About the VCD and SmartWare

Firstly, let me say that I don’t mind the SmartWare software coming pre-installed on the drive, as long as it can easily be deleted/reformatted or whatever.  In fact, that’s what I had assumed when I looked at the box in the store.  It doesn’t say anywhere on the box that the software may not be deleted.

The real concern is the VCD.  This is a really bad idea.  Firstly, it actually removes functionality for a particular subset of users that want to be able to install operating systems on their passports, because they are now unable to boot off them.  The VCD gets in the way.  This doesn’t directly affect me, and probably wouldn’t affect most of your users, but it is a concern none the less.  Back in the day, I wouldn’t have purchased a box of floppy disks if they had no boot sector.  Would anyone have?

I realise that the user is able to download and install some software to make the VCD invisible to their computer, but this is little more than a cheap trick.  The software is still there, and this official work-around does absolutely nothing to address the booting issue.  I suspect that the kind of user that actually wants to use SmartWare will not care if some space on their Passport drive is comsumed by it, or will be blissfully unaware that this is the case.  Either way, by allowing this to materialize, WD have exercised some extremely poor judgment at the product design phase.

I sincerely hope that WD remove the VCD altogether.  I’ve been a loyal customer for almost 20 years. My computers all have WD hard disks.  I have several of the older model Passports that have been perfectly reliable.  As sad as it is to say, for the foreseeable future, I will not be buying any portable hard drive which has the word “SmartWare” on the box… and I have already started advising friends to avoid them as well.

It is very upsetting to see WD going down this path.


Robert Kelsen


I bought a My Passport Elite drive (500gb) believing that I would be getting a fully “portable” external storage drive but I am less than impressed with the requirement to install the provided software. I am compelled to raise the following points for WD’s consideration and in support  of other customers who have the same concerns:-

  1. It is a very normal practice for people to want to be able to transfer files between thier work computer and thier home computer but it is also common practice for IT support in any properly managed Office computer network to prevent the installation of software / foreign device drivers etc…etc. This renders the My passport drive useless  for this purpose since it requires the WD Smartware software to be installed on each computer that you intend to use it on.

  2. Hiding the VCD is not a valid solution since you are still required to install the software to make it work and it is also not an acceptable solution to simply ignore Windows requesting that the appropriate drivers are installed.

  3. Other manufacturers of external USB devices have also included “value Add” software but they have not made it mandatory to install anything to have full use of the external drive through Windows explorer (or the Mac equivalent)

  4. One of the best attributes of USB “Plug an Play” technology is the ability to attach external storage and have it recognised instantly by any computer that has a USB port!

It is actually a real shame since WD external drives have a wonderful sleek and sharp looking aesthetic when compared to the others (Probably how i got suckered in the first place!)

Come on WD!, Make your existing customers Happy and fix this or prepare to watch sales of this device plummet  while all your competitors get rich selling their ugly looking but perfectly functional external USB drives !.

Has anyone found out how to delete the smartware and have the external terabyte drive respond like a normal USB hard drive? Please let me know [deleted for privacy].

Another group who are alienated by the VCD and SmartWare:

People who use their portable drives as virtual briefcases.  Corporate policies often disallow the installation of any software on computers in a workplace.  Attempts to do so are viewed as “cracking,” and in many places is an offence which could see staff fired, or, at the very least, reprimanded.

These people can no longer use your drives to carry their work between home and the office because of this non-removable “functionality.”

Did you guys really think this through?  Were you aiming to alienate and anger as many of your customers as possible?