Tips for Getting Started with the WD My Book Backup Drive

There isn't a lot of documentation that comes in the box with the WD My Book drive. This article will provide you with additional information will hopefully answer some of your questions regarding the My Book drive. The instructions are for Windows users and may be different if you are using a Mac/OS X or using a newer/different version of the software.

Getting Started with the WD MyBook Drive

  1. Plug in the power supply to the wall/powerbar and to the drive. Don't worry if it doesn't turn on right away. That will happen in the next step.
  2. Plug the USB cable between the computer and the drive. If you have a USB 3.0 port (usually blue) on your computer, use that as it will make a huge differences in the speed at which your computer gets backed up.
  3. The drive should now turn on. After a few seconds (up to a few minutes), the drive will appear in your "My Computer". Be patient.
  4. Look for the new hard drive in My Computer. It will be called My Book.
  5. Double click on it and then on "WD Apps Setup". This will start the installation process for the backup software. If you don't see the "WD Apps Setup", look for a folder called "WD Apps for Windows", if you are using Windows or "WD Apps for Mac" if you are using OS X to find the application installer for your operating system.
  6. Just follow the prompts to install the software.

About the My Book drive (Things they don't tell you up front)

  • The user manual is on the My Book drive in \User Manuals\ENG\UserManual.pdf
  • If you set the security password on the drive, you will be prompted for it if you connect the drive to a different computer. If you aren't, open My Computer and look for a CD drive called "WD Unlocker". This is a partition on the My Book drive that contains the software that will allow you to unlock the drive. Open this drive by double clicking on it and then double click "WD Drive Unlock". Once the drive is unlocked, it will appear under Hard Drive Devices.
  • If you lose the password, even WD won't be able to help you regain access to the drive. Keep the password in a safe place.
  • If you've encrypted the drive, it will only work in its enclosure. If it fails, the only way to regain access to the information on the drive might be to replace the circuit board in the enclosure with one of the exact same model. You may find replacements on eBay. Because the drive is hardware encrypted using this circuit board, only the exact same model will unlock it.
  • You can download The Acronis® True Image (ATI) WD Edition software for free. It allows you to backup your whole computer and restore it, even if restoring it is to a new hard drive. There is also a manual available for the the Acronis True Image application.
  • The WD SmartWare is included on the hard drive itself. It allows you to backup your data files which are very important. However it doesn't backup your whole computer.
  • WD SmartWare backs-up your files in a folder on the My Book drive called "\WD SmartWare.swstor\YourComputersName.
  • Before disconnecting your drive, right click on the WD QuickView icon in the system tray (near the clock in the task bar) and select Safely Remove My Book. If you don't do this, you may lose data on the hard drive and it may get damaged.

About WD SmartWare Application

WD SmartWare can backup your computer on a schedule or ongoing in real-time. Just remember, if you use it in real-time and you delete or change a file by accident, you won't be able to restore it from your backed-up version because it will be instantaneously updated. On the other hand, if you worked on a file for several hours but only sync up your drive periodically and something happens to your computers drive or the file itself, you won't have a backup to restore from.

So what's the solution? Have two of these drives. Connect one drive one day and the other drive the next day. That way you always have a real-time backup and, if you need to restore, you can always go back to the other drive to gain access to yesterday's version.

If you want to backup more than 1 computer, keep in mind that you can use this software on up to 4 computers. Also,BE SURE THAT EACH OF YOUR COMPUTERS has a unique computer name or the backup file locations will conflict between computers and likely end up with inconsistent results or backups that fail completely.

After installing the software, you may be offered a free upgrade to WD SmartWare Pro. I notice this only happened on my computer with Windows 7 Professional. If it doesn't get offered to you, you might be using Windows Home edition.

You can choose Continuous Backup or Scheduled backup where you can choose Hourly, Daily, Monthly and specify the day of the week or month and the time you want your backup to start.

If you have more than one drive, just repeat the process to add a backup of the second drive. Here is the process:

  1. On the Home tab, select your drive letter and My Book.
  2. Click the Backup tab.
  3. Check the box next to the drive letter. Then check any folders or files you specifically don't want to backup.
  4. Click Enable Backup. Once you do this, backups will be automatic from that point on.

That's it, you're done!

If the drive starts giving you trouble, keep in mind that it is under warranty for 2 years from the date of purchase. Western Digital (WD) also has telephone and email support available.


Tips for Getting Started with the WD My Book Backup Drive — 93 Comments

  1. I just performed a back up of files that it automatically selected. How do I view those files afterward to determine in I want to delete some of them?
    There is an “Other” folder that I want to know what is in it. Any help?

    • Hi Lisa, thank you for your question. If you only delete a file from the My Book backup drive, the backup software will automatically put it back because it still exists on your computer. To get rid of a file completely, just delete them from your computer’s hard drive. The next time the backup software notices that the file is gone, it should delete it from the My Book backup drive as well. As for any files and folders on the backup drive, you can just use Windows Explorer to browse, view and restore them.

      • FYI if you delete a file on your computer it will not update it on WD MyBook. I have old files in folders on the WD MyBook that I have moved or deleted months ago and it still shows on the backup file. I have several people tell me that WD SmartWare is not a sync backup. It will just backup what you put on your computer.

