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Promise FastTrak RAID + Western Digital = Failure?

:: Friday, February 11th, 2005 @ 12:56:25 pm

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I just had a 200GB Western Digital WD2000JB-00DUA0 fail after being connected to a Promise FastTrak 100 RAID card for only a year and a half. Luckily, it was running RAID 1, so I didn’t lose any data. I have a friend who is also using a 2-channel Promise RAID card, and he has lost two WD2000JB drives within the last year and a half.

Are these cards cursed or something? Losing three drives between two cards in less than 2 years is pretty bad.

| Oakland, CA | link | trackback | Feb 11, 2005 12:56:25
  • Chester

    Maybe it’s the drives. I don’t know if it was the exact model, but my WD 200GB is the one that burned out with a bulk of my archives on it.

  • http://www.alexking.org/ Alex

    I try to avoid WD and Maxtor drives, primarily based on information I read about them a few years ago that could well be wrong at this point.

  • syndromes

    You could always run software raid on linux and do disk mirroring that way. A friend of mine swears by it, but he’s pretty geeky, so I don’t know how easy or difficult it would be to implement or maintain for a normal person. Of course the speed issue comes into play, but I don’t think that’d be bother me personally.

    Anyway, i’d be happy if someone would release a cheap raid 1 NAS, or just the chassis. Cheap as in $100 or so :) Then I could throw in any ole IDE drives and be done with it. Hmm… maybe I should hunt around online ;)

  • vinh

    it’s hard to say. it’s true that a controller can cause failure, but unless you experience consistent problems with drives failing when attached to a given array, you can’t say it’s the controller. it’s more likely to be the drives that are failing. you mentioned that both you and your friend are using WD drives.

    i do agree with the comment about using linux software raid vs Promise’s solution. Promise isn’t a true hardware RAID anyways, it uses a software solution that’s proprietary to their driver if i recall. in which case you might as well go with a more standardized software solution, i.e. one offered by the operating system. that, or invest in a quality 3ware solution.

  • generic

    I just had a WD fail on my sister’s computer. Wasn’t running a raid setup on it though.

  • echeng

    “quality 3ware solution” — a good friend of mine who writes RAID drivers claims that 3ware sucks as well, so i’m not sure that’s the answer. I have a 3ware 8-channel S-ATA card in my server, which seems to be working fine, but it fails catastrophically if I try to upgrade XP to SP2. argh.

  • http://simon@klaiber.com Simon

    I also had problems with WD Drives on a Promise SX6000 Raid 5 Controler. But it seems to have been only one of the 6 Chaneels since I dont have a Disk attached there anymore everything works great.

    I’m Using WD Discs for several Years now and didn’t have any problems beside of this.

    Beside of this. At the moment I would prefer simple HD Controllers with Linux Software Raid since the performance of the ATA/SATA Raid Controles (at least when You use RAID5) is not so great and spending the money on a little bit more RAM and7or a faster Processor may be the better decision.


  • agus

    stay way from WD drives man. just had wd 120 gb external drive knocking badly then failed. all data lost. all techies here know that wd is a waste. go with seagate.

  • vinh

    i second that. the only drive that has ever really died on me without any warning was a WD; i vowed never to buy another WD drive since then. i’ve had more seagate drives than any other brand, and they’ve been the only ones that have never died on me (knock on wood, not to mention the most quiet drives i’ve ever used. love that fluid ball bearing!

  • vinh

    did i ever tell you how, while i told myself never to buy another WD drive… a few months ago i bought one because it was on sale and i couldn’t resist the 8MB buffer? well… guess what, a few hours ago, that crappy WD drive died a horrible death without any warning and took ALL my data with it!!! is it irony that it should happen less than a week after your post? or did we all receive the same batch of bad WD drives???!!!!

    someone at Western Digital should be shot for unleashing such horrid drives on the world… and i need to be shot for ignoring my boycott of WD drives that began back in ’98.

  • syndromes

    Damnit Vinh! Don’t jinx my tivo!! It’s got a 120 jiggybyte WD in there right now :( scared

  • paul

    I had that exact same model drive go bad after 1 year of “lite” use. Sent it in under warranty and I got a 250GB one back. It was the only HD I’ve ever had go bad on me, I’m guessing those models are not so great.

