Western Digital: The Company That Stores The World’s Data

Once upon a time, cranes and heavy machinery was used to ship storage drives from the place where they were produced to the location where it was needed. All that has changed, thanks to advancements in technology.

One of the companies that has been around and knows the nitty-gritty of producing data storage devices is Western Digital. They are sometimes referred to as the Western Digital Corporation, WD or WDC.

This American company has been around for a very long time – it was founded in April 1970 by Alvin B. Phillips. Over the years, they’ve sold out millions of storage drives to their worldwide audience. This accounts for the over US $19 billion revenue they have recorded so far in 2017. They began as an integrated circuit maker and later ventured into making semiconductors.

In the first quarter of 2012, WD completely acquired Hitachi Global Storage technologies. This acquisition catapulted them to the top of the list as they became the number one largest manufacture of hard drives in the world. By 2016, WD acquired their counterpart SanDisk for a whopping US $19 billion. SanDisk was a major competitor in the market and their acquisition by WD solidified the latter’s position as leaders in data storage devices production.

Now, let’s get down to the interesting part if this article.

Have you ever wondered how storage drives are produced? If you have, then this section will assuage your appetite for such knowledge.

How Western Digital Makes Their Storage Drives

A tour of one of Western Digital’s hard drive production plant showed that their facilities are dust proof. There’s hardly a speck of dust found inside the factory. This is because they installed an air filtration system which sucks up particles from the air. If these particles are allowed to remain, they’ll contaminate the drive and possibly affect its functions.

Then, production begins with…

  • A metal frame is placed on the working table and a worker manually inserts the voice coil. The half metal cover of the drive is removed.
  • Adding A Voice Coil Magnet To The Motor Base: A voice coil magnet is the first thing installed on the empty drive frame. This voice coil magnet is one of the two magnets found on the drive. Without this voice coil magnet, the drive heads cannot move, hence, information cannot be written to the rotating disks. The name voice coils are given to them because they work with the same principle as loud speakers.
  • Placing The Hard Drive Disc In The Motor Base: This is handled by a robot which does this with precision. A first disc is placed. The robotic machine relies on a camera which snaps a photo of the hard drive disc in position. The image is sent to the robot and it places the hard drive disc in its precise location. This is quickly followed by the placing of a round metal spacer at the center of that disc. The process is guided by another robot which relies on images from the attached camera to make precise placements.

    The second disk is then placed again on top of the spacer which was placed on the first disc. For this manufacturing process, a two disc hard drive was produced. A storage drive can have several discs. These discs determine the amount of storage available on a storage drive.

  • Locking Discs Into Place: A robot then locks both discs in step two above in place with a stainless steel clamp.
  • Installing the plastic ramps: A plastic ramp is placed in the drive frame just beside the discs. The plastic ramp serves for parking the disc drive heads when they are not in use (when they are neither reading nor writing data).
  • Installation of the drive heads. The tiny heads are pre-assembled to one end of the head arm while the other end of the arm is attached to the first voice coil. Then the second voice coil is placed above the drive head arms. All these are done by a machine giving no room for any errors whatsoever.
  • Insertion of thin cotton filter: A thin cotton filter is inserted by a robot to help keep the interior of the drive squeaky clean. This cotton filter captures any dust particles that might get into the hard drive.
  • Placing the second half metal cover of the drive: The second half metal cover of the drive is then placed on the drive to completely cover it. Another robot screws the two covers together. And then passes it out to another end where a worker is waiting to pick it up and install a circuit board. The drive is then packed in a tote box.
  • Testing: The drive in the tote box is inserted into the test chambers. On the other side of the chamber is a robotic arm which tests each drive in the tote box one after the other in a test cell to confirm its functionality. After testing each tote box of drives, they are ejected to the point of entry and a worker picks it up and manually inspects them for scratches or any damage that may hinder functionality.

    Another test is carried out by another robotic arm in a chamber. All these tests are done to ensure there is no error on the drive and that everything works just fine.

  • Scanning serial number: The drive that makes it to this point is almost ready to leave the factory. However, its serial number is scanned by the worker that puts the drives into its packaging. At the same time, the worker looks out for any anomalies. The scanning of the serial number enables the drive’s production route to be traced if it encounters a problem in the future.
  • Packaging and shipping: Finally, the drive is enclosed in whatever external casing that has been designed for it if any. It is then packed into a carton and sent to the store where it would be sold.

Watch the exclusive video production:

Most of the drives produced by Western Digital comes with at least 2 years warranty. Additionally, some of their drives come with a 5-year warranty.

The Western Digital Corporation has produced several Western Digital Hard Drive Till Date. Let’s take a look at the drives that have come out of their factories.

One important thing that is worthy of noting is that Western Digital use specific colors for enclosing their drives.

  • Green – The color green which signified energy efficient drives with slightly lower performance has been replaced with Blue. The blue drive themselves boast of average performance.
  • Black – Black drives signify drives which have high performance.
  • Red – Red drives are specially designed for NAS use.
  • Purple – Purple drives are specially designed for storing surveillance data
  • Gold – Gold drives are specifically designed for use in datacenters.

