RAID Cautions

I have a WD My Book Duo (2x6TB) drive configured as Raid 1. Yesterday, the Raid hardware failed - both drives are fine and pass the WD Utility tests. But the drive light is Orange (which means trouble) and the drive won’t mount. These Raid drives are generally used to protect against hard drive failure. But this is the second WD Raid drive I have had where the Raid hardware failed - not the drives. This is a single point of failure, and judging from my experience, less reliable than the hard drives themselves (WD Red 6TB drives). The Duo was my first line of backup (it is always connected to my macStudio) but I have other backups locked in a fire safe, so the data is recoverable. But that is a hassle. So, I did some experimenting - I pulled the two drives out of the box, reconnected, and checked Raid status, which had defaulted to JBOD. I put Drive 1 back into the enclosure, and it mounted on the desktop - so I am now running a copy of the entire drive. (The Drive LED still shows Orange, but doesn’t seem to be affecting the copy.)

Maybe it is just WD, or maybe I am unlucky, but I think I am though with Raid systems. (If I were to try again, I think I would try soft Raid which can be set up in Disk Utility.)

I wanted to improve my backup reliability and seem to have degraded it. I am sure others have had good results, but I certainly haven’t!


Was the Duo being used as a backup destination? If so, why did you need raid for a backup? Its primary purpose is for fault tolerance and is not a backup method. I have some multi drive enclosures but don’t run raid since a little downtime isn’t a problem.

Yes, it was the first stage backup. I have two copies of further backup of that drive (on the small 4TB Passport drives) that are kept in a locked fire safe. As I mentioned, given the apparent unreliability of the Raid hardware, I am replacing the drive with a standard 6 TB HD drive. (This isn’t a backup only system - I do read files occasionally (little used older files)).

I have tried cloud backups, but gave up because they are so slow and blow out my cable data limits (now 1.1TB/month). I have a fast Cox 1 GB internet connection - still horribly slow to move large quantities of data up to the cloud backup. Even iCloud, which I use for some photo libraries, is pretty slow.


It might be indeed that WD hardware is crap. I have been running G-RAID as my backup for many many years and only had drive failures twice. Replacing the failed drive and restoring RAID was just a minor interruption. The RAID-enclosure itself still works just fine.

FWIW, I wouldn’t trust consumer-grade devices (which includes the entire MyBook series of products) for something as important as backups.

When I need external drives, I build my own using NAS or enterprise drives (minimum requirements: 7200 RPM, CMR, rated for 24x7 operation, at least 1,000,000 hours MTBF). I guarantee that whatever drives WD put in that MyBook Duo don’t meet those requirements - they’re probably the same consumer-grade drives you find for bargain basement prices.

(FWIW, the last time I did this, I used 4TB Toshiba NAS (N300 series) drives. They are more noisy than others and they run a little warm - so I use enclosures with fans - but they have been very reliable.)

Although I don’t use RAID, if I need it in the future, I will look for a high quality RAID/NAS enclosure and will populate it with drives purchased separately.

Depends on the model. I wouldn’t consider the cheap “Blue” and “Green” drives (slow, no published MTBF, likely using SMR). I would definitely consider “Red Pro”, “Gold” or “Ultrastar” drives.

I also wouldn’t consider any drive sold as a pre-built external drive. But I wouldn’t consider that from any brand. At least not for anything where reliability is critical. (I do use a WD Elements portable drive, but not for critical files or for backups.)

The drives in the enclosure are WD Red drives, which I believe are a step above the normal “consumer” drives that WD puts into the cheaper enclosures. And, the drives in my Duo are just fine - they pass the WD tests without error. I may just switch to JBOD and use the Duo as another layer of backup but I have to see how the Duo behaves when I put both drives back in and reconfigure it. (I only have one drive installed now, and it works fine - and I have a clean backup - but the front LED is still blinking Orange meaning it has problems.)


Be careful. My memory is not clear, but some years ago drives sold as WD Red were not made to the specs that had meant. I did not follow that controversy, and do not know the current status, but I would not rely on color-based marketing as an indicator of WD drive quality.

