Customer Reviews: WD My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0/2.0 Ultra Portable External Hard Drive (Silver)
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VINE VOICEon October 21, 2010
Capacity: 1 TB|Color: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
### PHYSICAL ###
One terabyte that fits in your jeans' pocket. I don't want to go all "when we were young we walked 10 miles to school, etc." on you, but my first hard drive was such that I would have needed 50'000 of 'em to match the capacity, occupying a solid cube 9 feet on each side and setting me back 30 million dollars. That's mind- blowing progress indeed, and while the original advances were made by firms like Seagate and IBM, those have mostly sold off/sourced out in the meantime, leaving Western Digital as the Bleeding Edge hard drive brand.

This device looks like a cigarette holder with a glossy finish. The edges are rounded, and the usb connector is the only opening in the case, so for my occasional transport I just carry the drive in my jacket as-is. It would have been super- neat to have a rubber flap over the usb and perhaps a more scratch- resistant matte finish, but there is no issue here, especially since WD offers inexpensive hardshell and neoprene cases.

### USB3 ###
Finally, ten times the speed of USB2! The USB consortium calls it Super Speed, to distinguish it (not) from the Hi-Speed of USB2 and the Full Speed of USB1. It's beyond me why they don't just name it "5Gbit USB", a moniker which would pit it favorably against eSATA, Ethernet, Firewire, etc... but at least there's a hilarious joke in there for Sci-Fi comedy fans (Google "They've gone into plaid" for the reference, first video link).

But not so fast, Dark Helmet. First, just because the interface is ten times speedier doesn't mean the drive is, and second, it's likely that even your 2010 PC needs an adapter in the form of a PCIx card. And if it does, the USB ports will be on the back of the computer, which may be a problem as the cable that comes in this package is only 16" long. If you need more, you'll have to purchase a Micro USB 3.0 cable, the connector on the drive end is different from USB2. Currently, these cables are rare (none on Amazon!) and expensive, so be careful not to misplace the one you got.

### SPEED ###
This external drive works with both USB2 and USB3, so the question is, is it worth the extra cost of the USB3 adapter, and what exactly is the speed gain one can expect? To figure that out, I've run two tests, one a simple hard drive test via HD Tune, and one a filecopy test.

- HD Tune: (see screenshots for details): with USB2, the interface is the limiting factor, with a transfer rate of 33 MB/sec over the entire range. With USB3, you get the pure drive performance and up to 87MB/sec can be achieved in the outer regions and still a decent 45 MB/sec in the inner regions (the outer regions of the spinning disk have higher velocity and more sectors, hence the higher rate).
- File copy: I copied a batch of 7000 files back and forth a couple times and measured read and write performance separately. Averaged over 5 runs, I found that the read performance gain of USB3 was 19% and the write performance gain was 25%. It needs to be noted that in this scenario there was a lot of overhead - the copy program (robocopy), the file seeks, the destination drive, etc.

So what to make of this? The raw read performance as measured by HD Tune is 2 to 3 times faster with usb3 - nice to see that WD's marketing blurb "up to 3 times faster" is actually true! However, this advantage quickly comes down as you use more complex operations such as copying small files. Given the choice again, I probably wouldn't bother with an USB3 PCI card and just wait for my next PC to have it onboard. If you mainly copy large files (such as movies), you may benefit more from USB3 than I do.

### SOFTWARE ###
The drive comes with some software on it (in lieu of an installation CD) which does two things: enable a hardware encryption and do backups. I've fiddled with it for a while but it left me unsatisfied. Under my (admittedly elderly) WinXP the GUI had rendering problems (holes in the windows!), it wasn't half as intuitive as other software, and at least once I activated the encryption but it didn't take. It also installs a virtual CD, what do I need that for!? The good news here is that WD seems to ship this software with all their external drives now, so it stands to reason/hope that they'll improve on it and you'll be able to download an upgrade.
Of course, if you happen to be a Mac or Win7 Ultimate user, you don't need the WD software at all, just use the built- in stuff.

This is a fantastic little device: a full terabyte, compact and reasonably future- proof; although you might not want to bother with USB3 for now if you don't already have it. I'm deducting 1 star for the mediocre software, otherwise I'm very happy with this capable small data vault.
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VINE VOICEon September 21, 2010
Capacity: 1 TB|Color: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First Impressions Review:

This is the first time I have ever used a portable (tiny) external hard drive. I currently use a Cavalry dual disk external drive in RAID configuration which is huge and not really portable.

This new WD drive is fantastic in that it is quite small, doesn't require external power, and it is quite good looking. It is amazing how they fit 1 TB drive in such a small package. One bonus is that when I replace my computer in future with one that has USB 3.0 interface, this drive can handle that. (It works fine with USB 2.0 also.) The device looked and felt solid.

