Release non 512-byte sector emulated firmware for WD?EARS


WD Dev Department,

As stated in this thread:

we would like to have these drives models with a non-emulated firmware

that exposes the 4K sectors directly to the OS.

The thing is that many Linux distros and Unix flavors already have support for that kind of disks and the 512-byte emulation is only presenting complications when trying to use the disk as is, thus forcing us to align the partitions to the correct underlying layout.

If the first goal of the emulation would be compatibility to actual or legacy OS’s, then there should be no need of it if the OS is already prepared to manage the 4K sectors.

In fact, you could have the a jumper setting to activate the 512-byte emulation starting at LBA sector 64 and another setting to have the disk exposed with non-emulation at all and showing the real thing.

Just a thought that could make our lives a little easier in the *nix world.


Leandro Vanden Bosch.

RAID 1 issues

I want to support this idea. Its really a shame that these drives can only be used with emulation and the performance makes them unusable with Raidz/ZFS.

Please be innovative and dont try to rip $$$ out of people pockets by offering “special RAID drives”.


Yes please. A firmware update that makes these drives report 4096-byte sectors would be excellent and make setting them up for Linux users a lot easier.


It would be nice if there was at least the option for the drive to report it’s true geometry to the OS, rather than only a compatibility layer for old operating systems.  I would understand if there was a jumper only to turn the compatability layer on or off.  But the drive should report 4096 when off.

I’m guessing this will result in replacements once properly reporting drives hit the market.  Across the forums I frequent It’s already resulting in people returning EARS drives and going with another manufacturer entirely with a bad taste for their WD experience, or people advising against buying them altogether.


I agree with this idea. I think a firmware upgrade is necessary for making these “EARS” HDDs really competitive in operating systems like Linux, FreeBSD, OpenSolaris, etc…

In my opinion, the current firmware uses a “dirty solution” that generally penalizes newer operating systems.


Please. I think that in the WD Development Department they should take this idea in high regard.

Personally I bought 5 of these HDDs. I use only UNIX-like operating systems and at the moment I am disappointed by the performance of this model of disk.

Thanks for your consideration.


I am in the same boat.  I got the first dozen of these drives thinking they’d work fine with ZFS (which supports the larger sector size).   However, the drives report a 512 sector size to the OS so it works pretty terribly.  (Poor performance).  The drives are all going back – or at the least we’ll be getting Seagate drives instead for the next boxes.


I’m with the other ZFSers.  I was thinking I would build a low power NAS with those drives and OpenSolaris (or maybe use in my ReadyNAS NV+).  Lucky I did some research before I went out and got four to eight drives.

I say some WD20EARS on sale and so I went WD to see if the issues have been resolved.  I guess not.  I would guess other drive makers are going to make 4K drives that are green so I guess it is time to look around.  I’m kind of a WD man, but if they don’t have it, I can’t buy it.

It’s hard to find any information about the firmware on the drive.  For example, ReadyNAS says drive of a specific model or firmware will work.  However, WD doesn’t have anything saying (that I found yet) when the new firmware rolled out so if you buy a drive from an online store you can guess if you get a new firmware drive or not.  I couldn’t even find how to flash the drive.  I thought the green drives were having problems, if that is true, why is it so hard to find the information.  If I knew it was easy to update the firmware, I would buy the drive knowing if it came with bad firmware I could fix it easy.

Well, I guess it’s time to look around for drive to use with OpenSolaris.  Thanks to everyone for sharing your pain, you are saving others from the same heartache.


I also have a WD10EARS (actually I have a WD15EARS as well, but that is currently in a Windows machine) and would like the ability for OpenSolaris/Linux/FreeBSD to be able to see the sectors as they really are so that the OS can properly handle optimizations.

I replaced one drive with a standard 512byte drive (Seagate I believe) and my resilver finished in 9 hours on my array.

I replaced another drive with a WD10EARS and after 9 hours of resilvering, the estimated time to completion was at 300+ hours.

These WD10EARS are useless to me (even though I like the idea of 4K sectors), because they don’t properly report their sector size.

I will be buying standard sector sized drives from other manufacturers for my arrays for now, and I hope that I can flash my two current EARS devices so that I can buy WD drives again.


I support this idea. Have delayed the purchase of new drives waiting for this problem to be fixed


I like the idea of a solution worked out by WD because otherwise these WEARS-drives are useless to me in combination with ZFS.


The same is true for me: I bought my 4 EARS drives for the sole purpose of running a zfs raidz on them. ATM the disks are so painfully slow, that I they are useless to me.

A firemware upgrade would be appreciated, otherwise I would have to sell the disks and get new ones…

which is funny, because I bought the drives thinking 4k sectores would result in good performance. 


I recently bought four WD20EARS without doing the proper research. When I installed them i my file server (FreeBSD w/ ZFS/RAIDZ) yesterday it turned out that the performance was a piece of **bleep** (8 MB/s).

The disks will be returned the next 14 days unless someone can guarantee that a 4k-firmware will be released soon.

Why is there a jumper for modifying the LBA-numbers (an extremely ugly hack), and not a 512<->4k-jumper?


I too have discovered too late that the EARS disks I bought are not suitable for ZFS use due to the 4k physical sectors being reported as 512 byte sectors.  A firmware update that corrects this so I can realize the full performance of these disks would be greatly appreciated.


I too support this idea; I think it is unacceptable that WD haven’t a plan to allow their 4k sector products to be used by *nix OSes.


Add me to the list of people who are troubled by the 4k drives not reporting the sector size correctly.  I have two WD20EARS drives so far - and I would be buying several more in coming months, assuming this gets worked out somehow.

The sector size reporting seems like the kind of thing that might be best handled by making it an option via jumpers, or something along those lines.  I understand why WD wants to support Windows XP with these since there are people out there still using it, but most of us are actually being hindered by it.  I use both Windows (not XP!) and Unix on my personal machines, and I just want drives that will work correctly.


I’m stuck in this same situation, got my 4 WD20EARS yesterday (with two more planned) to put it into a NAS box I’m building which will use ZFS.

Unfortunately, it seems I’ll have to return the drives if there isn’t any confirmation that there will be an update that allows to change the reported sector size to 4k.

It shouldn’t be too hard should it?

Please WD! * puppy-eyes* 


In the same boat as the other posters. I am considering returning the drive for another brand. Please see the other posts that people have put up:


We NEED an updated firmware for ZFS. It sounds like the simplest firmware update ever, why is it such an issue, WD?

First I had issues with your WDTV. Now I am having issues with your hard drives.

This is very disappointing. If we don’t get a firmware update, this will sadly be my last purchase from a company that I really respected in the past.


I think that you should go for it, but to tell you the truth, YOUR CURRENT WD SMARTWARE **bleep** AS^. IT ALWAYS SCREWS UP MY EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE SOMEHOW. You should think what your doing through and stopping RIPPING PEOPLE OFF!!!