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WD Caviar Black HDD’s and RAID

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October 13, 2010 2:24:59 PM

I know this subject has been beat around a lot. However, I was reading some discussions on this forum from the past, there are some of you using Western Digital Caviar Black HDD's in different RAID configurations/arrays.

I also bought WD Caviar Blacks before I became aware of the TLER issues. I was planning on using them in RAID 5, using 8-HDD's, 6-640GB's, and 2-750GB caviar blacks. WD told me RAID 5 couldn't be done. So, I decided to look into 1+0 or 0+1, or 10. A WD sales person told me yesterday either of those would work. Today a tech support person told me nothing would work with the Caviar Blacks. Now I am now real confused and not liking WD much. But I have always used their HDD's with no problems, my last two worked for 10 years.

My MOBO is a Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P(rev 1.1). It supports RAID. It has 6-SATA2 connections (0-5) < I would use the 6-640GB's there, and 2-GSATA2 connections < Use the 2-750GB's there. I am not sold on the configuration other than for the fact I would be using my MOBO to it's full potential. Unless I am misunderstood what I have read, I should be able to use the Caviar Blacks with this MOBO without any problems. The reason being, "Software/onboard RAID is designed (somewhat) to take into account the TLER issues (basically having unlimited timeout)", which is supposed to prevent the TLER issues.

RAID is new to me, so, I am open to suggestions.

My questions is; Given the Hardware I have, what would be the best RAID configuration/array for me to use? If I can use them at all.

Thanks for any and all help.

More about : caviar black hdds raid

October 21, 2010 11:24:27 PM

I have been getting lots of answers on other forums regarding the problem with Non-RE3 or 4 HDD's and RAID. I started this thread several days ago. To date no one has given any input on this forum. Many of you have read this so I figure there is some interest in it, and others are having the same problem I am, or was. So, beings as no one is leaving any replies, I will reply myself as I get more information and or put my WD Caviar Black HDD's in a RAID array of some sort.

What I have found so far:

You can use Caviar Blacks and other drives that are not WD RE drives made specifically for RAID arrays.

However, you can only use them in RAID 0, and 1 for sure. Because of the TLER issue, HDD's will eventually fall out; (See info from the Western Digital site below). So RAID 5 will not work. They might work for a while, but eventually they will fall out and then the problems begin.

From Western Digital:
"Western Digital manufactures desktop edition hard drives and RAID Edition hard drives. Each type of hard drive is designed to work specifically as a stand-alone drive, or in a multi-drive RAID environment."

"If you install and use a desktop edition hard drive connected to a RAID controller, the drive may not work correctly. This is caused by the normal error recovery procedure that a desktop edition hard drive uses.
Note: There are a few cases where the manufacturer of the RAID controller have designed their drives to work with specific model Desktop drives. If this is the case you would need to contact the manufacturer of that controller for any support on that drive while it is used in a RAID environment.
When an error is found on a desktop edition hard drive, the drive will enter into a deep recovery cycle to attempt to repair the error, recover the data from the problematic area, and then reallocate a dedicated area to replace the problematic area. This process can take up to 2 minutes depending on the severity of the issue. Most RAID controllers allow a very short amount of time for a hard drive to recover from an error. If a hard drive takes too long to complete this process, the drive will be dropped from the RAID array. Most RAID controllers allow from 7 to 15 seconds for error recovery before dropping a hard drive from an array. Western Digital does not recommend installing desktop edition hard drives in an enterprise environment (on a RAID controller)."

"Western Digital RAID edition hard drives have a feature called TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) which stops the hard drive from entering into a deep recovery cycle. The hard drive will only spend 7 seconds to attempt to recover. This means that the hard drive will not be dropped from a RAID array. While TLER is designed for RAID environments, a drive with TLER enabled will work with no performance decrease when used in non-RAID environments."

I am still trying to figure out if they will work in RAID 0+1. So far no one seems to know. Anyone out there or a regular from this site know???

I will continue to update here as I get more information.

Larry141
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October 22, 2010 2:57:14 PM

ElenaP: Thanks for the reply.

I understand that all now. The reason I started this thread was because I wanted to run RAID 5, and I had already purchased WD Caviar Black 3 x 640GB drives on the advice of someone else. Being new to RAID I started researching RAID arrays and discovered I may not be able to run RAID 5 with those drives. So, I started researching on my own. I was getting different stories from WD and from others regarding using WD Caviar Black Drives. A tech support person at WD told me I could not use a Caviar Black Drive in any RAID array, someone in sales told me I could. Another person I found on an online computer parts store told me I could run RAID 5 with an array of 6 x 640GB, and 2 x 750GB Caviar Blacks. That is what brought me to forums. I recently got the correct information from another forum and by doing a lot of research. I am now looking into RAID 1+0. Started that yesterday. I am probably going to have to run RAID 0 for my OS, and RAID 1 for my data.

