Western Digital Corporation’s WD Red NAS hard drives are not suitable for use in network-attached storage devices and put user data at great risk, a proposed class action lawsuit claims.
The plaintiff, a Wisconsin consumer, alleges the WD Red NAS hard drives manufactured and sold by the defendant are “completely worthless” for their intended purpose.
Filed in California’s Southern District, the highly technical 33-page case claims the defendant’s spinning disk mechanical WD Red NAS hard drives are dangerous to user data given they utilize “inferior” technology neither appropriate nor suitable for use with network-attached storage (NAS) devices and redundant array of independent disks (RAID) environments. The suit explains a NAS device is a stand-alone computing device that typically contains “multiple individual hard drives grouped together to form one large datastore” used to share files among other computers over a network. RAID technology, which is typically utilized in NAS devices, combines multiple hard drives into a single logical data store for redundancy, security and performance purposes, the case says.
“NAS devices which contain four or more hard disks typically (and often automatically) format the drives in a ‘disk striping’ format such as RAID 5 or RAID 6 or ZFS software or hardware RAID, which builds in redundancy such that one or multiple drives can fail and data will not be lost.”
Hard drives designed and built for NAS and RAID must be able to handle “continuous and sustained writes and heavy random writes”—which necessarily occur during the RAID rebuilding process (called resilvering) when a failed hard drive is replaced with a new one and data is redistributed, the case continues. Further, continuous and sustained random writes also occur when storage capacity is added to a RAID arrangement by tacking on more hard drives, per the suit.
While hard drives designed and built for NAS and RAID are expected to have reliable and fast random-write performance in general and be able to handle continuous random data writes, the WD Red NAS devices made by Western Digital, despite their reputation and advertising, are “wholly inappropriate” for their intended purposes, the lawsuit argues.
According to the complaint, Western Digital sometime in 2018 “surreptitiously” snuck into its hard drives “inferior (and cheaper)” technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR) “without any disclosure whatsoever” and “in an effort to shave costs while keeping the selling price the same.”
The plaintiff claims SMR replaced the more-expensive-to-manufacture but industry-standard conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology the defendant had used in its WD Red NAS hard drives for nearly a decade. The suit contends that industry experts agree and have gone on record stating SMR technology is “completely inappropriate, and even dangerous” for the hard drives’ intended use, “and should never be used in such an application.”
Even after getting caught swapping in inferior SMR in April 2020, Western Digital has continued to falsely advertise its SMR-technology WD Red NAS hard drives as “purpose-built” for NAS and RAID to help preserve data, according to the lawsuit.
“As a result of [Western Digital Corporation’s] fraud and deception, thousands of customers nationwide who purchased the WD Red NAS hard drives for their advertised and intended use have been duped, and have suffered harm and damages,” the complaint claims, alleging the defendant’s hard drives are “ticking time bombs” that could cause the destruction of user data “at any moment.”
Per the case, the data recovery and redundancy features of the defendant’s hard drives may fail during what’s called the RAID rebuilding process as the devices cannot handle the continuous sustained writes and heavy random writes of data that necessarily occur. Relatedly, users are often unable to expand their NAS storage capacity by adding more hard drives given the defendant’s product’s difficulty in handling redistributing and rewriting data across each drive, the lawsuit says. According to the suit, Western Digital Corporation’s hard drives are “simply unable to handle continuous sustained random writes (which often occurs in normal NAS usage) without freezing up and reporting ‘timeouts.’”
Further still, the WD Red NAS hard drive may also fail to function while performing standard and expected RAID “scrubbing,” a recommended periodic data integrity check by which all data on a hard drive is checked for errors and automatically corrected, the complaint says.
Through the lawsuit, the plaintiff aims to secure public injunctive relief directing that Western Digital and sellers stop advertising the hard drives equipped with SMR technology as appropriate for NAS devices and RAID, including by removing “NAS” from the product name.
The case looks to cover all U.S. residents who, during the applicable limitations period, bought any Western Digital WD Red NAS hard drive with SMR recording technology.
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