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EasyStore Drive Shucking like a pro ... by a pro

jgreco

Resident Grinch
Moderator
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
13,538
Yes, of course. What I meant was, before you pick apart the enclosure (pun intended), take the week to run the tests, and if necessary return the drive in its original state.
Hooking up a bunch of USB HDD's and running tests is a bit of a pain in the arse. Lots of older systems only have USB2, and power and cabling for more than a handful of USB HDD's gets messy quickly. I'm also not sure you can get at the SMART stats via USB. If you happen to have spare slots in your chassis, it may be easier to do this by shucking the drives and doing the tests on native SATA/SAS.
 

sretalla

Wizened Sage
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Jan 1, 2016
Messages
3,926

mistermanko

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
240
Yes, of course. What I meant was, before you pick apart the enclosure (pun intended), take the week to run the tests, and if necessary return the drive in its original state.
Will bad blocks be any slower when running it via the USB interface?

Basically what @jgreco is intending:
Hooking up a bunch of USB HDD's and running tests is a bit of a pain in the arse. Lots of older systems only have USB2, and power and cabling for more than a handful of USB HDD's gets messy quickly. I'm also not sure you can get at the SMART stats via USB. If you happen to have spare slots in your chassis, it may be easier to do this by shucking the drives and doing the tests on native SATA/SAS.
Anybody got experience with USB vs SATA?
 

elorimer

Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Messages
118
Anybody got experience with USB vs SATA?
I got a pair of 8TB easystores to replace a pair of 4TB reds. My six slots were maxed out, so I hooked them up via USB3 to run the long SMART and BB tests. It took a day. I don't know what it would have been with SATA; if I had taken the 4TBs out and hooked up the 8s for testing I would have lost the pool. I'm sure it would have taken longer with USB2. I copied the datasets onto other drives and rebuilt the pool in any case, so I suppose I could have destroyed the pool and run the tests. I wanted to run the tests first before I messed with the pool.

So, I guess it depends on what resources you have on hand.
 

Belphegor

Neophyte
Joined
Mar 21, 2020
Messages
7
Will bad blocks be any slower when running it via the USB interface?

Basically what @jgreco is intending:

Anybody got experience with USB vs SATA?
There is some overhead with USB but I would be surprised if it would be more than a few percents. Probably a few hours more at most for such a long test.

I would be more worried about the thermal behaviour in the enclosure for regular use. External drives are not designed to be used for long hours and temperature will likely reach 50° C at some point in the test. Nothing to worry about if it is just for initial testing though.
 

mistermanko

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
240
External drives are not designed to be used for long hours and temperature will likely reach 50° C at some point in the test. Nothing to worry about if it is just for initial testing though.
Well, it's called burn-in for a reason...
 

Velcade

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
109
Thanks for the shucking guide. I've always been apprehensive of this. Are these plug and play? I've read there are some voltage mods that need to be done on certain external drives.
 

Jailer

Not strong, but bad
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Sep 12, 2014
Messages
4,581

winnielinnie

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2019
Messages
371
First, I want to say that this is an awesome, awesome guide! :cool: I'm a visual person myself, and major props to you for providing clear photos of every step. I want to point that out, and really make it clear how valuable this is for everyone. Much appreciated!

Here is my concern with shucking though, which I'm sure others might share: the retail product (8TB Easystore, 12TB Elements, 14TB My Book, etc) does not correlate to what disk lives inside, correct?

If you do a Google search for a particular WD external drive, you can get mixed results and ambiguity of what lives inside the USB enclosure. Perusing the reviews / questions on Amazon or Bestbuy yield the same mixed results. Some people even claim they discovered WD Blue drives inside! o_O

Some drives, especially towards the higher capacities, are helium-filled. The fact that there is a S.M.A.R.T. attribute (#22) for this is nerve-wrecking. Imagine watching the number slowly decrease over time. What does it mean if the level drops below 90? 80? 75? Will the heads violently smash into the platter and destroy your data? Correct me if I'm wrong, but filling such a drive with helium at the factory is a "one time" thing. It can only lose (never gain) helium over time. (You can usually identify them by the lack of a warning label "Do not cover drive hole" on the sticker. Air-filled drives need this hole unobstructed to maintain equalized pressure with the outside environment. Helium-filled drives are completely sealed, no such hole, no such warning label.)

UPDATE: I forgot to ask. What about hardware encryption with WD's external drives? Is this done via the enclosure, or within the disk itself (i.e, as a self-encrypting drive)? I read that by separating the disk from the USB enclosure, you effectively separate it from its encryption key. I'm not sure if that depends on My Book vs My Passport or whatever else they have out in the market.
 