  • vinh

    i thought you might be interested to know that because the WD drive that failed had 1 month left on its warranty, i sent it in for a replacement… i wouldn’t normally trust WD, but i’m poor so i have to settle with what i can get.

    anyhow, so they were prompt in sending a replacement… i wasn’t so fortunate as Paul in getting a larger replacement… in fact, my replacement was labeled “Recertified”… so their drive dies on me, and rather than sending me a new one, it looks like they sent me a refurbished or reconditioned one??! WTF?!

    let this be a lesson! DO NOT BUY WD DRIVES!

    in fact.. check out their reseller ratings…


    it’s plain dismal… and how many complaints of dead drives… and i’m definitely not the only one that got a “recertified” drive for a replacement… one dude got a recertified replacement that died only a week later!

    ok, rant over… boycott WD folks. buy Seagate. :)

    my server is a mixed bunch, 1 drive from each of the major manufacturers (Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi/IBM, and… WD, but only because i’m poor and it’s being used in a RAID1 config). i figured if i bought a different drive from each of the manufacturers that i would be guaranteed of not buying drives from the same batch. not a good idea to buy 1 brand and when the drives begin to fail and you realize they were all from the same batch of bad drives…

  • http://www.maderios.org Jason Maderios

    I just had 2 WD1200′s in the same array fail on a promise card in less than a year.

  • echeng

    Surprise, surprise! I just lost another Western Digital drive. Yippee. At least this one made it two years before dying (I bought it back when I was buying WD drives)…

  • Hack Saw

    Hey stop slagging off western digital!

    Firstly, whatever configuration you are using (even if it’s RAID 1) you need to have some kind of backup strategy in place! I don’t have much sympathy for people who a.) take some cavalier attitude keep all their precious data on 1 disk and/or b.) run their disks in undercooled system 24/7, then they proceed to blame the disk manufacturer.

    If someone breaks into your building and steals your RAID 1/5 how will you recover your data?

    I have used lots of different brands of hard disks and I have seen all of them fail randomly at different points in their lifecycle. The fact of the matter is why would ANYONE be stupid enough to put the integrity of their data in the hands of any manufacturer’s hear-say reputation, when really all manufacturers want to do is sell a load of drives and make a ton of cash.

    The reason western digital are good is not because their drives are impervious to failure, it is because they offer exceptional warranties on all their drives ranging from 3 years on OEM desktop to 5 years on the slightly pricier enterprise class drives (Like the Caviar RE/RE2s). They back their warranty up with exceptional service: they will advance ship you the drives within about 5 days, the only cost to you is the return of the drive. In addition they offer the remainder of the faulty drive’s warranty on the replacement – so it makes no difference if it is refurb or if it is new.

    Of course Western Digital drives are ahead of the pack in so many other ways besides warranty. 16MB caches, most of the range are now sold with SATA 300 external interface, lots of new models now support RAFF and NCQ / TCQ natively, great seek times and transfer rates. Also the RAID editions are a great idea, because they are warranted for 24/7 operation which everyone here seems to be doing with desktop class drives.

  • http://echeng.com echeng

    Hack Saw – you make good points. HOWEVER, I have something like 20 drives spinning in my place at one time, and a good mix of WD, Maxtor, Hitachi, and Seagate. My systems are well-cooled. I’ve pretty much lost drives of all manufacturers, BUT, the WD failure rate is much higher than the rest for some reason. I don’t have any data other other than the fact that about half of my WD drives have failed within 2 years.

    Maybe the new stuff is better.

  • Hack Saw

    Hey Eric, Well what you said was interesting. I have upwards of 20 drives, ranging from brand new top of the range stuff like the WD4000YRs and RaptorX 150s right down to the lowly ancient stuff like WD340s and older. I will come clean with you on this, I have just had to RMA a Raptor X which failed after about 2 months without any warning, whilst the drive was simply idling in my desktop.

    It is my theory that WD drive quality may in fact be deteriorating as demand for drives increases and market pressures force per GB sale price downwards WD seem more inclined to ship lesser quality goods. Also with WD trying to lead the market with performance specs it may be placing higher demands on technology than it was designed for (eg in the case of the RaptorX at least, using a polycarbonate cover seems to be asking for trouble). It would be interesting if manufacturers were to publish quarterly returns statistics, though obviously it would never happen.

    That said this does not detract from my previous statements about WD warranties and service. Also bear in mind that most of my drives are WD – so statistically it is most likely to be a WD drive that will fail on me (only the 1 has so far).