The USB port that is on the drive seems to be proprietary, but it could be a standard port for USB 3.0. The cable that comes with the drive fits snugly and works well. The cable should be saved carefully - I don't have any other cable with that specialized connector.

The backup software resides on the hard disk of the drive. I didn't bother installing that software. I just want to use the drive as plain old storage drive. I connected the drive to a PC with Windows 7, the OS complained with "WD SES Device USB Device - No Driver Found", but showed the drive contents anyway. I could immediately use the drive without haveing to do anything.

Drive properties showed the following:
Used 565 MB
Free 930 GB
Capacity 931 GB

I have split the 1 TB drive into 3 partitions easily (using Win7's built-in tools). I copied a bunch of JPG files into one of the partitions. Everything went smoothly. I am yet to find any issues with the device.

I will update this review if I come across anything significant as I continue to use it.
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Capacity: 1 TB|Color: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can remember when I was impressed by a 356 MB hard drive on my new computer. (Remember those days?) Now here's this back-up external drive that is a terabyte, something that not so many years ago was in the domain only of supercomputers that took up whole rooms. The really impressive thing is that this is such a nice compact little drive, not much bigger than a deck of playing cards. I've used other drives for back up and have always avoided the back up software that came with some of them, fearing it would get in the way and slow things down when I'm working or that it would take too much time to figure out what to back up and how often to do so. As a result, I often forget to back things up, which could be a disaster if I ever had a hard drive failure.

Now the nice thing about a large external drive such as this one is that it has tons of space and I can just back up everything and keep several copies. The software that comes on the drive installs in minutes and checks for updates for both software and firmware. It gives you a choice of what to back up and the choice of pausing backups when you're working, so you don't have to worry about it getting in your way when you're doing something else. It was simple to enter password protection and comes with a manual on the drive that's easy to understand, as manuals go. You can also choose how many backups to keep at a time and where you'd like those stored. The settings are simple to set up, even partitioning the drive if you decide to do so.

I've used it for a few weeks now and hardly notice it being there. It just does its thing in the background and I can check the backups so I know they're there. Using Windows XP, it puts a little icon down in the menu bar where I can check at any time to see how much space has been used, whether or not it is locked and if the temperature is OK. Unlike some drives I've used in the past, this one seems to run pretty cool and I've never felt it being warm, even when the summer temperatures in the room were warm. I like that it's so small, yet has such high capacity. I'm using a 2.0 interface but it's nice to know it has the 3.0 capability for future use with perhaps a different computer. Two thumbs up for this external hard drive.
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on January 31, 2011
I bought this hard drive about 7 months ago prior to my deployment to Afghanistan. The weight and size were great. Seemed perfect. I get to afghanistan, and may have only plugged it into my Sony VAIO ten times, when suddenly it would not be recognized. Like it didn't exist. I kept unplugging it and plugging it back in. I then tried it on a bunch of other laptops. Nothing. So, I thought, maybe it's just in a "mood". I turned off my computer, went to sleep, and tried it the next day. Still nothing. Now, it has been seven months, and I still occasionally plug it in to see if it works, but to no avail. Luckily, everything I had on the WD hard drive was backed up on another hard drive, so I didn't lose anything. I would just return it, but seeing that I'm not in the United States and where I'm at, the mail system doesn't work, I now use it as a paper weight, which it would recieve 5 stars if that was what it was meant to be used for.

I looked it up online and found that there are thousands of other people with the same issue. WD keeps giving the lame excuse of "some computers don't supply enough power". That's bull... Then why doesn't it work on ANY computer? And why make something that doesn't work all the time? And, using simple logic, my buddy who has the same hard drive plugged his into his computer, and it worked. I plugged mine into his computer, and it didn't work. He then plugged his into my computer, and it worked. I plugged mine into my computer, and it didn't work. Hmmm... Sounds like it's more than a power issue. I'm meeting my wife on R&R soon and will give it to her. Hopefully, she can return it, but she can't find the receipt, so I'm sure we're stuck with it.

I can't tell you to buy or not buy it. Most people have great luck with it. But that's what it is...luck. So, you may buy this, and it will probably work. Or, there's a chance it won't. So, why not buy a hard drive that works ALL THE TIME? No risk, no chances. I think I'm going to order a Toshiba and have my wife give it to me on R&R. It seems that their hard drives don't suddenly decide to not work.
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on January 31, 2011
It was awesome - for the week that it worked. I have a Macbook and for the week prior to the HD crapping out, it worked beautifully. The software it came with is cool and easy. The drive is a little bigger than my phone - perfect size and super portable. I only had about 200gb's on it, and i plugged it in one day, and all of the sudden my laptop wouldn't recognize it. I tried it on 3 other laptops and nothing happened. I called WD and talked to two different people - they both said the same thing. "Alot of laptops don't have enough USB power to power up a portable hard drive over 500gb's"....whats the point of having a portable drive if your lappy can't power it? Granted I only have USB 2.0 - but what's the point of being portable if my laptop can't power it?

