Sorting out the Software for the Western Data Passport Elite 320GB Portable Drive

Two weeks ago I wrote about my new Western Data Passport Elite 320 GB portable drive. At that time I had gotten as far as formatting the drive to use with a PC instead of a Mac.  It wasn’t as easy as the reviewers said it would be, but it wasn’t a nightmare either.  Just time consuming and a question of figuring out how to do something I’d never done before. So now I’m using the drive with no problem, right?  Not yet.

First there was the small matter of getting both my PC, which runs WindowsXP and my laptop, which runs VISTA to recognize the portable drive.  You’re supposed to be able to just plug the drive in and it will autorun through the installation process.  The way to disconnect the drive, they tell you in the user’s manual, is to click on the icon that says “remove drive safely”.  But my VISTA system wasn’t displaying that icon, so I had to run shutdown before disconnecting the drive. This week, that problem has healed itself and the drive is suddenly visible to the operating system.  But I’m not ready to rock and roll just yet. There’s still software to install.

So what software do I need to install to get myself up and running on my new toy?  How much of the included software is real software and how much is bloatware, or as they say “a demo”? The package doesn’t say anything about trial software.  But according to a review:

A generous five-year warranty is included with the product, as is a good wad of software including WDSync (a folder/e-mail/bookmarks synchronisation tool); WD Anywhere Backup (based on Memeo technology); a diagnostic tool; and a Drive Manager Status tool, which reports capacity and temperature from your system tray. There’s a great thicket of unneeded software as well, including a MioNet trial (allowing remote access to your computer’s files/desktop/webcam), Google’s Picasa, Desktop search and Toolbar, and Adobe Reader. Mac users are less endowed with just WDSync and WD Anywhere Backup, but we consider this a positive.

So the Mionet program is a demo?  But not WD Anywhere Backup or WD Sync? So I guess those are the programs I need to install.

“WD Anywhere Backup” program asks for a product key. I find it on a sticker at the bottom of the white “My Passport Elite” multilingual  Warranty Information booklet.  Backing up the recommended files to my VISTA system took about a half hour per 5 GB, or two hours.  But now I am trying to do the same backup on my XP system–the thing is supposed to “Sync” between computers and devices, right?–and it tells me I have 7 days left of the trial period and if I want it on multiple computers I have to buy it for thirty dollars. The product key can only be used on one computer, it says.

The back of the portable dirve package says the features include “backup software” and “sync & encryption software (Windows only)”. Nowhere does it say this is trial software.  The side of the package says “Automatic backup” and “Mionet Free remote access (Windows only)”. No mention of Mionet being trial software either. When you synchronize watches, you need more than one watch…so how can you synchronize only one computer?

Finally with the backup complete several hours later, I’m ready to take the portable drive to my other system.  But now a new problem.  I was unable to “remove drive safely” from the VISTA system–it kept telling me some files were being used by WD  Anywhere Backup–but where? what?   Don’t tell me you can’t remove this device without running shutdown and restarting the system. Fortunately restart did the trick and I was able to remove the drive.

And now the XP system with the “trial version” of  WD Anywhere Backup is deploying annoying little popup messages from the bottom row of icons informing me of various advantages of the product. I’m starting to think of disadvantages on my own.

I’ve already spent several hours this morning working with this device, but I’m still not ready to start using it.

To be continued.