My Book Drive “Turbo” Hardly the Case



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 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:


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?


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.


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:


FireWire Drive Icon


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.



I used several WD hard drives for the past 5 years and none of those failed yet. I also do video editing and ever since a Maxtor died on me relied on WD hard drives. I have couple of 1 TB My Book running 24/7 with my Time Machine and so far showing no signs of issues.

Toni Ferrino

We use several WD studio editions (on mac), with heavy use editing video, and so far we HAVE NO PROBLEMS at all.



I have 2x Studio II 2TB drives and 4x Studio 1TB drives all running on a Mac
with Firewire 800 and 400.
They have all been running 27/7 for the last 2 years.
Not a single problem so far. Crossed fingers.
Use them for picture backup. I’m a photographer.
I can only say. I love the WD studio models.
Sorry to hear so many had problems with WD drives. Not me.

Alex I

I’m going to tell you how doggone awesome Western Digital Drives are.

Mostly because of all the stupid bashing here. I’ll come back to that.

Before I tell you about all my drives, let me tell you how I use them.

I edit video and do special effects work. I have a lot of throughput on my drives which often spend their lives playing back multiple streams of HD video. When I do effects work instead of a single large contiguous video file I often use image sequences- thousands of high quality still images (OpenEXR, DPX or TIFF most commonly) that I load into Shake and play back in multiple streams.

These drives get abused. Seriously abused.

I have 3 Western Digital MyBook’s connected to my computer right now. The newest is a year old, the oldest from summer 2007.

All of them work, no issues.

In total I have seven Western Digital MyBook’s (All of them include firewire 400 or firewire 800) None have failed.

I also have a Western Digital Studio, which I’ve taken apart and used as an external swappable drive enclosure. I’ve run at least a dozen drives through that, again no problems. To be fair, what I do is make a new volume for each new job coming through my studio. When the project is done, I remove the drive from the enclosure and store it as an archive. (Not the only one of course- just the fastest one.)

I’ve specced WD MyBooks for many a job. We have to ingest digital media from solid state camera’s right away in the studio, so that we can return the expensive solid state media to the set. I’m not talking little AVCHD cameras that can write to SDHC cards. I’m talking RED and HDCAM SR and ARRI/S.two recorders. I daisy chain two firewire 800 units together, and set them up as a RAID 0 (software) and write to them like mad. There is an overnight back up of course- to another FW800 RAID set.

Its cheap easy and most importantly RELIABLE.

Altogether I’ve probably used at least 500 Western Digital hard drives and MyBook enclosures in the last five years. No failures.

Maybe I only get the good drives. Chances are I get average drives.

Then again, I had some Buffalo enclosures. The enclosures were fine, but I had 4 fail in a two day period on a set. That was bad- but I didn’t go off the rails and start talking about how Buffalo sucks. Then again, I know that my ingest tech was picking up the drives while they were in operation and shaking them “to see if they were working.”

I’ve had Seagate, Fuji, Hitachi and Samsung fail. Again- not their fault. Like I said I’m rough on hard drives, even when I don’t have a genius ingest tech waving them around.

Drives fail. Get over it. Plan more intelligently for it happening again. Make sure you are using best practices.

Look around your set up- I assure you YOU are doing something wrong. In every case I had a failure something was set up incorrectly. Something as simple as not having the drive attached to a UPS and losing power. Sometimes they are dropped/jostled/bumped/breathed on at the wrong time. Overheating happens. Sometimes they just get old and suffer mechanical failure. It goes on.

Its so rarely the hardware at fault that if you have a multiple failure, as many on this site claim, you need to look long and hard at their environment and how exactly they were used/set up. Multiple simultaneous failure=you screwed up somehow.



sorry to burst everyone’s (WD bashing) bubble here, BUT… it’s not just WD Drives that have low duty-cycles, it is consumer electronis in general. They are deisgned that way….!!

