WD Passport 1TB USB 3 - Very slow for USB 3... even after Format!

I have a WD Passport 1TB, USB 3, external HDD. Recently I have accidentally (and stupidly really!) erased my data, by trying a **bleep** Unlocker utility, in my attempt to just normally disconnect my locked (for some unexplained reason) WD Passport under Windows 7.

Anyway, after that I have decided to copy all my movies back into the drive, but I noticed that it has become very slow. Specifically, I could copy from my internal HDDs to the WD Passport at about 70-80 MB/sec and after the accidental deletion I could see speeds of 3 MB/sec!!  So, I have decided to format that drive. I tried both Smartware and Windows 7 Format. First I tried with the Smartware, but I could not see any improvement. Then I tried with Windows 7 format, but I noticed the same, i.e. no improvement.

I have also tried to “Wipe” the disk, using EaseUS Partition Master and then Format, using the same, or using Acronis Disk Director 11 Home software. The only improvement I could see is that it starts copying with good speed, of about 70-80 MB/sec, but after 3% of the copying, then it falls down to only 9 (!) MB/sec, and until the copy finishes!!

Can you help me to fix my drive, so that I can again take advantage of the USB 3 speeds ??

Please note that I have the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe motherboard and I have tried to use both the back USB 3 Intel and other ports and also the Front USB 3 connector, with the exactly same speed results for all cases. Also, I have 3 other WD Passport 1TB, USB 3, on which the speed is as expected!

So, I am convinced that there is no problem with my USB 3 ports of the motherboard and this is a problem of the specific WD Passport 1TB.

Please let me know o your suggestions, because I am dissapointed and frustrated with this WD Passport problem and I need to backup movies on this drive the soonest possible.

Thank you.

Well it’s a good thing you didn’t lose any data. ok… Since other disks are working fine on the system, then it’s not going to be the system, of course… You can try it on a different computer for fun and games.

If multiple formats and zero-outs haven’t done anything I’m not sure what else to suggest. Are the file systems (ntfs, fat32) the same as on the other disks? Cluster size 4,096? Even then…

If anyone has other suggestions let’s hear them! If not RMA the drive. It’s part of WD’s responsibility to provide the necessary information to make these things work, if they can’t then the product is considered defective! Eh?

I think there might exist bad sectors (I have run HD tune and it shows some in the beginning, I didn’t let it run full scan, because it takes ages to complete…), but most probably from software fault, not because of faulty disk surface (which, of course, cannot be fixed). Maybe a utility such as HDD regenerate 2011 could give the solution, but it costs 54 Euros! Is there any free utility to do the job? Can simply CHKDSK do the same?

Yep. I totally agree. But a faulty disk surface can be remapped by the error checking built into the drive. This happens without you knowing it. This covers hardware faults and soft faults equally.

Sometimes this routine gets stuck in a loop from time to time. Especially with software errors and power loss conditions. And the best way out is to zero and format the disk with the non-quick windows format.

You can try chkdsk and scan and recover bad sectors. This won’t work like HDD Regen or SpinRite, but it might trigger the disk’s internal routines differently and force a remap.

You can find a secure erase utility which would do something similar. It basically triggers a secure erase to be done by the disk’s firmware and in the process of overwriting each and every bit it would write several reversals as a matter of course. All new disks have this capability. You may need to connect the disk directly to the computer, because USB bridge controllers don’t pass all commands to the drive. – http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml

If that doesn’t work the next choices are HDD Regenerator or SpinRite.

 I’ve used HDD Regen and SpinRite several times to fix disks that failed in brownout conditions. The servo markings are never touched, but the weak sector marks were refreshed just fine.

Thank you for your reply and analysis Keith.

I am not clear on the difference among CHKDSK, HDD Regenerator and Spinrite. Which one does the best job, keeping the WD Passport USB 3 disk mainly with the speed it should have and also really fixing the software fault bad sectors to provide the best possible disk space back to the user?

You are also saying I should use first the Secure Erase utility. First of all, if this needs different than USB 3 interface, then I don’t know how I could remove the drive from inside the Passport case enclosure and connect it through eSATA(??) with some kind of other interface. I could use some advice on how to do that.

I am not sure if this would help me though, I have already tried to Wipe the disk using the EaseUS Partition Master tool, then formatted, but didn’t help. But I have done that using the USB 3 interface, of course, not SATA, I don’t know if this would make any diference here.

Anyway, do you believe it is worth it to buy HDD Regenerator 2011 or Spinrite? I would prefer not to buy both, so please suggest me the best pick if you can.

Thank you.

SpinRite and Secure Erase will require a non-USB interface. So those are out of the question. HDD Regenerator should work fine through your USB 3.0 interface. If not, it will work through USB 2.0, just slower of course. Spinrite may try a few more bit patterns and have a more colorful control panel than HDD Regenerator. But Spinrite is older and behind the times when it comes to newer disks. SpinRite is really from the old school days of when a low-level-format really meant a low-level-format. SpinRite has not been updated since 2004. HDD Regenerator is current tech and “better aware” of modern disks. So I would go with that.

You can try CHKDSK first, (with the option to scan and recover bad sectors) it comes with your o/s therefore is free. Can’t hurt other than taking some time. Chkdsk looks at the sectors logically and marks them bad (if they’re bad) in NTFS metafiles. This is so the OS knows not to use them. This is different than the the disk’s surface defect list, which is made at the factory and periodically updated in the field. WD disks check for weak and bad sectors in the background, irregardless of the file system mapping, and attempt to relocate them. This is standard stuff. Been that way for years. And from time to time an internal scan may get hung up on a weak sector. And the drive keeps trying to work with that marginal sector over and over again. This problem manifests itself as unexplained disconnects, or slow peformance, or hang-ups & lock-ups.