  2. My computer is windows 7 and my WD backup is set up to parallel backup. It is my understanding that if files on C hard drive are affected with virus, backup will automatically occur on my WD drive. How do I change my backup to take place weekly instead of dynamically?

    • Hi John. Short of unplugging your drive and only re-connecting it once a week, there isn’t an easy way to do it. Does it really matter? Chances are, you’d end up getting a virus right before the file gets backed-up anyway.

      That said, I noticed that My Book actually keeps multiple versions of files. If a file you need is infected, check to see if there might be an earlier version of the file available from before it got infected with the virus.

      Hope that helps. Best regards,


  3. Hi,

    How do I go about connecting more than one Mac to my My Book? I know you can do it but I can’t find out how?!

  4. I bought a used mybook off of ebay and the connection between it and the computer doesn’t look like a USB connection, it looks similar to a phone plug in to me. I’m not computer literate. I plugged it into my laptop and it doesn’t seem to recognize that it is connected. There is no mybook option coming up under the computer page. What am I doing wrong? Should I complain to the seller?

    • Hi Ice Skater. Sounds like you purchased a network version of MyBook instead of a USB version. The “phone” plug you are referring to is actually for a network cable. It’s a little wider than your typical phone plug. While this is great for sharing the MyBook with other people on your WiFi network, it is actually a little more complicated to get it setup.

      If you have a network cable, you will need to plug the device into your router instead of your computer. Don’t try to use a telephone cable instead. You can end up damaging both your router and your MyBook.

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,


  5. Hi Mike!

    How can I remove old files/folders from the WD My Book drive I don’t need any more in order to create more space on WD My Book drive?


  6. I am using an iBook for backups and it ‘disconnects’ itself from the PC after about 15% of the backup has been taken. It immediately reconnects itself but by that time the error has been recorded and the backup fails. I’ve tried it several times with the same results. I’ve run a disk repair utility and no errors are found. Any ideas what may be happening?

    • I have no experience with an iBook. That said, I’ve seen USB related issues similar to what you described as a result of:

      • Connection is going through a USB hubs (always connect directly to the computer)
      • Insufficient power is being provided by a USB 2.0 port
      • Computer is infected with a virus
      • Computer is too slow

      Hope one of these suggestions helps.

  7. Hi,

    I backed up one external drive to another external drive using WD SmartWare.

    After reinstalling windows 7 though, WD SmartWare wants to copy every file again from the source to the target although it displays “other backups” of almost 1GB (which is the original backup set).

    Is there a way to tell the software to compare the “other backups” to the source so everything does not have to be copied again?


    • Hi Joe! Thank you for your question. Unfortunately I’m not sure there is a way to tell WD SmartWare to do that. I recently had to do something similar and ended up using WinMerge to do the comparison and selectively copied just the files that had changed after previewing the list. Just be sure to set it to only compare date and time stamps instead of the full contents of each file before you do the comparison or it will take a very long time. Another tool which may suit you requirement even better is Karen’s Replicator. Karen actually passed away a few years back but her very useful powertool lives on as one of my favourites for replicating files between two sources. Hope this helps.

  8. How do you use the Essentials to back up from one computer win 7 to a laptop Win 8. I was able to do it, but I can’t remember. The problem was that the Win7 machine at locks on some of the files so they didn’t copy. I was able to figure out how to unlock. So I backed up the win 7 again and went to the laptop to restore to a new folder and the backed up files weren’t there. So then I erased the drive (and now I read I should have installed software to it again) but it is backing up at this moment so I’m praying it will work. Once I figure that part out how do you restore to another machine? I thought I may have to set a back up on the laptop and then do a restore choosing the win7 back up? Thank you

    • If you’ve been using the WD SmartWare application to do your backups, you will find them all under the WD SmartWare.swstor folder on your My Book drive. There you will find folders called something like “Volume…” followed by a bunch of numbers. Go into one of those folders and you’ll see all your files. You can just open them as if they were on your computer.

      • Thank You!!! I have been trying for days to find the files on the WD drive. I’m switching to a new computer and don’t need all the old files to clog up the new one, but do want to retain them for potential future use. Thanks for helping me see which ones I really do have!!

        • You are very welcome Gail. Glad to hear you found the information useful.

          Best regards,


  9. I have had a series of WD hardrives, unfortunatley I just learned the hard way that if you have your laptop, your back up drive and your back upo back updrive all in your daypack because you are trying to a backup of your backup… and you leave the entire backup in a taxi… ummm… the backup doesnt work so well

    So here I am starting again with a new laptop and two new WD harddrives, one full of all the files I have managed to rescue from old hardrives and the backup of my current computer and the other one as the backup of that backup.

    For some reason though my back up of backup simply does not back up all files. It says it has, but when I check only 700gig of 1.3T has been backed up and I cant figure out why it’s not working !

