Western Digital MyBooks - just say no
#5 Henry, Sunday, 08 November 2009 10:37 PM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: hdd westerndigital)

When I upgraded Anne's Mac Mini to Snow Leopard, I bought her a Western Digital MyBook 1T external drive for her backups. I plugged it in, it worked, it was great. For two months.

Then Anne noticed that backups were not happening any more. I checked it out, there was a disk problem. I ran Disk Utility on the drive, and it said there was a problem and it couldn't fix it. I took it to my Linux box, repartitioned it, put a file system on it, and it couldn't make the file system. The MyBook was no longer any good. I removed the hard disk from the case, put it in an external case and tried again, just in case the electronics of the MyBook was at fault and I could make use of the drive. Same problem. I trashed the MyBook.

I replaced it with a Western Digital MyBook Essential 500 gig. I didn't get another 1T drive as I don't really trust 1T drives much. I've seen too many problems with them. I plugged the new one into Anne's Mac Mini, and the drive was recognised, which surprised me. The box said it was formatted for Windows and would need to be reformatted to work with Macs. Things have advanced and reformatting was not necessary. However, this also appeared:

Virtual cdrom created by Western Digital Essential

I ejected it. It disappeared. Two seconds later it popped back up. I did this twice more. It wouldn't go away. I opened it and Finder showed this:

Virtual cdrom contents created by Western Digital Essential

Extra programs and manuals for the drive. This is strange. Maybe it was a second partition with the drive? I used Disk Utility and tried to remove the partition. No go. It was a virtual cdrom. I even took the drive to my Linux box and repartitioned it, and put a new file system on it. Back on the Mac, it still pushed this virtual cdrom onto the desktop. Most people would have shrugged and ignored it way before now, but it seriously bugs me. I control this computer. I do not want a hard disk to push something onto the desktop that I cannot remove. I do not want to use their backup software, I am quite happy with Apple's Time Machine. This sort of behaviour by a hard disk manufacturer makes me see red. I do not want this to happen. A quick Google search shows that yes, this happens, and no, you cannot remove it.

My first impulse was to return the drive. When I cooled down a bit, I decided to continue using it for Anne's backups, but never buy another Western Digital MyBook again. They have been very convenient packages, and I have bought 4 or 5 of them a year for a few years. But now I've had one drive fail in two months, and the replacement drive do things I don't want, well, I'm not going to buy from them again.

Instead, I'll buy external hard disk cases and internal hard disks and I'll make my own little packages. I can get the gear quite cheaply at NewEgg, and if anything goes wrong, I can replace the drive or the case instead of throwing the whole thing in the bin. So in this household, we now say NO to Western Digital MyBooks.