Any advice and or thoughts on RAID 0+1 using the Caviar Black HDD’s?
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a c 378 G Storage
October 22, 2010 3:09:09 PM

I used to run a RAID 1 using WD2500AAKS drives (pretty sure that's the model#) on a MSI Neo4 Ultra mobo. One of the drives would drop out at least once every 3-5 months. It was easy enough to do a quick format, throw it back into the array and let the array rebuild itself. If you don't like the inconvenience of having to rebuild the array, I'd recommend using the drives individually and just making regular backups.
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October 22, 2010 3:41:41 PM

Hi Hawkeye22, thanks for your reply.

The model you used is a Caviar Blue. That's good to know, thanks for sharing.
I plan on using other back up not just RAID. My alternative is to the Caviar Blacks is to buy RE3 HDD's. Problem is a 500GB goes for $79 or more, and the price goes way up as the GB’s increase. I can't afford to put the Caviar Blacks on a shelf and buy RE3's. I would have to spend $400 for 5 x RE3 HDD's. I would rather quick format and rebuild occasionally, if I have a problem at all. I have talked to several individuals who have no problem with the Caviar Blacks in RAiD 0 or 1. WD's site also says that the Caviar Blacks are built and tested for RAID 0, and 1.
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a c 378 G Storage
October 22, 2010 3:54:27 PM

When I purchased my drives they hadn't yet started using the green/blue/black nomenclature. Also, I used them on a nforce4 chipset, so maybe an intel chipset might work better.
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October 22, 2010 6:04:56 PM

You bought those a while back, like prior to 2009 I am guessing. I have not been able to find anyone who has figured out the exact date in 09 that WD disabled the TLER from all but the RE HDD's. WD has nothing to say about it. But there are folks out there running early 2009 and prior WD models that came with the TLER enabled. I was told that for a while there was a tool you could download on WD’s website to enable the TLER, Since then WD took the tool off their site. I was also told that you might be able to get the tool elsewhere, but WD is claiming if you use the tool it will damage the HDD. So, WD has left us no choice but to buy the RE HDD's for a lot more money if we want any RAID array other than RAID 0 or 1.

If your drives were not called Caviar Blk/Blu/Grn, then your problem may have been the chipset. That's something I can't answer. From what I have been told anything before, mid to late, 2009 had the TLER enabled so all WD drives were good for all RAID arrays. I am new to RAID, but have been given an education recently. But, it seems to me that your drives were old enough that they should have worked fine in RAID. Was your motherboard RAID compatible or were you using a software RAID program?

I am going to be running Intel 775 socket CPU Q9550 on a Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P (rev 1.1) motherboard, and it supports several RAID arrays. This mobo has RAID controllers with 6-SATA2 connections (0-5), and 2-GSATA2. I have this going on other forums, and been told by several others that are running Intel and AMD chips that the Blacks work fine.
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a c 378 G Storage
October 22, 2010 6:12:19 PM

I got my drives in 2006. They didn't even have TLER back then. I do remember when drives started shipping with TLER, but the default was "disabled" in all but the RE edition drives. And yes, at that time WD did have a utility to enable TLER, but I think they removed it because they wanted more sales of the more expensive RE drives.

My current mobo is similar to yours. I have the GA-EP45-UD3R rev1.1
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October 22, 2010 6:31:12 PM

I kinda figured your drives were early drives. What drives are you using now?

How do you like the UD3R? I gave that one some thought myself.

I don’t know about your mobo, but the reviews aren’t good for the UD3P with the 1.6 revision. The rev 1.1 are great.
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a c 378 G Storage
October 22, 2010 6:54:40 PM

I'm using the same drives. I have four of that model and a newer WD 1Tb black drive. I migrated them over from my old computer when the MSI mobo died on me and am no longer using raid on them.

I love the UD3R, especially since the F11 bios came out for it. Solved some memory issues when using more than 2 sticks of ram and/or more than 4 gig.

Anyhow, good luck to you.
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October 22, 2010 7:48:37 PM

Thanks, same to you.
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November 1, 2010 12:45:08 AM

I am adding to the thread I originally started as I said I would as I got more information.

Bottom line: You can use any SATA HDD in RAID 0, or 1. I cannot find anything that says you can run any other RAID array with anything but, RE3, or RE4 HDD's.

Also, if you are going to run RAID 0 and 1 separately as I am going to do, you should still have other back up. Instead of a backplane to run RAID 1, I am going to use an external RAID bay, and run 2 HDD's in RAID 1. I am doing that because my case only has 3 x HDD bays. You can buy a separate, or stand alone unit to run RAID with hot swapping bays for about the same price as a backplane to stuff in your HDD's in the 5.25" bays. I will also use external HDD's to back up everything that is important to me, or cannot be replaced if I lose it. Yes, you can still lose everything in RAID 1.

Next time I build a computer I will buy RE3/4 HDD's for RAID only. I will buy other SATA or SSD drives for everything else.