    I have read on WD blogs and this appears to be a common problem
    but i see nobody posting solutions other than dont use WD msartware pro

    DO you have any experience or any ideas. if you do lease email me

    • I’ve experience similar issues. I recently needed to restore files and discovered that many were missing from the WD Smartware Pro backup. I think I will switch to Acronis True Image. I’ve used that software in the past and it was very reliable.

  10. Michael, I have a My book that I’ve backuped my computer to. The computer power supply has died for the second time, so I am purchasing a new computer.

    How I do get my backuped files to the new computer? I know how to find the backup drive, but are the files encrypted, do I get copy them on to the new machine??

    • Hi Deb, Thank you for your question. The software that comes with My Book isn’t great. As someone else recently pointed out, it backs-up everything and never removes anything if you delete a file. So if you restore your files from the backup onto your new computer, you will likely end up with copies of files that had been moved or removed.

      If you don’t mind that, you’ll find your backup files on the MyBook drive under the WD SmartWare.swstor in one or more of the sub-folders. They are not encrypted or compressed. You need just drag and drop onto your new computer.

      A better solution that involves a little more work and money would be to purchase an external hard drive enclosure and put the hard drive from your old computer into it. These plug into your new computer through a USB port in a very similar way to your MyBook. Then you will have full access to all of the files from your old computer and be able to use your old hard drive for other things.

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,


    • Hi Rob, Thank you for your question. I suspect that your computer is trying to start up from your MyBook drive. To change that, you will need to go into your computer’s BIOS and set it so that it doesn’t boot from your external USB device. Once you’ve made that change, your computer will stop trying to startup from your MyBook hard drive. Unfortunately you will need to do a little research on how to do that exactly for your particular computer as the procedure is different for each computer.

      Alternatively, there might be something wrong with your MyBook drive. Use Windows Explorer to do error checking of your drive (also known as check disk).

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,


    • Hi Ken,

      You certainly can. In fact you have several options. They all require that you first install the WD Security tool. If you’ve never installed that before, you will find it on your My Book drive in the WD Apps for Windows folder. The installation file is called WDSecuritySetup.

      Once installed, start it up. There you will find several options:

      1. Change your password
      2. Remove security
      3. Unable auto unlock for user: (yourname)

      This last option might be a good alternative to removing the password completely. What it does is automatically unlock your password protected drive any time you connected it to your computer. That way, if someone tries to connect your drive to a different computer (ex: if someone steals your drive), your information will still be password protected but it won’t constantly annoy you when you are using it.

      If you want to use your drive with other computers, you can just install this tool on those computers as well and set them up with the Enable auto unlock for user on that computer as well.

      Tip: Just be sure to write the password down somewhere. When you don’t use it for a while, you tend to forget it (like I did once).

      If you decide to remove the password completely, you can then uninstall the WD Security tool as it will no longer serve you any purpose.

      Hope this helps!


  11. Hi, Michael. I purchased WD Smartware Pro for $21 when the version that came with my 3TB MyBook finished its trial period. I had divided MyBook into two partitions and the original Smartware worked fine. Now, however, Pro writes only to one partition, even though both show up when I designate the target drive. Pro always defaults to the smaller partition no matter how often I change it to the larger partition. Before I reformat and go back to a single partition drive, I thought I’d ask you if you have any ideas on what’s wrong. I’ve spent hours on the WD website and other online sites and have found no suggestions. Thanks!

    • Hi Robert,

      Sorry, I don’t have any experience with the WD Smartware Pro version. I gave up on WD Smartware completely since I moved to Acronis True Image last year.

      Anyway, I am just guessing but it might help if you delete your scheduled backups and re-create them. I remember in WD SmartWare that I had to select a destination for the backup.

      Before you go and re-format your drive, you might want to consider merging the two partitions together to avoid loosing any files. Take a look at the Best Free Partition Manager page on Gizmo to find free applications that will allow you to resize your partitions.

      Use the application’s resize feature to shrink one partition and grow the other. Then move your files from the smaller partition to the large one. You may need to repeat this process a few times until the smaller one is empty at which time you can delete it and maximize the size of the larger partition. I think some of the newer versions might even include a merge partition feature but I haven’t tried them.

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,

      While I’ve never lost any data from using any of the recommended applications, there is some risk involved should your computer crash or a power failure occur during the process. For this reason, please take steps to first backup any files that cannot be easily replaced.

  12. I have my backups in WD passport drive. I took backup three months ago.Now How can I take backup such that it adds only new contents/updates of laptop folders to WD drives.

    • Hi Siva,

      If you setup your backup using the WD Smartware application the first time and still have it installed on the same computer, just plug the drive into your computer’s USB port – at least that is the way it works on Windows. It should start adding any files that are have either been added or changed in the last 3 months to your WD My Book backup drive. Depending on how many files you have on your computer, this may take a while to complete because it still needs to check all the files to see if they’ve changed.

      However, if you’ve changed your computer since then or are using the Drive Image application software that also is also included or available for free with your drive, you may have to follow a different process.

      Best regards,


  13. I have backed up an old laptop to my MyBook MyWorld using the WD Anywhere backup software software. How can I now restore this backup to my new Windows 8 laptop?

