The hard drive world has upturned two weeks ago, when we learned that big-name manufacturers, such as Western Digital (opens in new tab), Seagate and Toshiba (opens in new tab), were not being totally transparent about the fact that some of their hard drives were fabricated with shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology.
Western Digital came clean and released a list of WD hard drives that leverage the slower technology. Toshiba is now following Western Digital's footsteps and put out a list of its own, so you can know exactly what you're getting.
The whole point of SMR is to produce hard drives with high densities, such as 10TB or 14TB models. But it's surprising that Toshiba is utilizing the technology on 6TB, 4TB and even 1TB and 2TB drives. This points to a strategy to save cost while maximizing profits.
As Toshiba has put it, SMR isn't completely bad, as the technique has opened the doors for hard drive manufacturers to increase the capacity of their conventional platter drives. However, SMR has a negative impact on a hard drive's performance, particularly in workloads that involve continuous random writing. Therefore, it's important to disclose this tiny, but very important, piece of information to consumers.
- The best external hard drives and SSDs of 2020
- The best SSDs we've tested
It's not a crime to sell hard drives with SMR technology. But as an ethical practice, vendors should label their products accordingly. Toshiba has updated the marketing materials for the MQ04 and DT102 series to reflect the usage of SMR. Since Toshiba just released its list today, it might take a little longer before the company finishes updating marketing materials for the other models.
(I don't remember if we've gotten one yet)
Seagate has stated that NONE of their NAS drives use SMR. However, they're a bit evasive with regard to desktop drives.
Of course, this was prior to WD or Toshiba coming clean.