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  • Customer reviews

VINE VOICEon 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.
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on December 30, 2011
I am now on my second replacement unit from Western Digital. Thier service is great but the product is still causing problems! The first one kept freezing and or crashing my computer a number of times a day (fairly new windows 7). Every time I disconnected the My Book, the problems vanished and returned when I plugged it back in. They replaced the drive and the problem continues to happen, so they replaced it again this time instead of the 2tb unit I had purchased, they sent me a 3tb My Book. Very nice phone tech staff. If I have it pugged into any of my USB ports, 3.0 or 2.0, my computer will slow up and or freeze and reboot itself a number of times every day even if I am not in the room. As soon as I unplug the My Book, many days will pass with no problems but as soon as I plpug it back in the problems return. They have done all sorts of diagnostics with me and new firmware etc, no help at all. I finally bought a DROBO, installed 4 Enterprise rated WD 2tb drives and I use the my book for off line storage as I cannot keep it plugged in. Maybe its haunted (just kidding). I love WD and their quality, especially the enterprise rated internal drives with 5 years warranties, but the My Book, well that is in a category by itself. Hope they can make them work without problems in the future.
David Getoff
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on December 13, 2012
I've been using these for years. If you have Windows:

-Plug power adapter into Hard drive,
-Plug USB cable in,
-DO NOTHING: You will get a message saying it did not install correctly,
-IGNORE WARNING: It doesn't matter. Go to 'My Computer' and the drive will be there,
-Copy and/or Cut and Paste your data

If this does not work for you, you are doing something different than I have on four different Windows computers/laptops.
I have the 2TB self-powered, 3TB cloud, and many other WD drives and they ALL INSTALL THIS EASY.

If you are reading about a failed install; beats me, but the above has worked. Every time. Every Windows OS. Ever tower and or laptop.

4TB sounds like a lot, it's not. Back up your data. We assume our computers wont die and take the data with them. Happens every day. Back Up! Daily if important! Buy two and be redundantly redundant!

WD is my Go To for storing data for a DECADE. Trust it.

USB 3.0 is FAST!!! It's great transferring large files in minutes instead of hours.
This is USB 2.0 Compatible. BUT, It wont get super fast unless drive AND USB PORT are BOTH USB 3.0
Either way its a lot of memory for not a lot of money. I already am using two of the 4TB drives.
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on May 20, 2013
Western Digital is the only brand of external drives I buy. I have a 3TB and this 4TB and they work flawlessly.

Prior to these, I had a Seagate and it made a lot of noise and then died, taking all my stuff with it. I saw a gold box deal about six months after that, and figured that since Seagate drives get good reviews, that the one that had failed on me must have been an anomaly. Four or five months later, my computer started to have trouble communicating with the second Seagate, and then it, too died. Thankfully, I had learned my lesson and was backing everything up to a cloud as well so I suffered no loss, but still I felt like an idiot for buying a brand that had let me down big time twice. You couldn't give me a Seagate.

The happy part of the story is that the two Western Drives I have now are absolutely dependable, they don't complain, i.e. making strange sounds, and they have earned my loyalty by their track records. They are two solid work horses that interface seamlessly with my cloud back up service, and are as accessible as the hard drive in my computer. I could not be more satisfied with them, especially since they are priced so fairly.
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on August 7, 2013
Ten months after purchasing this item the USB connector failed. Hopefully most of the file contents are backed up elsewhere. I don't know what the two year warranty entails, but I don't want to return a hard drive full of sensitive financial information in order to get a new one. Thinking of trying to pull it out of the case to put in a different external case, to see if I can get the files off, but I am doing home hospice care for my mother and I don't have the time or the mental energy.

Shame on you, WD for the flimsy USB connector. The drive itself performed nicely but this drive has only been unplugged/plugged about 5 times since purchase and was always treated carefully. If not for the connector I would rate 5 stars, but since it's now a useless brick the item gets one star.

I read the warnings here in the reviews but like most of us I didn't think it would happen to me.
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on November 11, 2017
The WD Book 3T Overheated and power supply connector melted. I keep the backup connected to my Mac for use with time machine. A few days ago I got the message that time machine was not backing up. The HD and the power supply was very hot & I immediately unplugged the unit from the wall., I saw the plugin in on the HD had melted (see photo).
review image
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on September 28, 2011
I have expanded my collection over time of MyBook Essentials from a 1 TB version purchased about 5 years ago to about five total split betwee the 2 TB and 3 TB versions. I like the 3 TB version because of its extra capacity (I use them exclusively with Windows 7 backup and WHS 2011 backup) but the 3 TB version won't work with Windows system imaging because it doesn't have 4K sectors.

But after a lot of investigation it turns out that Windows has a LOT of limitations related to the 2 TB limit with Windows backup and system images (for bare metal backup) because it uses Microsoft VHD (virtual hard disk) technology behind the scenes. Microsoft made the same "oops" mistake in software that standards committees made in hardware when they decided that 2 TB was more disk space than anyone would EVER need.

So for now I mostly use the 2 TB versions of the MyBook Essential although I have really outgrown it, because otherwise I can't get a bare metal backup (there are some external 3 TB drives from other manufacturers now that do 4k sector emulation; but I don't trust their drives reliability). Hopefully Microsoft will fix the issue with Windows backup and/or VHDs soon.
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on August 16, 2017
Piece of crap died on me. I have heard negative things about WD before, but after having this die on me and running a quick Google search to fix my issues, I see that there are so many others who have had issues with this device. I now have all my precious data on this device that I am unable to access. I contact WD for further support and they told me I needed to contact an outside company for data retrieval. If it was just the product I would have gotten over this, but all my saved data is on this thing that I now might not be able to get back. When it comes to anything you wish to keep, don't go for this cheap product. Pay a little more for reliability.
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on October 28, 2011
I just got this a week ago, so I cannot speak to its durability.

I have limited technology experience, so this was recommended to me by a trusted source.

I was looking for something that was simple and plug-and-play; this was almost it.

It didn't boot up automatically when connected to my Windows 7 Machine. My machine asked what I should do with the autoplay settings. There is software on the drive to tell you what to do, but you have to root around. Included in the box is a how-to to hook the thing up, but there is no indication on how to use the drive to back up you r files. Odd, since that is why I bought the drive. There is a manual, but its a PDF on the drive. I only found it by clicking on the icons that are poorly named; what they are is not obvious or explicitly named.

Once I found the software, everything was cake. The problem is that took long enough that I had the thought "Forget it" and envisioned sending it back.

Overall, it takes a couple steps, but its worth is there. It will be even more valuable if my machine decided to die.
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on September 16, 2014
This is my 4th Western Digital External HD and this one was a huge disappointment. I purchased this in July of 2012 for a great price and started backing up my data. I only plugged it in when it was in use and then unplugged it when I disconnected the USB cable from my computer (Always making sure to Unplug Safely from Windows).

However, just as my warranty expires, the device bricks. When I connect the USB to my computer, I hear the drive spinning but my computer cannot recognize the device. This happens with other computers as well so it is not an isolated event. After scouring the website and forums, other have posted that this is a common occurrence and it has something to do with the USB controller within the enclosure (Yes, I tried remapping the drive on Windows Disk Management, attempted opening the drive in Linux Ubuntu, edited the HKEY registry).

I am unwilling to send the device anywhere since it has personal information and now this device makes a great paper-weight! If anyone has any DIY suggestions to extract the data, I would be eternally grateful. Although I read that you can't simply pop the enclosure and connect the HD directly to a computer due to WD's handy dandy encryption. I am now backing my data in a Seagate External HD.
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