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Drives used in RAID arrays

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April 28, 2010 2:37:43 PM

I'm building a new system for my development work in my home office. This is not a server machine. I work in MS Access, VB.net, Delphi, MS SQL mostly and some work in Adobe products (Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Aftereffects). I also use this for some entertainment but not much. Mostly for my work. It's mostly together and I'm currently doing some testing. Here's the parts list.

Motherboard = GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD5 (BIOS v 5)
CPU = (1) Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366
RAM = (12GB total) CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) 7-7-7-20 Model TR3X6G1333C7 G
Cooler = Noctua/XION NH-U12P SE2 Universal CPU Cooler (2 fans)
Video = (1) EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+
Sound = HT | OMEGA CLARO Plus+
Case = LIAN LI PC-P80 or PC-A77F
PSU = CORSAIR CMPSU-HX1000
Storage = (2) Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) RAID 0 & (4) WD1001FALS 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s RAID 10 (all on the Intel controller)
Optical = (2) LITE-ON DVD Writer - Bulk - Black SATA Model iHAS224-06
OS = Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

Anyway, I sent Western Digital a question about jumper pin settings on the hard drives. I was originally going to use the WD6402AAEX as the RAID 0 before I switched to the Intel SSDs. And I am using the WD1001FALS in the RAID 10 array. They answered my jumper question but also noted that the drives I was using are not intended to be used in RAID arrays and suggested I look at the enterprise drives (WD1002FBYS for example). Well, I've used non enterprise WD drives in RAID 1 arrays on my desktop work computer for years and never had any serious problems (that I know of). And there's nothing in the documentation on the WD site (that I could find) or in the retailer sites that say not to use the WD6402AAEX or the WD1001FALS in RAID configurations. I do understand from reading about the WD1002FBYS on the WD site that this drive is designed with RAID in mind but again, the other drives don't say not to. At this point I can't really afford to not use the $400 in WD1001FALS drives. I already replaced the over $200 I spent on the 3 WD6402AAEX drives so I can use the SSDs. I'd have to spend another $600 or so on the WD1002FBYS. Not going to happen.

I have these drives in a full tower with several fans and always make sure things are running nice and cool. I also perform regular backups in case of drive failures. In addition, I usually keep an extra drive or 2 on hand so that I don’t have to run out and buy one in case of failure.

Any feedback from anyone on whether or not this is a real problem or not?

More about : drives raid arrays

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a c 127 G Storage
April 28, 2010 4:07:27 PM

Well sort of. The reason to use more expensive drives is because they support TLER (which is just disabled in consumer disks; so its 100% political/economical decision not a technical one!).

You need TLER when:
- running software RAID on Windows, including onboard "firmware" RAID
- running any Hardware RAID

You do not need TLER when:
- doing software RAID on Linux/BSD, including ZFS
- when using bare disks; without RAID
- when using JBOD or RAID0 arrays (non-redundant arrays)

So it's more that due to design weaknesses in both Windows and Hardware RAID firmware (and the ATA standard) - that you may need TLER. Without it, you may get split or broken arrays - which is a pain.

But if you have a good backup as well - and you should cause RAID is not a backup - then you shouldn't need to worry.
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April 28, 2010 6:01:04 PM

Okay, according to everything I find, WD pulled this trick fairly recently. My older WD6400AAKS and WD1600AAJS drives in my other machine that are in RAID 1 supposedly have TLER turned on already. It was on by default. (how can I confirm this?)

It seems that WD decided they didn't want to pay the warranty out for the more inexpensive drives that failed when used in RAID arrays so they changed a few thigns around, disabled TLER and jacked up the price on the ones with TLER. That makes economic sense for them but is crap for customers (sort of, depends on how you look at it I guess). This is what I gather from all of this. Does this make sense?

So the WD1001FALS drives are different. I'm finding from hunting around that they all have TLER disabled by default but only on the newer ones (made from Feb of 2010 and forward) it is impossible to turn it on. But there is a utility that can be used to turn it on in the earlier versions. WD did this because people started finding out about this "secret" utility and didn't want anyone turning on TLER in the "desktop" drives I guess. Mine were all mfrd in December 2009 so I might be okay. I'm still looking for good info on this.

It also appears that this utility WDTLER I guess it's called can only be run from a floppy. Can anyone confirm this? I found the utility here: http://www.gohighvoltage.com/forum/index.php?topic=50.0\

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I just found out the date I used above is probably wrong. I think it's early 2009 when they disabled the ability to use WDTLER on the drives. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=2...


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Several hours later...

