Possible solution to consistently recognize a Mybook Essential 2.0/3.0 in a 2.0 USB laptop

After spending many hours on this problem, I think I have finally found a sequential step “work around” that allows me to use my USB 1 TB 2.0/3.0 HD.

First of all, many of the advisories and WDC comments that I have read were not helpful or relevant.  In fact for me they were misleading because I was presuming the problem was something like having the drive connected to a powered hub, or having a “defective drive”, or having a “bad cable” when these weren’t a problem at all.  The drive was not corrupt, the power source was not a problem, the hub was not a problem, the cable as an manufactured was not a problem, but as employed, as you will see, was a problem for me.

I have a Dell Studio XPS 1640 laptop, running multi-boot OSes, Win XP Pro and Win 7.  I can’t remember the Bios manufacturer but it is Dell A10 revision for the XPS.

I previously installed a WD MyBook 1 TB Elite 2.0 (only) at work.  It was connected to an always on power supply through a combination surge protector power strip (so much for that myth that the surge protecting power strip interfered with this drive.)  The USB 2.0 cable was then connected to a powered USB hub (so much for that myth that the powered hub interfered with this drive.)  When I connected the USB cable from the hub to my computer everything worked fine whether I connected it before I booted my computer or after.  It didn’t make a difference.

So when my Maxtor home USB HD failed, I bought a WD Mybook Essential 1TB 2.0/3.0 external HD and that was when the installation problems began.

I first connected the Power source to a surge/ power strip that I could/would turn on and off from the strip.  That was a problem because both WD 2.0 and 2.0/3.0 drives essentially requires an always on situation with the “sleep” feature from the WD Smartware controlling when the HD “goes to sleep”.   What was key here is the “ALWAYS ON” aspect.  

For the 2.0/3.0 drive, once you plug the drive in to a power source and turn it on, it seems to get signals from its power on and off condition, from its power cord being connected to the HD, AND from whether the USB cable connection is connected through a port to a computer.  If I turned the power “off” to the USB Drive, I had to go through a sequence of disconnecting all cables, disconnecting the power cord, reinserting the power cable, turning on the USB drive (light blinks and the goes into steady on mode), then do the remainder of my boot up routine.

The second problem I discovered was that the USB 3.0 cable does not work with my set up.  It didn’t matter that the cable was connected directly to my computer or through a hub.  What did work was either a 2.0 cable, or using the 3.0 cable and then plugging that into a USB 2.0 extension cable.  However, even then, when plugging it directly into my computer USB port I get a warning that the computer can only operate at USB 1.0 speed.  What fixed this for me was connecting the 3.0 to the 2.0 extension, connecting the extension to a powered USB hub, and then connecting the common hub port to my computer…  

The third issue for me was that the whole setup depended on NOT connecting the USB HD before I booted past the Bios.  If I physically connected the drive to the USB port on my computer before I turned on my computer, first the computer would hang in the Bios.  If I then turned the computer off and back on, the computer would boot through the BIOS and into the OS, but the drive would not be recognized.  I saw that as soon as the boot up hung in the initial boot and I also left the USB cable in and attempted to reboot, a signal was sent to the WD drive that caused it to go into a non-accessible, non-blinking light mode.  If this happened, I would have to disconnect all of the cables and repower the USB HD, then reconnect the cables BUT NOT PLUG THE USB PORT CABLE INTO MY COMPUTER UNTIL THE COMPUTER BOOTED THROUGH THE BIOS.   

In summary I learned that once I had set the power on, didn’t turn it off, connected my USB 3.0 cable to a 2.0 extension (may be that I could connect it directly to the powered hub), then connect the 2.0 cable to a port on the powered hub, then boot my computer and then, and only then, attach my usb cable from the hub to the port on my computer, was I able to get normal access to the WD USB HD.

There is something that happens to the accessibility to the WD USB HD if any of these steps are not taken in sequence which causes the USB connection to fail even if all of the other pieces of the puzzle are in place.  So if you have a problem, before you restart or try any other solution, reset the WD USB HD by disconnecting everything, and then repower then drive.

I also found that the WDSmartware seemed to slow down my computer.  I removed it through control panel and just use the unlock.exe which serves the purpose I want without having a resident process eating up the CPU.  I do not know if the WD drive goes into sleep mode on its own, or requires WD Smartware.  Before I removed the Smartware, I set the Sleep Timer for my desired time.  I will see if this works for this HD.

So far this seems to be working on multiple boot attempts for the last three days.

I hope this helps others.

Thanks for sharing

Mine has been working since I bought it without issues