Western Digital FAIL (part 1)

I’m never using Western Digital again. Please read this post FULLY and then ask yourself Is Western Digital a company you can trust with YOUR data? My advice: IT ISN’T.

UPDATE: See end of the post for additional failure data from Cloud Back-up company BackBlaze, showing Western Digital as having the worst failure rate…

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In 2013 I bought a Network Attached Storage device (NAS). This box of hard drives plugs into your home network router, and you chuck all your files onto it. All your files are then accessible by everyone on your network. Movies, music, editing. Easy peasy.

This device was a ReadyNAS 4-bay storage system which allowed for mirroring and protection of data (redundancy and back-up). With 4 identical hard drives inside the system, all the space would be consolidated together and look like one big drive AND be protected in such a way that should one entire hard drive fail, all the data would still be there. And by simply switching out the faulty drive with a new one, the back-up RAID configuration would automatically re-build a new back-up drive and overnight you’re back to normal.

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All without losing any data,. Or access to the files. At any time. NAS is good.

My choice of hard drive at the time was the Western Digital RED.

WD-Red-3TBThey’re allegedly designed to run 24/7 in such NAS systems. So back in 2013 I bought 4 identical 3TB hard drives and built the system… (all 12 TERABYTES of it…)

Within the first week, one of the drives failed. As mentioned above, one drive failure in this redundancy system is perfectly acceptable (although NOT acceptable as a failure in a brand new hard drive with less than 7 days usage). All the data on the NAS was still there in a  protected way. However, if a SECOND drive failed then the whole lot would be lost…

ALL 12 TERABYTES OF IT..!

So it’s 2013. In my blind panic I immediately contacted Western Digital, as the drives were all brand new and obviously still within their 3 year warranty period. Their advice to me was this; Buy a replacement drive directly from them, and send the faulty one back using an RMA number generated by them. When they receive the RMA return they’ll re-emburse me. I get a new drive, no payment needed. They also suggested I contact the original retailer, CCLOnline, and get advice from them.

It seemed ridiculous to have this 4-bay system, and have no hard drives ready to switch in should another one fail. So I did what Western Digital suggested and bought a drive over the phone. This is all documented and logged.

However. CCLOnline were brilliant. Within an hour of receiving an email from me about the faulty drive and the impending loss of data across the entire system, they too sent me an RMA Return address and shipped me a brand new drive free of charge. I sent the faulty drive back to them… a direct swap for the faulty drive. Problem solved.

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So now we’re back to 4 drives, one of which was replaced by CCLOnline. And now there’s a 5th drive coming as “spare”.

Spin forward to 2016. All 4 of those drives (plus the spare) are on the verge of warranty expiration. Low and behold, another drive fails. But no problem, as I have the brand new drive bought directly from Western Digital ready to put in as the replacement.

The broken drive, according to the WD website, is within warranty by only a few weeks. Their online RMA system worked a treat and the faulty drive was replaced.

HOWEVER.

This next part is where my HUGE issue comes up. The 5th drive I had set aside as the spare, i.e. the one bought directly from Western Digital, immediately fails. I’m left with only 3 working drives out of 5. If another one goes, I lose EVERYTHING.

12 TERABYTES, REMEMBER? Customer data, client footage, financial back-ups.

But no problem, right? The 5th drive was brand new, bought over the phone, less than 3 years ago. Therefore it has full warranty. NOT SO. According to Western Digital, because this 5th drive was meant to be an RMA replacement for the very first failure back in 2013, on their system it only has warranty for as long as the original product. This means the drive is OUT OF WARRANTY. But only on their system. In ‘real life’, the drive was simply purchased (and overly priced too, I should add).

A dozen email correspondence flies back and forth over a period of a few weeks.

Can I supply an invoice for the purchase? Yes! What they sent me… Scan of invoice sent.

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Can I supply evidence of a purchase? Yes! Bank statement sent.

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Back and forth. Back and forth.

The final straw was this morning. After showing receipts, invoices, photos of the drives and bank statements, all of which show that this 5th drive was a direct purchase and in the end was NOT an RMA replacement as discussed and agreed with their Customer Services, they disagreed.

