‘Western Digital’ Sued for Selling Inferior Quality NAS Drives

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated June 1, 2020

A class-action lawsuit targeting ‘Western Digital Corporation’ was submitted in the US District Court of California by plaintiff Nicholas Malone and on behalf of all others similarly situated in the country. The lawsuit is accusing Western Digital of false marketing claims, consumer deception, and promotion of low-quality products. The product in question is the “WD Red NAS” hard drive, which is promoted as an ideal and reliable solution for those who need network-attached storage devices. According to the accusations made, WD is using inferior technology in these disks and is hiding the fact from its website, product sheets, technical spec documents, etc.

Called “Shingled Magnetic Recording” (SMR), this technology is prone to failures, and it offers slower data transfer and writing speeds. It is suitable for when trying to increase the capacity of existing platters and for driving the costs down. This latter element probably is what forced WD to use SMR on its NAS drives, while the case is the same for Toshiba and Seagate as well. In general, though, for NAS applications, people choose PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) drives. SMR is risking valuable data because they engage in multiple re-writes and temporary data transfers, trying to make the most out of the available space.

When the practice of using this inferior technology was revealed in April 2020, Western Digital had the nerve to deny it initially. Eventually, they admitted using SMR on some models that weren’t signified as SMR-type disks, yet they continued to advertise the WD Red NAS drives as “purpose-built” for NAS and RAID. Nicholas Malone feels that this is fraudulent and deceptive since SMR disks are unsuitable for carrying out the above roles. Promising heightened data security when, in fact, you’re using technology that raises data loss risks to the roof is outrageously deceitful.

Indeed, there have been consistent reports about WD Red NAS drives being “choked” after operating for a couple of hours, OS lock-ups due to filling, crawling write speeds when trying to move over 2GB of data, and inexplicable RAID failures. All of these products were bought after March 2019, when WD started changing the internals of the product to use the cheaper SMR technology.

Regarding what Malone is demanding now, WD is threatened with damage compensation, fines for deceptive advertising, coverage of attorney fees and judicial costs, and an order for restitution of all profits made through selling Red NAS drives. Moreover, Western Digital might get an order to send notices to every class member stating that their product isn’t suitable for the marketed purpose. Those people should either receive a full refund or a PMR-based disk as a replacement.

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