Arman Gungor's Blog Litigation Support and Technology

10Sep/100

Western Digital Fiasco

I bought a Western Digital My Book Essential 2 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive yesterday. When I plugged it into my computer, I was greeted by a driver installation prompt. I have seen hard drives and flash drives with launchers before and swiftly ignored the prompt and let the driver installation fail. I noticed that a separate, read-only volume with WD junk popped up as expected. I proceeded straight to disk management to remove the hidden partition and re-format the drive as a vanilla hard drive. To my dismay, WD appears to have integrated this hidden partition into the drive's firmware! Apparently, it is not possible to simply re-format and get rid of this hidden partition short of taking the actual hard drive out of the enclosure (voiding the warranty) and plugging it directly to the computer as an internal HDD via SATA. WD provides a piece of software that hides the read-only partition from view but does not delete the junk software or prevent the automatic driver installation prompt.

I have several problems with the software that comes with the drive:

* The driver installation is problematic and works only on Windows. Consequently, the drive causes problems when used in MacOs, Linux or any other non-Windows system such as XBox, PS3 etc.
* The software bundled with the hard drive takes up a significant amount of disk space, reducing the usable disk space on the drive.
* Most importantly, when I buy a hard drive, I expect it to function as a hard drive. I do not require additional junkware, especially the non-removable kind, to help me "manage" my data.
* Need I say that the software is worthless?

I think this is a disgrace and a big blow to any power user. The drive is going back to where I bought it from tomorrow and Western Digital lost some points in my book. I heard that the same problem applies to their passport model mini hard drives (of which I used to buy older versions regularly) as well and there is a fairly large community of people bashing them as we speak. I may continue to use their internal hard drives but I will look for a better alternative for external hard drives.

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