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How to set up your WD My Book Essential 3TB 3.0 USB drive
on October 12, 2011
I have six of these drives. I have had no serious problems to date, the oldest I've owned for about four months now. I will return to edit this review should a drive fail in the future.
UPDATE: I wrote the above in October 2011. Writing now in October 2012, I now have eight of these drives. No problems to date.
SECOND UPDATE: Writing now in November 2013. I have nine of these drives at this point. No problems to date.
THIRD UPDATE: Writing now in October 2014. Same nine drives. Still no problems to report.
Here is my recommendation for how to set up the drive, out of the box. I've done this a bunch of times now, so I'm getting routine at it, and thought I'd write it out for others.
Some caveats, for what it might be worth:
--I am running Windows 7 64-bit.
--I use both 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity, depending on the computer I hook these up to.
--I have no use for the included backup software, so I can't speak to that. If you are buying this for the backup software, skip this review, because I'm going to be describing how to setup the drive by wiping that stuff off.
--I use these drives primary as HD media storage, accessing them directly through USB, or over ethernet, with my Dune Smart D1 media player.
--My media player initially had trouble "seeing" this drive until I figured out the sequence below:
--Out of the box, plug the power in, and then connect the drive to your computer with the provided USB cable. For what we are doing, it makes no difference if you have a 3.0 or 2.0 USB port on your computer, the drive works fine in both.
--Your computer will begin to automatically install 3 drivers, and will almost certainly fail to install one of them. This is the "SES driver." Don't worry about this at all. We will get to that in the next step. Now, if this is your second (or sixth!) drive that you have purchased, it won't fail on installing that third driver, because you'll have done the following steps already, and your computer WILL already have the SES driver installed :)
--Take a breath. All you should have done up to now is plug in and sit back. Your computer may have put up an AutoRun message about what to do with the new drive. If so, just close that message box, "X" it out. The drive should now be showing up on your computer. You could start using it right now, absolutely. But we have some more work to do, in order to have a real clean start with this drive. The manual says that you need to install all the bloatware that comes with this drive in order to get the SES driver on. Happily, this is not true. What you now need to decide is whether you want to bother with the SES driver. If you install it, things will go more smoothly every time you plug it into the computer that has that driver. The computer will recognize the drive right away, and there will be no error messages. If you don't install the SES driver, you will have to put up with the minor irritation of having to sit there a few seconds every time you plug it in and have it re-recognize the two drivers that it will successfully install, and hit the error on the SES driver not being found. For me, this is enough of an irritation that I install the SES driver. But you absolutely do NOT have to, if you don't mind putting up with those few extra seconds on every plug-in. Your call. If you want the SES driver installed, follow the next step. If you don't, skip it and NO harm done.
--I don't want to sit there for a slow driver install every time I plug these things in, that is not the way to go for me. So I install the SES driver. BUT, I am not going to put the WD bloatware on my machine. And I don't have to. The SES driver is available as an automatic OPTIONAL download from Windows Update. So you need to launch Windows update from your computer, and you need to re-check for the latest updates, to refresh the list. Now that you have plugged in this new drive, you will find among the OPTIONAL Windows updates an SES driver listed. Install this update in the usual way. I don't think you need a reboot, but then it never hurts. So after downloading and installing the update, remove your new drive from your computer, the usual safe way, by "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media" :) Reboot. Now plug your new drive back in again. You should find it is discovered just a bit quicker now, and with no driver error. Great.
--Alright, now we need to clean up the drive itself. I want a clean, formatted drive. But I want it done the right way, and these new 3TB drives are an issue. Has to do with the way they allocate chunks of memory. You can't just format them the normal Windows way. Well, you can, but then you are going to end up with less than 3TB for a partition. Not what we want. The good news: WD has just the software to get you formatted right. The bad news: they put the software on the drive itself. Well okay, this is actually good news too, one less CD or DVD to deal with. BUT. I don't want to KEEP that software on my drive, I just want to use it for a sec. It couldn't be simpler. What you need to do is simply copy the files and folders that come shipped on the drive itself onto a temporary folder on your computer. Copy them all. You will only use one, but it relies on some of the others, so copy them all together. Once you have them copied onto the temp folder, go to that temporary folder and double-click the "WD Quick Formatter.exe" file. Why can't you just run this program from the file that is on the drive itself? You are going to be formatting that drive, and it can't do that and read a file from itself of course. You'll get a "can't perform action" error, the "drive is in use." So you copy the files and folders over, make sure the new hard drive is plugged in, and then run the "WD Quick Formatter.exe" file from the temp folder.
--The formatting process is pretty quick, should take just a minute or two. One key thing: you will be asked: "Factory default" formatting, or "XP compatible" formatting. "XP compatible" is the default choice. For me, I found this screwed things up. This was the reason my media player wasn't recognizing the drive. When formatting "factory default," I have had no problems. I would recommend you select this option.
Done. You now have a pristine, clean drive, formatted the correct way to take advantage of the 3TB. I would save those files and folders you copied over, by the way. If you ever want to reformat again, it is going to be a hassle without them, and super-easy with them. Keep them on your main computer, tucked away somewhere they won't bother you until your moment of need. If you don't keep them and need to reformat someday, you are going to have to go to the WD website, find and download them.
A few more words.
The "WD Quick Formatter.exe" is what you want. It is nowhere mentioned in the manual or the WD website, best I can tell. Bizarre. By all means, you do NOT want to run "WD SmartWare.exe." Unless of course you want all that stuff on your computer.
Some of the other reviews suggest that there is a hidden partition on this, where the WD software resides. Not so. The drive ships with just one single partition, as the manual claims. Check yourself on Control Panel-->Administrative Tools-->Computer Management-->Storage-->Disk Management. The software sits right there on the drive, in plain site. Four folders and two executable files.
The drive is 2.72TB for real, not 3.00TB. No truth in advertising, it turns out. And again, no that "missing" space is not some hidden partition ;)
The reviews about the fragile usb connection, the little tiny one that goes into the drive itself, are correct! It is flimsy, and it won't put up with any jiggling. You can't sit this drive somewhere where it could get brushed up against or moved. The slightest jostle and it loses the connection. Even if for a moment, this kills a large file transfer of course. What a pain. Four stars instead of five because of this. I don't keep them where they can get moved, so not really an issue. But if they were positioned in that sort of way, this would have to be a one star review. Truly lousy connection. Up to you depending on where you will situate the drive whether this is a non-issue or a huge issue.