MODS: Green WD10EARS / WD20EARS Making "Clunk" Sound

I'm making this document since like you I use Western Digital Caviar Green drives in my network media tank (NMT) or network media jukebox (NMJ) and for data storage. Not only are these drives cool and quiet, they don't require as much power as performance drives. And the WD20EARS 2GB caviar green model just suits the storage requirement -- the price is just right -- it has double the capacity of the WD10EARS without having to pay twice its price. I use the same drives to store data on my desktop, not just the NMT.

But have you ever noticed your WD green drive make weird "clunk" noise(s)? This happens especially if you stepped away for a bit and grabbed a cup of coffee or prepped another bag of popcorn. Once you start browsing your selection of HD movies, the drive starts to spin up with a "clunk". Or try observing this on your computer, pause from work and listen to the drives for a while. Chances are you will hear the "clunk" and you will see (or perhaps hear) what I mean.

If this is not obvious to you with all the surround and Dolby digital sounds on the speakers or entertainment system, try plugging the drive to your computer directly and launch a hard drive utility capable of reading SMART (short for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) parameters off the disk, like below.

You will then notice the values for "Load Cycle Count" (LCC) have skyrocketed beyond your normal usage of the drive. This is most noticeable if the drive is relatively new. LCC for a storage drive that is a just week old should not exceed 1000. Going over that figure is just unusual. When you see these figures for yourself, a different realization starts to sink in. But don't fret, you did not buy a defective drive.

This is the default behavior of the WD green drives. Western Digital green EARS drives are known to park their heads every 8 seconds, if idle -- this is the "green thing" in the drive. Meaning, whenever the drives are idle and 8 seconds have elapsed, the drives park their heads and once the heads are parked, spin-up will cause the parameters to increase (and in turn decrease the future usability of the drive). The Load Cycle Count values skyrocket each time the device is used since they will be idle at some point.

Like me, you will want to change this behavior and Western Digital has provided the wdidle3 tool to override this default setting. Using wdidle3.exe, you can choose to completely disable the timing but that defeats the purpose of buying a green drive in the first place.

WDIDLE3 is a DOS utility, with The following set of arguments to be used (quoting the manual for wdidle3):

WDIDLE3 [/S[]] [/D] [/R] [/?]
/S[] Set timer, units in seconds. Default=8.0 (8.0 seconds).
            Resolution is 0.1 seconds from 8.0 to 12.7 seconds.
            Resolution is 30 seconds from 30 seconds to 300 seconds.
            Note, times between 12.8 and 30 seconds will be set to 30 seconds.
/D          Disable timer.
/R          Report current timer.
/?          This help info.

On my WD10EARS and WD20EARS drives, I ran wdidle3 as: wdidle3 /s300. Even though the tool is not certified for use with those drives, it ran successfully. And wdidle3 /r validated that the timing has been set to 300 seconds. With this, I modified the behavior of my WD10EARS and WD20EARS to park only if idle for 300 seconds. After which I plugged them on the desktop from time to time to observe the behavior of the Load Cycle Cound and the results are quite satisfactory -- not much increase unlike prior to the mod.

I have not taken any screenshots since I ran this tool in DOS mode, not inside the Windows environment. So I would strongly suggest not to run this on the Windows environment. Again, I would strongly suggest not to run this on the Windows environment, not even in safe-mode.

(DISCLAIMER: As always, do these things at your own risk. I cannot be held liable for bricking your drive due to performing this procedure.)


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