Do my book essentials feature a bug which, without warning, may nuke your data

I recently had the joy of a backup drive failing; it has been replaced with a my book essential. The consensus seems to be that the drive encrypts everything written to it with aes (128 or 256, depending on where one looks). The drive may do this all by itself, or it may be keyed to some windows-only software. As I’m not using windows I’m not sure about this.  

However there are  references to the drive deciding to encrypt itself with an unknown password. Or to a password being set, and the drive then rejecting it. One guy on here asks how to disable the encryption and is directed to a thread on data recovery. Now, the problem might be caused by connecting the drive to a mac, or to linux, or to a windows bug. It might be user error. The solution appears to be to reformat and hope it doesn’t happen again, or to send the drive back and buy a different one.

Is anyone able to set my mind to rest here? I don’t want to return a drive based on hearsay, but I especially don’t a backup drive to unexpectedly destroy my data.

Drives that come with Smartware also use hardware encryption whether you set a password or not. Connecting the drive with SATA is useless the data is still encrypted. There is no master reset. On occasions a drive does ask for a password when one was not set. Occasionally signing in from another account like the Guest account will provide access. I suspect corrupt firmware updates may cause some of these problems. There is also no way to know how these drives were treated by the owner. Remember one copy is not a backup.


That clears up a couple of things. A corrupted firmware update could plausibly cause this, which is motivation to leave the stock one in place.

The drive is intended to spend the majority of its life disconnected from the world; it’s a backup for a my book live which acts as a home server. An offsite backup is in place, but tends to be a month or so out of date (and not especially accessible either). So while I feel my data is fairly safe, I’m not sure the my book essential is an appropriate product for me. Unexpected self-encryption seems a risk with no benefit. I think I’ll contact WD’s rma department.

Given the low price you’d probably be beter off with 2 Element drives for your backups. They don’t have the hardware encryption.


Ah, my apologies. I missed a step. I started off with an elements drive, in the spirit that simpler things are less likely to go wrong. Unfortunately it went wrong regardless, the my book essential drive is an rma replacement.

It’s very generous of WD to send me a better drive than the one that failed, so it seems most ungrateful to ask them to send out an Elements drive instead. I think I’ll call WD on Monday to see what they suggest, it’s hardly the end of the world if the drive does kill itself after a few months after all.

Thanks for your replies Joe