Lawsuits and pressure precede WD clarifying which drives use SMR tech

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Western Digital (WD) came out with more forthright information this week regarding its switch to SMR technology in HDDs in certain drives (via PC Gamer). The move by WD was brought about following public pressure and criticism around the switch from conventional magnetic recording (CMR) to shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology. Several lawsuits (via Tom’s Hardware) were also filed against Western Digital regarding the switch, which may have prompted the transparency from the company.

A lawsuit filed by Hattis Law centered around accusations that WD switched the technology in WD Red NAS hard drives to SMR technology. SMR technology is generally slower than CMR and can perform significantly worse in RAID configurations.

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Synology has a more complex breakdown of SMR vs CMR technology. In short, SMR technology overlaps tracks, which means that when data is written on one track, overlapping tracks need to be rewritten as well. The overlapping has benefits, including thin and densely packed tracks that can likely yield more affordable devices. It has downsides, though, including low performance in certain configurations.

Hattis Law’s lawsuit alleges that WD secretly downgraded its hard drives to a worse technology without changing advertising materials and claims. Specifically, WD Red hard drives are advertised for NAS and RAID use, which can perform much worse when using SMR technology instead of CMR technology. The lawsuit also claims that WD switch some Blue and Black drives to SMR technology.

Earlier this week, WD released a blog post outlining its WD Red drives and explaining which drives use SMR or CMR technology. WD states in its blog post that drives using SMR technology can still work for NAS owners with lighter small office/home office (SOHO) workloads.

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