Well, I drove around a bunch, borrowed an FDD and cable, created a DOS boot disk. Booted from it. Ran the TLER program. This really sucks. These drives are too new to set it. Unable to read or set TLER on them. Thanks ever so much Western Digital for not making this clear. Thanks Newegg for not having this info on your site with the drive specs. Thanks Microcenter for not having this info on your site with the drive specs. Going to see if I can return these to Microcenter on the grounds that the drives were misrepresented. We'll see. Could be $400 out the window. Good for backups anyway. If they won't help out I'm going to have to put this build on hold. Can't afford to buy new WD RE drives now. Just about tapped out at the moment. :(  :fou:  :cry: 
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April 29, 2010 4:20:37 PM

My conversation with WD on this issue (the ONLY reason I'm aware of this is that I wrote them a note asking about jumper settings and they wrote back telling me I'm using the wrong drives).

2010-04-21 @ 6:45 AM - my note to WD

Also same question for WD6402AEX.

Building a new system. Windows 7 64bit, Gigabyte X58 UD5 mobo. Just taking a look at the new drives I got today.


Four of them are going to be in a RAID 5 array. They are all WD1001FALS 1T HDD's (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). The sticker on the drive says jumper pins 3/4 for PUIS and pins 5/6 for 3Gb/s. I can't find anything on the WD site to clarify this (http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/std...). These are already 3Gb/s drives. My previous disks didn't need to be jumpered for that AFAIR. Anyway, PUIS sounds like it would be bad to do with a RAID array but I don't know. So that's my first question. I'm guessing I don't want to jumper pins 3/4. Second is I'm guessing I should not have to jumper pins 5/6 because the WD site makes it sound like that will downgrade them to 1.5Gb/s.


Two of the drives are going to be RAID 0. They are WD6402AAEX 640GB HDD's (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). Same thing on the sticker on the drive but it says pins 5/6 limits to 3Gb/s. I do want that because I'm going to use them in 3Gb/s SATA ports and these are 6Gb/s drives. So that's fine. I knew I would have to do that. But I have the same question on these regarding PUIS as with the 4 drives mentioned above.

2010-04-27 @ 10:33 PM - (almost a whole week) Their first response to me:


Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support. My name is Vern

Adding a jumper to the drives on pins 5-6 will reduce the transfer rate to half on the normal speed. In the case of SATA II at 3Gbps, adding a jumper would reduce the speed to 1.5Gbps. This would only be needed if your motherboard does not have a SATA II port.

The drives you listed are desktop drives and are not intended for use in a RAID array. You would want to use drive models from our RAID Edition line.

Please see the link below for related information.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=503

Sincerely,
Vern
Western Digital Service and Support

2010-04-27 @ 7:44 AM - my reply

Thank you for the info on the jumpers.

I am not happy about the issue of not using the WD1001FALS or the WD6402AAEX in RAID configurations. I've used non enterprise WD drives in RAID for years and never had any problems. If this is the case you need to include that information in the pages about those drives. You need to specify in the specs that these are not intended for use in RAID arrays. And it needs to be somewhere that will be obvious enough (like in a spec grid) that the resellers will display that information as well because right now
places like Newegg do not do that (I know that's not in your control so please don't tell me that but you should make the info available to them so they can use it if they choose to do so). I already have 4 WD1001FALS drives in this new system and spent over $400 total on them. I cannot afford to go out and buy 4 new WD1002FBYS for example. I've already got over $3000 into this system. Maybe you'd be willing to make a swap to keep one of your long time customers happy???? I will add that this is not a
server machine. It is a high end desktop machine mostly for my work. I am an independent contractor. I write custom apps in MS Access, VB.net, MS SQL, Delphi, etc. I have these drives in a full tower with several fans and always make sure things are running nice and cool. I also perform regular backups in case of drive failures. In addition, I usually keep an extra drive or 2 on hand so that I don't have to run out and buy one in case of failure.

2010-04-28 @ 5:13 PM - their reply

Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support. My name is Vern

These drives are found in our Desktop section of our web site and may work in a RAID configuration depending on your RAID controller. We do not have an upgrade process to update from a desktop edition drive to a RAID edition drive. You can check with the place of purchase to see if they will exchange the drives or least credit you for the desktop drives if you purchase the RAID edition drives.

If your drives have been working in RAID then your controller is supporting the drives in RAID.

Sincerely,
Vern
Western Digital Service and Support

2010-04-28 @ 5L28 PM - my response (getting a little upset here)

I guess you don't get it. I have a desktop machine. It's stand alone and I'm the only one that works with it. It's not connected to any networks. It's my software development machine. It's not a server. I've been buying the "black" drives for a long time. There is NOTHING on the WD pages for these drives that indicates RAID is a problem. In fact, when I bought some of my earlier "black" WD drives they were advertised as being great for RAID. So unless you specify this in your documentation that they are not
for RAID, it's your freakin fault for not telling people this UP FRONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have one more VERY PISSED OFF CUSTOMER!!!!! Read the reviews of the WD1001FALS drives on Newegg. There are a LOT of very unhappy people out there because of this.

