WD Passport SmartWare Slows Computer to a Crawl

I recently purchased the WD Passport SE 1TB USB 3.0 drive. The SmartWare software that comes with it is running like an anti-virus scan, consuming up to 40% of the CPU time and performing a massive amount of continous access on the main disk. This is freezing up my computer. This also occurs when the drive isn’t even unlocked (decrypted).

I select the Exit option in the WD SmartWare tray icon and it continues to run. The tray icon then comes back.

I’m concerned about the new extra continous wear on my main hardrive in addition to not being able to use my computer anymore. I’d like to uninstall the WD SmartWare software but then I lose the ability to do the smart backups and encrypt…

I’m very frustrated. Is there a solution to this? I bought the Passport SE for its features but I can’t continue using the drive in these conditions. Will WD roll-out a solution if one doesn’t exist?


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… and just to clarify: the continuous access appears to because the software is always categorizing files. I don’t leave my computer on all the time. Is the power-up the trigger for this action?

I’m running a:

Dual-core 3Ghz AMD


WD Caviar Blue Hardrive (WD3200AAKS SATA 3 Gb/s 7200RPM)

WIndows XP

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It’s because Smartware is continuous backup software it’s always running.


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BlueRabbit282 wrote:

Will WD roll-out a solution if one doesn’t exist?

WD is rather constantly issuing updates to Smartware to try and help with the resource usage.  Have you tried a newer (or the newest) version?

 I’d like to uninstall the WD SmartWare software but then I lose the ability to do the smart backups and encrypt…

Well, that’s kinda how it is… if you want the continuous backups that Smartware provides, then you need it running constantly as a background task.  If you prefer to use a different program to do manual backups, then you can uninstall Smartware.

The drive will be encrypted whether you use Smartware or not, and whether you set a password or not.

But, as I understand it, Smartware isn’t required for locking/unlocking the drive with a password… that’s why the drive has the Unlocker application in the VCD (whether the VCD is called “Smartware” or “Unlocker”).  My understanding is that as long as AutioPlay is enabled, so that the Unlocker app will run when you connect the drive, you can continue to use the Password feature without having Smartware installed.

If you have the newer “Unlocker” VCD, it hides itself if you don’t have a password set, appears if you add a password, and hides itself again if you remove the password.  If you have the older “Smartware” VCD, then you can’t manually hide the VCD and expect the Unlocker to work… the VCD must be unhidden if you want to password-protect the drive and be able to unlock it to use it.

I’ve had exactly the same problem.  I’m using a 1TB Passport Essential SE USB on Windows Vista and I’ve installed all the updates.   The computer slows to a crawl even if the drive is not connected and I’ve closed SmartWare.  It is really annoying.  I also use an online backup program (Carbonite but I’ve also used MOZY) and it does not cause this problem.  As a result I can only assume that the problem is a WD programming problem.

I have come up with a work around that eliminates the slow computer problem without disabling SmartWare or  encryption or anything.  I go to Windows Task Manager (CTRL + ALT + DEL).  On my system I also have to choose “Show processes from all users” even though I’m the only user.  When this is done I can see “System Idle Process” which shows how much CPU time is available.  This can be a vanishingly low number which is why the computer runs so slowly.  I can also see the WD processes and one in particular, WDFME.exe the WD file management engine, typically is eating a vast amount of CPU time, sometimes 50% or more.

I’ve found that if I click on this process then choose “End Process” WDFME goes away and the CPU usage drops dramatically speeding up my machine.  When I restart the computer, or restart SmartWare this process reappears so I can recover all of the SmartWare functionality.  I can then simply start a backup at my convenience and walk away from the machine.

Other than the aggravation I don’t see any problems with this work around.  If anyone knows of a problem please let me know.  In the meantime I urge everyone to pester [Deleted] of WD about this problem until they fix it.

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 After two days of abyssmal performance with my new 1TB WD Passport drive I decided to uninstall SmartWare. Easier said than done it seems. Getting rid of the WDDM and WDFME services has so far proved impossible, though at least I was ‘allowed’ to disable them. The hardest thing to get rid of, surprisingly, was my backup folders on the drive. I thought it would be a simple matter of deleting, but no, thanks to permissions being preserved beautifully on these files and folders I had to spend over an hour going through all the layers of nested folders left behind after an initial delete attempt and grant myself ownership before being allowed to delete them. What a waste of time.

Anyway, I’m putting my two cents in here, somewhat at random, simply because I would like to vent a little on WD’s behavior in this, and at the same time realise that such a complaint is a bit like yelling at the great wall of China. Nothing’s going to change.

