Emergency retracts (SMART 192) on 5TB MyBook

I just got a 5TB MyBook, and I see that SMART attribute 192 is increasing. According to answer 1087, this is “Emergency Retract Count”. Other sources call this “Power-off Retract Count”.

I assume this attribute increments when power is unexpectedly cut and the drive unloads its heads using an emergency circuit. This causes more wear and tear than a proper unload performed while there is still power.

It has incremented when I put my computer to sleep with the drive still connected, when I unplugged the USB cable after safely removing, and when the drive went to sleep due to its own sleep timer. This never needed to happen, because the drive still had power via its own power adapter. It’s as if the MyBook enclosure is able to cut power to the drive.

This is not causing any problems, but I’m concerned about accelerated wear if this continues.

An emergency retract also happens if the drive detects a significant physical shock.

In this case it is not happening due to shock, and is definitely happening due to the computer going to sleep or the USB cable getting unplugged. There’s a conspicuously loud click when it happens, which is louder than normal head unload or spindown.

In Linux it’s easy to properly shut down the hard drive by putting it into standby. First, unmount the file system and sync. Then, put the drive into standby using hdparm -y. This will cause it to stop spinning. If you want, you can verify that it’s in standby using hdparm -C. The drive’s light remains continuously lit. Finally, you can unplug USB and/or power. The light will go off and there will be no sound.

I think this one is above my head. I agree with you that it should not do an emergency retract and it could be a bug with the drive’s internal firmware. I would get in touch with Western Digital support and ask them for their opinion and assistance on this one.

I already created a support request and just got my first response, saying they’re forwarding the request to another team. I guess this means the first level of support is for common issues, and due to the technical nature of this question it’s being forwarded to higher level support.

Please let the community know what the outcome is.

Yes, I will let everyone know with a response in this thread.

Today I received my first real response, a phone call. He had contacted the internal drive support engineers. The only useful information was confirmation that SMART attribute 192 is incremented when the drive retracts its heads using the emergency circuit. Now he will be contacting others who know more about the enclosure, and I expect a response by the end of the week. This will hopefully be more helpful, because I believe the enclosure cuts power to the drive when going into sleep mode, and it does that without properly shutting down the drive.

I was happy with the initial responses, but then communication stopped. At first I didn’t mind because I thought people were working on fixing the problem, but eventually I asked for a status update. After escalating in late January, I got a response, and was asked to again provide the same information about the enclosure USB IDs and firmware which I had provided before. The last message I got was on February 1st.

I’m not sure what to do anymore. This is not satisfactory for tech support.

Considering this and the unadvertised fact that the enclosure scrambles or encrypts data written to the drive even when no password is set, I don’t think I’ll be buying a WD external drive again.

I understand what is wrong and it should be easy to fix with a simple change to the enclosure firmware. When the enclosure puts the drive to sleep, it sends a standby immediate command to the drive. That command unloads the heads and spins down the drive. If the heads were already unloaded, as they are automatically after 8 seconds of inactivity, then standby immediate first loads the heads and then unloads the heads. The enclosure needs to provide power to the drive until the head unload is finished. The problem is that it cuts power too soon after issuing the standby immediate command, before the head unload had a chance to complete. The solution should be simple: wait a few seconds after issuing the command before cutting power. Alternatively, it may be possible to poll the drive using the check power mode command and see when it has entered standby.

Still no solution for that support request, and no response in months. I also checked for firmware upgrades and v1.065 is still the latest version.

What do I need to do to make Western Digital fix this problem?

I’m beginning to think it is a bad idea to buy Western Digital external drives.

I found this thread through a Google search. It has been about 7 years, and this is still an issue. I made an account here because I wanted to yell into the void.

I bought a 12TB My Book drive, and this stupid oversight by WD is the second thing I noticed. The first was the lack of a power switch, but I digress.

No matter what I do, the terrible enclosure on these things never gives the drive time to properly spin down before it cuts the power. Even sending a sleep command using Hdparm or Udisksctl increases the retract count. I’ve returned it and purchased a bare drive to put in a Startech enclosure.

WD, please fix this. People’s drives are going to fail prematurely because of this kind of thing.

Hmm. You’ve got a point there.