  14. Smartware Pro 2.4.10 might not be so smart or perhaps it is me. A few days ago I did a complete backup of a Dell Raid 5 server (200 GB)and restored the data (not programs) to a Dell Raid 1 system and took it on line. I am now finding (from the staff) that many files were not backed up and restored, most empty folders were not backed up and restored, and some files are in the wrong folders. I started to copy the files and folders over and could be doing this for the next 2 months.

    • That is very frustrating Larry and exactly why I’ve stopped using SmartWare. I switched to Acronis True Image and my backups are not only faster but more reliable. Western Digital includes a special Acronis True Image WD edition with MyBook or you can download it. This will allow you to take a snapshot image of your drive. To do faster incremental/differential backups, you will need to get the full True Image product from Acronis. From time to tim I’ve seen it go on special for as low as $15 at Staples. The rest of the time, your best deal is likely the Acronis special Upgrade to Acronis True Image 2015 for PC offer. For non-personal requirements, see other editions which might better suit your needs.

      (These are NOT affiliate links – I don’t get anything by you clicking them)

      Best regards,


  15. What is the difference – backup using Smartware software versus backup using Acronis software.
    Just purchased 3 TB My Notebook Western Digital.

    • The biggest difference is reliability in my opinion. I had to restore my computer about 6 months ago and discovered that the backup created by Smartware was incomplete. I dropped Smartware like a hotcake and switched to Acronis True Image. It can even do real-time backups like Smartware was supposed to do. The version of Acronis True image available for free from Western Digital has some limitations so you may not find all of the functionality there. I use the full Acronis True Image and it has been producing rock solid backups for me for 6 months. I had used it on some client sites before that with great results and actually used to use back in the days of Windows XP when they offered a free download promotion. Anyway, it’s up to you. I don’t get anything if you purchase it. I don’t have any affiliations with the company. I just recommend it because I am happy with it.

  16. thank-you for all this info – way easier to understand than the manual. The guy at the store told me that the drive does not need to be plugged into my laptop to back-up. He said if I plug it into my router than I can back it up that way….how??

    Also, I am using time machine on my mac and therefor the My Book software didn’t open up. Can you help me?

    • That’s a great question Shannon. The first thing to check is to ensure that you have a USB plug somewhere on your router. If it doesn’t, this isn’t going to work for you.

      Once the drive is plugged in, it may just automatically appear on your network or you may need to do some configuration in your router in order to make the My Book drive available as a shared drive on your network. How you do this will vary from one router to another. Some routers have you run an application on your computer while others require that you access the router in a web browser. You will need the login username and password in order to access your router. Check your router’s documentation for more information.

      Once that is setup, the next step is to access the drive over the network. On a Windows network, it would be a matter of just going to the network and browsing it or going directly to the device by entering an address like \\routername\shareddrivename. Unfortunately I am not very familiar with Macs and am not sure how you would do this. From what I’ve read, in the Finder, choose Go > “Connect to Server”. There, type in the network address for the router in the address field. Click “Connect”. I don’t have a Mac so I haven’t tried it. Hopefully this means something to you and it works.

      Hope this helps!

      Best regards,

      Michael Milete

  17. Really simple question that has turned into 3 😉 My hard drive is almost full, so I backed everything up with the smartware software and now want to delete a lot of photos I don’t need everyday. When the automatic backup runs will these files be deleted from My Book since they are not on the computer hard drive anymore? Or will they be put back on my hard drive? Or will they stay on My Book and still be accessible/movable when I want them? Thanks for your help and for speaking english not “manual speak” 😉

    • Hi Dog,

      Great question. If you backup your photos with smartware, my understanding is that they will only stay there as long as they exist on your computer. If you then delete the photos on your computer, I think they will also be removed from the My Book drive as well.

      What I recommend you do is to move the photos you want to archive onto a new folder you create on your My Book drive. For example, create a new folder called “Photo Archive” right on your My Book drive and MOVE (not COPY) and add any photos you don’t want to keep on your computer into that folder.

      Smartware should then notice that the photos are gone and remove them from your regular backups but won’t touch the ones in your Photo Archive folder on your My Book drive.

      IMPORTANT: The point of a backup is to have your precious information in more than one place in case something bad happens to either your computer or to your My Book drive. By MOVING your photos to your My Book drive, they will still end up being in only one place. If anything ever happened to your My Book drive, your archived photos would be gone for good. If this would be acceptable to you, then by all means go ahead. I tend to do this myself with files I want to keep but would not be terribly devastated if I lost them as a result of my My Book drive dying.

      Please let me know if you have any questions.

      Best regards,


  18. Hi My book has been plugged into the computer since it crashed 2 years ago. It recently had to be wiped clean again, before the book was unplugged, I remember the light of my book going up and down. So the data should be there, but when I started everything up again, my book only had data from the beginning of this imac to 3/14. Any item what happened? How to verify if my book is working now?

    • Hi Patti,

      In Windows, you should always use the Safely remove hardware and eject media tool located near the clock in the taskbar (bottom left of screen) before disconnecting the My Book drive.

      While I am no Mac expert (I have about 20 minutes Mac experience in total), my understanding is that the OSX equivalent would be to go into Finder and then click the Eject icon next to the name of the device you want to disconnect – before you disconnect it.

