In July 2012, we saw Western Digital tackle the burgeoning NAS market with the 3.5" Red hard drive lineup. They specifically catered to units having 1-5 bays. The firmware was tuned for 24x7 operation in SOHO and consumer NAS units. 1 TB, 2 TB and 3 TB versions were made available at launch. Earlier this year, Seagate also jumped into the fray with a hard drive series carrying similar firmware features. Their differentiating aspect was the availability of a 4 TB version.

For a few months now, Seagate has held the crown for the NAS-specific drive with the largest capacity. Today, Western Digital is updating their Red lineup to achieve parity in that aspect. The 4 TB Red drive being launched today (WD40EFRX) now holds the joint record with the Seagate NAS HDD 4 TB version (ST4000VN000). The new drive also brings with it the NASWare 2.0 firmware platform, with updated features such as better error correction. Fortunately, the firmware on older Red drives can also be upgraded Update: WD got back to us with information that only drives manufactured after August 2013 can be updated with NASWare 2.0. To be on the safer side, readers should assume that none of the older models can get a firmware update with the new features.

Western Digital is also trying to kickstart a new range of NAS units for the SOHO market with the introduction of 2.5" Red models. Coming in 1 TB and 750 GB capacities, they may end up making small form factor NAS units with multiple bays attractive for consumers. As a NAS user, I am always torn between moving to fewer number of high-capacity drives or retain a large number of lower capacity drives. While space and power concerns may make the latter choice appear foolish, the prolonged risky rebuild and expansion times with higher capacity disks may also represent a legitimate concern. Under these circumstances, it might be really interesting to see small form factor NAS units which support 2.5" drives only. The following table summarizes the various models available in the WD Red lineup after today's launch.

We had covered the launch of the WD Se hard drives for data centers and high end NAS units in May. One of the advertised aspects was the 180 TB/yr workload capacity. Western Digital is unable to commit to a workload capacity for the WD Red lineup because of the varying environmental conditions under which consumer NAS units operate. That said, WD expects (unofficially) the Red drives to be able to handle workloads between 120 and 150 TB/year.

A few months after the WD Red got introduced into the market last year, I began to spy lots of forum reports indicating incompatibility with certain motherboards. It was refreshing to see WD's social media / tech support team actually reach out to these users (even in the absence of an official support ticket) and gather the necessary information to improve the compatibility of the WD Red drives (not only with NAS units, but, also with standard off-the-shelf PC motherboards).

The 4 TB version has a MSRP of $229, while the 2.5" versions are $79 (750 GB) and $99 (1 TB) each. Samples of the WD Red 4 TB version are in-house and you can expect a detailed review to come up later tonight.

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  • glugglug - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    I think it actually is 3 platters, 1.3TB per platter.

    2 things pointing to this:

    1. Slight sequential speed boost over 2 and 3TB versions. Speed increases with platter size (assuming rotational speed is kept constant)

    2. The specs here: show 7,814,037,168 formatted sectors formatted capacity. Which is divisible by 3 and 4, but not 5.
  • ruzveh - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    While 4TB HDD is definitely good to have why dont these companies now directly come out with internal HDD with USB 3.0 or 3.1 ports? We really want to have such HDD in the market where we can have those cheap internal HDD and compatibility and portability of having one cable connection instead of 2 different ones. Really at-least one manufacturer should think on this
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    Ummmm what? For internal use you don't want the extra cost or performance overhead of USB3 slowing everything down; and for external use it's called a USB enclosure.
  • bernstein - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    um, yeah and on top of that most 2.5" wd external drives are just that. a drive with a usb plug instead of a sata + power one (probably there is a sata-usb chip directly on the drive, but that matters not.... the most annoying thing about this is that you can no longer repurpose external drives for internal use)
  • glugglug - Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - link

    By most you mean none? I'm glad noone actually makes a USB drive.... sometimes a drive in a USB enclosure is cheaper than the internal version, and the enclosure packaging holds up better to shipping then how some places ship OEM drives...
  • glugglug - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    Actually I just searched for this and you are right - the 2.5" passport line is including a SATA-USB conversion on the board, instead of a SATA connector. WOW, that sucks. Glad I never bought one of those.
  • jmorey - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    The article mentions that it is possible to update older Red drives with the new NASware 2.0 firmware. I've not been able to find the new firmware on the WD site.Has anyone else found it?
  • taltamir - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - link

    "Fortunately, the firmware on older Red drives can also be upgraded."
    Where do I download this updated firmware for me v1 red drives?
  • ruthan - Friday, September 6, 2013 - link

    I would like to see 2,5" HDD bigger than 2 TB.

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