WDDriveAgent causes 20 second hangs

Earlier this month I bought a new Dell XPS desktop computer. It came with an NVme boot drive and no other SSD/hard drive. It has a built-in reader for SD memory cards.

I installed a 2TB Sandisk SSD as E:.

Since I do a lot of photography, I wanted to see how fast the SD card reader was. I copied the contents of a Sandisk Extreme Pro card to the E: drive. It took nine and a half minutes.

I continued with setting up the system and loading my programs and data. I installed Acronis Drive Image, Sandisk SSD Dashboard, WD Discovery (because I bought an EasyStore drive to sneakernet my data over), Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.

Once I got everything working, I repeated the performance test with the SD card (same card, same data still on it). Now it took over thirteen minutes to copy the data. I started looking for the problem, and Windows Task Manager showed that during the copy operation, data would be copied steadily for about 40 seconds, and then there would be a 20 second hang with no data being moved. Then it would go again for 40 seconds, then hang for 20 seconds, and so on. The hand only affected the copy operation; other programs that might be running at the same time were not affected. And the hang happened the same whether the copy operation was done with Windows Explorer drag & drop, or xcopy, or Lightroom.

I could not find any reason for the hang, so I decided to remove some software I thought might be messing with disk I/O on the system. I removed Acronis, SSD Dashboard, and WD Discovery. I still had the problem. I then spent many hours reading about Windows, performance tools, safe mode, selective startup, yada yada yada. I still had the problem (but not in safe mode or selective startup).

Eventually I found that I had a program called WDDriveAgent on my system, that was being automatically started every time. I disabled it (using the startup tab on Task Manager), and the hangs went away.

So WD Drive Agent is defective.

I re-installed Acronis, SSD Dashboard, and WD Discovery. Things work OK as long as I keep WDDriveAgent disabled.

I don’t know what Drive Agent is supposed to do, so I don’t know if I care whether Western Digital fixes their defective software or not. But I suppose there is probably some value in that program I am missing out on.

By the way, I also have a WD My Cloud Home. I don’t’ know if that has anything to do with this issue.

And let me point out there are two different defects here

  1. WDDriveAgent causes 20 second hangs
  2. The uninstall process for WD Discovery leaves behind the defective WDDriveAgent program, and WDDriveAgent does not appear in the Windows Add/Remove Program menu.

I will open a second new topic about item number 2 so that it does not get overlooked.