Top positive review
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Good, practical desktop drive
on October 26, 2014
I gave this drive to someone as a gift, and they've been using it for backups for 10 months without issue.
My review is based on another unit of this drive which I bought for myself some months later. I've been using it as my primary desktop OS/programs drive since 5/29/2014, so it's about 5 months now. There have been no problems thus far. It's really quite a bargain for desktop use if 1TB is all you need.
The actual capacity of this drive is 931.5GB. That's an old marketing trick which can be blamed for the pointless redefinition of all our real, long established data measurements with those silly "i" characters. I won't dwell on it any further, but 931GB is the true capacity when measured in base 2, as all data is correctly measured.
This 1TB Blue drive uses a single 1TB platter spinning at 7200rpm. There are 2 heads (each side is 500GB).
A single platter design is usually better for reliability than having multiple smaller platters, because there are fewer points of failure, the assembly is lighter, the motor doesn't have to work as hard, and less heat is generated.
Single platter drives will also tend to be quieter, but due to my configuration I can't judge the noise level.
There has been much discussion and testing among users in online forums, including WD's forum, which repeatedly show that the 1TB Blue and 1TB Black perform the same. It appears the only benefit of the 1TB Black is a longer warranty. Some Blacks are faster than this drive, but the 1TB model is not.
Compared to a Green, the Blue is faster owing to it's faster rotation speed. The Green drives also have an "intellipark" feature which causes them to keep parking the heads after a few seconds of inactivity. This can cause laggy response and extra wear. I dislike that design - I believe power management functions should be left under the control of the operating system, which can account for user preferences and what is happening in the rest of the system. Hardcoding this behavior into the drive is ridiculous, in my opinion. The Blue behaves the way I prefer - it does not use "intellipark", it stays ready to roll until directed otherwise through power management commands from the OS.
I wish they were making the Blue series in larger sizes - it seems this 1TB is the end of the line. I don't care for the Greens and the Blacks are more expensive.
Please be aware that like most modern drives, this drive uses 4KB sectors (also known as "advanced format"). If you are using Windows 2003, Windows XP or older, as I am, don't let Windows handle the partitioning of this drive. This is even an issue on unpatched versions of Vista and Windows 7. These older versions of Windows will believe that the physical sectors are 512 bytes, when in reality they are 4KB. As a result, the partition(s) will not be aligned with the physical sectors. It will still work, but performance will be reduced.
Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP and older do not have any update to fix this, but it's not a problem as long as you do the partitioning with a suitable 3rd party utility. I think Western Digital offers a tool for this, but I've never tried it. Once the partitions are set, it's fine to let Windows format them.
For my Windows XP install, I used a recent version of GParted to partition the drive. GParted can be downloaded and burned to a bootable CD, or installed to a USB flash drive. Just use the option to align your partition(s) on 1MB boundaries. This is the easy way to ensure they are aligned correctly for the best performance. Then boot your WinXP install disc and let it format the partition that you already created. It sounds harder than it is, it's a minor hassle but it's simple.
If you ever change the partitions, once again use GParted or a similar utility that handles alignment for modern hard disks. Don't use the built-in XP partitioning. But again, once the partitions are created, it's fine to let Windows format them.
The built-in partitioning is fixed in Windows 8.
According to Microsoft, it is fixed in Windows 7 after installing Service Pack 1 - you would need to have that service pack before partitioning the drive, not after.
Again according to Microsoft, it is also fixed in Windows Vista *after* installing update MS KB 2553708 - I assume this is automatically installed for people who use automatic updates, but I don't know that for a fact. This won't do you any good if you're doing a fresh install and your install disc predates the required update.
The partition alignment detail I've described above is an issue you will encounter with any recent hard drive, it's not unique to this model. If you ignore it, performance will be affected but it will still work. You may see Seagate drives implying that they are immune from this, but in reality, they are not. All modern "advanced format" drives, of any brand, will perform better if sectors are properly aligned. But it's not a big deal - just use a modern partitioning utility and then you're set.
I just tested this drive using "Roadkil's Disk Speed" on Windows XP 32-bit. I'll cut out all the variables and just give the linear transfer results with large block sizes. My drive has a few partitions and there are lots of files on it, so this might affect results.
First partition (first 20GB): 170-178MB/sec linear read
3rd partition (physical location range is from 28-628GB): 153-177MB/sec linear read
Last 300GB is unpartitioned so I can't test that range.
I don't think the random access test is useful, because my partitioning greatly influences the result.
There's a test mode for the whole physical disk, but it's results are too inconsistent.
This drive is a great bargain if you just need a simple, inexpensive, well performing 7200rpm hard disk. I was tempted to try a Seagate SSHD, but I couldn't justify the cost compared to this. If I was shopping today, I'd look carefully at the HGST and Toshiba offerings as well, but from the WD side this is my pick for a general purpose 1TB desktop drive.
Update: It is now 11/2015. This drive is in my desktop PC, used daily, and still works fine.
Some months ago I ran a benchmark on this drive using the linux utility "gnome-disks". The random access performance measured out to a 15.7ms average. This is mediocre, but expected from a quiet drive. Screenshot is attached. It also shows the transfer rate across the disk (read test only, I didn't test writes).