WD makes three different “Red” models.

The plain “Red” drives are slow (5400 RPM) and have SMR recording. They are allegedly meant for NAS use, but (as far as I can tell) only due to some additional vibration-damping hardware. I would not consider them acceptable, due to the use of SMR.

The “Red Plus” drives are also 5400 RPM, but use CMR recording. I would consider these minimally acceptable.

The “Red Pro” drives are 7200 RPM. These are the only Red models I would recommend.

This is all kind of veering off topic. What I thought was interesting (morbidly interesting, perhaps) was that the drives in my Duo were working fine, but that the Raid electronics had failed (twice in WD consumer Raid devices I have owned)… The Raid 1 configuration is designed to protect data from drive failure, but the Raid electronics is a single point of failure, and certainly didn’t protect in this case.


Longtime system administrator here. I wouldn’t use a RAID for backup, particularly home backup. It’s just added complexity with little payoff. (Expensive) RAIDs are fantastic on big networks where they’re hosting vast quantities (thousands+) of big and small transactions per minute—file or database corruption is ugly without RAID. But for home use, unless you’re a pro video editor who needs vast speed on monster files, they’re just not worth it.

Just get really sturdy single drives and do your 3-level backup strategy.

Oh, and um, if that light’s still orange? Don’t use that enclosure for backup . . . :slight_smile:


The drives may be working fine, but was your data intact in one or both drives? Raid1 is a mirror. If the data is not intact on both drives, it is likely the RAID hardware is to blame or there is a problem with one of the drives preventing a perfect mirror.
If you are still going to use a RAID, my experience with an old TB2 OWC/Akitio box with SoftRaid has been good. There is a cheap version of SoftRaid for use in OWC hardware which supports RAID1. I am currently using WD Red+ CMR drives, and so far so good. My original pair was an old CMR Seagate and a SMR WD. SoftRaid has no problems as my demands on the setup are not great. TB2 and SoftRaid would probably fail for really intensive drive duty.

I haven’t checked both drives, but I removed both, then put one back in the device and it mounts and is readable (and complete). I copied all the data from this drive to a Samsung SSD, so I didn’t lose anything. I am rebuilding a new backup drive now (a Sandisk 6 TB G-Drive Enterprise External Drive). When I have everything restored, I will go back and see if I can figure out what happened to the Duo. I don’t trust it anymore, but I am curious about whether I can get rid of the “Orange” LED that indicated Raid problems.


I was referring to the RAID enclosure, which the original post was about, not the drives inside.

I wonder if you opened and unplugged -1- of the drives, whether the other would mount correctly. But then you should be prepared to scrape the bits off that drive to a replacement.

I will find out. I am just getting everything restored to the new drive.

I haven’t had problems with drives failing suddenly. Once I saw warning signs and was able to copy the data off the drive before it gave up completely.

My worst experience was many many years ago with the IBM PC/AT and the horrible drives they put into those systems. On Friday the 13th, I had a head crash. This was a work PC, so the drive was sent off to a recovery service. They recovered all the stuff I didn’t need - nothing that I needed.

My Cox 1gb connection is only 35mb up so my BackBlaze backups took some time for the initial load. Now they only take a few minutes. In our area (eastern VA) Cox hasn’t been penalizing people for going over their limit for a month or two.

I currently have 5.5 tb of data backed up to BackBlaze and 0.5 tb in iCloud. I’ve been very happy with BackBlaze and the speed of the small test restores I’ve conducted.

Here is a postscript to this story. After rebuilding my backups (to a SanDisk Professional G-Drive) I took another look at the RAID drive. It will no longer power up. So, it might have been a power supply going bad - and not (only) the RAID hardware failing. I pulled out the two 6 TB drives (WD Red) and put them in a USB case I have and tested them - they are both working fine. Again, the irony: I had a RAID 1 system to protect against drive failure and it was the RAID system that failed.


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