Bundled software ruins USB 3.0 hard drive

We were pleased when Iomega announced plans to move its external hard drive products from USB 2.0 to 3.0 without jacking up prices. The company’s 500GB and 1TB eGo drives were the first to make the transition, and CrunchGear has a review of the terabyte unit, which the author thinks users would do well to avoid.

The drive can be had for as little as $135 online, and CrunchGear praises its transfer rates and rugged design. However, the bundled USB 3.0 cable doesn’t appear to work with other SuperSpeed devices, and the eGo commits a cardinal sin by putting its encryption software on a virtual CD that users can’t delete from the drive. The reviewer couldn’t get Windows to stop auto-running the encryption software whenever he plugged in the drive, either.

Virtual CDs, undeletable partitions, and similar annoyances have driven me to stop recommending external hard drives entirely. Instead, I’ve been encouraging folks to put together their own external storage with bare enclosures and standard hard drives. That’s hardly an ideal solution given the relative scarcity of USB 3.0 enclosures, which tend to be more expensive than their USB 2.0 counterparts. However, it’s absolutely worth paying a little extra to have external storage that behaves like a normal hard drive.

Comments closed
    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    so how many people got burned with zip drives back in the day?

    • crsh1976
    • 9 years ago

    Iomega is still around?

    Wow.

    • DrCR
    • 9 years ago

    +1 on recommending enclosures and drives.

    • Derfer
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t get it. Doesn’t everyone just reformat the drives before they use them? Problem solved right? No need to waste money making your own if it’s that easy.

      • yehuda
      • 9 years ago

      Formatting doesn’t help if the drive’s firmware exposes a virtual CD drive. The only way to get rid of it is by using a manufacturer-supplied utility… if there is one.

    • Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
    • 9 years ago

    Makes me wonder why manufacturers like Western Digital and Iomega put such proprietary bloatware on the first place. Such thing translates to additional cost, doesn’t it?

    Frankly, I don’t understand why a consumer would want to buy something like that. Putting a hard drive in external enclosure is a trivial work, and many computer stores are willing to do the work for their consumers.

    • oldDummy
    • 9 years ago

    eSATA….
    sweet.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    My vote is for either an external dock on eSATA or a decent NAS.

    • notfred
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve got an LG G22NS50 DVD drive that did the virtual CD thing in the firmware. That got a firmware flash ASAP.

      • samuelmorris
      • 9 years ago

      Whenabouts? I recommend LG drives in system builds on the basis I assumed they’d stopped bundling bluebird with the drives. If they haven’t, I’ll probably amend my recommendations list!

    • spengler
    • 9 years ago

    Love how reviewers will courageously rip into a small player like Buffalo, but are much more accepting when the large companies that really butter their bread do the same sort of thing. Crunchgear itself is an example – check out the fawning praise for SmartWare in their WD reviews.

    It was Western Digital that started this, but you wouldn’t know it from most hardware site reviews – one had to read angry end-user posts to learn that SmartWare could not be deleted (only “hidden” after WD eventually provided instructions).

      • sigher
      • 9 years ago

      Good point, and all too real.

    • stdRaichu
    • 9 years ago

    Build your own external drive? Definitely. Caddies can be had very cheaply (I use some Icy Box ones that come with eSATA connectors and can be slotted into a special 3.5″ drive bay adapter so you get native SATA speeds on your desktop) and allow you to continually upgrade the drive, instead of all these hermetically sealed proprietary jobs.

    All of you with a shop-bought external hard drive with these stupid virtual CD drives and whatnot; now’s the time to buy your mate with a linux system a beer and get it removed, or grab yourself a live CD and learn the pleasures of cfdisk’ing any bollocksy bundled bastardry away.

    On a side note; autoplay/autorun on windows systems needs to die a horrible, painful, excruciating death.

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      Its a function of the firmware on the controller not the drive itself.