      Then wait for a message telling you that it is safe to eject or disconnect the device. What does this do? It tells the operating system to finish writing information currently in memory onto the hard drive before you disconnect it. If you don’t do this, there is a chance that information will be missing.

      My understanding is that OSX uses something called Journaling. Journaling is a wonderful feature that helps protect the file system against power outages or hardware component failures like pulling the plug out unexpectedly, reducing the need for directory repairs. If something happen to the file system, this could be the reason why you are seeing a listing of old files. To learn more about Journaling in OSX, see

      I am just guessing but I’ve hear that this Journaling system is self reparing most of the time. Leaving your drive connected with the computer on for a while might clear things up automatically. If not, there is a small chance that you might be able to fix your problem by using the OSX Disk Utility to verify and repair the My Book drive. The following page on Apple’s site might be useful if you are not sure how to do this:

      Additional links that might be helpful

      If you are having a problem where the MyBook drive keeps connecting and disconnecting.
      If you can’t unmount/eject/disconnect the My Book drive.

      Good luck. I hope you manage to resolve your problem.

      Best regards,


    • Hi Patti, one more thought. One should never assume that backups are taking place. I had a situation recently where my backups stopped working after an upgrade. If I had not checked, I might have never known that the backups were not working.

      It is possible that your backup software was never re-installed or no backups were scheduled? This would explain why you don’t see any new backups in the last 2 years.

      Hope this isn’t the case for your sake.

      Best regards,


  19. I’ve followed your steps 1-4 above, but there is no WD Apps Setup under My Book. I have used this external drive as a backup once or twice before with no problems. What could be wrong now? Thx

    • Hi Peggy, these instructions are for Windows users and may be different if you are using a Mac/OS X or using a newer/different version of the software. Are you using a Mac by chance?

  20. Michael,
    I was using My Book on my Win7/64 computer, and could see the WD Quick View Icon in the systray. I bought a new Win/10 computer, and hooked up the My Book to it. A week later, I moved it back to the Win/7 computer, and I no longer have the icon.
    Will the free version of Acronis resolve this problem if I just install it over what’s already on the My Book? If not, how do I delete the MB files? How long does it take for the Acronis to make a full image of the computer? Will the free version do a real-time backup? Does it back up the operating system and programs in addition to the data files? I appreciate any answers you have time to give me, as I’m concerned that I now have a corrupt MB which wouldn’t do me any good if my computer hard drive ever crashes.

    • Hi Al,

      The icon might have been automatically hidden by Windows. Just to the left of the systray, there might be a cheveron or a small triangle depending on the version of Windows you are using. Click that and you might find the WD Quick View icon in there. Unless the application crashed or you uninstalled it, it should always be in the systray whether the drive is currently attached to the computer or not.

      As for the free version of Acronis, both it and the WD Quick View application can happily live together. Installing it will not replace what’s already installed. Note that there are some important limitations to the Free version of Acronis some of which are highly desirable such as:

      • Data backup (selected files/folders)
      • Scheduling backups
      • Incremental and differential backups

      You can learn more by comparing the documentation for the Free vs. the Paid version.

      By MB files, I gather you mean My Book. You should be able to just open your My Book drive in Explore under Computer and see all the files there. If you want to completely erase everything, you could just format the hard drive. If you want to just delete your WD backup files, they are usually located in your My Book’s WD SmartWare.swstor folder. If you want to fix your My Book drive without deleting all the files, right click on the drive, select Properties, click the Tools tab and finally the “Check now…” button. Be sure to check the Automatically fix file system errors box before clicking the “Start” button to begin the process.

      By the way, if you don’t see your My Book drive listed, you may have chosen to encrypt your My Book drive. In that case, look for something that looks like a CD Drive called WD Unlocker. You will need to use this before your My Book drive shows up.

      How long Acronis will take to make a full image of the computer will depend a lot on how big your hard drive is, how full it is, how fast your computer is and whether your MyBook is connected over USB 2.0 or 3.0. I’ve seen it take anywhere from a 10 minutes to a couple of days.

      The free version does not do real-time backup.

      It will only back up the operating system and programs in addition to the data files if you tell it to. My personal strategy is to make a full image backup of the drive once a month and then have another full backup of my data with incrementals the rest of the month. If you tend to install and uninstall applications, or tweak your Windows configuration more often, your personal strategy may be different. I usually rotate my backups every 2 months so, at any point in time, I can go back about 2 months to restore a file or the whole computer.

      Hope that answers your questions.

      Best regards,


  21. I’m trying to connect my WD My Book 3TB drive directly to my Switch. Is there a configured cable for this??? It would allow multiple users to share data.

    • Hi Robert, your WD My Book must have either an RJ-45 network connector on it, in which case you will need a network cable, your switch must have a USB port on it, in which case you will need a USB cable with the right kind of connectors at each end. Yes, this should allow users to share data files but I can’t say how fast it will be. That will depend on the type of connection, how fast your switch is, how many users you have, what type and how big your files are. Don’t expect the same performance or security as you would get from a dedicated file server.

