FAQ MegaThread for Western Digital WD Recertified Drives and NAS

Posted 20th Apr 2018Edited by:"ElBuc"
I think there is a need for a FAQ list regarding the recertified internal, external, portable hard drives and NAS devices from WD. A link can then be added to future WD recertified offers on HUKD.

I expect this to be continually evolving so please feel free to add questions and answers, suggest a better format, or correct the information. You can give general advice and info relating to specific products.

Disclaimer: I'm by no means a tech expert, I just own quite a few WD products. Also I do not and never have worked for WD.

Here goes for starters:


WD Recertified: Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Are WD recertified drives 'second hand' or faulty?
What does recertified mean?

A1. They say “WD recertified products may consist of customer return units and may be repaired.”

Parts of recertified drives may have been salvaged from products purchased before, and sent back as faulty. This could be for a number of reasons but it is widely accepted that the only the good parts are reused.

These faulty parts which have been replaced would typically be the circuit board, external ports or simply a damaged case or cable. It is unlikely to be anything inside the sealed drive itself as replacing the actual metal discs/plates, the moving heads, or anything else deep inside the drive would be too time consuming, and would involve an operation in a sterile, dust free environment – something akin to open heart surgery. The cost and effort involved would easily outweigh the profit from the resale.

Recertified items are always supplied with cables, power and brand new gleaming casing, so in use they look exactly the same as a new product. The box they come in is usually plain and generic but protected with foam necessary for protection during shipping.

WD state their recertified products are "Tested and determined to meet WD’s stringent quality standards." so there is little reason to believe they are any less reliable than their new products.

I believe there is a possibility that the recertified drives have more bad blocks than a new drive. It's boring but I'll explain...
Over a drive's lifetime a hard disk can develop bad blocks, these are tiny sectors on the discs/plates which have become unresponsive and cannot be written to. Bad blocks are usually completely unnoticeable to the user as the drive hardware checks for them on the fly and remembers which the bad blocks are, so 'quarantines' them. Every drive made has a certain number of spare blocks which set aside unused until they are needed to replace a bad block. So I speculate that theoretically the threshold for acceptable number of bad blocks may be set lower on a recertified drive, but only WD will know this for sure. I have not heard any examples of recertified drives having issues with bad blocks. [Someone here may be able to confirm or correct me here]

Do not confuse these recertified (manufacturer repaired) items with refurbished. You may see refurbished disk drives on evilBay or elsewhere and the term usually means something completely different. Some companies specialize in 'refurbishing' old hard drives. This could be as simple as they tidied up the casing or wiping the existing data and running a disk check. It could also mean they have modified and/or updated the firmware, cleared SMART data, concealed defects, cut heads [this is taken from someone else's response to a similar question in an offer thread] because they failed and now the drive will actually be reduced in size from the original design/label. You have been warned!

Q2. But the website also states "Six month limited warranty." Why not the 2 or 3 year warranty like the new drives?

A2. Only WD know the reason for the short warranty, but it is likely to be the standard marketing strategy to further differentiate the recertified items with their new products. Saying it is because the drives are less reliable is pure speculation.

Q3. These hard drives have 2TB storage [or insert another high data capacity], that is a hell of a lot of data to lose, why would I take that risk?

A3. Any hard drive, (be it new or recertified, big or small, HDD or SSD, internal or external or in a NAS, WD or Seagate etc.) can stop working suddenly without warning, resulting in loss of some or all of your valuable stored data - losing family photos is a hard pill to swallow. When this happens to you, you don't forget it. It can cost upwards of £400 to 'operate' on a defective drive and even then you are not guaranteed to retrieve all of your data, if any at all. A warranty won't get your data back if it's for 6 months or 10 years, therefore, backing up is way more important than if a device is new or if it has a longer warranty.

So it is highly recommended that you have AT LEAST one other backup of your data if you value it. Some sensible people here suggest the 3-2-1 backup strategy: store 3 copies of your data, on 2 different storage devices, and 1 of those copies offsite. More here: carbonite.com/blo…up/

If, however, your stored data can easily be replaced or re-downloaded (e.g. huge game files) and the physical drive is more important than the data stored on it, then you could argue that on balance that a two year warranty on a new device is a safer bet than the six months that come with recertified items.

Q4. How come WD recertified drive deals are posted so frequently? Doesn't that suggest that their products have a high failure rate? I [or insert friend/relative/workmate here] had a WD drive which packed up.

A4. WD recertified deals are indeed regularly posted here and it is usually possible to find a 1TB or 2TB drive at a lower price than a new version, this is almost certainly because these are by far their best selling items. But as many here have found out, the really good deals (often for higher capacity drives) do not last long and sometimes there are only a handful available.

Everyone knows someone who has had a faulty drive, and as WD are one of the two biggest manufacturers of hard drives it would be not out of the ordinary to hear of one failing, or have your own fail. I've personally had at least eight drives die over the last 25 years on me, only two of them being WD, of those one was purchased new and one recertified. Others swear by Seagate. But anecdotal evidence like this doesn't hold much weight. I've seen people post links to large scale statistical studies on failure rates which should give you a better idea. [feel free to post link to large scale data]

Q5. Will this voucher code work with this offer?

A5. Often WD voucher codes will not work with recertified purchases, due to them being sold by Digital River Ireland Ltd. via the WD website, rather than direct from Western Digital themselves. Some codes quoted have been user specific. However, some have reported success - be sure to leave details in the comments of a particular offer if it has worked for you.