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The Customer Services at Western Digital of 2016 are nowhere near as good as it was in 2013. Every correspondence asked for more evidence that I bought the drive. Not content with me showing them my entire bank statements, with all their reference numbers on it, along with a scan of their own invoice showing I paid for the drive, their OWN email correspondence from 20143, and my hand written notes from 2013 explaining to my future self what had happened…

Western Digital will not replace this IN WARRANTY drive, and have categorically stated they will not change their system to reflect the fact that the RMA Warranty is incorrect.

So here’s my plan.

I’m never using Western Digital again. I advise you not to either. Over the coming weeks I’m going to buy drives from their competitors and one by one will replace every single Western Digital hard drive (including external ones I used to edit with) with a competitors drive.

At last count that’s 12 drives. And that’s not including the office…

All of these drives are going to be destroyed. Publicly. In a variety of rather destructive ways. And in slow motion.

Western Digital. You have become a shameful company. Your company name is no longer fit to use as professional in any manor, nor one I can ever recommend again.

I hope you enjoy seeing the viral video, and hope that it brings you the luck that you deserve.

UPDATE: Someone sent me a link on twitter to a Cloud Back-up company called BackBlaze. They offer online back-up solutions for $5 per month. These guys go through THOUSANDS of hard drives, all with similar redundancy to the above.

They posted this image:

2015-drive-failures-barchartThe BackBlaze statistics show that out of all the different hard drive products they use for their back-up company, Western Digital has the highest failure rate at 7%.

Overall Seagate comes out best. As much as the above diagram may show HGST as being better (ironically, HGST is a subsidiary of Western Digital anyway), other factors such as power usage, cost and availability also came into play. As such, Seagate come out on top.

When Cinema Fails

We are in an age where downloading pirate versions of the latest blockbusters is as easy as making a cup of tea. Let me be clear, however, that I do not condone piracy. But why on earth would anyone want to pay their hard-earned cash for a below-par cinema experience? Here’s a little blog about an experience at my local cinema watching Skyfall.

My main passion in life is cinema. The thrill of a movie experience comes down to being taken away to another world, connecting with the characters and being part of a crazy ride. At home, I’ve attempted to recreate the cinema experience with the big screen TV, surround sound system, comfy beanbags and popcorn. But it truly pales in comparison to a proper cinema visit.

Last night I had high hopes for watching Sam Mendes’ Skyfall in the best possible way and so headed to the local cinema. But my experience at Cineworld Feltham was truly shocking. I don’t know who designed the space for these screens, but it appears they have little to no experience in acoustics or aesthetics. It was appalling.

The floor had bags of popcorn strewn around the place. The projector screen was dirty with smear marks all over it. But the worst thing for me was the sound. During the commercials and trailers I noticed that something wasn’t quite right. The voices, which in a 5.1 surround sound system are meant to come from the central speaker below the screen, were coming mainly from the left of the cinema screen. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think they likely have a row of “central” speakers along the bottom of the screen. But only the very left-hand side one was working.

This sound problem causes a visual problem; if someone is talking on the right of screen you don’t expect to have their voice come from the left. It’s confusing and distracting. Imagine wearing headphones to listen to music and having all the lyrics in the left ear and the drums only in the right. You’d spot right away that something was wrong.

What was also worse was the volume of the sound. It was clearly too loud as the speakers were rasping and distorting during certain scenes. The volume should not distort the quality of the sound. There’s a good chance that the volume levels are what’s blown some of their speakers. Does anyone check these things?

The other aspect of this cinema was its shape. The best place to sit would ideally be somewhere near the back and central to the screen. Not only do you therefore get the best viewing angle, you are also positioned in the perfect place for the sound. But there are no seats in the centre area, because they chose to put the aisle right down the middle instead. So any position you watched the screen from was going to be at an angle to the screen. And in essence there are no back row of seats, as the cinema is in an L-shape! With the double-doors to the back-left of the cinema , the back three rows are only on the right hand side of the aisle! So anyone sitting there neither gets the best view of the screen nor decent sound as the left hand side speakers are blocked by the doors!

I’ve written a letter to the cinema asking the reasons behind the design of the screens and pointing out the problem with their sound. Here’s hoping someone takes notice.

To advertise in their own cinema that “piracy is a crime” is one thing, but to let someone sit through that sort of experience is another.

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UPDATE: As of 8th February, more than 7 weeks after the letter was sent, there was still no response from Odeon regarding the above.