Danger has a name, and it’s “Western Digital Drive Manager”

Posted: October 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Danger has a name….and it is “Western Digital Drive Manager”

I know this post is a little more computer related rather than audio, but let’s face it….many of us audio professionals use external hard drives to store our data.

Western Digital Drive Manager is a scary tool….especially for the neophyte.  I’m going to come right out and say it.  It’s one of the worst user interfaces I’ve ever experienced.   Not from a  “it looks bad and the icons are gross” perspective, but from a “if you push this button on accident you’ve just screwed yourself and erased all of your data” perspective.

First off, what’s this tool for?  Well from the title, I would assume that it does all kinds of things that a normal drive manager would do.  Repartition, format, defrag, etc.   No, this drive manager only reconfigures the RAID.  Which is fine for now, because that’s what I was trying to do.  (although if it were ME, I would have called it the WD RAID Mangager)

Before I go totally crazy on Western Digital, let me preface this by saying, the MyBook series has by far been the best hard drive I’ve ever owned.  It’s stable, I have probably 20 of them and no problems.  I love their hardware.

I have a WD MyBook Studio Edition II.  Now, why on earth WD decides to configure these out of the box as RAID 0 (striped) and not RAID 1 (mirrored) is beyond me.   Yes, performance, bla bla.  I think many people would appreciate the data security over the teeny bit of performance increase.  If you’re that concerned about performance, get an internal drive or go thunderbolt and call it a day.

So, I needed to reconfigure this drive from stripe to mirror.  WD luckily gives you this handy utility to change that.  But the fun ends there.  So looking at the screenshot above, what would you assume would be your next step to perform this operation after clicking on the drive?   Well, if you’re like me, I want to “configure” this drive……so I clicked on configure.  As SOON as I did that, the drive was WIPED……CLEAN.  All data gone!   And still RAID 0.  So not only did it not do what I wanted, but it wiped my drive.  There was NO dialog box asking me “Are you sure?”  or “This will erase all data on your drive”

Now, if you’ve spent any time with computers, you should know to backup your drive before doing ANY drive maintenance….which I did.  So no data was lost here, but I’m really frightened for people who don’t know any better and see this as a general drive maintenance utility.   In addition, I’ve been fixing and working with computers since 1991. I’m no stranger software like this.  If I can’t quickly figure how to reconfigure the drive, or click one wrong button with catastrophic results, then we have a problem.

So how do you ACTUALLY reconfigure the RAID?  See that tiny double arrow right next to the current RAID setting under the setup column?  You click on that which brings a drop down list of RAID configurations.  Then you hit configure after you’ve selected your RAID setup.   That being said, it still neglects to ask you if you are sure or remind you that it’s going to erase your data.  Poor GUI aside, it wouldn’t take much to put a popup window saying this, and I personally think it’s quite irresponsible and dangerous for Western Digital not to have implemented this function.  Plus, we’ve all had our fingers slip on the mouse, or accidentally pressed something we didn’t intend to.  There should NEVER be a button that so quickly reformats a drive in a single push. Period.





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