WD Drives Flash a Warning After 3 Years, Even if Nothing is Wrong

WD and Synology DiskStation

Western Digital drives in a Synology NAS will apparently flash a warning to users to replace them after they sense they have been powered on for three years, even if nothing is actually wrong with the drives.

As reported by Ars Technica this week, some users of Western Digital (WD) hard drives started to notice that they have begun to warn them that they need to be replaced, even if there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the drives. This is happening with drives that have been inserted into a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, such as a Synology NAS, as those devices are basically always on and would start to show this warning first.

“The drive has accumulated a large number of power on hours [throughout] the entire life of the drive. Please consider to replace the drive soon,” the warning reads through the Synology DiskStation manager.

The warning appears to be hard coded into the drives from WD with a specific time stamp, as shown by YouTuber SpaceRex who managed to find the actual code language that comes from the WD hard drive and specifically communicates to the NAS software to issue a warning.

Ars Technica spoke with Synology which confirmed the warning is coming from WD and not the NAS manufacturer.

“WDDA monitoring and testing subsystem is developed by Western Digital, including the warning after they reach a certain number of power-on-hours,” Synology says.

The auto-generated warning, which happens regardless of the actual health of the drive, might not have been implemented as a way to specifically sell more hard drives, but that is how users feel about seeing the warning. Basically, regardless of the intention, the implementation feels nefarious.

“It is clearly predatory tactics by Western Digital trying to sell more hard drives,” SpaceRex says.

Users have expressed concerns that the warning could prevent them from being able to monitor any actual issues with the drive since it will always show after a certain amount of time. The issue is occurring specifically with drives equipped with Western Digital Device Analytics (WDDA), and the company doesn’t publish a full list of drives that carry it. Synology does, however, have a partial list published on its website.

Many are comparing this practice to printer companies that warn users to replace ink toner even when there is plenty left in a tank as a ploy to sell more ink. Whether or not this is true, users are obviously not happy.

Image credits: Header photo by Jaron Schneider, PetaPixel