        • sigher
        • 9 years ago

        So remove the drive then remove the virtual cd by plugging it in a regular sata and deleting/reformatting, then put the drive back, problem solved.
        I highly doubt they put a copy of what’s on that virtual drive in the firmware.
        Oh and yes if you have autoplay enabled for external drives you have some serious security issues and are quite dumb.
        And W7 gives a menu on drives to run autoplay anyway when it’s disabled, so you can still selectively autorun stuff without the pesky manually finding what autorun.ini points at and then trying to run that.

    • Next9
    • 9 years ago

    Is that bloatware firmware protected?

    If not, what about to boot Linux and force the storage to obey master administrator…? 🙂

      • stmok
      • 9 years ago

      The bundled crap-ware is firmware protected. It won’t let you wipe it clean.

      My cousin bought one…She returned it because it got really annoying.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    Iomega…..

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    I can’t believe manufacturers of external storage devices still pull this kind of crap, after all the criticism U3 got.

      • Thrashdog
      • 9 years ago

      It boggles the mind as to how hardware manufacturers can fail to leave well enough alone. One gets the feeling that many of these companies don’t actually use their own products.

        • sigher
        • 9 years ago

        Companies have enough common sense to have autoplay disabled.
        So they are less affected.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I’m glad WD updated their firmware on the FireWire 1TB drive I have to let me turn their garbage off. It was the biggest pain in the ass that EVERYTIME it got unplugged I’d have to unmount the extra virtual cd it loaded.

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    When will people learn from the Zip Drive fiasco, Iomega is evil.

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t know about you, but I loved the hell out of my Zip drive back when I was in high school…I had a Zip drive at home and all of the PCs in the school had one, so I was set!

        • 5150
        • 9 years ago

        Oh yeah, I had multiple drives, and at first they were awesome, and then once you start realizing data, you realize they are the devil.

        • stdRaichu
        • 9 years ago

        Same thing here; loved my zip drive, and all the machines at uni had one.

        Until the ominous click of death of course (which took out not one but four zip discs), which resulted in me losing 10% of my mark for that years dissertation due to having to hand it in a day late. Likewise; Iomega == evil. Thankfully one of the IS guys pointed me in the direction of my own SFTP server on the uni system, and that was how uni data was transferred from then on.

          • shank15217
          • 9 years ago

          I would give you 50% less marks for having your dissertation on a zip drive only. I think online storage certainly existed at that time.

            • stdRaichu
            • 9 years ago

            Yes it did, sort of – the university gave us each our own FTP account – but that was pretty much it. Online storage didn’t really exist back then, and even so a 50MB doco bundle (hi-res geophysical maps) on 56k diallup wasn’t really feasible. Zip was, believe it or not, the official way we were meant to transport docs according to uni policy (think Iomega or someone must have given them a truckload of money…).

            I’m even old enough to remember the LS-120, which was far more reliable than the zip and backwards compatible with floppy drives, and I wish it had taken off.

            • Bauxite
            • 9 years ago

            I still have a ls-120 drive that works, and it just happens to be SCSI as well.

            • DrCR
            • 9 years ago

            Ah yes, ls-120. I really wanted that to catch on.

      • DrCR
      • 9 years ago

      WD — The only time I’ve come across external HDD ridiculousness is on a Wester Digital drive. So WD must be evil too.

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    I was lucky enough that the 4gb USB drive from Sandisk I bought awhile back has a utility that will uninstall the pre-loaded software. I cannot imagine why anyone would even need extra software. We just want to tote around our files.

      • willmore
      • 9 years ago

      U3 get U2?

      I couldn’t download that tool fast enough when I got my old 2G drive some years back. I don’t remember the exact number, but I think I had to click over a half dozen time things to the effect of “Yes, get this crap off my drive, I realize I’ll lose all kinds of horrible ‘features’ if I agree. Please for the love of all that’s good, remove it!”

      Now, I use uSD cards in tiny adapters and I’m very happy. I may have to rethink this with USB3 flash sticks coming out.

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