I recently purchased a WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB USB 2.0/3.0 drive and experienced similar problems: The drive worked fine for a few minutes, and then would invariably eject itself, even in the middle of Finder copy or Time Machine backup operation. (I have a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard.) Thinking the drive was defective, I returned it for a replacement … and had exactly the same problem. An external drive that can’t copy or backup is worthless.
Fortunately, I had access to several different WD external USB drives and several different Macs. Tring different combinations, I concluded that the problem occurs only when both of the following are true:
- The WD external USB drive has a -01 model number.
- The current (recent?) version of WD SmartWare is installed.
In particular, I have experienced the problem with the just the following model (two different drives);
- WDBACX0010BBL -01 (WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB USB 2.0/3.0 Blue)
But all of the following models work fine:
- WDBACY5000ABL -00 (WD My Passport Essential 500GB USB 2.0/3.0 Blue)
- WDBACY5000ARD -00 (WD My Passport Essential 500GB USB 2.0/3.0 Red)
- WDBAAA6400ASL (WD My Passport Essential 640GB USB 2.0 Silver)
- WDBABM7500ASL-00 (WD My Passport Essential SE 750GB USB 2.0 Silver)
- WDBACX0010BBK-00 (WD My Passport Essential SE 1TB USB 2.0/3.0 Black)
Note that -00 and -01 drives appear to have totally different series of firmware updates. The -00 drives have firmware versions such as 1.012 through 1.016 (the most recent as of a few weeks ago). In contrast, the -01 drives have firmware versions such as 1.003 (again, the most recent as of a few weeks ago).
And the problem occurs when the current version of WD SmartWare is installed:
- WD SmartWare Version 220.127.116.11
But the problem does NOT occur when earlier versions are installed:
WD SmartWare Version 18.104.22.168 — but note that this earlier version of WD SmartWare does not appear to recognize the newer (?) -01 drives, so it is probably as if WD SmartWare isn’t installed for these drives.
For all my tests, I have been using various iMacs, MacBooks and MacBook Pros, all running the current version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.8).
Of course, the work around is to uninstall WD SmartWare, and the problem does appear to go away.
This workaround would be acceptabe except that:
- You can’t run S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics without WD SmartWare.
- You lose the convenient “Unmount Volume” menu bar command.
Given the larger number of different combinations I tried, I conclude that the problem is NOT with a cable or with a particular drive but rather is a systematic problem involving a line of (newer?) drives WD SmartWare (for Mac, as I have not done any tests on PCs). Whether responsibility lies with the drive hardware, the firmware, WD SmartWare or some incopatibility with Mac OS X I do not know.