Q6. How often do these recertified offers come up?

A6. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason regarding when the drives come in stock, other than recertified items seem to be added during office hours, the older items get posted less and less frequently and that their better selling items (e.g. 1TB or 2TB external drives) come up more often. The higher end MyCloud NAS devices are pretty rare, as are the external drives 4TB and upwards. New recertified products are added occasionally and older items removed.

You can request a notification email to be sent when a particular item comes back in stock, via the product website. These notifications expire either after they email you, or after a couple of months, whichever is sooner.

Q7. How come I can't get free shipping?

A7. I think free shipping is only officially stated to be for orders over £50, but many have found that shipping shows up as free for lower value purchases, either automatically, or by leaving the item in the shopping basket and waiting for an email from WD offering you free shipping if you complete your order.

Q8. What if my drive becomes faulty within the 6 month warranty period?

A8. When you receive any WD product, new or recertified, it is advisable to register it at the WD website. Should you have a problem you can submit an issue to WD via their website. If their support believes the item is faulty, they will give you a support reference code and request you send the device to them. Then if there is a fault they will send out a replacement. In my personal experience WD have been helpful and both of the drives which I returned were quickly replaced. In the most recent instance they replaced a 3TB portable drive with a 4TB one which has been working fine since.

WD offer an urgent [next day, I believe] replacement service which entails you leaving a deposit for the replacement drive sent out, to be refunded when they receive the defective drive and confirm it is indeed faulty.

Q9. Will this drive work on my Mac / XBox / PS4 / TV / media player [or insert another device here]?

A9. Any of the WD USB drives should work fine with these devices. You may have to re-format to FAT or NTFS for use on consoles and media players, or to HFS+ if you use a mac (though Macs will also read FAT and NTFS). You will be able to use the My Passport for Mac on other devices (it will be pre formatted to HFS+) and the My Passport X on Macs and PCs. These last two have what some call the 'Idiot Tax' and do exactly the same as the standard series.

Be aware that you may need to buy an different cable (or a converter port dongle etc) to get the USB drives to work on some of the newer Macs with only Thunderbolt and USB C or whatever [I'd be grateful if a knowledgable owner of one of the newer Macs could correct/reword this]

Feel free to add details of which devices your WD drive has been tested to work with, an ever growing list could be helpful to others here.

Q10. Other than WD's Elements drive series, their external drives encrypt all data stored on the drive. Wouldn't that make it impossible to retrieve the data if there is a fault in the circuit board?

A10. It turns out that many WD external drives do indeed encode all data on the fly, (with no obviously observable drop in read or write speeds) and that the circuit boards are paired with each individual drive, therefore not swappable (at least not by the end user). The encryption cannot be deactivated. The bundled software for Windows PC or Macs gives you the option to choose password to secure your personal data.

So, yes, it means retrieving data from a faulty drive may be difficult or impossible if the circuit board is faulty. But, as with all valuable data, it is better to be safe than sorry so recommended that you have AT LEAST one other backup of your data. See Q3 above for more on backups.

Q11. Are the USB controllers soldered directly onto the drives?

A11. The WD external portable drives have the USB controller soldered onto the circuit board, so you will probably not be able to remove the drive from its enclosure and use as an internal SATA drive. Some of the higher end drives (e.g. inside the MyCloud NAS devices) have standard WD Red drives which can be removed and used in another NAS. [I'm not 100% sure if this bit is correct, maybe someone can expand on this?]

Q12. Some WD drives come in different colours and are priced differently for the same capacity. Why is this?

A12. The colours of the portable external My Passport drives come in lots of colours. This is just cosmetic and can help you quickly identify which drive contains your photos, which has movies etc. The style of the casing changes occasionally, but again when it was made in relation to other generation designs is really all it signifies – this may include new/improved hardware inside for newer models but I've never noticed a difference. Some say the metal case models are louder than the current models with the diagonal line design plastic cases.

Q13. My drives break frequently. What am I doing wrong?

A13. Probably more advice on this is available elsewhere, but as a rule of thumb you should NEVER knock, drop, and whenever possible don't unplug a drive without ejecting it first. Knocking or dropping will be many times more likely to damage or kill a drive when it is plugged in and in use. This is because the drives' delicate heads retract when not in use, but hover unbelievably close to the spinning metal discs/plates when reading or writing data. Some say to always put drives flat on a surface, even if they are the MyBook upright drives from WD, as a drive flat on its side can't fall over.

It's also worth ensuring drives get enough ventilation and are not covered, stacked, enclosed, or in direct hot sunlight, which all can lead to overheating.


WD Recertified MyCloud NAS

Q1N. I could buy a Dell or [insert Brand X here] mini tower server for the price of this MyCloud. Am I missing something?

A1N. Other devices may do the same as a MyCloud, and more. But there is different hardware for different needs. The main advantage of a NAS is the compact size, simple setup and admin for home or small office use, lower power usage. They work as media servers streaming video and audio files (usually via the Twonky server, some models have Plex) and are great for an automatic wireless backup for Mac and PC. You can easily replace the disks on the mid range models.

Q2N. Can I connect this MyCloud NAS to my computer via USB?

A. Generally speaking, a NAS is only accessed over your network, or over the internet, via a browser based interface or iOS/Android app. It differs from a normal hard drive in that the unit is (usually) a small, self contained PC with stripped down Linux based system to work as a server. Low end models have a fixed set of apps but the higher end models have a number of downloadable applications to customise your NAS. For a standard external hard drive consider the WD MyBook range.

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