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Constantin

Vampire Pig
Joined
May 19, 2017
Messages
1,148
Helium likely can only be filled at the factory because you'd need some pretty specialized machinery to get the case evacuated, filled, and then sealed. None of these things are particularly hard on their own but taken together are quite a challenge. For example, you may have a friend that works at a Electron Beam Machining (EBM) facility... that takes care of the vacuum.... maybe even the helium... but definitely not the sealing part unless you can figure out how to use the EBM to weld/braze the case shut.

... and helium is a bear to keep sealed on a long term basis inside a enclosure subject to vibration, air pressure changes, temperature changes, and so on. Additionally, between the EBM machine time, helium, and your time, this is definitely not a cost effective way to repair a helium leak. However, few hard drive repairs are worth the $$$ vs. buying a replacement mechanism.

So, yes, I expect a drive losing its helium to not fare well on a long term basis but on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a flood of bad helium drives out there either.

Do not expect to find a particular drive inside an external enclosure. The modus operandi at the factory seems to be to fill them with whatever is leftover that day. Consider yourself lucky if you get a CMR drive without firmware limitations. Some OEMs now have "5,400 RPM Class" Drives which is to say a 7,200 RPM drive with a software brake. So all the heat, wear, noise, and energy consumption of a 7,200 RPM drive combined with the performance of a 5,400 RPM drive. Yay WD, what a bargain.

Or buy used. At least then you know what mechanism you're getting.

As for encryption, I believe that happens on the PCB of the drive. The EasyStore enclosure does include a bridgeboard from USB to SATA, but I believe that's all it does.
 

winnielinnie

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2019
Messages
371
So, yes, I expect a drive losing its helium to not fare well on a long term basis but on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a flood of bad helium drives out there either.
They're still relatively the "new kids on the block", so we might possibly gauge how well they hold up once they are adopted and used at comparable rates, maybe in 5 or so years from now? One reason it's apparently difficult to deduce their longterm relaibility is because drives in an enterprise setting (main customer) may be discarded before they fail?

Based on what some manufacturers claim, your drive is likely to fail from other causes before enough helium leaks out.


Do not expect to find a particular drive inside an external enclosure. The modus operandi at the factory seems to be to fill them with whatever is leftover that day. Consider yourself lucky if you get a CMR drive without firmware limitations. Some OEMs now have "5,400 RPM Class" Drives which is to say a 7,200 RPM drive with a software brake. So all the heat, wear, noise, and energy consumption of a 7,200 RPM drive combined with the performance of a 5,400 RPM drive. Yay WD, what a bargain.
This is the crux of my hesitation. I can't find the motivation to take the plunge just yet, as it could mean much back-and-forth with Amazon or Best Buy, even if I am extra careful in taking apart each drive enclosure, and carefully putting it back together again. (Could possibly taint my relationship with the vendor (Amazon, Best Buy, etc) if they see a recurring pattern of returns for the same product.) I would rather not create vdevs and pools with a mixture of different types of disks (e.g, White, Red, He-filled, different cache, different models, etc).


As for encryption, I believe that happens on the PCB of the drive. The EasyStore enclosure does include a bridgeboard from USB to SATA, but I believe that's all it does.
I'm not sure what the state of things are today with WD's external drives, but it seems to be a hit-or-miss not too long ago.

"In some cases they found that the encryption is performed by the chip that bridges the USB and SATA interfaces. In other cases the encryption is done by the HDD’s own SATA controller, with the USB bridge handling only the password validation.
. . .
The way encryption works in these drives is that a user-selected password is used to create a key encryption key (KEK). This is a cryptographic hash of the password generated with the SHA256 function.
The KEK is then used to encrypt a separately generated data encryption key (DEK). This encrypted version of the DEK, known as the eDEK, is stored in (1) the USB bridge’s EEPROM, (2) in a hidden sector on the hard disk itself, or (3) in a special disk region called the service area."



As for the My Book drives, I'm assuming they are always using hardware encryption, even if the user never set a passphrase to encrypt the DEK (data encryption key). Technically, this should not affect the performance nor reliablility of the disk after it is removed from the enclosure and used as an internal disk? TrueNAS or any operating system will see it as any other drive, agnostic to any hardware encryption underneath. Curiously, I wonder what would happen if you plug in the external drive into a Windows PC, set a passphrase on it via the WD software, shuck it, and then install it as an internal disk? (Not that anyone should, but it would be a strong indicator if the encryption is done via the USB bridgeboard.) In other words, the default first-time use of "no password" means that the data encryption key (DEK) is readily available, perhaps with a known factory default passphrase key encryption key (KEK)?
 
