We've written a lot about Western Digital in the past, and that is partly because their range covers so many areas of IT that it is difficult not to talk about them. Whilst other manufacturers do indeed cover the gamut of storage options, such as PC gaming, console storage, cloud and server storage, and more - Western Digital have done their level best to make choosing the right solution as easy as possible. This week - as we're all about storage right now - we wanted to cover a brand that not only provides reliability and performance, but also hits the price point just right. And Western Digital tick all of those boxes.
Why Western Digital?
Skip to: Choosing The Right Storage.
The company was founded in 1970 and initially made their presence felt in chip manufacturing in the calculator market of all things. In the 1980s, Western Digital began their data storage journey with the FD1771 - a floppy disk controller, but it was the early 1990's that we would see the company start to experiment in storage solutions, with a few flops - but also the advent of the famed Caviar drives.
In the early 2000s, Western Digital were the first manufacturer to send ATA hard disk drives with 8 MiB of disk buffer to market. Most desktop hard disk drives only offered 2 MB of buffer at that time, so this would denote the beginning of their pioneering work in storage.
It was also during the early 2000's that WD began acquiring assets and companies that would cement their market position in storage solutions, being able to produce notebook and desktop drives in large capacities, and began to seriously think about the energy efficient aspect of storage - which gave birth to the GP (Green Power) drives.
In 2009, Western Digital shipped the first 2 TB internal HDD, the first 1 TB mobile HDD and the first 3 TB internal HDD, and also entered the budding SSD market. It was set to be a very busy decade thereafter, acquiring Hitachi's storage division, HGST, to become the largest hard drive manufacturer in the world.
Whilst Western Digital have a few "first in the world" achievements under their belt, it is their high quality manufacturing process and reliability that really takes the headlines, and has done for the past few years.
Are western digital hard drives reliable?
Cloud backup and monitoring company, Backblaze, regularly publish hard drive and SSD failure rates, and there aren't many geeks and tech-heads who don't clamour to see who won and lost in the charts. Their hard drive test data is used by professionals to gauge the lifespan of storage solutions, and in 2021, Western Digital (HGST) drives are reportedly some of the most reliable.
"HGST is the most reliable, which has been a recurring theme in Backblaze’s quarterly updates, as over the past three years the company never rose above one percent failure rate at any time, and finished the year with an impressive 0.37 percent failure rate in Q4 2021." - ExtremeTech.com
WD's span of the market means they can sell to just about any end user, whether it be commercial, industrial or personal. Having clients that have a £1m spend on storage versus £100 also means they need to be versatile and understand their market. The storage market does not currently have many big players, and manufacturers like Iomega, Hewlett Packard, Mitsubishi came to realise just how good WD and their competitors were at producing drives, leaving the storage market to pursue other verticals.
Western Digital's grip on the market is not loosening, either. Their R&D in OptiNAND and NAS (Network-Attached Storage) technology is producing incredible enterprise products like the WD Red Pro 20TB, and home users are benefiting from their fast SSD performance and reliable large capacity HDDs. While WD are investing in their technology, they also have their finger on the pulse when it comes to energy efficiency and their environmental impact, with various programs and commitments to sustainability in their processes.
If you are deciding on storage, Western Digital offer a peace of mind that can only come from incisive knowledge of their market, and the pedigree to back up their innovations.
Choosing The Right Storage
We all have different requirements when it comes to storage. Gamers need dependable SSDs and large capacity storage, where creative professionals need large capacity storage that can transfer data quickly. If you're installing CCTV, building a NAS server for home media, or even setting up your own server, there is no one size fits all.
That said, WD have made it their business to demystify the spectrum of storage solutions, and simplified the process of finding your ideal drive.
What do Western Digital colours mean?
When you're deciding on a WD hard drive or SSD, you can do so by using their simple colour coding system, whether you are decking out an entire server farm, or you just need an extra 1TB to store the next installment of Call of Duty.
|Color ||Ideal for... ||Features ||Warranty |
|WD Green ||Everyday light computing, home use ||Eco-friendly drives ||2 years |
|WD Blue ||Desktop, laptop, gaming, general use ||Good performance and reliability ||2 years |
|WD Black ||Superior gaming performance focused ||High-performance, reliable desktop drives ||5 years |
|WD Red ||NAS and RAID environments ||Network attached storage reliability ||3 years |
|WD Purple ||CCTV ||Security focused, video media storage ||3 years |
|WD Gold ||Enterprise and corporate ||Enterprise drives, focused on reliability and durability ||5 years |
WD Green is designed for everyday, light computing tasks that most families, students and home users require.
The solid "all-in-one" choice for desktop and laptop users, ideal for creative work, but also for budget-focused gaming use. Available in most form factors, and a range of versatile capacities that cover the majority of home-user use cases.
WD_BLACK is synonymous with high-performance gaming use, aimed at aspiring and pro gamers who want to achieve the best experience from their rig.
Uniquely engineered for use in NAS (Network-Attached Storage) and RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). An ideal solution for personal cloud setups for home users, or larger arrays in the office. WD Red drives are designed to work together and deliver "fast speeds and data mirroring", capable of withstanding the demands of an always-on environment, such as the high temperatures and vibration in NAS enclosures or the multi-user access of an office server array.
WD Purple is an exclusive range of drives that have been specifically designed to meet the demands of video surveillance systems. With technology that enables 24/7 recording and rewriting, the high capacity WD Purple HDDs have been developed for the industry and enable HD recording and reduced frame loss with WD's AllFrame proprietary tech.
WD Gold is the de-facto enterprise and corporate storage solution, designed for use in small business data arrays, and built for 24/7, continuous data access, reads & writes.
Western Digital or Seagate?
Reddit loves a good punch-up between manufacturers, and if you need any convincing of that you just need to look at the Intel vs. AMD arguments that surface at least once a month.
There are, naturally, many different factions in this comparison, which include gamers, creators, professionals and even the light home user who wants to store photos and budget spreadsheets. The most popular reason for a customer to ask our team this question, however, is the price-performance aspect.
Price-Performance = Western Digital
For the select few, price is no object. For most of us, we want the best performance per pound spent, and as the price per terabyte continues to drop in the SSD market, this is getting less difficult to achieve. Back in the early 2000s, it was not uncommon to see somebody laugh at you for having both an SSD and a HDD setup in your gaming PC, and wonder if you had robbed a bank to pay for your storage.
Now, Western Digital are one of the leaders in the industry at driving down the cost of solid state technology by investing in and upskilling thousands of its factory workforce, and increasing productivity with robotic testing, and futuristic logistics systems. Instead of maximising company gains alone, WD have figured out the formula for storage world domination, and that lies in pushing savings out to consumers and meeting the changing needs of the industry.
Understanding the market
With the gaming industry alone worth around £150 billion in 2021, ensuring just that one segment is taken care of has put WD at the top of most component lists.
As an example, even a casual gamer needs to be able to have both an SSD and HDD in their rig to maximise performance and practicality. An excellent recommendation would be a WD_Black SSD accompanied by a WD Blue SATA HDD. The SSD stores the operating system and most-played games, while the HDD takes care of long term and large capacity storage. Western Digital offer affordable drives for both use cases, which makes them the perfect candidate for DIY hobbyists or custom gaming PC retailers. This common sense approach to market segments is why WD will usually win out on the price-performance aspect.