Customer Review

131 of 144 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid WD Smartware software like the plague, 14 April 2011
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This review is from: WD My Passport Essential SE 1 TB Black Portable Hard Drive (USB 3.0/2.0) (Electronics)
The physical WD My Passbook External Drive is good (so far). I have purchased two.
However, as has been the case in some previous Amazon reviews, I strongly advise anyone to stear clear of the WD Smartware; especially the security bolt-on called UnLock.
My advice is to instead stick with reliable software such as Microsoft 7 Backup & Restore or Norton Ghost; both are streets ahead of what I now term WD "Dumbware". Where do I start? I have just spent the best part of a day attempting to get rid of the Unlock "virus" that WD supply under the pretext of software.
After reading the WD Smartware manual in detail, I decided to definitely avoid the backup aspect of Smartware. However, I thought I would give the Unlock function a try to protect against unauthorised access to my external drive. A Day later, I wish I had not bothered.

1) Unlock Software
This behaves like a virus and is almost impossible to get rid off; even after uninstalling SmartWare and performing a Restore.
I thought it would be sensible to at least try and protect both My Passbook's via the supplied Unlock software.
I read the supplied operational instructions meticulously and fortunately, decided not to additionally install the general Backup / Restore software.

The Unlock software is essentially a Firmware installation. It works by using a drive on the PC as a virtual drive for the Unlock software and additionally using a second physical drive for the data. This means that is steals a drive that is already assigned to do something. For example, Windows Backup / Restore expects to reference my H Drive. There are many negative hits on this on the Internet. There are many reasons to dislike SmartWare.
- An extra drive letter in Windows explorer
- Extra software on the Virtual CD that you cannot easily remove.
- The extra letter can cause many problems with existing external drives that are being used as automated backup drives... I hate it (and most non-technical users get severely confused) when previously working backups to, say, drive E:, now don't work anymore.
- Your computers drive layout is effectively changed without your permission.

I contacted Western Digital and a day later a guy called Time supplied the link below to disable the Unlock software. Wait till you read this. It is an indirect admission as to how overly-complex their software is: - [...]

2) WD Backup Software - My Review
- Continuous Backup: I think that this type of function is really "Resilience" rather than "Backup". I think it only of real benefit if you are regularly doing high volume of data updates. For me, I think that a Daily backup is more than adequate.
- WD SmartWare software looks quite complex and very non-Microsoft in terms of being intuitive. It actually reminds me of the previous Maxtor software I used to use; which was terribly complex.
- WD SmartWare can keep up to 25 versions of each file. I think this is pointless.
- You have to designate a single primary drive from where SmartWare backup. This is a problem if you adopt best practice and have important System files on a C drive (e.g. AppData) and User data on a D Drive. By contrast, Windows 7 Backup & Restore default will backup important files on C and D Drives
- WD SmartWare appears to only backup a defined list of file extensions. I find this a bit worrying. On the other hand, Windows Backup appears to have no such restriction.
- For "Retrieval" (i.e. Recovery) of a file, can recover to original location or to a special designated "Retrieve" Folder. Windows Restore enables you to recover to original location or anywhere else.

To conclude, dont go near WD software with a bargepole unless you are bored and have days of spare time
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 May 2011 14:48:15 BDT
G. Andreou says:
OK, but does this really warrant a 1 star rating? The software is not compulsory and at the end of the day this is an external hard drive. It would be good to hear some comments on how it performs as such.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jun 2011 10:55:41 BDT
MRE Williams says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 25 Jul 2011 10:29:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jul 2011 10:30:02 BDT
Thanks for the software warning Alexander, I found it very useful. I doubt if I would have ever used it, but I may have, and now I know to avoid it, so thanks for that.

You might like to make a comment or two about the drive itself though, as that's what I may be buying, and maybe mark the unit based on that.

Posted on 24 Aug 2011 12:17:22 BDT
John Simson says:
Thank you for the warning. I am not competent or confident enough to chance having this software floating about in the background when I simply want a reliable automatic backup, mainly for my university external course. I certainly have not got days to unravel software problems. I would also second what G Andreou asks, how does the drive perform otherwise? I have not yet looked at the 5* reviews, maybe the answer is there.

Posted on 26 Aug 2011 22:02:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Aug 2011 22:03:03 BDT
Elizabeth O says:
Thank you for using the one star rating. Call me odd but I tend to check the one star reviews first. I want to get the lowdown on a product before I buy and the one star area is where you will get it.
Regards E

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Aug 2011 12:54:07 BDT
G. Andreou says:
But then you'll completely miss the fact that this is a fantastic hard drive. I would say it's best to read both good and bad reviews for a fair and accurate evaluation.

Posted on 28 Aug 2011 10:02:03 BDT
OK. Based on feedback some comments regarding the hard drive itself as opposed to the budled software.
The WD Hard drive appears decent. However, it is important to be aware of the following. Both myself, friends and some work associates have experienced this.
The WD HD appears to have a propensity to get "bad sectors". This can mean that the data you think you are backing up will not have full data integrity.
Try running Western Digital's owen "Data Lifeguard" (downbload from website) or Dell PC Checkup. I have had to reformat my WD Hard drive on a few occassions and firtunately that appears to have resolced the issue for now. However, it makes me "nervous" as I dont have full confidence in the robustness of the WD hard drive. Go on, run WD Data Lifeguard, say, on a monthly basis if you value your data.

Posted on 7 Apr 2012 16:44:48 BDT
T says:
I plugged my new WD 1TB in to 64bit Win7 and it put up the bubble about installing drivers and then off we went - just like any other USB HDD. I just deleted all the folders and files pre-loaded as I'd rather have the space for MY data, not software I don't need and won't use. The problem I have is, having bought two, one won't "activate" with the other connected. Administrative Tools|Disk Management says it is because they have the same ID signature. I didn't have this problem with the two 500Gb Seagate FreeAgents I'm replacing. As yet, I haven't solved the issue - even though I have "renamed" the drives from the default "WD My Passport." I've yet to see if they come up under Vista on my laptop.

Posted on 23 Jan 2015 21:21:04 GMT
John Matro says:
The reviewer appears to have a novice's knowledge of backups. Windows B&R is a different product than WD Smartware. Windows is capable of creating a system image that will literally overlay your HDD when you do a restore. It can also do incremental backups. WD SmartWare attempts to backup only potentially useful files, hence the file types. Other good backup packages also offer this, work this way, e.g., HPSureStore. The alternative is to backup logs, temp files and other junk that take up space and time. WD SmartWare is very intuitive, which further points out the user's inexperience with backup software. The reviewer complains that WD Smartware keeps 25 versions of each file. The Windows B&R, coupled with System Restore, can keep potentially more. The continuous backup, that the reviewer complains about is actually only on the hour, and if you accidently deleted a file you needed, and didn't realize it until the next day, you'd be thankful for the continuous backup. Hourly or daily backups bridges that vulnerability gap between full backups.

So, whereas, the reviewer tried to make a case for either Windows B&R or WD SmartWare, in reality you need both kinds of backups. Whether you choose to go with one product like Macrium Reflect or use two products like Windows B&R and WD SmartWare, is your decision.
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