After facing criticism over a lack of disclosure and providing no real closure for customers with SMR-based Red series NAS HDDs, Western Digital has released a new ‘Red Plus’ lineups. These will only use CMR technology for ZFS format. In layman’s terms, WD admitted this goof-up without acknowledging it officially but released a new sub-series which did the work of the original WD Red series HDDs.
Developments that lead to this series
As addressed originally, many NAS users with WD Red noticed the inability to rebuild RAID drives and format to ZFS. A group of NAS users narrowed it down to a shift from CMR in its first models of WD Red to SMR. SMR helps HDD manufacturers to provide more space per discs at a cost of performance. This is an issue on SOHO NAS since it wasn’t quick enough to reliably complete RAID building and ZFS formatting. WD has two Red variations of Red series HDDs where the EFRX used CMR (conventional magnetic recording) technology which works with no problem. The second variation used SMR (shingled). WD did not advertise the type of its recording head for any of its drives. It was only when people with both variations were able to get this information via the NAS’s diagnostic tool.
The affected users faced little-to-no solution apart from technical support which they already had access to. WD kept defending SMR technology for SOHO NAS despite overwhelming evidence. But the HDD giant was able to give a definitive answer to this problem. Meanwhile, a law firm has invited many such affected consumers to file class-action lawsuits. WD eventually corrected its specs and certain marketing materials to include the mention of a recording system in all of its hard drive series and models. For those who wanted CMR for reliability, WD recommended its customers to go for a higher spec and purpose WD Red Pro and WD Gold.
About the WD Red Plus
Despite its stand on its inability on the latter variation of the WD Red, it now released a CMR-specific Red Plus series. The listing advertises its ability to provide ZFS format, a format that’s used in NAS and provided by the original EFRX Red series counterparts. This applies to 1 model in 2.5″ form factor and renamed the first variation of WD Red ‘EFRX’ drives a Red Plus. WD Red is geared towards content archiving, backups and file sharing.
The whole purpose of having WD Red was to have compatibility and reliable HDDs for NAS. NAS manufacturers recommended WD Red for a very long time. WD should have planned and disclosed these changes when it released the EFAX models so that this way its users can make an informed decision. Had they did, we wouldn’t be in a situation. WD didn’t make it clear if they would swap the affected users for Red Plus. I’ll post about it as the situation develops in the future.