone a few days ago on the forum and thought better if it because I knew there were some new issues with smr. I’m glad I backed off.
     
  6. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    Yeah, the big issue is that they already screwed the pooch with the sneaky garbage they pulled with the Reds BEFORE they started changing the names. There are THOUSANDS of SMR Reds out there (maybe many more), and MILLIONS of PMR Reds out there that we used to use and recommend. Now you cannot believe anything that might be said for <6TB WD Red drives - the only intelligent thing for me is to TOTALLY AVOID ANY WD RED drive except for any I already owned BEFORE the cheating started. And to be safe, I now avoid any and ALL WD branded drives.
     
  7. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    You mean CMR, the term PMR now includes SMR and CMR.
     
  8. wizwor

    wizwor Well-Known Member

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    How does one distinguish good from bad Red disks? Is there a list of models? Is the cmr/smr info on the box?
     
  9. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    For NOW the only SMR are the 2-6TB EFAX models.
     
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  10. kdmorse

    kdmorse Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    Going forward, it will be easy. If it says "WD Red", it's SMR. If it says "WD Red Plus", it's CMR.

    upload_2020-10-19_19-51-53.png

    If you look at the series of part numbers however, you can see where WD pulled the shenanigans. The EFAX line contains a mix of SMR and CMR drives. Before the SMR/CMR /Plus renaming and WD coming clean, there was no way to know, because WD was being cagey about it.
    If you have a new drive, it should be advertised/labeled correctly. If you have an old drive (which was purchased before the renaming), check the chart above for the part number.

    In the end, WD learned it's lesson and will never again - *snort* - can't say that with a straight face. They've since been caught slipping crippled 7200rpm drives into their 5400rpm line, renaming them "5400 rpm class", all the performance of a 5400rpm drive, all the noise and speed of a 7200rpm drive.
     
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  11. wizwor

    wizwor Well-Known Member

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    Still confused. In December of 2018 and May of 2019, I purchased WD30EFRX drives which are installed in my Roamio/OTAs. These are CMR, right? And that is good, right?
     
  12. kdmorse

    kdmorse Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    Yes and Yes.

    Now, that said, we're all talking about SMR drive like they're Satan incarnate, they're not. If they had been properly identified and marketed, there wouldn't be a kerfluffle here. Their sustained write rates are more that sufficient for both DVR and even home nas use. The CMR area is more than capable of coalescing the random writes into shingles to be committed to the SMR area. In most cases, you might not even notice the difference. Even Raid-5 rebuilds work fine, in most cases not taking any longer than normal because most NAS's throttle the rebuild rate. (And even if it did take longer, do most people really know how long a RAID-5 rebuild *should* take?)

    They were really only caught because their (DM-SMR specific) firmware had a bug in it. The bug interacted badly with ZFS reslivering. So not only did it resliver badly, it then errored out and rejected the drive, and the ZFS folks were determined to get to the bottom of why. Had that bug not been there, they might have gotten away with it (for a lot longer at least).

    Like QLC SSD's, or 'read intensive' (aka write averse) SSDs, there's a place in the world for a cheaper, less capable product if it still suites your needs. But by trying to sneak it in, being both technically dishonest and marketingly evasive, they managed to burn a spectacular reputation to the ground in one swell foop.
     
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  13. wizwor

    wizwor Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the clarification. i'm relieved...and lucky, I guess.
     
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  14. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    That is very interesting. Explains why it did not work with certain NAS. It also did not work with TE4 Tivos, got 4 flashing lights. From what I have read it partially worked with TE3 Tivo, but one person says failed in under a year. So my question is this, have they fixed that firmware bug? If someone buys a current 2-6TB SMR EFAX will it work in all NAS? And can someone update the firmware on one of the drives that had the error? If so, the people here who got stuck with the SMR Red could update the firmware and possibly use the drive in a Tivo (though for me I still prefer CMR for Tivos). If they come back and find out what went wrong, I know some gave up and just bought a drive from Weaknees (or another model drive).
     
  15. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    The poster was referring to a bug regarding software in relation to Z File System, not any other file system, so traditional RAID is not affected by his cited software bug, only RAID-Z.

    However, while I could be mistaken, I had read that even traditional RAID has also suffered eventual failures, specifically upon reslivering that took up to a week or more and then eventually failed. Although the biggest failures occurred at Enterprise levels, which suggests ZFS likely employed, but I thought traditional RAID also failed, but I could be mistaken.

