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10 Reasons to Avoid Buying a Western Digital 20TB Hard Drive

Are you considering purchasing a high-capacity hard drive for your data storage needs? While the Western Digital 20TB drive may seem like an attractive option with its expansive storage space, there are several compelling reasons to think twice before investing in this particular model. As a computer expert passionate about digital technology, I‘ve done the research to help you make an informed decision. In this article, we‘ll dive into 10 key factors that showcase why the WD 20TB hard drive may not be the best choice for your storage requirements.

1. High Cost Per Terabyte

One of the primary drawbacks of the Western Digital 20TB hard drive is its relatively high cost per terabyte compared to other options on the market. With a typical retail price of around $679, this drive comes in at nearly $34 per TB. In contrast, the 20TB Seagate Exos X20 can be found for about $499, or $25 per TB. The 18TB WD Gold is an even better value at under $23 per TB.

While the total cost of the drive is certainly a factor, it‘s important to consider the cost efficiency in terms of storage capacity. Investing in a more cost-effective drive can allow you to allocate your budget more effectively, potentially enabling you to purchase additional storage or invest in other areas of your system.

2. Restrictive Warranty Terms

Another important consideration when purchasing a hard drive is the warranty coverage. While Western Digital does offer a 5-year limited warranty on the 20TB model, the terms and conditions are quite restrictive. The warranty only covers defects in materials or workmanship and does not protect against data loss or damage caused by accidents, misuse, or other factors.

In the event of a drive failure, data recovery services can be expensive, and there‘s no guarantee that your valuable data can be fully recovered. Some competing hard drive manufacturers, such as Seagate with their IronWolf Pro and Exos X20 models, offer more comprehensive warranty terms that include data recovery services. It‘s crucial to carefully review the warranty details before making a purchase to ensure you have adequate protection for your storage investment.

3. Noisy Operation

If you‘re building a storage solution for a noise-sensitive environment, such as a home media server or a quiet office space, the Western Digital 20TB hard drive may not be the best choice. According to reviews and user experiences, this drive is known for its relatively loud operation compared to other models in its class.

In testing conducted by ServeTheHome, the WD 20TB drive produced an average noise level of 37 dBA during operation, which was notably louder than the 18TB WD Red Pro (31 dBA) and the 16TB Seagate IronWolf Pro (28 dBA). For context, a 10 dBA difference is perceived as twice as loud to the human ear. If noise levels are a concern for your storage setup, it‘s worth considering alternative drives that prioritize quiet operation.

4. Slower Performance Compared to Previous Models

When evaluating a hard drive, performance is a key metric to consider, particularly if you‘ll be using the drive for demanding workloads or applications that require fast data access. Surprisingly, the Western Digital 20TB drive falls short in terms of performance compared to its own previous models.

In benchmark tests conducted by StorageReview, the 20TB WD Red Pro showed slower sequential read and write speeds compared to the 18TB model. The 20TB drive achieved a maximum sequential read speed of 229 MB/s and a write speed of 225 MB/s, while the 18TB model reached 253 MB/s for reads and 252 MB/s for writes. This performance discrepancy is noteworthy and suggests that the 20TB model may not offer the best performance in its class.

5. Lagging Behind Competitors in Speed

Not only does the Western Digital 20TB hard drive underperform compared to its own previous models, but it also lags behind competing drives in terms of speed. When stacked up against the Seagate Exos X20 20TB and the Toshiba MG09 18TB drives, the WD 20TB falls short in both sequential read and write performance.

In testing performed by TomsHardware, the Seagate Exos X20 20TB achieved sequential read speeds of 285 MB/s and write speeds of 282 MB/s, outpacing the WD 20TB by a significant margin. The Toshiba MG09 18TB also demonstrated superior performance, with read speeds of 262 MB/s and write speeds of 259 MB/s. If speed is a top priority for your storage needs, it‘s worth considering these alternative drives that deliver better performance benchmarks.

