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Critical Design Flaw Found in WD Caviar Green HDDs
Old 20 April 2011, 11:51   #1
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It has come to our attention that Western Digital's Caviar Green HDDs suffer from a critical design flaw caused by an aggressive power-saving feature. Western Digital has developed a new technology called Intellipark (aka Idle 3 mode) and it is designed to reduce power consumption, in part by positioning the HDD's heads in a park position and turning off unnecessary electronics after 8 seconds of inactivity.

According to an in-house investigation and user reports', some software and operating systems are incompatible with the Intellipark feature causing endless head parking movement as the HDD continuously goes in/out of idle mode. This abnormal behavior creates stress on the HDD and that could lead to the following issues:

Loud clunking/clicking/buzzing noises every few seconds.
Artificially increases the number of load-unload cycles in S.M.A.R.T.
Possibly shortens life-time of the HDD.
Possibly reduces performance of the HDD.

Western Digital posted a knowledge base article, where it claims that "The number of systems using such applications and utilities is limited", a statement which we believe is false and inaccurate. Sending an HDD to idle mode only after 8 seconds of activity is abnormal behavior, which much software doesn't like as they are constantly writing and reading data to/from the HDD.

According to Western Digital, the following models are affected: WD20EADS, WD20EARS, WD15EADS, WD15EARS, WD10EADS, WD10EARS, WD8000AARS, WD7500AADS, WD7500AARS, WD6400AADS, WD6400AARS, WD5000AADS, WD5000AARS, WD1000FYPS, WD7500AYPS and WD7501AYPS.

Western Digital has released a DOS-based utility to modify the behavior of the HDD to wait longer before invoking idle mode. However, since most of their latest HDDs still ship with the default setting of 8 seconds, we strongly recommend users with affected HDDs to use the utility and monitor S.M.A.R.T data immediately (we recommend using CrystalDiskInfo for this task).

How to Adjust Intellipark's Timer
1. Download the WDIDLE3 ISO image and burn it to a CD/DVD.
2. Ensure that your SATA controller is set to IDE mode from the BIOS.
3. Boot from the CD/DVD, it should take you into DOS.
4. In DOS prompt, type: "wdidle3 /S300" to change the default timer from 8 seconds to 300 seconds (5 minutes).
5. In DOS prompt, type: "wdidle3 /R" to verify the results.

We appreciate Western Digital's efforts to conserve energy and protect the environment, but the 8-second-overkill Intellipark feature could lead to opposite results as more HDDs will be produced to replace defective ones. We sent an email to Western Digital with a link to this article asking for a comment on this matter. We will update this story as soon when we hear back from them.

Update #1: Daniel Mauerhofer, Head of EMEA PR in Western Digital has commented on this article. "This issue is far from critical, does not impair normal functionality or place data at risk, can be mitigated with a utility for the small percentage of systems affected, and is a well understood industry standard."

Update #2: A user on Western Digital's forum claims that his Caviar Black HDD is affected as well. "WD2001FASS parks heads after 12.8 seconds. It will eventually kill itself doing this. I was getting around 1400 Load Cycle Count a day due it parking and waking up constantly."

Last edited by Regeneration; 17 October 2013 at 23:26..
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Old 20 April 2011, 12:20   #2
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As WD6400AADS owner I must admit I never EVER experienced
Quote:
Loud clunking/clicking/buzzing noises every few seconds.
Neither on Ubuntu nor on WinXP
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Old 20 April 2011, 12:26   #3
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@Promilus How's the SMART data?
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Old 20 April 2011, 12:41   #4
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@Promilus How's the SMART data?
116k load-unload
My drive is ~1yr old now and 291days ON. BOINC writes small portions of data constantly so I guess it might be worse without it running most time.
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:17   #5
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isnt that SMART feature for IDE connections?
I always had it disabled on sata ... is it ok?
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:31   #6
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according to a friend that thinks hes a cat, this is fixed in the EARS models.
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:33   #7
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according to a friend that thinks hes a cat, this is fixed in the EARS models.
I have 2 EARS models are they are both affected. Running Windows 7.
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:34   #8
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Any idea what this would do to a raid-5 array, I'm assuming the until needs to run on single drives, so I'd probably have to break my array? I have 4 WD10EARS for nearline, and while I *could* recopy the data, I would prefer not to have to redo 2.6TB.

That said, I haven't heard any head noises, so maybe the array keeps all the drives busy enough as is. (Yes I know the drives aren't really meant for RAID since they don't do TLER, but I haven't had any problems.)

I'm running 2008R2 EE btw.
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:38   #9
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That feature isn't listed on WD's website
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Old 20 April 2011, 13:43   #10
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well i did say he thinks he is a cat.
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