    What I will say is this: 1.) From who else can you buy a 10,000RPM SATA drive? When it comes to speed everyone else is lagging behind WD. Sure you could go the Ultra320 route, but who has money for a controller not to mention PCIX mobo, ECC RAM, dual proc…. ?? Especially when all I am using it for is superfast boot times, ninja gaming speeds and burning multiple DVDRs at once.

    2.) Secure Connect – such a simple feature but what peace of mind. So many people dis SecureCon as a pointless gimmick but really, who wants a disk falling out of a RAID array when you’re in the middle of something? You have to pull your rackmount server apart looking for the problem. This is especially annoying if you ever have to move your machines (eg LAN parties). Flimsy SATA cables is the last thing you need ;)

    The above two features are the main points that differentiate WD drives and keep me loyal to their brand. Until other manufacturers wake up and notice the real demand for this kind of innovative thinking, I’m sticking with WD.

  • lee

    Well, I never had problems with WD until I built them in RAID 5. I have had 2 drives fail on me in the past 3 months. Each drive was a 500 gig 16mb. I am glad with my RAID 5 that I was able to swap them and rebuild but am scared of 2 going down at the same time. I don’t really want to spend the money for seagate but I am seriously considering it.

  • jeremy

    I have noticed that Western Digital drives have been failing at an increasing rate. About 1 year ago I received a new WD 500GB RE2 drive. That drive failed within the first week. Then WD sent a new one and that drive ran for 9 months then failed. Now I have my third drive within one year. This one is OK so far only 2 days :). The RE2 drives according to WD are the RAID optimized heavy duty drives designed for 24×7 use and should have a lower chance to fail.

  • http://yarsley.com Tom Yarsley

    Just had a pair of (500 GB; 16 MB; 7200 RPM EIDE) WD5000AAKB drives “fail” in a mirrored RAID driven by a Promise SuperTrak 6000 Pro controller. I use the quotation marks because at this point I strongly suspect that the “failure” is not real. Rather, it’s probably a consequence of a likely “feature” of the WD drives.

    Prevoiusly, I encountered this same phenomenon with a stack of WD1200JB drives – and WD had a fix for the “feature.” As it turns out, one reason that WD can claim that their drives are accoustically quiet is that they are commanded to spin down durring prolonged periods of inactivity. That’s fine when the drive is being used as a standalone, but it’s problemmatic when the drive is a member of a multi-drive array like a RAID.

    The problem is that the RAID controller sees one of its drives spinning down – uncommanded – and it interprets that as a drive failure. The RAID controller then does its thing, and reports the “failure.”

    The fix back in 2003 was a firmware upgrade from WD. The upgrade turned off the spin-down feature. After I ran that on all of our drives, we never again had a false failure.

    I’m suspecting (hoping?) that the new drives have a similar “feature” – and that WD has a similar fix available. I find it hard to believe that two brand new drives failed within hours of being installed in well-ventillated hot-swap enclosures.

    We’ll see, later today……….

  • rob

    I bought a set of four 500Gb Raid Edition drives 1 year ago and the first of them just failed. I’m running a raid 5 array on an intel 6 port megaraid card and although i was able to rebuild the array, the same disk again failed during the consistancy check. I paid extra for these disks instead of the hitachi’s (which a data recovery specialist I know recommended above all else) and am rather disapointed. I’ve just bought a 500Gb deskstar now which I will attempt to integrate tonight – just wondered if there is anything I should do during this sensitive time? I have the rebuild rate set to 20% as I’m scarred of thrashing the hell out of the remaining good drives (all from the same batch) but obviously this means the rebuild takes an age (approx 48 hours). If I had a power cut or crash during this time is my data gone or can a rebuild recover? If I add my new hitachi drive as a hot-spare, rather than swap the failed disk for this one is there any advantage? I know raid 3 keeps the parity data on one disk and raid 5 spreads this data between disks – is there any way to make a raid 5 or raid 3 array mirror the parity data so that I can have 2 disks in the array fail? Speed isn’t an issue here, the disk is only ever accessed through 100mb network so i’m not worried about bottle necks particularly and i do have the ability to change the raid type (although i doubt i can do this on a failed array and i certainly wouldn’t want to try it even if it let me)
    I see people talking about software raid here – I was under the impression that it didn’t work, and should be avoided like a land mine.

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