    Sometimes a tip-off to an HDD being SMR is its larger cache compared to a CMR. Almost always the larger cache is gonna mean an SMR.

    FWIW, I've never bothered putting WD Reds in any TiVo. Instead, I used the old Greens and later A/V WD HDD's and they are living long and well in my TiVo's so far.

    Most recently, I have been using WD Purple (was clearly spec'd as CMR at the time), which is specifically marketed by WD as their "surveillance" HDD, meaning multi-camera DVR/NVR surveillance systems, so a 2, 4, or 6 tuner TiVo easily falls into that category. I have been pleased with them so far, and have full confidence in them even if only because they are CMR and 5400rpm, which, IMHO, is easily the preference for DVR of all types. I have HDD's in TiVos that have LONG outlived their warranties. While the WD Purples offer only a 3 year warranty, I'm guessing that WD is being conservative in covering themselves as WD claims the Purple can handle up to 64 cameras per HDD, so a 4 or 6 tuner TiVo isn't going to be nearly as punishing on the WD Purple. I would expect WD Purple's life in a TiVo to be plenty long enough.

    As a personal matter, I will just avoid SMR in all cases except for archival, a use which makes SMR a decent and economical application.

    Which brings me to my concerns for an HDD for TiVo: I never cared to go a RAID class WD Red when a CMR at 5400RPM is most likely the more important specs than sticking a RAID class HDD in a DVR, especially with the Red's higher cost (and I understand and support other people choosing to use the CMR WD Reds in a TiVo; it is a great HDD for TiVos, just not one that, for me, seems necessary), and from my experience, not getting that much in return considering I have non-RAID HDD's in all my TiVo's and they have lasted at or beyond 7 years, or passed their warranties by a number of years.

    On the other hand, if I had been building a RAID, then, yes, a WD Red--at that time, anyway--is the wise choice as those drives do have a few more specs that suit the RAID use.

    Of course, the other big HDD brands had also been concealing the fact that certain HDD's were SMR, so WD was not alone: it was an industry practice/deception. I find nothing wrong with a requirement that HDD's to be clearly labled as "SMR" or "CMR" at the very least, and then let the consumer decide. While SMR have cost benefits and could be considered superior in archival use of HDD's, SMR's do come with fatal compromises in other uses.
     
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  16. kdmorse

    kdmorse Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    TE4 has it's own, inexplicable (unless someone managed to figure it out while I wasn't looking) sensitivities to certain drives. There are lots of drives that work fine in TE3, that no longer work in TE4, and SMR/CMR is not necessarily involved. I don't think anyone got to the bottom of it, but I wouldn't blame SMR on that one. But the firmware bug in the SMR Reds would have nothing to do with Tivos booting or not with them installed.

    There's nothing specific to SMR drives that should make them fail spectacularly quickly, even in Tivo workloads. However, there have been some crappy drives, that happened to be SMR (and not even stealth SMR). It was just, a bad line of drives, which unfortunately made it into a lot of Tivos.

    Would a SMR EFAX work in a NAS, yes. Would it be the best choice (or even a good choice)..... probably not. Above all else, you're going to take a pretty big hit on sustained writes, like copying a very large file to it, it'll start up just fine, then fill the CMR tracks, start doing synchronous writes to the SMR area, and run like crap until it's caught up. I wouldn't recommend putting money into a build a big nas, then kneecapping it with a SMR drive. Would it be supported, quite possibly not, for example (unless they've changed things) Synology does not have any of the SMR Reds on its compatibility list. Things get a little stickier when you ask the question "what if a SMR Red in a Raid5/6 array dies, and it has to rebuild". The short answer is, you would be fine if there weren't a bug (which caused it to return an I/O Error - Write Failure - Drive Not Ready - if it got too far behind ). So you put on the firmware that fixes the bug. But at this point WD has blown the most important thing it had, trust. Now, you're almost certainly still fine, even with the bug (in a Raid5/6 NAS with linux under the covers unless you've tinkered with rebuild rates suicidaly). And do you trust they fully fixed the bug, or got all the bugs, in a fairly new technology? Why roll those dice. The answer is don't.

    ZFS is kinda an entirely different kettle of fish. Resliver times will be *atrocious* on a SMR drive. Then add the bug, and they are likely to fail completely. Then as the drive *lies* to the OS about what sort of drive it is so that ZFS can't even alter it's behavior to adapt. Noone's going to trust a WD SMR drive in a ZFS environment for a long, long, long time.
     