In October 2017, some top tech news websites reported that Western Digital broke a new record by being the first company to make a massive 14TB hard drive. The Enterprise Ultrastar Hs14 hard drive will, however, available to only datacenters. The drive is made with helium technology and is has a high reliability rate – it is rate d2.5 million hours.

Hot on the heels of this news is yet another news about Western Digital’s goal to create commercially viable 40TB hard drives by 2025. This date however seems far – we should see something like that by 2020. To actualize their 2025 goal, the developed a technology referred to as MAMR. MAMR (Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording) in tandem with their newly developed “Spin torque oscillator” will be put to work on the new drive. Such a drive will make editing and storage of 8K videos look effortless.

Currently, the drives below are still being sold by the company.

Personal cloud storage include:

ImageNameConnectionCapacityAmazon Link
My Cloud HomeMy Cloud Home & My Cloud Home DuoUSB, Gigabit Ethernet2TB - 16TBNot available on Amazon yet
My CloudMy Cloud & My Cloud MirrorUSB, Gigabit Ethernet 2TB - 16TBCheck price

Network Attached Storage

ImageNameConnectionCapacityAmazon Link
My Cloud Pro Series PR2100 & PR4100My Cloud Pro Series PR2100 &
My Cloud Pro Series PR4100
Gigabit Ethernet 4TB - 40TBCheck price
My Cloud Expert Series EX2 UltraMy Cloud Expert Series EX2 UltraGigabit Ethernet 4TB - 20TBCheck price
My Cloud Expert Series  EX2100 & EX4100My Cloud EX2100 &
My Cloud EX4100
Gigabit Ethernet 4TB - 40TBCheck price
My Cloud  DL2100 & DL4100My Cloud DL2100 &
My Cloud DL4100
Gigabit Ethernet x 2
USB 3.0 port x 2
4TB - 24TBCheck price

External Storage

Copy any name below, go to this url: WD External Drives and paste copied name into search…

  1. WD Elements
  2. WD Elements SE
  3. My Book
  4. My Book Duo
  5. My Book Pro
  6. My Book Pro II
  7. WD Elements Desktop
  8. WD Elements Portable
  9. My Book for Mac
  10. My Book VelociRaptor Duo
  11. My Book Thunderbolt Duo
  12. My Book Mirror
  13. My Book World
  14. My Book World II
  15. WD Elements Desktop
  16. My Book Essential
  17. My Book Mac Edition
  18. My Book Premium
  19. My Book Premium ES
  20. My Book Premium II
  21. My Book Studio
  22. My Book Studio II
  23. My Book Home
  24. My Book Office
  25. My Book Elite
  26. My Book Studio
  27. My Book Studio LX
  28. My Book Live
  29. My Book Duo
  30. WD ShareSpace™
  31. My Passport
  32. My Passport Elite
  33. My Passport Studio
  34. My Passport Essential
  35. My Passport Essential SE
  36. My Passport for Mac
  37. My Passport AV
  38. My Passport SE for Mac
  39. My Passport Edge
  40. My Passport Edge for Mac
  41. My Passport Slim
  42. My Passport Air
  43. My Passport Ultra Metal
  44. My Passport Ultra-Premium
  45. My Passport X
  46. My Passport SSD
  47. My Passport Ultra
  48. My Passport Wireless Pro
  49. My Passport Enterprise
  50. My Passport Pro (Duo)

Western Digital Software

Western Digital offers a plethora of software for its end users. They include

For Windows Users: download here

  1. WD Drive Utilities for Windows.
  2. Acronis True Image WD Edition Software.
  3. Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows.
  4. WD Access for Windows.
  5. WD Arkeia Network Backup.
  6. WD Backup
  7. WD Discovery for Windows
  8. WD Drive Utilities for Windows
  9. WD Security for Windows
  10. WD SES
  11. WD SmartWare
  12. WD Sync for Windows
  13. WD Universal Firmware Updater for Windows

For Mac Users: download here

  1. WD Access for Mac
  2. WD Arkeia Network Backup
  3. WD Discovery for Mac
  4. WD Drive Utilities for Mac
  5. WD Security for Mac
  6. WD SmartWare
  7. WD Sync for Mac
  8. WD Universal Firmware Updater for Mac

Additionally, there are lots of product firmware available for download on the Software and Firmware Download section of Western Digital’s website.

Western Digital Support for Drives

Western Digital support shares guides that help their users get the best out of their products. They also share a handful of troubleshooting guides that can ease a user’s troubles when they encounter a problem while using Western Digital drives.

Additionally, they have dedicated partners in several continents of the world. Users from each continent can get information or help from these partners who in turn report back to Western Digital.

Conclusion

You can head over to our best drives review section to read more about the latest Western Digital Drives that have held the market spell bound in recent years. You’ll find these WD drives in our best wireless portable drives reviews, best portable SSDs, and even on our best thunderbolt drives list.

Here is a list of our WD drive reviews:

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply