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Summary:

In early December of last year, the folks at Western Digital released some new USB/Firewire “Turbo” drivers for their My Book line of external storage devices. There was no mention of this news, nor was there a press release issued from the company. For my own […]

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In early December of last year, the folks at Western Digital released some new USB/Firewire “Turbo” drivers for their My Book line of external storage devices. There was no mention of this news, nor was there a press release issued from the company.

For my own storage purposes, I own a My Book Pro II (1TB) drive. I use it to backup my audio (iTunes) and video (Sony HD Camcorder) content. This drive is connected to my iMac via FireWire 800.

When I stumbled upon the Turbo Drivers a month ago, I decided to take the risk and install them. There is no readme included with the installer, although from the download page, here is the information Western Digital provides:

“This installer – WDMacTurboDrivers.dmg, contained within the WDMacTurboDrivers.zip file installs custom Western Digital performance based Turbo drivers and drive icons for WD USB and FireWire enabled external hard drives under Macintosh computers.”

So what happened after I installed the drivers? Other than the icon changing (see below), I can’t see any performance benefits. After recently performing a search on the Western Digital support site, here is what I found:

Question:

Why is there no performance gain using the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers for a My Book Premium II, Pro II, or Studio II while connected by FireWire?

Cause:

The My Book Premium II, Pro II, and Studio II Edition hard drives use a Macintosh based performance driver already included in the Macintosh Operating System. This Macintosh based performance driver has the same performance as the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers.

Resolution:

There is no resolution for this as there is no performance gain or loss due to the usage of either the Macintosh based performance drivers or the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers.

OK, who isn’t confused by this explanation from Western Digital? What is the value of creating these custom “turbo” drivers, other than changing the icon? Is it just for branding? Why did Western Digital spend the software development cost to implement a useless driver? In these economic times, I would think that Western Digital would be more cost conscious.

By the way, here is the visual change for the disk icon:

Before:

FireWire Drive Icon

After: 

WD Hard Drive Icon

Impressed by the visual change? I would hope not, but then, we all have different aesthetic values.

Overall, I am pretty disappointed by this offering from Western Digital. My expectations were that I would see improved read/write performance from this driver. Instead, and clearly stated from Western Digital, there is none.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t do any formal speed tests comparing the standard Apple FireWire driver vs. the new Western Digital Turbo driver. I mistakenly fell into the marketing trap of “ooh-faster-from-company-must-be-better-than-Apple-nonsense.”

Thankfully, I have neither seen any impact to my overall system stability, nor any negative impact to the My Book Pro II drive itself. If anyone else has tried these drivers, I would love to hear your feedback and see if you have received any benefit from installing them. Otherwise, you can thank me for being your guinea pig.

  1. My experience with three previous MyBooks is enough to know I have three reasons to never try a MyBook II.

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  2. My experience is the same as Dan’s. I’ve had two MyBook drives fail within a year. I will never touch a WD drive again. Although with Seagate’s recent problems, what’s left? I’m opting to roll my own solution. I’m going to buy a decent firewire external case and a 1tb Hitachi for it. Here’s hoping for reliable backups (finally).

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  3. Goes for me as well, had a MyBook fail within a year. POS if you ask me.

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  4. Everyone – I have had my drive for almost two years – no issues. Maybe I am fortunate…

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  5. I had a MyBook, and guess what? It failed!

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  6. I bought two western digital drives, two broke down. I sold one of the replacements and kept the other one which had all my data (music and movies) at the time. Because both of them broke in a period of a week, I didn’t have time to make another backup. I kept one of them to try to recover my data. I called WD and got another replacement sent to me without actually having to surrender the broken unit.

    Guess what, the replacement unit was DOA. I called them and got them to send me another replacement, which I wasn’t going to use anyway (not with important data, after what just happened!!).

    They finally sent me another unit which end up failing when I was trying to download some content from a video camera, only after three months of rare use.

    Baseline, don’t buy your external hard drives from WD.

    PD: I own other external HDD (3 lacie 500GB 2 years), not a single problem. The units that failed were a MyBook Pro 250GB connected through Firewire 800 (firewire 400 never worked out), a MyBook Pro 320GB connected through Firewire 800, and a Passport 120GB connected through the USB2.0.

    I have a job and a lot of work to do, don’t tell me I didn’t advise you not to buy these products. If you are a lucky user wait at least 2 years of ownership to make a comment, I have seen people commenting how reliable their drives were after 1 month or even less, what a tossers!!!

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  7. i got two of them here at home and they work fine, since two years now (here i’m on PC). but im must say at work in our design-office we’re runnig MAC computers, and with the mac’s two of our 3 drives there have already broke down/failed. as it looks like these WD got more problems on MAC’S then on PC’S. i don’t know why.

    and one other thing is: buy two similiar drives of the same manufacturer (like WD) and try to install them on one computer. you will see how funny this it and in how many problems your running ;) …

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  8. I have been using two of them, one at work and one at home, for two years. They have never failed and they have saved my bacon a few times.

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  9. I never cared for Western Digital. I had a few of them a long time ago, and they all failed. I stick with Seagate now.

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  10. I haven’t seen a comment that answers the questioned posed by the author… Just a large quantity of WD bashing.

    For what it’s worth to the author, perhaps your version of OS X is simply too new to benefit. I would hazard that less up-to-date machines would not have the updated Mac drivers, and would therefore benefit greatly from this driver offering.

    I’m not going to flame you, but a mention of looking into that, as well as having done a formal speed test (you may very well have gotten a performance increase – human perception isn’t a reliable judge) would make me feel better about an article like this. The way that it’s written seems as bitter and resentful (dare I say whiny?) as some of the posts below it.

    All of that said, I’ve definitely gained some valuable and renewed opinions on Mac consumer confidence toward WD! Haha. Plus it was a good read overall. Thanks everybody :-)

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