  22. I am trying to back up are public folder with all our main data off another computer on our network and when I tried it just copied a folder and no data need help please

    • Hi David, can you tell me:

      • What you are doing step by step?
      • What operating system you are using?
      • What software you are using?

      Also, have you tried copying files directly onto a USB memory stick instead of copying over the network?

  23. I am very heartened to see this thread is still alive, because I have a question.

    I recently purchased a 8TB My Book (single drive) to take the load off of my 2TB Passport. I let the utilities propagate the file structure, and wonder – since I am doing manual backups only, if it matters that I do not follow the structure itself. A lot of documents have been rejected because of the too-long filename, which exists solely because of drilling down to where it is set up. Example;

    WD Backup.swstor>Home> 22alpha-numeric namefolder >History>History>Users>Home>a list of folders OR
    WD Backup.swstor>Home>Volume 30-some off alpha-numeric name folder >History>Volume{a84b624b-9a49-11e4-be93-806e6f6e6963}Users>Home

    to a list of near identically named folders.

    The second one copied my music files, with a suffix of _LAST. I checked the file by count and data amount, thinking it was OK to delete the source, and then found the suffix designation. The mp3 files are unplayable as such, but they are in the first folder tree. I would like to simplify the process and want to delete of the structure what I can, which would also save some space. The aforementioned music is 150GB, now taking up double the space . Thoughts? Thank you in advance for any direction you can give me.

    • Hi Sam,

      Glad you found the thread. The reason you are experiencing problems is because Windows actually as a limitation of 160 characters in a file path (folder+filename+slashes). Since the backups are stored in subfolder, the paths end up too long and, as you’ve experienced, some files end up failing to backup.

      So what can you do about it?

      First, change the name of the backup folder from “WD Backup.swstor” to something much shorter like “b”. You might also want to shorten the names of the folders on your computer. If this isn’t enough, you may want to look into finding a different application which puts the files from your backup into a single archive file.

      Also, the file names you describe sound like system files, not just data files. The default software settings that comes with the My Book drive doesn’t do a good enough job of backing up files to be able to restore a whole computer. Consider just backing your data. You can always re-install the operating system and your applications. Alternatively, again use a different application to do backups, one that will reliably backup your whole computer and provide you with a way to restore it back into working order.

      I personally use Acronis True Image which has been pretty reliable over the past few years. PC Magazine recently reviewed several good alternatives that may be of interest to you. If you are on a tight budget, Gizmo’s Freeware also has several recent reviews to offer.

  24. I recently purchased a 3TB My Book and began backing up my files (877 gigabytes of data). The back up process has been running and has backed up 776 gigabytes of data but shows (in yellow) 101 gigabytes of “files not backed up”. The WD My Book is still running and has STALLED for the last hour or so at 776 gigabytes backed up and 101 gigabytes not backed up. My question: Is it possible that My Book is analyzing the 101 gigabytes of not backed up files and trying to figure out how to back them up?

  25. i just bought a WD my book from costco. it appears to be working but i cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to view what is saved on this external hard drive.

    please help

  26. Hi, I noticed the back-up creates weird directories and has several versions of a file. Cay you replicate the source file structure?

    • Hi Jim,

      As you noticed, the software that comes with the WD My Book backup drive maintains multiple versions of documents when you edit them so that you can go back to previous versions.

      If all you want is to replicate (or mirror) the source file structure, checkout Karen’s Replicator. Unlike a simple copy and paste that you might do, Karen’s replicator will only copy files that have been modified and optionally remove files that have been deleted which takes much less time. It’s a rather old piece of software with a somewhat clunky user interface but it still works great, a real credit to the developer. Unfortunately the author/developer passed away a few years ago so don’t expect to see any updates coming out in the future. The last release in 2010 was version 3.6.9.

      An alternative to that is the command line too called “rsync” which is available on Linux, OS X and the latest Windows 10. You can also get it on other versions of Windows by installing Cygwin. There are other implementations of rsync on Windows like Acrosync but I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t personally recommend them.

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,


  27. I have photos from my LG G3 cell phone downloaded into my PC via Gmail. HOW do I transfer these photos to my G:/ drive on my WD My Book? I don’t want to loose any of my photos, and the MyBook doesn’t always want to back-up my files, computer, and I worry I’ll lose my data. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  28. I am using the My Book to transfer shows from a Dish 722 DVR to a new Dish Hopper 3. There is no power button, and it does not indicate when it is safe to disconnect. I read somewhere to disconnect the power at the source, not from the back of the HD. I am assuming that it should be disconnected instead of running constantly. Also I first purchased a 3 TB version that was incompatible, and had to return it, and then find another store that carried the 2 TB version. That one works. Do you have any advice concerning this application?

    • I don’t have any experience in using a My Book drive with a DVR.

      A hard drive, like the My Book, can run constantly for years. Just remember to dust it with a can of compressed air every now and then so that the dust doesn’t become a heat insulator. Heat will kill electronics faster than almost anything else. Even through I find the My Book pretty quiet, if the noise is bothering you, you could use an SSD drive instead. They are completely silent because they don’t have any moving parts. Although they are more expensive, they also use a lot less electricity. If the little LED light is bothering you at night, put a piece of black tape over it.

      The only way to have the drive power down automatically when not in use is if the device to which it is connected, in this case a DVR, supports that feature. If it is supported by your DVR, you may need to enable the feature somewhere in its menus. Check the manual or contact the manufacturer for more information on this.

      As for manually disconnecting it, again, this will depend a lot on the device to which it is connected. Unless you are constantly recording shows, DVRs are not disk intensive like a computer. If you only record and playback once in a while, most of the time it will be doing nothing. Devices like that don’t usually buffer data so I would say that it is very likely safe to disconnect it anytime it is not in use much like you would unplug a smartphone from your computer after copying files to/from it. It is also very likely that the PVR/DVR has the ability to deal with disconnections since it would likely need to deal with unexpected power failures which is basically the same thing as unplugging the device. The only time I would really try to avoid disconnecting your My Book drive is when the LED light on the front is flashing/blinking, even if it is very slight. Watch it for about 15-20 seconds. When the light is flashing, this means that information is being recorded or written to the drive. The worst time to disconnect a drive is while information is being written to it. This is typically when you start loosing information or even damaging the hard drive.

      All this said, I am not familiar with your particular devices and I wouldn’t want you to loose any recordings based on my guesses. I would definitely check the documentation that came with your DVR and/or contact the manufacturer just to get confirmation that it is safe.

      Hope this helps. Best regards,


  29. Tried backup my computer and my WD My book is saying its full
    How can I check dates on my g drive and hopefully deleted old backups or can I reformat the whole 1T
    Need to make more room
    I think I have e backups going back 8 years only need what’s in my PC now also it’s saying 5 backups do I need so many

    • Hi Brian,

      How you check the dates really depends on the backup software you are using. Sounds like you figured it out.

      Best regards,


  30. Help, I bought the my book 1 TB external harddrive. I backed up my folders from my old HP pc using Windows 7 to transfer the files to my HP all in one using Windows 8. When I retrieve the files and try to open them up on the new computer the files all have a line through them and won’t open. Did I do something wrong? Is there a way to fix this?

  31. Michael, I’ve read a number of your comments/answers & noticed that you’re always using the words loose and loosing – should be lose and losing. Loose means not tight. And loosing isn’t even a word – “untightening” would be loosening. Also, “it’s” means it is; it isn’t a possessive pronoun.

    You provide a lot of helpful tips (thanks); hopefully you’ll find these helpful as well.

    • Hi ReRyRo,

      I am grateful to hear that you are finding the tips helpful. Thank you for sharing the tip about the words “lose” and “loosing”. I appreciate it very much. I love being told that I am doing something wrong because it is always an opportunity to learn, grow or teach.

      In this particular cases, these the correct spellings were previously brought to my attention however my fingers still have the bad habit of putting in the double oo’s after many years of doing it wrong. As for “its” vs “it’s”, that is also a bad habit and a plain lack of proof reading because I do know better – which is why these articles are still here on Mike’s Articlebin instead of on my website at I will endeavour to pay more attention and apply the correct spelling of these words and correct existing instance.

      Thank you again ReRyRo for taking the time to share your tips with me and raising my awareness. I am grateful for your contribution.

      Don’t lose faith… I can change 🙂

      Best regards,


  32. Hi,
    I started downloading my entire file labeled “documents” on my new Mac lap top on the desk top. Then, I realized this was a bad idea and I clicked for the download to stop. For some reason, the entire documents file is now no where to be found.
    Any ideas where it went or how I can get it back?
    Any ideas would be hugely appreciated!

    • Yikes! Got to hate when that happens Jennifer. It’s happened to me when I move a file instead of copying it and then press CTRL-Z to undo the move. If the original location no longer exists, the file seems to end up in oblivion. I’m not exactly clear on what you were doing. If you were copying files from an old computer onto a WD MyBook Backup drive and then copied the files to the new computer, your file should still be available on the old computer as well as the WD My Book backup drive. If you were doing a move instead of copy, it might be a lot harder to recover your file. As long as you stopped and didn’t do anything at all to the My Book backup drive, you might be able to recover the file using a file recovery tool. However, if you have been using the drive or your old computer since then, there is little chance that you will be able to recover the file.

      Unfortunately I am not that familiar with a Mac to be able to recommend a file recovery tool but feel free to search for OS X File Recovery Tool in Google. Only install it on your new computer, not the old one.

      Wish I had better news for you. Hope you find your missing file and can recover it intact.

  33. Hi….
    I have two 1 TB drives (C and E)….I “thought” I mapped C to one Essential (I) …and mapped E to a second Essential (M)…

    When I select the C or E from Home and click Back Up, I see the mapping (C->I and E->M)

    But…if I use Documents and look at at the .swstor on each of the Essentials (I and M), C and E are both backed up on both Essentials!

    1. What might I have done incorrectly
    2. How might I recover – do I need to format both Essential and “try again”?


    • Hi LarryC, sounds like a bug in the backup software. As you might have read here, I am not a fan of the backup software included with the WD backup drives.

