Been away for quite some time, my excuse is that I have meanwhile multiplied, which always puts a damp on your facultative activities, so don't repeat my mistake! There are times though I just can't stay away from my favorite pastime, i.e. grumbling about software and hardware makers alike. When they give me anguish. Which is often.
Today, Western Digital. My favorite hard drive maker has just about made my mortal enemies list, if only I could find the 5 1/4 floppy I saved the list on!
I've recently replaced my old D-Link NAS drive with a new My Book Live Duo 6 TB model from WD. Very nice hardware overall, with a good set of features, including the ability to access your drive contents from the Internet just about anywhere. Watch out for the brittle included software though - the SmartWare setup wizard would quit on me every time, giving only an error code that's nowhere to be found on the net, and WD support doesn't appear to be forthcoming with an answer. Interestingly, when I downloaded the same installer directly from WD website, it worked, so go figure. But that's not what this post is about.
This post is about what happens when you intend to submit a support request (like I did when the software wouldn't install). As part of the process, the drive generates a log file with all sorts of narcissistic insights into itself. When you do that, you may notice that generating this log file takes a suspiciously long time, so much so you think it's hung. Well, it isn't. It is busy creating an SQLite database that contains all the filenames on your drive and then gets zipped up into the log file. Then you can send your support ticket along with the log.
Let me repeat that: the log contains a complete list of all the names of all the files on your drive. How's that for a privacy poison candy? Nowhere in the process are you told this is going to happen - perhaps they inform you in the EULA, I couldn't be bothered to check.
I got suspicious when I saw how huge the log file was - and it was huge, because in my case the database is 166 megabytes in size (uncompressed) and contains records for over 370 thousand files on my drive, each with a full path, filename, modified date and size. The database table even contains a column named "is_deleted", and when you run a SELECT on that, you will see that the table also contains records for files that you had put on the disk and then deleted. Way to go, WD!
Inside the zip file, the database is stored in a folder called ".mediacrawler" (yep, with a leading dot - maybe on a Linux system I wouldn't even see it was there :-) so I thought maybe the db only contained the multimedia files. But no - it actually holds all the files, and they all go to WD, because apparently the filenames will help them resolve a problem you have with the drive not working correctly.
This is where I should say I will never buy a WD drive again and I recommend that you don't either. Well, no such luck, because WD is the only HDD maker that I trust to make reasonably reliable and reasonably fast HDDs. I had a Seagate once, that thing ran hot like a furnace and loud like one too! Then it died a screeching death. In all fairness, a WD Velociraptor drive once died on me too after 3 years of workig almost 24/7, but at 10,000 rpm its short lifespan was to be expected, and SMART alerted me early enough to make a full backup. Other than that, I've never had a WD drive that failed or gave any kind of trouble at all. So, in my experience, WD makes solid drives and I will continue buying them, albeit with a small inward sigh when I do.
I just won't be sending any support requests to WD, that's for sure.