As I am sure many of you do, I work in “Enteprise” Storage environments where high-TB and even more capacities are deployed, but these drives are designed with hgher duty-cycles and more importantly– higher temperture tolerances, hence the reduced failure rates in many cases. Having said that, Hitachi does appear to have the more reliable drive hardware and elctronics at the moment and have done for several years, a high proportion of Enterprise array manufactuers have moved from Seagate to Hitachi for this reason, with the notable exception of ATA and SaaS based drives, again, these particular technologies have “been designed” with proce point in mind and are expected to fail more often (as designed) but with the reduced cost and increased RAID capabilities, this is part of the purchasing choice. Again, this is why there has been a marked increase in consumer based RAID devices becoming available, it is part of the “strategy”
–produce cheap enough for consumers to afford,
–provide functionality (eg: RAID) to overcome the inherant technology limitations
(low duty-cycles due to price point)
–slowly drive the market towards the use of higher value, more protected storage product

Unfortunately, in the case of “consumer” electronics, onboard RAID controllers/Fimware have not necessarily managed to keep up with the growth in “consumer expectation” and Firmware upgrades are still error-prone and troublesome in a lot of cases.

I have lost Maxtor like they are going out of fashion, Lacie, Seagate and WD drives with regular manotany, I now ONLY use RAID devices in Mirror configurations AND aggressively backup across different manufacturer products. BUT don’t get me started on how crap ALL the MAC based backup products are compared to (dare I say it) Windows or Linux/Unix and especialy SME or Enterprise backups applications.

Getting back to the performance thing, yeah, basically the Turbo drivers are pointless, unless you have old USB 1.x hubs or adapters or downlevel OS. If anything I have found a performance degration across multi-port hubs, on the other devices, due to the drivers being specifically tuned for WD disk layouts, so I have unloaded them and stick wth the standard MAC drivers due to their dynamic block size capability. (Oh, and if you format your WD MyBook to FAT32 for cross-platform compatibility, you lose some more too. As the driver block size would appear to be tuned for MAC OS Extended -Journal file-systems specifically.)

Andrew Clark

For what its worth, we have been using WD drives for bulk data migrations for several years. In general (as long as they are shipped with proper packing, not loose in box) they have been as reliable as any other drives we have used. Without proper packing, they seem to be far more sensitive than other drives. The few non-shipping related issues we have had have been the logic boards, not the drives themselves.

Also, since I was curious what would happen with Snow Leopard, I did a benchmark to see the difference between the native 10.6 drivers and the WD turbo drivers. While I was at it, since I had just received a new VoyagerQ drive dock and happened to have a spare drive identical to what is in the WD MacBook, I also benchmarked that with and without the Turbo drivers as well as seeing the difference of having a single drive on the Firewire or chaining the MB and the VQ. The results that you can see on show that “Turbo” makes virtually no difference and that the MB vs. the VQ. The only significant difference in that the MB definitely preferred being 1st or alone on the Firewire, and the VQ for some reason liked being 2nd on the chain. (Benchmarks from XBench – higher is better).

James Hastings-Trew

I own several WD MyBook Drives. I use them for rotating backups, time machine backups, long term storage of files, on both Mac, and PC. I’ve got 3 WD drives in my PC. I’ve never had one fail. LaCie external drives fail a lot, Maxtor drives fail completely. Usually in the case of LaCie, it’s the powersupply that fails and the drive itself is fine. The Maxtor drives are usually toast within a year.

Having said all that, everyone has a horror story about Brand XYZ. And once bitten, twice shy – if you had a bad failure from a manufacturer, you are always going to be shy of going back to that same manufacturer. And some manufacturers do have runs of bad drives. But, in my experience, WD are solid. Your mileage may vary.

Personally I’ll never touch another LaCie product. ;)


To help those who just ran across this like me. The drivers increased my speed! I have a MyBook Essentials 640GB USB and it worked! Here is a pic to the xbench screen shots of no turbo drivers and turbo drivers.


Well, I have just bought a 2TB WD Studio II with mirroring enabled. I figure, together with a cloud backup, you should be pretty secure. Having nearly lost everything I own to simultaneous failures of a Lacies with Maxtor drives, I am taking no chance now.

Thanks for the info on the Turbo drivers, I wont bother installing them.


