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Great drive - Faulty USB cable
on January 30, 2013
Over the recent years I have purchased quite a number of these drives. I have a couple of USB 2.0 drives and about 12 of the USB 3.0 drives. They all performed flawlessly with my old computer. I purchased that computer in 2006 before these USB 3.0 drives existed and so the computer had only USB 2.0 ports. All the USB 3.0 drives worked perfectly in the computer with the USB 2.0 ports.
Then in December 2012 I purchased a new computer and it has USB 3.0 ports. I connected a drive and was anticipating the "blazing speed" for file transfers. But there was a problem...
The drive would lose connection and I would get an error message saying that the transfer did not complete and data was lost etc., etc.
I contacted the computer manufacturer and they claimed it was a Western Digital problem. I thought they were just passing the buck, but I did some research and found that there are very many complaints all over the Internet about the Passport USB 3.0 drives losing connections. The descriptions were fairly consistent: it happened most frequently when transferring large amounts of data (such as 2 Gb, for example).
There were two theories:
(1) The Passport drive uses only a single USB connection and therefore it draws all power through that USB port. The USB port, being compliant with the USB 3.0 protocol, does not provide enough power for the drive to spin the hard disk fast enough for the data transfer at USB 3.0 speeds. That results in the errors and lost connection.
(2) The USB cables from Western Digital are defective.
So I thought I'd test theory (2) first. I got on Amazon and found a seller for a compatible USB 3.0 cable, ordered it, received it, plugged it in - and the drive works just fine. I selected a folder that had a large amount of data (8.4 Gb) and copied it to my C drive - no problem. I copied it back and forth several times and it always worked (with "blazing speed", I might add - 100 Mb per sec - WHEW!!). I tried different drives - they all worked just like I expected. That seemed to confirm to me that the cables were defective in some way.
I called Western Digital support. The Technical Support person sounded happy to help me. I described the problem to him. The first reply was that the support person put me on hold to discuss it with his supervisor. He came back and thanked me for bringing it to their attention and asked if there was anything else he could do. I said, "Yes - you can replace the cables." I have 7 drives that are still within the warranty period, so I would expect a replacement for at least those drive cables.
After discussing with his supervisor again, he said only one cable could be replaced. I said that was not acceptable. He said it was a problem with the system that would not allow him to process more than one. I said that was not my problem and I expected to get the cables replaced for at least the drives that are in warranty or I would become a Seagate customer. He spoke with his supervisor again and said he could do it. I guess his supervisor must have somehow fixed the problem with the system.
Anyway, he said I would be receiving replacement cables. I asked if they would be the same identical cables which would also not work. He discussed with his supervisor - again - and said I would be receiving y-cables. At that I explained to him that this indicates to me that Western Digital has identified the cause of the problem to be a power issue - that not enough power is being pulled from using just one USB port. He said, yes that was correct.
I asked what I should do when I need a new drive and the market is filled with product that was shipped with the inadequate cables. Am I supposed to just wait until that inventory sells off or should I instead buy Seagate drives... He said I can buy a Western Digital drive and call them right away. They will send a replacement y-cable. He didn't sound very happy at this point.
Note that when I first called Western Digital, the response was to appear like they had never heard of this before and to just blow me off.
After I pressed, the next response was to try to mollify me with just a single replacement cable.
Finally, they essentially admitted that they knew all about this all along and also had a solution that they never offered to me until I pressed hard.
So I still think Western Digital hard drives are among the best. But they have an identified, known, and confirmed defect in the USB 3.0 drive design (really just inadequate cables). Their response is to keep silent about it and hope people don't notice or just put up with it.
Therefore, I would have provided a 5-star rating for the drive, but because of the poor approach to Customer Service I knocked them down a couple of notches.
Shame on you Western Digital!! I place a lot of stock in the Customer Support a company gives, and in the honesty of the company to their customers. My confidence in you as a company is seriously undermined by this. Seagate may not be my provider for my drives at this point, and although I never seriously considered them before, I *AM* considering them seriously now.
Note this, Western Digital: I WAS a very satisfied customer. I continued to purchase drives even though I never posted an evaluation of the drives. Now I have become a somewhat dissatisfied customer and I have taken the time and made the effort to post this evaluation. Think about that...