Best External Hard Drive for Hub


Did a search through the forum and posts seem to be all over the place regarding External Hard Drives and the Hub.

I’m ready to buy my first 2TB External… wondering if anyone has any opinion or experience re:

  1. Speed between HDD and HUB for:

a) 2TB Elements (says slow in general on Best Buy site)

b) 2TB Essentials (says they have failed for a few people)

c) 2TB Live (supposedly quite fast)

  1. If not a WD External HDD, any other suggestions for HDD units that have worked well?

  2. For something like the WD drives… do they power on/off along with the hub?  Otherwise, how do I power them down?  I’m used to having an external drive connected to a PC.

Any USB2 drive is slow.

The 60MB/sec rate in the USB specs is the maximum burst rate, not the sustained transfer speeds.  I’ve never seen a USB2.0 drive sustain over 30MB/sec, and depending on a variety of factors, it’s usually more around 20MB/sec.  That would go for all USB drives, regardless of brand or manufacturer.

So yes, compared to your 100+MB/sec you get from the internal drive(s) in your PC, any USB drive will be slow, whether connected to a PC or to any other device.  Writing from an attached drive, over the LAN to my PC, or vice versa, I usually see speeds around 10MB/sec, so the WDTV USB performance does appear to be less than with a PC, but it’s still in the same ballpark, since that’s all you may see on a PC under some conditions.

As far as I know (other than issues with drive courruption due to improper drive removal), the only issue with some Elements was due to the formatting, and re-formatting prior to use fixed the problem.  I don’t really recall any specific issues with Passports or MyBook Essentials.

I have no personal experience, so I can’t comment on MyBook Live drives.

Pretty much any other manufacturer’s USB drive will have similar performance and restrictions to the WD ones, so you don’t gain anything there, but you don’t lose anything either.

As far as I know, when the original WDTV HD devices were shut down, the drive was “Safely Removed” and put into sleep mode, but you’d have to disconnect power from it to actually shut it off.  I believe the Live, Live Plus and Live Hub all shut the drive down when powered off.

Mybook LIVE is NAS.   You can’t hook it up via USB to the WD’s…   I have one on my network, and it works quite well for a NAS, and it’s screaming fast.   I average 240 to 250 megabits per second read/writes to it…

Thanks to both of you for the info, it probably covers about everything.

Regarding the LIVE, I guess that is an interesting option because I don’t have to go through finding a place near my TV to permanently house an HDD, could put it just about anywhere in the home.

Have never had a NAS HDD like that, do I just hook it up to my router, it becomes a drive name and then could stream from it to the Hub?  No on/off, it just always stays plugged in and sleeps when not in use? 

I’ll leave the NAS questions for someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, but I should add one more note about USB drives, if you were to go that route…

For adding one or two files, it’s generally not worth the hassle of safely removing, then physically moving the drive and copying files to it, then safely removing the drive and moving it back, but if you’re filling a 1 TB (or 2TB or 3TB) drive from scratch, due to the speeds, you’d basically cut the time in half if you attach the drive to your PC first and fill it, and then move it to the WDTV, instead of attaching it right to the WDTV from the start and pushing all your files to it over the LAN.  But, if you have patience you can do it whatever way you like. :wink:

And… since even though 10MB/sec is “slow”, it’s still 80Mbit/sec and I’ve never had stuttering issues even with 1080p… none of my files are anywhere near that bitrate.

I’ll also add that I’ve never personally had any issues with any of my My Book Essentials drives.  But the possibility exists if you do corrupt your drive due to not safely removing it, that the drive can become locked with no way to reset the password and no practical way to retrieve the files off it – you basically would need a supercomputer to crack the AES encryption by brute force – the drive’s contents are encrypted whether you set a password yourself or not.  If that were to happen, all you can do is format the drive and start all over again.  So, if that concerns you in the slightest, and you have no need for the password/encryption that the Smartware drives provide, in terms of what WD offers you’d be happier with an Elements, which is just a bare USB drive with no encryption akin to the offerings from other manufacturers, instead of a Passport or a My Book Essentials.  Generally the non-Smartware, non-password drives are cheaper anyways so you’d also save a few bucks by not paying for something you have no intention of using and has the potential of going disastrously wrong.  Not that the Elements (or other manufacturers’ drives) can’t also easily become corrupted through improper use, but you have much better prospects of retrieving your data with a non-encrypted drive.