Good thing Amazon is awesome and is giving me a full refund.
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on February 28, 2011
My son had strongly warned me to buy the "WD My Passport SE". But I was fooled by the average of 4.5 stars user ratings here. (Notes, we bought from Amazon. I run Windows XP on an iMac 21.5". I am 70 and not exactly computer literate.)

This is day two of my "experience". The Passport is not recognized 3 out of 4 times when I reboot the PC, ditto for "Hibernation". The most frequent error message is, that files were not written to the F-drive. Followed by, I should un- and replug the WD Passport and (insult to injury) if not successful: "replace the unknown USB device". The other issue are messages that sometimes when I re-plug in the Passport, it states, "found new hardware" (requiring a long wait period until the device is re-installed and ready to use again).

I tried and apparently could not completely uninstall the WD SmartWare software. So I restored the PC to the time when the Passport and its infamous software had not arrived here. I then plugged in the WD Passport WITHOUT installing the "WD SmartWare". In other words, I am now using the WD My Passport SE as if it were a simple FlashDrive (intending to back up my files once a week).

Result, sometimes I still have the "unknown USB device" issues.

Wish I had listened to my son, and that I had read the 1-star reviews here!!
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on January 12, 2011
This is not worth the price. The cable keeps falling out. This can be very fustrating. I have tried over 6 different brands of cables. the micro high spped usb keeps falling and I have to put my password to log back in. The micro usb (highspeed) cables fit in but keep falling out. It is too cheap and flimsy. Do not waste your money. You will have problems just like in the other reviews. Also, it is very slow to download and upload my documents.

I ended up buying the Iomega eGo portable hard drive (1TB). I like this one better. It was built much better and more durable.
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on January 9, 2011
This WD 1TB drive is a good value, but the backup software [SMARTWARE] should be called DUMBWARE. The software assumes that you are expected to be an idiot and they are all knowing.
The previous software, WD Anyhere Backup, is a much better product. What it doesnt do that Anywhere did:
1. Backup to drives other than WD Smartdrive;
2. Let you have duplicate file names in different folders;
3. Doesnt have the feature to purge files from the backup that are no longer on the source drive.
4. Since it ignores folders you can only backup by file type. This means that it backs up videos, for example, that you dont need or want to backup. These files may be multiple GB and eat time and space needlessly.
5. The picture catagory doesnt know that a NEF file, Nikon's raw format, is a picture.
6. There is no way to add file types to a catagory.
7. Can not be paused til idle or til resumed. This means that it kills high useage programs like Photoshop CS5. The only choice is to turn the drive off while you are using photoshop.

NTS, I uninstalled this product and use the older SMARTER Anywhere Backup. The older software was the driving item that led me to choose WD, which was a bad move. Maybe 3 stars is to kind.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 18, 2010
Capacity: 1 TB|Color: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am very satisfied with this external drive. Within 10 minutes of opening the package I was transferring pictures onto it. I have Windows 7. I opened the package up, undid the cord, plugged it into the computer and it took about 5 minutes to locate and install drivers and then I was good to go. I transferred over 300 pictures right away, lightning fast and it didn't even make a dent on the space available. It has 5-star performance, but a bonus is that it looks 5-star too. Very compact and stylish. It has a user manual installed with it that has more languages than I've seen on any other product, so if English isn't your first language you are set with instructions. The product includes 30 days of free telephone support during the warranty period that starts with the first call you make to tech support. Email support is free through the entire warranty period. I have not had to use tech support so it hasn't applied, but that is good to know.
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on February 19, 2011
This drive comes with 'Smartware' which I can only describe as crippling corporate bloatware. But unlike the likes of U3 or other technologies that large companies have made as ported as value-adds, this one reserves some 500Megs of unusable drive space dedicated to an automounted virtual CD drive that requires you to load additional drivers on every operating system the drive uses. Just search for 'smartware problems' to get an idea of what people have had to put up with.

I did manage to get the software removed and the space recovered from the hard drive. Google 'smartware removal hp tool' to get a Windows tool to do the job. Unfortunately there is another 'feature' of the drives which puts them in stand-by instead of completely shutting them down--which prevented me from ever using them in a system where I needed to reboot *and* keep them plugged in.

I was looking forward to a large-capacity, yet small hard drive, but these things have been a fight since I purchased them.

Buyer beware.
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