Usually when a disk is asked to read a file or sector, the disk’s internal error checking automatically remaps bad sectors to the G-list. Grown defect list. Surface defects that show up later as the disk is used by the consumer. There is also a P-list, the Permanent defect list, this is done at the factory. This stuff basically transparent to the o/s.

The next choice will be HDD Regenerator.

HDD Regenerator doesn’t pay attention to any NTFS bad sector mappings. Or NTFS at all for that matter. It goes through all the sectors and turns off the disk’s internal hardware-based error checking (so to speak) and writes a number of patterns when it encounters a weak sector or delayed sector. This sometimes fixes a slow or bad sector, it all depends on what caused the problem in the first place!

Other than HDD Regenerator and DRevitalize I know of no other sector refreshers. Everything else is now on the professional level and beyond your price range.




You know… When I work with a customer that has a failing disk; I advise them to simply grab their files, whatever they can, and RMA the defective disk. If they want to pay me for digging into a drive, or trying to repair it, or do data recovery on it that’s fine by me. I always recommend backups as best practice and to treat the disk (HDD or SDD) as a black box. This way time isn’t wasted dabbling in minutiae.

So, are you suggesting me to better try to return the drive and get a new one instead of trying to fix it?

If yes, then can I return it directly to WD through an RMA process, or should I return it to the store that I have bought it and ask them for a replacement?

Thank you.

Well, if it is in warranty then by all means do an RMA.

Depending on where you bought it, a simple store return might work too.

Either way you should get a disk that’s trouble-free.

HDD’s are complex beasts and full of all sorts mechanical and electronic engineering breakthroughs. There are physics involved that even the best scientists don’t fully understand - just know that it works. HDD’s have also been around for 50 years in some form or other. The first HDD was the RAMAC from IBM, made in the 1950’s. It needed a forklift to transport and stored just a couple of megs. Today, we have a highly refined and miniaturized product that can essentially be treated like a black box, requiring no user intervention in day-to-day operation.

For example, I’m certainly not going to recommend messing around with utilities and 10-hour scans full of technical mumbo-jumbo for the 17-yr old college kid that just wants to save schoolwork and youtube videos. Same thing with the non-technical housewife that just wants to save pictures of the kids. To them, an external HDD is a magic black box that holds things. If it isnt working, get a new one. And a properly operating disk should not need any special care or tricks. Just put the files on it and you’re done.

Anything beyond a simple undelete program like Recuva and the occasional Windows Defrag operation is all that anyone should ever need for maintaining disks. Even chkdsk is getting close to being technical in nature.

But to the technical hobbyist all these utilities and scanners and benchmarks are great fun! To them I say have at it!

So you decide how much time and effort you want to sped with this project.

I have run CHKDSK on the WD Passport and it has found the bad sectors and marked them. Now the Passport appears to work at good USB 3 speed! The problem is that by marking specific parts as bad sectors the space has been reduced for some MBs. But my main concern is that I don’t know why the bad sectors appeared and I am not sure if those are due to software fault or physically damaged sectors for some strange reason (since I never badly treated my drive, or it never fell out of my hands to the ground!..). Anyway, the problem is that I really need the drive to store my movies which are now at my internal HDD drive, to save some considerable space (1TB !), so I don’t know if I could wait for weeks for the RMA to take place, since I am not sure if the store will replace the hard drive right away with a new one for me.

So, I am really not sure if I should buy and try the HDD Regenerator to see if this can completely fix all my Passport’s bad sectors, or if I should just try to return the drive to see how fast I could get a replacement (I believe this is still within warranty).

Unless I analyze the disk surface with professional-grade tools I wouldn’t presume to know the exact cause either. There’s no easy way to tell in advance if DRevitalize or HDDregenerator will correct the problem. All depends on the cause. If it was a power problem or brownout or improper disconnect, or even a software glitch, I’d say one of those utilities has a great chance of re-writing the faulty sector.

Perhaps when you “fixed” it with CHKDSK, you corrected a logical problem in the metafiles, or simply remapped a bad sector and recorded the change in those same metafiles. Who’s to say without inspecting the chkdsk logs and disk surface in question.

Why not check WD’s website to see if your s/n is under warranty? The last time I rma’d a disk through them  they sent me out a replacement almost immediately, and when I got the disk I sent my faulty drive back. So in effect, it was a 1-afternoon exchange.

If your internal disk is in good working order, and you have not given me reason to believe it is not, why not keep the movies there AND on the suspect Passport drive. This way you have two copies of your data for good safekeeping. You should always have 2 copies of anything you want to save. Always.

RMA it and then just transfer the files when you get the replacement disk. It’s really that simple.

It really comes down to these two choices:

1- RMA the drive and be done with it.

2- Spend about 20 hours and $60 testing and certifying the surface with consumer-grade tools.

I think I will RMA, since I checked at WD site and my Passport is still within warranty. The attached is the CHKDSK output.


The 18428 KB in bad sectors is shown after I have run CHKDSK and selected option to try to fix the bad sectors.

Actually I just called the store that I have bought it and they said that if it has bad sectors then they can replace it without going through WD.

So, I guess I am taking this back this afternoon.

Thank you for all your support and detailed answers Keith. I appreciate.

very good… See how easy it is if you treat these like a black box and don’t go mucking around too much…? eh?