A friend of mine called me the other day. He was in need of some geek support.
He had bought a new small portable hard drive and out-of-the-box this new piece of hardware came installed with some software he didn’t want nor need. My friend was unable to delete this unwanted software, so he called me. The hard drive was a Western Digital My Passport Essential.
Now, I wouldn’t touch Westen Digital’s malicious and dangerous software even with a long stick (see Be very afraid of The WD Drive Manager software distributed with Western Digital’s hard drives) but I haven’t had any issues with their hardware. Until now, that is.
So there I was guiding my friend, via the phone, through a simple formatting procedure, when I was told by my friend that when the newly erased HD mounted an ‘icon called WD SmartWare’, as my friend put it, appeared on the desktop too. I was sure the HD was repartitioned and erased, so from where did this ‘icon’ come from? And what on earth was WD SmartWare? I was both puzzled and alarmed at the same time.
After consulting the internet I found myself feeling sick. I turns out that as Western Digital previously had distributed its software on CDs so that one could feel safe when throwing this separate media in the trash immediately after unpacking, they’ve now started to integrate their software into the hard drive itself. When the drive mounts, a Virtual CD also mounts, and that’s a thing I don’t like at all.
To remove WD SmartWare by disabling the Virtual CD you have to both update the drive’s firmware and download more software. More unwanted software to get rid of unwanted software!? How insanely stupid is that? Very much so. Have they gone totally bonkers at Western Digital? It certainly looks like it.
Since the removal of this ‘smart’ware thingy is too complicated for a non-geek, I went over to my friend’s place and performed the 23 step procedure, not just once but four times since my friend had, it turns out, bought no less than four new WD hard drives. All the Virtual CDs are deactivated now, but even though nothing is visible, I still know the hard drives are tainted with Western Digital’s software. The code lurks there dormant, waiting… like the Shelob.
For me, this means now that I’ll not think twice but thrice, or more, before buying a WD hard drive. I mean, if WD keeps presenting these unpleasant surprises and I get extra workload just for trying to normalize what Western Digital screws up, why on earth should I tolerate that? Why should anyone?