2010-04-28 @ 10:18 PM - their reply

Thank you for your reply.

Depending your RAID controller the drives may work fine in a RAID array, however they are designed for a desktop, non-RAID application. We have a specific section for drives that are designed for use in a RAID array.

Please see the link(s) below for related information from our online knowledge base.

Answer Title: What is the difference between Desktop edition and RAID (Enterprise) edition hard drives?
Answer Link: http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/std...

Sincerely,
Vern
Western Digital Service and Support


2010-04-29 Noon - my response

Do you folks even begin to understand why everyone is so angry with you on this topic? Many people have “desktop” systems that want to RAID their drives. The word “desktop” is meaningless especially since most people put their computers on the floor. If you have any desire to make this clear, you should categorize them as “RAID” and “NON-RAID”, not “desktop” and “enterprise”. From past experience (mine and others), some of what you would call “desktop” drives were made for RAID. So it would not be normal for an end user to assume that “desktop” means non-RAID. Get it???? That’s not a logical assumption. It’s Western Digital playing games with words to intentionally deceive their customers. Pure and simple. You MUST make this clear to your vendors so that they can provide their customers with proper and complete specifications (especially since you removed the ability to use WDTLER to set the drives for use in RAID arrays). This way, customers can make an informed decision. By being “clever” you lost a lost of customers and made even more very upset. I’ll be looking to other manufacturers for my drives in the future unless you’re willing to buy back the 4 drives that I spent a total of $424 on a couple of weeks ago and now have no use for at all. If you are ethical enough to do that then I’ll be happy to replace then with the 1T RE drives at retail cost (I think they’re about $160 each at Newegg.com). Otherwise, like I said, I’ll have to look elsewhere and no longer recommend your drives to any of my friends and colleagues.

2010-04-29 @ 1:21 PM - reply from WD

Thank you for your reply.

I apologize for the confusion between drive categories. There is no benefit for Western Digital to misrepresent a product that does not have a feature, support for RAID in this case, when we have another product that has that feature.

In order to have the drives replaced with RAID Edition drives, you would need to contact the place or purchase.

Sincerely,
Vern
Western Digital Service and Support
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a c 127 G Storage
April 29, 2010 6:12:14 PM

Well what do you want them to say? "Yes we mislead our customers by implying you really need the more expensive RAID edition drives, because that generates more money for us. We love the hype about TLER and we found it makes an excellent marketing tool to get our expensive RAID edition drives sold; finally we can make some money! So what do we do we disable TLER support on all consumer drives; so anyone who is bothered about TLER would want to buy our RAID edition disks. Hahaha those silly customers; so poor informed. We don't care - this is business - hard currency."

I don't think you can expect an honest response in this case.
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April 29, 2010 6:28:01 PM

Yes, LOL, that is what I want them to say :D  . Is it what I expect? No, of course not. But I figure for typing up some emails, it's worth a shot that they might at least be willing to do a trade-in of some kind. It's worth it too to make sure they are very clear that they have an unhappy customer who feels like he was mislead. And of course if I walk into Microcenter with my receipt and 4 unpackaged drives and ask for my money back, they're going to tell me to take it up with WD because it's not their fault the information on their site is incomplete. They have disclaimers for that as every other reseller does. :(  So now I have 4 perfectly good (sort of) 1TB drives that are good for backups. I may end up putting 2 of them (non RAID) on the jMicron controller for storing movies or something that I have hard copies of already.
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April 29, 2010 10:36:15 PM

Well... really good news. I called Microcenter on another issue. I wasn't even going to ask about returning the drives but just for the heck of it I did anyway. Much to my delight and surprise they said "yes". :D  I honestly never expected that seeing as they are opened. No restocking fee either since they were OEM's and not boxed. So this story ends well mostly. Extra points for Microcenter today! :D  Now to decide what to get to replace them...
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a c 115 G Storage
April 30, 2010 2:17:59 AM

I'm thinking that vendors simply aren't putting up the data because RAID 0 in the consumer space has gone the way of SCSI .... in today's world it just doesn't provide a noticeable advantage. Yes, of course there are applications that will see a benefit (DV/HD, massive databases, rendering huge files) but for the most part the driving force is:

"Driven to be the first geek on your block with a computer so fast it blows your
socks off."

Yes, that is an actual quote from the WD web site.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/raid/
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May 8, 2010 4:05:35 AM

Best answer selected by avianrand.
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