Checking Western Digital Green load cycle per hour / Intellipark issues

I got a few Western Digital Green hard disk. I’ve read they have been rebranded blue now. It was supposed to be hard disk with long consumption, possibly lower speed due to low rotation. Low rotation, you would assume: longer-life span, since usually, mechanical devices lives longer when running slower.

But when you do realize that these Green have the shortest warranty possible (2 years against 3 or 5 for others), you wonder.

And then, when you have a hard disk that starts to fails, you learn stuff like these Western Digital Green having a 8 seconds timeout to park the drive (yeah, like in old DOS era, when you where using park before shutting off your computer). I assume it is to save energy but it takes no genious to evaluate the result if your system writes every 10 seconds, which is not un unlikely scenario.

I am not talking theory, I do have a failing Western Digital Green 2Tb (WDC WD20EZRX-22D8PB0) that is just 2 years and a few months.

With different cables and different mainboards, power supply units, etc, it sprouts:

 [ 3996.054577] ata7.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x0
[ 3996.054580] ata7.00: irq_stat 0x40000001
[ 3996.054585] ata7.00: failed command: READ DMA EXT
[ 3996.054595] ata7.00: cmd 25/00:08:00:88:e0/00:00:e8:00:00/e0 tag 17 dma 4096 in
 res 51/04:08:00:88:e0/00:00:e8:00:00/e0 Emask 0x1 (device error)
[ 3996.054598] ata7.00: status: { DRDY ERR }
[ 3996.054600] ata7.00: error: { ABRT }
[ 3996.055191] ata7.00: failed to enable AA (error_mask=0x1)
[ 3996.056015] ata7.00: failed to enable AA (error_mask=0x1)

So what about this wdidle3 timeout and resulting Load_Cycle?

# hdparm -J /dev/sdd
 wdidle3 = 8.0 secs

# smartctl /dev/sdd -a | grep Load_Cycle
193 Load_Cycle_Count 0x0032 116 116 000 Old_age Always - 253474

253474 for recent hard disk? I’ve read the life expectancy is usually between 300000 and 1000000 load cycle count. But as reference, I’ll check my other hard drives on the workstation I put the disk to test:

# DISK="a b c d e"
# TMP=`mktemp` && for disk in $DISK; do smartctl -xa /dev/sd$disk > $TMP ; grep "Device Model" $TMP ; hdparm -J /dev/sd$disk 2>/dev/null| grep wdidle ; grep Power_On_Hours $TMP ; grep Load_Cycle_Count $TMP ; Count=`grep Load_Cycle_Count $TMP | grep -oE '[^ ]+$'` ; Hours=`grep Power_On_Hour $TMP | sed "s/\s[(][^)]*[)]//g" | grep -oE '[^ ]+$'` ; if [ x$Hours != x ]; then echo `echo print $Count/$Hours. | perl` load cycles per hour ; echo ; fi ; done
Device Model: WDC WD5000AZRX-00A8LB0
 wdidle3 = 128 ??
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 075 075 000 - 18587
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 121 121 000 - 239519
12.8863721956206 load cycles per hour

Device Model: ST2000DX002-2DV164
 wdidle3 = 1 ??
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 094 094 000 - 5385
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 099 099 000 - 3617
0.671680594243268 load cycles per hour

Device Model: WDC WD20EZRX-22D8PB0
 wdidle3 = 8.0 secs
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 090 090 000 - 7672
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 116 116 000 - 253490
33.0409280500521 load cycles per hour

Device Model: WDC WD2001FASS-00W2B0
 wdidle3 = 128 ??
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 038 038 000 - 45726
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 073 073 000 - 382183
8.35811135896427 load cycles per hour

Depends obviously of the purpose of the hard disk. Still, the affected Western Digital Green, with its 33  load cycles per hour stands out, in the wrong sense. At this rate, the first disk would reach 613000 load cycles instead of 239519 by now, likely a goner already.  And the last one would be around 1509000, a goner definitely too!

Then on a  server:

Device Model: ST4000DM005-2DP166
 wdidle3 = 1 ??
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 090 090 000 - 9091 (43 85 0)
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 100 100 000 - 400
0.0439995600044 load cycles per hour

Device Model: WDC WD40EFRX-68WT0N0
 wdidle3 = 300 secs (or 13.8 secs for older drives)
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 062 062 000 - 28038
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 200 200 000 - 653
0.0232898209572723 load cycles per hour

We have read too an infamous Western Digital, but not a Green, so the widle3 is much less extreme.

What about on a laptop (Lenovo 20017 IdeaPad Y550 ) ?

Device Model: WDC WD5000BEVT-22ZAT0
 wdidle3 = 8.0 secs
 9 Power_On_Hours -O--CK 041 041 000 - 43353
193 Load_Cycle_Count -O--CK 001 001 000 - 889112
20.508661453648 load cycles per hour

Gasp! But wait, isn’t it a Western Digital Blue – so, Green rebranded?

Questioned about this kind of issue, it seems that Western Digital claims “we’ve not seen the drives fail over high load/unload counts”. It may be right, maybe the problem is something else. But that the only odd thing noticeable to me. And I am apparently not the only one questioning Western Digital statements, if not challenging them.

As you can see, I got a few disk from this brand and must say even the Western Digital knowledge base entry titled “The Load/Unload counter for S.M.A.R.T Attribute 193 continues to increase under some distributions of the Linux Operating system and some Windows applications”  is not what I expect as customer. They do not question their 8 seconds timer, which is questionable – I do not care about their very own opinion about how often a system should or should not write to a disk.  They claim the issue “artificially increases the number of load-unload cycles”. There is nothing artificial, it simply does increase. They say it is no problem because they are “within design margins (drive has been validated to 1 million load/unload cycles without issue)”. But my test shows that it is out of proportions in any case, for no real added benefits.

I have to admit the issue is not new. But if you do not especially pay attention to hard drives in general, why would you be aware of it.

What to make out of this?

First, on the laptop, I’ll disable this widle3:

# apt install idle3-tools 
# idle3ctl -g /dev/sda
Idle3 timer set to 80 (0x50)
# idle3ctl -d /dev/sda

Myself, I think I’ll stay clear of Western Digital all together.