Passport essential SE won't work on USB 3

Hello all,

I’m wondering if anyone can help me with a problem getting my passport essential SE 1TB to get up and running.

I recently purchased this drive and use it with my HP pavilion tx 2500 laptop with Win 7 64bit.  The laptop has only USB 2.0 connections of course as it is fairly old.  It has still worked flawlessly with the laptop even at USB2.0 speeds.

But I decided to add an express card to the laptop with usb 3.0 and I purchased a Unitek 34mm express card with 2 USB3.0 inputs.  I’ve installed the card using the manufacturer CD and install completed successfully and the device was visible and no issues were visible when looked up in device manager.

But as soon as I connect my external drive (though the light on the drive is on) the drive is not showing up in windows explorer and there is constant switching between those sounds for when USB device connects and disconnects.  Device is visible the whole time in Device manager, but the list keeps refreshing with every sound of USB connect/disconnect.

Also in devices and printers window, it shows up (noted only as external storage) and disappears and reappears again with every abovementioned sound.  While subsequent plugging back into USB 2.0 port, makes the device visible and labelled properly as WD my passport and functioning without a hitch.

Plugging a mouse and an iPhone, seems to work just fine on the other hand (occupying both available 3.0 inputs on the card) - so basically the card works with these devices but not my external.

Could it be a power issue?

If anyone has any idea what  the problem may be, I thank you in advance!


I’m having the same issue! I think we either have to wait for a firmware update or RMA?

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Get a refund for Unitek 34mm express card that you’ve purchased. It simply cannot provide adequate DC power to your USB drive.

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Thank you for such quick replies you guys!

I just want to add that I saw  on the Unitek site that each of the 2 USB 3.0 ports on this express card can output up to max. 900mA.  And another post on this forum i read yesterday mentioned that power can be a problem but stated that USB 3.0 hard drives draw 500mA with increases as transfer speeds go up near max but I can’t even guess if initial spin up would require more than 900mA (certainly don’t know what the motherboard specs are for powering an express card). Also I do not know if the Unitek website is saying up to max 900mA when additional power is supplied via plug on the side of the express card…though i wouldn’t know what kind of power adapter to use for it to see if additional power is necessary (and I guess that would be the best way to test if lack of current is causing no detection).

thanks again!

I guess you misunderstood the info on Unitek card. 900mA on each port is not possible on this dual port card unless you attached an external 5Volts 2A power adaptor in to the power socket of the card.

PC would only provide 150mA per port on USB express cards.

IMO, Unitek should supply you a power adaptor. If you don’t have or unit still not functioning with supplied power adaptor, you should return the card and get a refund.

If you plan to use a third party power adaptor, be extremely careful on DC polarity of the power source. In case of reverse connection will definitely fry your PCI express bay/laptop, express cad and if connected, your USB device as well.  (Unforgiving for mistakes)

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I’m having this issue when I’m running it from a direct port on the motherboard. Any tips?

Can you elaborate your question? Thought you were using a notebook. I need more information on your PC, OS etc.

Thank you Mabikay!

I appreciate the detail and that’s precisely the information I was looking for (how much motherboard provides power etc.)

I just have to ask a followup:

 If this unit is being sold for connecting USB 3.0 devices, how come it isn’t somehow selfpowered sufficiently for such purposes or is this a typical situation where it is expected to need an extra power supply from a DC adapter and therefore all express cards for USB 3.0 (available today), need it?

 And can you then suggest a better USB 3.0 expresscard ? Or should I just be looking perhaps for external power if this is a typical characteristic of all USB 3.0 expresscards?  In which case how about a USBtoPowerjack converter so power can be routed from another USB port on my laptop or would that be too little current?

Also gotta add:  the Unitek expresscard doesn’t have a label by the power port stating which polarity it is so i’m hoping they’ll get back to my recent e-mail about that.

And I rechecked the statement on the package which does say “Max. 900mA per port” so probably in agreement with what you said that its probably only possible with power supplied externally.

I also read a review online comparing 2 of these express cards and this Unitek one worked for this guy on his laptop.  So is it possible then that other laptops perhaps output more power from motherboard to USB ports? 

Thanks again!

Mabikay you mentioned up there:\

“unless you attached an external 5Volts 2A power adaptor in to the power socket of the card”

I found an adapter in my hosue to test if with power the card at least works with the external drive. It the small enough jack to fit the power input on the expresscard but it says 3V DC and 600mA showing + plugging into - (for polarity reference). Could that be sufficient? And is the power input in expresscards typically a negative terminal? Because my Unitek expresscard has no label for the power input terminal so I don’t know if i can plug a + to - DC adapter in it (as you mentioned it can fry a bunch of things in that case).

thanks once again!

No matter what your do, don’t connect that adaptor in to Unitek card. I’ll get back to you with other relevant info later. You need 5Volts 1Amp at least with correct polarity, which you don’t know.

You may be able to use your drive without an external power source, if you have a Y cable that uses one more USB2 port to get power. I didn’t find any express card on the net with supplied power adaptor. They are asking you to buy it separately. And the bad thing is the polarity info is unavailable. Have look in here for more info on USB3.

And for the Y cable…

And more info on power adaptor…


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Thank you once again.

I have not tried using the adapter of course, so i’ll have a look at this USB info now and see if i learn anything else. Thanks for the links.

Most importantly I’ll return this Unitek product and will have to say that I cannot under any circumstance recommend this to anyone who needs to expand USB plugs on their laptop with a USB 3.0.  Obviously this was a terrible buy since there is no way to power this expresscard safely and it MUST HAVE extra power source to give you the USB 3 capability.

I only hope I can find and buy another USB 3 expresscard that will not need extra power to provide enough current to get the most out of my WD drive.

Note: i revised this reply after i read a few things on the links Mabikay posted.

It seems there are lots of reasons why this card is still useful, just not for devices that draw lots of power and are not self powered like apparently external drives and sound cards…perhaps even video processing cards.  Other devices like thumb drives with usb 3 support, should work as well as My Book hard drives and others of course with supplied external power adapter.

Also important is perhaps the fact that many Expresscards out there are still based on standard 1.0 while there is a new one out since last year with 2.0.  The second link Mabikay posted shows an example card based off of 2.0 standard which adds some support so that at least external HDDs like Passport can transfer (apparently limited to about half of maximal USB 3.0 speeds…i.e. about 2.5Gb/s which is still enough to be much faster than USB 2.0).  All this should be resolved with newer motherboards with integrated USB 3.0’s or will simply send a stronger current to power USB’s so that an expresscard like this one will work with the HDDs at fullest potential.


I was wondering if the Passport essential you bought is only usb 2.0.  I bought one Sunday and it was only usb 2.0.  I exchanged it Monday when I found out that WD carries a 1tb My Passport essential usb 2.0 + usb 3.0.  There is a difference inside the drives and the interface controller, and the cable it comes with.  I bought mine and exchanged mine at Best Buy, the difference was only $21-, so I thought why not.

I don’t think you can get any faster than what you already are getting. You can go on you tube and see what people are doing with their passport external drives.