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  17. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    That is true, it was/still can be difficult to find out what drives are CMR or SMR. For me though the BIG issue with WD is they did it with Reds, which are premium/specialty/more expensive drives. Desktop/Laptop/Archive/General purpose drives, yeah not cool to change to SMR without documentation. But at least most would work for those purposes. To switch a premium specialty drive to SMR really bad, and in this case does not work for certain NAS (and for other applications, like TE4 Tivos). Some new naming convention is necessary since it appears they are going to keep selling the 2-6TB EFAX SMR models. But now all "reds" will be SMR. Have to buy "Red Plus" to get CMR. But all "Red Plus" is just what "Red" used to be before the 2-6TB SMR EFAX. Maybe a marketing strategy, people will pay more for a drive called a "Plus" even though it's the same as the the previous generation Red? Wish they had kept "Red" as CMR like it was, rename the SMR Reds to something like "Red /S" or even use a new color, "Brown" would be appropriate in my eyes ;)

    And yes, myself I've been recommending Purples for those who like WD for Tivos for quite awhile now. They do have AV firmware, Tivo is an AV device, not a NAS though the CMR Reds did and still will work. However same thing COULD have happened, WD could have changed some purples to SMR without informing public. Fortunately they did not, they did the Reds. For now.
     
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  18. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Well I don't know of any CMR drives that don't work with TE4 (or TE3), Obviously I have not tested all CMR drives with TE4........... But the only "CMR" drive that I know of that was reported to not work with TE4 was some Red models. And they turned out to be the SMR 2-6TB EFAX. Are there other CMR drives that don't work with TE4 (Sata to Sata if doing external, no Esata where some chipsets can fail even with a CMR drive), I don't know of any PERSONALLY. If you know any CMR drive that is reported not to work with TE4 (and is Sata to Sata if external) I'd be interested to know. Maybe I will check the thread about drives that DON'T work with TE4, but will have to sort out those tried externally with ESata.

    I'll stick with CMR for all Tivo, TE3 or TE4. I'll stick with Sata to Sata for external, even though SOME Sata to ESata do work. And if going with current model WD it will be Purple. But lean towards Seagate now, due to the WD shenanigans.
     
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  19. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    This is a wonderful detailed post and I pretty much agree with all of it. While WD Reds (at least before the SMR models) would work with Tivos I don't think they were ever the BEST choice. For current model specialty firmware drives the AV drives best. If want to get into discontinued models any generic/non specific firmware CMR drive, those are mostly what I am using (cheaper than the current specialty drives by far in most cases). The only "Reds" I use are 8-12TBs I shucked from Easystores. Cause got 'em cheap ;) If WD had put Purples in the Easystores the Purple would probably be the recommendation of choice in TC.
     
  20. CommunityMember

    CommunityMember Active Member

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    In very large enterprises with many thousands of classic drives it is not unusual that a drive, or two, or three will fail every day. Of course, those very large enterprises may have moved to SSD/NVME from spinning rust, so the MTBF may have increased, but no drive is immune to eventual failure.

    When you reconstructed a large raid5 array due to a drive failure there is a fair chance that during the reconstruct you would eventually run into another read error on one of those other drives (a latent error), which typically causes the rebuild to fail (there are ways to mark just that block as bad, but that also requires some additional complexity as the raid array may not be aware of the filesystem). Background scrubs to look for bad blocks helped (fail the array early at the first seen problem), but sometimes that simply caused the rebuild failure to happen sooner. It is one of the reasons large enterprises moved to raid6 (raidz2 in ZFS terms), and there are now cases where three additional drives (raidz3 in ZFS terms) for redundancy are used because as drives get larger more failures may happen when it may take a week to reconstruct.

    On any large raid array there may also be "bit rot". Whether this is due to the bits being written wrong, or being read wrong (and both can happen with real world disks) does not matter, the reality is that you have to expect it over time. Not good (and perhaps worse if you reconstruct with bit rot, as you are propagating it). WALF and ZFS were some of the early file systems to include checksums, which at least identified those bad blocks. Again, background scrub was a best practice to find (and fix) errors before they became uncorrectable, and since ZFS (and WAFL) were file system aware, they could correct the individual blocks rather than having to rebuild an entire array.
     

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