Skip to main content

Multiple Class Action Suits Over WD’s SMR Hard Drives Filed in US and Canada

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update 5/30/2020 7:20am PT: Top Class Actions has also opened a lawsuit against WD in Canada, portending a broader spate of class action lawsuits against WD globally.

Original Story:

Hattis & Lukacs, a class-action firm, has begun soliciting plaintiffs for a potential class-action lawsuit against hard drive maker Western Digital (WD) for not disclosing that several of its hard drives use slower, SMR technology. 

We recently reported that Western Digital (WD) was shipping hard drives with SMR technology, a technology that boosts capacity but results in slower hard drives, without listing that fact in marketing materials and product specifications. Further scrutiny found that Toshiba and Seagate also engage in the practice, which obviously leaves the door open for litigation against those companies, too. 

Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) involves overlapping recording tracks on a hard drive to boost capacity and reduce manufacturing costs, but it results in reduced performance in several types of workloads. For instance, ServeTheHome posted an article yesterday that outlined the performance compared to standard Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) drives, finding much slower speeds in several tasks. 

Most importantly, a four-drive RAID array powered by WD Red NAS HDDs with SMR took anywhere from 13 to 16 times longer to complete a rebuild of a failed array, highlighting that SMR drives can leave data at risk for much longer than standard CMR drives. That's important because WD markets the WD Red NAS drives for RAID arrays. 

WD has apologized to its customers and struck a conciliatory tone while listing all of its drives that used SMR technology without disclosure, and Toshiba and Seagate have also provided detailed lists of impacted drives. 

We followed up last week about widespread reports that WD was replacing SMR drives with CMR drives for some impacted customers. At the time, the company confirmed some drives are being replaced and gave Tom's Hardware the following statement: 

"Western Digital reviews customer service requests on a case-by-case basis.  As with all such requests, including product replacement requests, the determination depends on a variety of factors, including the product type, the issue reported, and the applicable warranty."

That may not be enough to stop the law firm. On its plaintiff-solicitation form, Hattis & Lukacs states that "Customers are complaining that this switch has resulted in drastically slower write performance and storage failures, especially when used in RAID configurations" and invites anyone who bought one of the affected drives, which includes some WD Blue and Black drives, to submit their names.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, Hattis & Lukacs specializes in class-action, consumer law. According to its website, the firm has previously won settlements against McAfee, for auto-renewing subscriptions at a higher price, and  TracFone for throttling customers with "unlimited" data.

You can find a deeper explanation about SMR technology at the bottom of this article. We've reached out to WD for comment about the pending lawsuit and will update as necessary.