That's it man, I am closing this thread out. Later on, and good luck with your RAID.
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November 25, 2010 6:17:21 PM

I want to share my experience with running WD caviar black in RAID 1. I started having problems right from the start. The effect was (and still is) severe. After the RAID 1 is build I run a RAID 1 check and it comes back negative, so I have to rebuild the RAID1 again. I changed the RAID controller with a new one, and then I changed the RAID controller with entirely different one from a different manufacturer. The issue still exists. I'm rebuilding the RAID1 every week on a schedule. The problem is that I never know when it breaks. The RAID controllers do not detect or report that back. Unfortunately that makes the RAID1 useless for data protection.

Here I finally discovered what the underlying issue is and for that many thanks. As a side note, the RAID controller listed this HDD as compatible.
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November 26, 2010 12:24:15 AM

dstefanov said:
I want to share my experience with running WD caviar black in RAID 1. I started having problems right from the start. The effect was (and still is) severe. After the RAID 1 is build I run a RAID 1 check and it comes back negative, so I have to rebuild the RAID1 again. I changed the RAID controller with a new one, and then I changed the RAID controller with entirely different one from a different manufacturer. The issue still exists. I'm rebuilding the RAID1 every week on a schedule. The problem is that I never know when it breaks. The RAID controllers do not detect or report that back. Unfortunately that makes the RAID1 useless for data protection.

Here I finally discovered what the underlying issue is and for that many thanks. As a side note, the RAID controller listed this HDD as compatible.



Wow, You are excellent. I can't discovered by self. The last i choose service Rapid. Rapid did an initial analysis of our failed RAID10, and sent us to Fields Data Recovery for recovery services. Fields did a really good job and we have signed up for their affiliate service. Rapid was very professional and did not charge for the diagnosis.
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March 21, 2011 3:13:22 AM

Hi Larry,

Thanks for your findings, my harddisk have some problem and I think they might related to what u are saying.

I would like to help put in some information here.

I have two 320G harddisk WD3202ABYS-01B7A0 RE3 purchase 2 years before (they were manufactured in Jun2008)

Configuration is Raid 1 with Asus P5GC motherboard's onboard Intel ICH7R Raid, one connected to port 0, one connected to port 1. System is WinXP 32bit.

recently I was told by IntelMatrix software that one of the hdd on port 1 was degraded and raid 1 is disabled.

Intel allow reset and rebuild, so I tried. At first, everything works fine, and Raid was recovered. But 2 days later, the same problem happened.

I try to do Smart check, whole HD scan, but no problem were found.

I also try to replace mother board (a brand new spare one I got), replace new transformer, but it does not help.

Then I try to replace the problematic hdd with another WD 500G (also purchased for 2 yr but rare use)

So far up to this moment, seems the problem disappear.

My conclusion is although TLER RE version hdd has limited the recover time to less than 7 second, but Intel Raid seems fail to cope and tolerate with that.

Your finding does help much.

thanks
rgds
billy

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March 30, 2011 11:40:48 PM

Hi Billy,

The RE3 HDD(s) you are using are made specfically for RAID. I suspect that the HDD failed and it was not because it got kicked out from the TLER....OR, the issue is Win XP, and because it is 32 Bit. My understanding is that 32 Bit is not compatible with any RAID array. So, XP Pro is the only version that is compatible with RAID. I think that includes Vista and Win 7 32 Bit. You might check with Microsoft just to make sure. Me, I am just getting ready to install a software program to do my auto back up software. It's called "save me" by re bit. I have read very good reveiws on this software. Hopefully it works as advertised, because I not going to bother with RAID until I can afford the RE3 or RE4 HDD's. Keep us posted on how yours works out. I did notice that you replaced the 320 with a 500GB HDD. Is it also a RE3? One more thing, you should never use different drives, so I have been told and read, and the smaller of the two is how the 500GB will read also. It always defaults to the smallest HDD. If the 500GB HDD is not RE3, I imagine you will have more problems, unless, because it was manufactured prior to WD messing with the TLER on drives other than RE3's, i.e., Caviar Blacks. In that case it might function fine. Good luck.

Larry



billyn_hk said:
Hi Larry,

Thanks for your findings, my harddisk have some problem and I think they might related to what u are saying.

I would like to help put in some information here.

I have two 320G harddisk WD3202ABYS-01B7A0 RE3 purchase 2 years before (they were manufactured in Jun2008)

Configuration is Raid 1 with Asus P5GC motherboard's onboard Intel ICH7R Raid, one connected to port 0, one connected to port 1. System is WinXP 32bit.

recently I was told by IntelMatrix software that one of the hdd on port 1 was degraded and raid 1 is disabled.

Intel allow reset and rebuild, so I tried. At first, everything works fine, and Raid was recovered. But 2 days later, the same problem happened.

I try to do Smart check, whole HD scan, but no problem were found.

I also try to replace mother board (a brand new spare one I got), replace new transformer, but it does not help.

Then I try to replace the problematic hdd with another WD 500G (also purchased for 2 yr but rare use)

So far up to this moment, seems the problem disappear.

My conclusion is although TLER RE version hdd has limited the recover time to less than 7 second, but Intel Raid seems fail to cope and tolerate with that.

Your finding does help much.

thanks
rgds
billy

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