Green Caviar: High Load Cycle Cout after short operation time

I bought a WD Green Caviar for my new computer. I choose the green  line because of its low noise level.  But I am no longer sure that it was a good choice. Yes, the drive is really silent and it is fast enough for me. But I had two strange system crashes during the last 3 weeks ( with my old computer I had no system crash in 7 years!)  where the kernel reported I/O errors  during disk operations - after a reboot everything was fine again. I did a file system check and SMART self test  with no errors found. There are similar reports in this forum which make me belief that the Green Caviar is responsible for these crashes.

But today I discovered something else that worries me. I had a look at the SMART data and I discovered a very high Load Cycle Count for this 1,5 month of operation. Here is the output of smartctl:

  4 Start_Stop_Count 0x0032 100 100 000 Old_age Always - 132
  9 Power_On_Hours 0x0032 100 100 000 Old_age Always - 514
 12 Power_Cycle_Count 0x0032 100 100 000 Old_age Always - 131
193 Load_Cycle_Count 0x0032 189 189 000 Old_age Always - 35870

As you can see the drive has already gone through  6% of  the permitted load cycles. The drive in my old computer had only ~1360 load cycles  in three years .

Somebody told me these numbers are meaningless, but I am not so sure. What do you think?


I found out that it is a known problem - there are numerous reports around. The Green Caviar puts its heads into parking position after 8 seconds idle time. Now when the OS periodically performs a disk operation the heads will be permantly parked and un-parked on an low loaded system which causes the load cycle count to explode, So it is more a desktop than a server problem.  There are romours that the Green Caviar is advertised as desktop product …

I wounder what will happen when I return the drive to WD for replacement in a few month when it will surely have failed!

Green Caviar ■■■■■!

8 seconds? that’s crazy! can’t you change that?

Can you change the drive’s internal APM (Advanced Power Management) setting?

The ATA commands, including APM, are documented in the following document.

Working Draft AT Attachment 8 - ATA/ATAPI Command Set (ATA8-ACS):

You may be able to use a utility such as hdparm, HDAT2, or HDDScan to set the APM levels for your drive:

hdparm -B doesn’t work  - you get an error message.

hdparm -i tells you that the drive doesn’t support APM (AdvancedPM=no).

There are reports that WD is aware of the problem but doesn’t officially admit the problem.  When you contact WD support they will send you a DOS tool called wdidle3 which allows you to change the timer settings. I guess they use vendor specific commands. I contacted them yesterday  - no response yet.  I found a copy on the Internet but I won’t use software from insecure sources.

Today I did a test:  I set up a cron job that logged the load cycle count every 30 minutes. On my idle computer (I was at work) I got frightning results. Now here is an excerpt:

2010-03-25 10:00:01 37605
2010-03-25 10:30:02 37665
2010-03-25 11:00:01 37725
2010-03-25 11:30:01 37785
2010-03-25 12:00:01 37845
2010-03-25 12:30:01 37905

As you can see an increase of 60  every 30 minutes. That’s because the kernel flushes dirty buffer pages every 30 seconds. If it goes on like this the drive will reach its life time limit within a few month.

See this thread:

BTW, you can upload any suspicious file to VirusTotal:

Your file will be scanned by ~40 different antivirus software.

Here is the scan report for my copy of wdidle3:

Note that wdidle3.exe has been compressed with UPX:

Before submitting it to VirusTotal, I unpacked it.

  fzabkar’s posting didn’t make me happier. “So… it seems the idle time cant be set above 12 seconds on these drives…”

Today I bought one and I have one week to return it…

WD15EARS wrote:

Today I bought one and I have one week to return it…

    • *> I would return it and get a non-green one. This IntelliPark feature is total rubbish. It may save a few mW but its risks data loss and it noticeable slows down the drive. The Green Caviar drives are really bad designed products. Why haven’t they implemented some smart algorithm that monitors how the OS accesses the drive and adjusts the idle time to a sane value? I am sure parking and unparking the heads every few seconds effectively increases the power consumption and destroys the the drive.

did you read this (are you a Linux-user): ? please tell me if it’s helpfull.

I do’nt know how often the head is parking because I can’t access the SMART-status (The drive is temporary external by a SATA to USB hub) Fysically the drive feels superb, sometimes I hear the heads, but it is no more than twice a minute. I have some days to decide on holding the drive.

What if you make a background job to intentionally touch the disk every 6 seconds to prevent it from parking?  Or you can enable laptop mode to get the kernel to stop constantly flushing buffers it does not have to.  This is how you get a disk to stay spun down when you put it to sleep.  I’d say enable laptop mode and when you’re going away, manually tell the drive to sleep with hdparm -y.  That way it spins down and stays spun down, with no load/unload cycles while you aren’t around.


Thank you for your support, but unfortunately it doesn’t help. hdparm -B 255  doesn’t work for the Green Caviar drives because they do not support APM (that’s what the drive reports when you do a hdparm -i). 

# hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda/dev/sda: setting Advanced Power Management level to disabled HDIO_DRIVE_CMD failed: Input/output error HDIO_DRIVE_CMD(identify) failed: Input/output error# hdparm -i /dev/sda/dev/sda:..... AdvancedPM=no WriteCache=enabled Drive conforms to: Unspecified:  ATA/ATAPI-1,2,3,4,5,6,7.....

 I wonder whether they have ever tested what they suggest.  And I will definitely not mis-configure my OS the way they propose.

I will give wdidle3 a try and if it doesn’t work they will get my drive for RMA in to years … I do daily backups.

Virustotal convinced me that my  wdidle3 copy is clean. So I created a FreeDOS boot CD and run wdidle3. I reported a timer value of 8.0 seconds.  The command line option for disabling the timer at all is “/D”. However, the timer is not entirely disabled but set to 62 minutes idle time - a limit that will never be exceeded.

Now here comes the good news: no increase for Load Cycle Count since 4 hours! :smiley:

Congratulations! :smileyvery-happy: So you did something that WD not supports and it works… for how long? Are you sure this is a sustainable solution?

I don’t have that high load Cycle Count, but yes, my disk is only for storage. Like you said problems arise when the OS periodically performs a disk operation. Having said this, I still consider the option to return it. In any case next friday I will buy that Medion external from Aldi as a backup for my WD15EARS :dizzy_face: , because I really wanna know how long this thing last. 

WD15EARS wrote:

… and it works… for how long? Are you sure this is a sustainable solution?


… because I really wanna know how long this thing last. 

    • *> I am optimistic - why should the drive switch back to its old behaviour? Only three load cycles since yesterday - which matches the power cycles. So its working.> Well, how long will your drive survive? Nobody knows - it may break after only 100 000 load cycles or even survive 1 000 000, The probability for a failure increases considerably when the design limited is exceeded.>  

Today I got an interesting email from WD support. I asked them for wdidle3 two weeks ago. Now they are telling me that they cannot give me a tool to change the power saving settings!

And I can tell them  that this was the last disk I bought from WD!

Sorry, but our agent didn’t know that this policy was just changed.  Current WDIDLE3 works with the RE and GP drives listed below.

RE Drives - WD1000FYPS-01ZKB0, WD7500AYPS-01ZKB0, WD7501AYPS-01ZKB0




Would be nice Bill_S, but WD doesn’t name there  the GP drives you did. :angry:  Will this change? And when?

1 Like

Hmmm … so what does this mean? WD calls  wdidle3 V1.05 a firmware update. Or does wdidle3 V1.05 just set the Idle3 timer to some new value and does not give you the option to choose like wdidle3 V1.03 did? If so, what is the new value?



Thank you, Bill.