Aaargh! I was just looking around to find if the “Turbo” drivers are of any value (since by inspecting the installer I realized they are quite obtrusive to the system): thank you, now I know that my suspect (better do not install!) was well founded. But I’m finding also many horror story about WD MyBook Studio …
I’ve just switched to WD after the second Maxtor external disk died; if WD offers similar (un)reliability, what the hell we have to use for vital backups? DVDs are way too small for this purpose, and Blue Ray does not give much confidence yet.
Being stone carving a bit outdated, are we left with dynamic memory technology only, with the attendant onus of timely refresh?
Good luck, folks!


I have 3 WD external drives, 1tb MyBook World, 1tb MyBook Essential and a 320gb Passport. All though the bigger drives are very slow I’ve always found them to be very reliable and quiet. Been using the MyBook World for just under a year.
Reading this post had made me think twice about installing the WD Turbo driver now. I’m using the USB connection so it may make a difference. Then again, if it aint broke, don’t fix it.


Like many others on this list, I’ve had terrible luck with WD drives. Have owned three, and all three died spontaneously. The last one died recently, and I sent it back to WD and just received the replacement … it’s a newer version of the drive, and I hope it will be improved. But


I think that drives failing is not specific to WD, more an issue with larger drives failing more often now across the board.

My Video Studio runs all WD – we have 14TBs of Studio IIs and in the last year we have had good luck with them – they run 24/7, moving large HD video files no problem. The only issue we have had is running them on Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) where the auto start functions don’t work (wish you could turn that off), sometimes the odd drive will dismount and you have to unplug it completely, plug the power supply back in and then rewire the chain… a little awkward but not serious.

Previous to using WD, the studio ran Lacie BigDisks – we had nothing but serious problems with Lacie disk, each and everyone failed within a year. The replacements Lacie sent us failed sooner! Not only did the cheap Maxtor internal drive burn out, the platters would warp and then all your data was lost but also every interface board popped too, so even if the drives were fine you had to remove the drives and put them into additional cases just to try and back them up before returning the faulty enclosure to Lacie – many expensive hours lost to this process.

Being in professional video for 22 years and seeing the growth of hard drive capacity I can honestly say that smaller, multi-platter, large capacity drives are not the way forward. I still have several 9GB AVID and Media100 SCSI II LVD drives which have been working nonstop for 15 years AND are faster then FW800… you can pretty much guarantee that any large capacity drive from any manufacturer will fail within 18 months if you are transferring media data – you just need to be wise to it!


I have a My Book Studio II and I installed both the +Turbo driver and the Drive Manager.
In order to get two partitions I hade to format with Apple’s Disk Utility.
One partition is used for Time Machine (HD is even marketed for this use!) but it unmounts and powers down “automagically” whenever it sits idle for a little while.
That must be the most crappy auto-backup-drive ever made!
I have now removed both the +Turbo driver and the Drive Manager software .. I hope it will be working better now.
At least I got rid of “fancy” icons.


Has anyone figured out how to get the normal Leopard icon back? i hate this WD icon!!

mike sanders

you mention in passing that you have a sony video cam, can you tell me how I can cocert the output to Quicktime. Sony seems to have a unique format and so far i am not impressed with my results. I have the Handycam HD. Sorry to use this forum but cannot find anywhere else and I do enjoy the blog.



While I agree there is lots of WD bashing going on, it’s well deserved.

In my particular case, WD caused me no end of angst, stress and a few sleepless nights at a time when I needed to be busy with other things – not worrying about my backups.

The terrible experience I had has made me bitter enough to take any reasonable opportunity that presents itself to discourage others from purchasing WD products. I suspect other people with similar experiences to mine end up doing the same.

Any reasonable person would swear off any company that repeatedly fails them and encourage others to do so as well.

As to the author’s question… who knows? My experience has been that my WD drives were faster on my PC than my Mac’s (USB2 on the PC’s, FW on the Mac’s). Which seems odd but definitely was something more than human perception.

But really, speed is a subjective thing. If it takes 10 seconds longer to copy that large file over, is your life so important that 10 seconds really matters to you that much? All harddrives are “relatively” within a reasonable speed range of each other.


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 :-)


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.

Michael S. Hyatt

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.


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 ;) …

Jose Blas

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!!!


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).


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

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