6. Limited Annual Workload Rating

Another crucial factor to consider when selecting a hard drive is its annual workload rating, which indicates the amount of data that can be written to the drive each year without negatively impacting its lifespan. The Western Digital 20TB drive has a relatively low annual workload rating of 300TB per year, which may not be sufficient for demanding enterprise environments or users with high data throughput needs.

In comparison, the Seagate Exos X20 20TB boasts an impressive annual workload rating of 550TB per year, nearly double that of the WD drive. This higher workload rating makes the Seagate drive better suited for intensive storage applications and ensures a longer lifespan under heavy usage conditions.

7. Potential Reliability Concerns

While hard drive failures can occur with any model, there have been some concerns raised about the reliability of high-capacity drives like the Western Digital 20TB. In a large-scale study conducted by Backblaze, which analyzed the failure rates of over 125,000 hard drives, larger capacity drives showed higher annualized failure rates (AFR) compared to smaller capacity models.

Although the specific 20TB WD drive was not included in the study, the data suggests that higher capacity drives may be more prone to failures. This is an important consideration, especially for users who rely on their storage for critical data and cannot afford downtime or data loss. It‘s essential to have robust backup and redundancy measures in place, such as RAID configurations or regular backups to mitigate the risk of drive failures.

8. Limited Cache Size

The cache size of a hard drive can have a significant impact on its performance, particularly in terms of read and write speeds. The Western Digital 20TB drive comes with a 512MB cache, which is relatively small compared to some of its competitors.

For example, the Seagate Exos X20 20TB drive features a larger 256MB cache, which can result in faster data access times and improved overall performance. A larger cache allows the drive to store more data in its fast memory, reducing the need to access the slower spinning disks for frequently used data. If you prioritize speed and responsiveness, a drive with a larger cache size may be a better choice.

9. Lack of Enterprise Features

While the Western Digital 20TB drive is marketed as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive, it lacks some of the advanced features found in true enterprise-grade storage solutions. For example, the WD drive does not include vibration sensors or RAID-specific firmware optimizations that are common in enterprise drives like the Seagate Exos series.

These enterprise features are designed to enhance reliability, performance, and data integrity in demanding storage environments. Vibration sensors help to mitigate the impact of physical disturbances on the drive, while RAID-optimized firmware ensures optimal performance and compatibility in multi-drive arrays. If you‘re building a mission-critical storage solution, it‘s worth investing in drives that offer these enterprise-grade features.

10. Better Value with High-Capacity SSDs

While hard disk drives (HDDs) like the Western Digital 20TB have traditionally been the go-to choice for high-capacity storage, the rapidly evolving solid-state drive (SSD) market is presenting increasingly compelling alternatives. As SSD prices continue to decline and capacities increase, they are becoming a more viable option for many storage scenarios.

Although 20TB SSDs are not yet widely available, smaller capacity models like 8TB and 16TB SSDs offer significant performance advantages over HDDs, with faster read and write speeds, lower latency, and better durability. For use cases that prioritize speed and responsiveness, such as video editing, database storage, or virtualization, investing in multiple high-capacity SSDs may provide better overall value and performance compared to a single 20TB HDD.


While the Western Digital 20TB hard drive may seem like an attractive option for its massive storage capacity, there are several compelling reasons to consider alternative solutions. From its high cost per terabyte and restrictive warranty terms to its slower performance and potential reliability concerns, the WD 20TB drive may not be the best choice for every storage scenario.

Before making a purchase decision, it‘s crucial to carefully evaluate your specific storage requirements, budget, and performance needs. By considering factors such as cost efficiency, warranty coverage, noise levels, speed, annual workload rating, and enterprise features, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your unique storage goals.

Alternative 20TB drives from manufacturers like Seagate and Toshiba offer competitive advantages in terms of performance, reliability, and value. Additionally, the growing availability of high-capacity SSDs presents an exciting opportunity for users who prioritize speed and responsiveness over raw storage capacity.

As a computer expert passionate about digital technology, I encourage you to thoroughly research and compare your options before investing in a high-capacity storage solution. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each drive and considering your specific needs, you can ensure that you make a wise investment that will serve your storage requirements effectively for years to come.