As I say, I’ve never had issues with mine over the years (and I have 4), but if you look through the External Drives section of the forums, there are numerous users who have caused corruption and lost everything.

Thanks RoofingGuy, great tips!

You’re right, I have no use at all for security enabled drives.  I just want whatever will be seamless and work well with the Hub basically. I think that now it’s between the Elements and the LIVE – the cheapest and most expensive of my options!

I guess the question would be regarding the Elements, from what you’ve said, in your opinion:

  1. should I format the drive when I get it to avoid corruption on that front?

  2. great tip about dumping to it from the PC first… I always safely remove… but do you think that after I attach it to the Hub and presumably leave it there for good, that with it powering up and down/sleeping along with the Hub (or however that works) it would be considered ‘safe use’ and avoid corruption?

  3. it looks like the Elements is physically fairly small… due to my limited space at the TV, do you know of any issues if I was to lay it flat and put the Hub on top of it?

Thanks again!

I own a D-Link DNS-323 with 2 x 2TB drives installed and connected to a router. My hub is also connected to the router. The drives appears as Volume 1 (for movies) and Volume 2 (for TV series). The drives will go into sleep mode after a set amount of time. I stored my music library directly the WD Live hub. I setup the iTunes and DNLA server to on. This way I can access the music to any laptop or computer that has iTunes install and stream to my iPad using 8player app. I never had any issues watching 1080p movies with this setup on the TV.

I hope this info will help you out.


1)  The format issue was with 2TB drives.  There are two types of partition table for drives.  The old one was MBR and it has a 2TB absolute cap.  Any drive larger than 2TB needs the newer GPT formatting.  2TB drives were shipping as GPT, but many devices couldn’t (can’t) read GPT, so the 2TB drive needed to be re-formatted as MBR to get it recognized.  If your drive is less than 2TB and/or you’re using any of the newer firmwares that have the GPT patch and can use drives above 2TB, then the reformatting would be unnecessary, and wouldn’t really have anything to do with whether the drive would be corrupted or not.  The formatting of the partition table would only potentially cause issues with GPT drives connected to devices that don’t speak GPT, but in the vast majority of cases the drive seems to be just not recognized at all, as opposed to seemingly working and becoming corrupted.

  1. In theory when you shut down the WDTV, the drives get “safely removed”, but as a “better safe than sorry”-type of thing, I always “Eject” the drives before powering down.  The “Eject” function of the WDTV’s is equivalent to “safely removing” the drive from your PC.  I’ve never seen anyone who "Eject"s their drives ever report a corrupted drive – just like I’ve never seen anyone who “Safely Removes” the drive from the PC ever have the removal cause corruption.

  2. If too much heat builds up, the drive’s life will be shortened.  WD tests the drives up to an operating temperature of 60° C (the drive in your PC is probably operating around 30-40°C), and the drives continue to operate without errors, but like anything else, “the cooler the better”.  I personally wouldn’t want any of my drives running at 60 °C all the time, whether it’s “error-free” or not.  External drives tend to run a bit warmer than the drives in your PC that have forced cooling, but I honestly don’t know if placing something on an Elements (or it on something else) will have a significant change in the drive’s operating temperature.  In my particular case, I’m still using an old-school CRT TV, so it’s farily bulky.  Since the My Book Essentials drives are meant to stand and not lie on their side, mine are just standing behind the TV where they’re out of sight and not about to be knocked over.

Actually, I’ll throw out one further recommendation/observation…

Many users report no issues whatsoever with USB-powered drives and their WDTV, but in general it seems like insufficient power over the USB bus is the #1 cause of corruption for USB-powered drives (the Passports and the Elements Portable/SE), even moreso than unsafe removal. (And you’re also limited to much shorter cable lengths for USB-powered drives.)