WD; the incredible bloatware that is SmartWare ought to be a user option, not something thrust upon us without at least a dire warning. I’m using Windows 7 Ultimate on an Asus 901 netbook, and normally it performs perfectly. Characters appear as I type them, not later. Pages and folders and files load without waiting, the computer normally just works well. With SmartWare (unbelievably ironic name, by the way, kudos for your sense of humour with that) running on the 901 I was transported back to a decade ago, using Win98SE on a piece of junk notebook from Acer. No, that’s an exaggeration; that Acer notbook and Win98SE ran much faster than what I’ve been looking at the past couple of days, every time I connect my new WD drive. Why is that? Megalomania is a term used online quite a bit when people discuss WD’s software, and I’ll have to concur. Can’t see any other explanation. The software made my computer unusable. Brilliant.

And I see from various sources that part of it is permanently part of the drive. Again, brilliant. Looks like I’ll be grabbing myself either an older model WD or some other brand of 1TB drive soon, just in case this drive decides to take away my access to data. I note that WD automagically toggled Autoplay on, something I’ve not run in many, many years. And I see from the forums here that with Autoplay turned off, I might some day lose access to my data. Again, brilliant.

So thanks for the quick re-education on corporate BS. This purchase was a mistake. I like the hardware, but the software being forced down my throat is not acceptable behavior on WD’s part.

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This thread discusses the latest Smartware updates and issues:


I have 17 customers for whom I have installed a 1TB Passport SE; all 17 are ANGRY that WDFME has brought their computers to a crawl, making their systems unusable. The systems include XP, Vista, and WIndows 7. All systems have 100% of their updates installed to the current level, including the OS, .NET Framework, Java, Flash, Shockwave; the Passports are running the most recent firmware, and WDSmartware is at the most current level.

I have tested WDSmartware on a new system, running XP Pro and all updates, and WDSmartware consumes 95% of the CPU and 100% of the disk, making the system totally unusable. It does this whether the Passport is plugged in or not; it does it at random times, and the problem lasts for 10 minutes or so.

As near as I can tell, whomever the ■■■■■ was who wrote this program used no common sense to carefully use system resources … the program runs at normal priority and scans every program on the disk … making the system totally unusable.

There are thousands of posts/complaints on the net (google it); WD customers have become so angry that the WD Employee that monitors this forum has actually closed out the subject  … that had 11 pages of yelling … stating that WD customers were getting too angry and he was afraid of violence.

If you want this problem fixed, it won’t happen here. Call the support line and demand an escalation to 2nd level support. Then demand to speak to a supervisor. WD isn’t going to fix this problem, which has existed for well over a year, until customers call. If you want to do something else useful, report WD on the “scam” websites (google scam) so that the rest of the world is informed that WD is collecting money and refusing to support their product.

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What I don’t understand, is why WD is silent on this matter. WD, instead of being silent, just acknowledge the problems, and let us know you’re working on a solution. WD, wouldn’t it be easier to acknowledge things once here, instead of wasting even more time replying to the numerous support requests that people may be sending you individually? The negative publicity can’t be helping matters.

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Thanks to all who have commented on this topic.

Me too just got a new 1TB WD Passport. Haven’t used it, or installed it yet.

Part of the reason I haven’t used it yet, was that I was wondering about this SmartWare.

It seemed like a great way to backup your files, and keep your backups up-to-date.

But why would they give you the option to use it “without”  Smartware?

I bought the Passport to use primarly as an additional external hard-drive, since I am running out of space on my internal hard-drive. And also to backup files from a 2nd computer. I was about to install SmartWare and use it to backup files, and keep the backups up-to-date. On one other post I also noticed, someone installed SmatWare, and then later uninstalled back again. It wasn’t very clear why he uninstalled it. He did mentioned it was a “resource hog” but wasn’t very specifi about it. I was wondering why. Reading this thread, I think I understand now.

And I had just decided too install SmartWare anyway, … but decided to check out the forum a bit further, … and stumbled upon this thread. Now, … I’m not so sure anymore. One part I still want to install it and see how it works for me,… on the other hand, based on the reactions here,… I better not. Especially since ocassionaly my laptop will already use a lot of CPU, and get slow, … altough just for a gew seconds, and then it will continue to work normal again. Chances are, based on what I’ve learned heres, is that if I install Smartware, it will get much worse. Hmmm,… I think I’m going to pass on Smartware, at least for now. And just use my WD Passport as an andditional extra hard-drive as I originally intended, and look for another way to backup my files. Possibly an online backup service or other brand external hard-drive.

I’m still battling it out in my mind though, whether to install or not,… I’m thinking ‘not’, but would appreciate if anyone would like to further advice.

Anyway, thanks again to all who contributed to this thread, … atleast I’m awarre of this issue now.

I had also bought it for the SmartWare (SW), thinking I could just let it run and wouldn’t have to manage my own backups. Really the problem is the SW. The drive itself still lets you use the encryption feature, plus it’s quiet, compact, ergonomic, and has high storage capacity.

I’ve resorted to keeping the drive offline then picking my own time to do backups. I just:

  1. Zip everything
  2. Put the drive online
  3. Upload
  4. Put the drive offline
  5. Call it a day.