WD Passport Concerns

What good is a backup drive if you can’t extract the data back off it?  There are many that are feeling that pain, I am finding out.  I actually haven’t lost anything because a backup drive has failed yet (internal drives have failed, of course).  I am now wondering about backups of backups!

This came to light because I have a WD Passport drive which started to behave strangely.  Not like failure (at least yet), but out-and-out super slow transfers.  This happened suddenly too – no hiccups or warnings beforehand.  This is my third WD portable drive (not replacements – 3 at the same time for various purposes).  My others are ‘My Book’ models.  This is not an isolated incident, as you can Google “WD Passport slow” and see this is widespread.  Apparently 320GB and 500Gb are most commonly reported (mine is 500GB).

At first I thought it was an issue with Windows 7, as I have Vista Business at work.  One of the ‘My Book’ drives works fine, so that is not the case.  Then I thought it was the front USB port, so I tried a nother cable connecting to rear USB port.  No change.  I ran checkdsk last night and it never completed, it was still running at about 27%.  Sure sounds like it has a bad spot on it, but no repeated popups like you get on a failing internal drive.  It just looks like it will take a long time.  I am now trying to transfer 16GB using my wife’s Vista PC and it says it is transferring at 124KB/sec but the ‘remaining’ calculation is blank.  So who knows how long.  The drive has never been out of my possession, either and it has never been dropped.

I have listened with my ear on the drive and did not hear the telltale clicking you might hear when some drives go bad.  None of the data is irreplaceable, as I have it on other drives.  It does open my eyes to possibility of precious photos and image archives being unretrievable if a portable drive fails.  This situation has always been possible – same held true in the days of backup tapes.  I am only pointing this out because of what seems to be a high incident rate with these passport drives.

I am going to try some disk recovery utilities and I may even break open the seal (these Passports look to be sealed in pretty good!) and try on another controller.