If you do go USB instead of NAS, I’d personally recommend that you not get a USB-powered Elements Portable / Elements Portable SE , and instead get the externally-powered Elements Desktop.  It’s just one less potential source of problems if you don’t need to be using the drive with a laptop in a location where no external power is available.

Just to clear up any confusion as to which “Elements” I’m referring to.


I know, if you go USB, you’ve decided on the Elements over WD’s other offerings, but for others reading through this, here’s a re-cap of my personal rankings of the suitability of WD’s drives for use with their Media Players:

  1. _ Elements Desktop _ – the fewest things to possibly go wrong… just a plain drive with no frills… low cost
  2. _ My Book Essential _ – has the benefit of external power, but the contents are encrypted whether you use the password features or not and can be irretrievable if the drive is corrupted, but stable when used correctly and some folks want/need the password protection
  3. _ Elements Portable/Portable SE _ – relies on your USB port providing sufficient power to function reliably, but avoids the potential encryption problems
  4. any of the _ Passports _ – has both encryption and USB power… works fine for many users, but the greatest chance of heartache and also generally the most expensive per GB.

Other folks may switch 2 and 3 depending on how strongly they trust USB power and how leery they are of the encryption.  Theoretically you could either throw the _ Passport AV _ either in #3, or between 3 and 4, since it’s USB-powered and not encrypted, but it’s currently only available in a 320GB size, so most people exclude it from their choices.  I just personally see the USB power as being a bigger problem because it’s more insiduous… as far as I can tell from the specs, USB only has to provide 0.5A, and the drives require up to 1.0A… so what seems to happen to folks is that they use it for days or weeks or months with nothing seeming to be wrong, and then poof! one day it’s mangled.  At least with the encryption you kind of have to go out of your way to mangle the drive, either by just yanking the cord without safely removing it, or by using it during a storm when the power’s likely to go out.


Thanks a lot for all the info, it’s definitely going to help me make a decision and hopefully will help others along the way as well when they’re looking to expand their storage in combo with the Hub.

I’m going to mull it over and pick up a drive this week, after which I’ll come in here and post how it went/mark the thread as solved and closed.

Thanks again!

I have a clearer answer about question #2 and safely removing a USB drive.

If you completely power down the Hub, the drive should be safe to disconnect (but it never hurts to “Eject” it first, before shutting down :wink:)

If you suspend/sleep the Hub, then you’d either need to completely power-down the Hub (or “Eject” the drive before putting the Hub to sleep) to disconnect the drive, but disconnecting an un-ejected drive from a sleeping Hub can potentially cause issues.

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Thanks for info re: ejecting drives.

Wanted to give an UPDATE: I ended up buying a WD 3TB Live Network Drive.  It was on sale and I could see having the most use for a LIVE drive over the years. 

However… I don’t think that at this point, a NAS/LIVE Drive like this is optimal for use with the Hub.  Here’s why:

  1. There’s no way  to show all of the media from both the 1tb local storage and Network Share (3tb in my case) consolidated in a folder.  This means that if I have movies on local storage and movies on the network share, I have to toggle between sources to see them, which is a pain.

  2. Files sent to the network drive don’t appear on the Hub in real time (or after a quick compile) as they do with transferring files to the 1tb internal storage or presumably an attached USB drive.  This means you have to do a Device Reset or hard power down to update the network share everytime you add new media for the Hub to see it.

These may or may not be issues for certain people.  I think I would have preferred to just amass a huge library of media and have it all viewable in the Hub under one source, i.e., an external USB drive +1tb internal viewable under All Local Storage.

I am going to keep the LIVE drive though and my solution is to use the 1tb internal to dump current media I want to enjoy to.  Once I am finished with it, I’ll transfer these files to the LIVE network drive for backup… this way I can do a Device Reset only periodically to update the Network Media on the Hub.

Marking RoofingGuy’s post re: types of USB hard drives as the solution; I would recommend a USB drive as per my above comments as the best option for the Hub at this point.