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NobleKangaroo

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
12
So, yes, I expect a drive losing its helium to not fare well on a long term basis but on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a flood of bad helium drives out there either.
Exactly my experience. I've got 8 Western Digital Elements / EasyStore drives spinning right now, 6 of which that have been going for nearly 2 years and are all reporting 100% still. I'm hoping that they'll all last somewhere between 6-8 more years (8-10 total). Unfortunately as you mentioned, you can't really expect to re-seal these drives so once they leak enough to risk having a head crash, they're effectively bricks. I don't really know enough about the expected lifetime of a helium drive, and there's not a ton of information easily searchable, but I'd assume that it would probably be longer than your average drive's 8-10 year expected lifetime. Higher workloads would presumably affect this, what with increased platter spins and head read/write seeks, but I'm no expert so take this with a grain of salt.

Do not expect to find a particular drive inside an external enclosure. The modus operandi at the factory seems to be to fill them with whatever is leftover that day. Consider yourself lucky if you get a CMR drive without firmware limitations. Some OEMs now have "5,400 RPM Class" Drives which is to say a 7,200 RPM drive with a software brake. So all the heat, wear, noise, and energy consumption of a 7,200 RPM drive combined with the performance of a 5,400 RPM drive. Yay WD, what a bargain.
A purchase I made this month on Amazon has me thinking we're seeing the last of the helium-filled drives, at least for Western Digital's 10TB (and possibly lower) offerings (Elements and EasyStore), as purchases from Amazon are all air-filled and Best Buy is totally out of stock of 10TB EasyStore drives. As you mentioned, you are pretty much gambling at what's inside and run a significant chance of getting air-sealed drives that run several degrees (~7°C) hotter, and quite a bit louder, when you buy 10TB Western Digital Elements (and possibly EasyStore, if they ever go back in stock) drives. I'm not personally sure about smaller or larger drives (8TB, 12TB, etc) but I believe I recall reading that 8TB drives have fallen to the same fate, and I'd bet the same fate will follow with 12TB+ drives once the helium-filled supply is all sold out.

This is the crux of my hesitation. I can't find the motivation to take the plunge just yet, as it could mean much back-and-forth with Amazon or Best Buy, even if I am extra careful in taking apart each drive enclosure, and carefully putting it back together again. (Could possibly taint my relationship with the vendor (Amazon, Best Buy, etc) if they see a recurring pattern of returns for the same product.) I would rather not create vdevs and pools with a mixture of different types of disks (e.g, White, Red, He-filled, different cache, different models, etc).
November 19th and 22nd, I purchased a couple 10TB Western Digital Elements from Amazon, with the original plan to begin building an offsite NAS for ZFS replication; little did I know Western Digital are sending air-filled drives now. I confirmed this by checking temperatures, and also noticed an audibly louder hum with these drives. I ended up returning them, somewhat guiltily, but I'm not one that returns stuff often... In the end, lesson learned.

November 27th, I ordered the last 10TB EasyStore Best Buy had in stock. Upon receipt, the drive was a helium-filled drive. My plan was to test the waters and buy just one, check it and go from there. As they've been listed as "This item is no longer available in new condition" since my purchase, I'm pretty much in a holding pattern as far as my offsite NAS build goes; while the air-filled drives aren't necessarily the end of the world, I really prefer the heat and power savings that the helium drives provide. I was considering giving 18TB drives a go but at $349.99 a pop (after Best Buy's $40.00 off), they're actually 14% more expensive per TB ($19.44/TB at $349.99/18TB) than 10TB drives ($16.99/TB at $169.99/10TB) so I am holding off for a while to let the dust settle and see what's to come of all of this. I've still got Crashplan as a last ditch resort if I need to recover data but I'd like to eventually finish an offsite build, with helium-filled drives if possible.

Going forward, I'm not sure what my plan is yet for future upgrades. I think I may have gotten one of the last of the helium-filled drives from Best Buy, but at least I have three cold-spares which should last quite awhile. When the time comes to revisit this, either to upgrade to larger drives or to replace dying drives, it's going to be interesting as we've currently got Western Digital selling SMR drives with CMR branding, air-filled drives in what's traditionally been helium-filled drive enclosures, the storage density of these platters reaching current manufacturing limits, and who knows what the next few years will bring.

Maybe by the time I have to think about replacing drives, we'll all be on 100TB NVMe flash drives? Only the future will tell! :smile:
 
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