      Just to be certain, create a file and save it on your desktop. Then manually copy the file to either your I: or M: drive but not both without using any backup software. If everything is working properly, the file should only end up on one of the two drives, not both.

      Next, delete the file from that drive and copy the file from your desktop to the other drive. Again, check both drives. The file should only be on one of the two drives.

      If this is the case, your drives and drive mappings are working properly so the problem is very likely with the backup software. Using a different backup application should resolve the problem.

      If one or both of the above mentioned the test failed, your drive mappings are incorrect (more likely) or your computer has some serious driver issues (less likely).

      Hope this helps. Good luck in resolving your issue LarryC!

  34. Hi Michael. I have 2 , 1T external drives that I use for backing up certain files. The older one about 6yrs. old is almost full. they only have pictures and videos on them. I recently bought a 3 T wd external simply to back up both of my other 2 smaller drives. Can I just copy and paste my files onto the new drive. the 2 drives are only plugged in when I make a new video or add new pictures. The videos and picture are in different folders ex. videos A – E, F – J etc.The other external is kept for my son’s shows as his band performs quite regularly. Can these files simply be manually copied and pasted to the new back with out installing all the firmware. thanks for taking the time to help every one out

    • Hi Diana, thank you for your great question. The answer is… it depends on how you backed-up the files. If you’ve simply been manually copying them (i.e. drag and drop) or even just saving them directly on to the external drives, you should be able to just copy the files to the new drive. However, if you’ve been using some kind of backup software to automate your backups, it will depend on how it does it. Some backup applications just copy the files to your backup drive while others may compress them or even combine the files into huge files. You can usually tell by just looking at the file names.

      As long as you are just copying the files and not moving them, I would say it is safe to give it a try since your new drive is empty. The worst that can happen is that you copy all the files to the new drive and it doesn’t work out. In that case, you need just delete the files you just added to the new drive and you will be back to where you started with the two old drives which still have their files. This is why it is important to COPY files and NOT MOVE them. If you were to move the files to the new drive and something went wrong, you would have no way to go back.

      One last tip. When copying the files to the new drive, make sure that files and folders from the two drives don’t end up overwriting each other. For example, if both drives have a folder called \videos\, the files inside those folders might conflict if they have the same name.

      Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

      Best regards,


  35. Hello, My question is, will the backup make more that one copy? as in say I have a .doc and it is backed up but then I make a change to it will the back up make a new copy or update the old backup?

    • Hi Tom, that really depends on the software you are using. Some will, some won’t. Good backup software does have that feature.

  36. Hi Michael,managed to find your article regarding the WD My Book tips by luck. Anyways I have a My Book Essential with 2 TB .My first question is can I go into my book and just delete old backups to make more room on my drive or would I have to erase all contents to free up space. I am still using windows xp…yup I know…lol…and finally moving to Windows 7 Ultimate…would there be any issues with OS compatibility.Also should I disconnect the backup from computer when not in use or just power it down?

    • Hi Forrest,

      Thank you for your great questions.

      1) Deleting old backups – It depends on the backup software you are using. In general, you should be fine to delete old backups. However, some backup applications keep track of what backups exist for the purpose of offering restore options and prefer that you delete the old backups from within the application. You might want to keep an eye out for options in your backup software that automatically delete old backups. Some backup programs will take care of that for you, for example, deleting backups that are more than 3 months old (or whatever interval you specify).

      2) When not in use – You can do either disconnect or power down. Regardless of the option you choose, you should always use the Windows “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media tool” before disconnecting or powering down the My Book drive. With that said, you might want to consider leaving it plugged in and connected so that automated backups take place. In my case, I use a laptop which gets moved around a lot so I just disconnect the USB wire. The drive (at least the one I have) automatically powers down if it is not connected to a computer.

      Hope this helps. Best regards,


  37. Hello. I just purchased a My Passport 4 TB portable drive and installed in on my laptop, but it is not showing up in ‘My Computer’ with the other drives. My laptop is running Windows 7, the My Passport shows it is working normally, but I cannot access it to store files. I want to install GTA V, but lack the space on my laptop and bought this just for this purpose. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi Gord,

      This discussion is about the WD My Book drive. This is unusual since the drive usually contains things like the bundled backup software. However, because I’ve actually experienced similar frustrations with the My Passport, I will share what has worked for me.

      There could be a few reasons for this. Is the drive visible in “Control Panel” > “Computer Management” > “Disk Management”? If so, then Windows recognizes that the drive is connected. If the drive doesn’t appear to be formatted (says Unallocated), you will need to first format the drive from within Disk Manager as NTFS in order to see it as a single 4 TB drive. If that doesn’t work, try setting it to GPT. If the drive is formatted and you still can’t see it in Windows Explorer, you will need to manually assign it a drive letter.

      If you don’t see your My Passport drive in Disk Manager, I’ve seen this happen with that particular drive and Windows 7. There are several reasons why this can happen. One could be that there is insufficient power coming from the USB cable, especially if you have other USB drives connected. In fact, some WD Passports have a special cable with 2 USB connectors on it specifically to address the problem. If that is your case, both must be plugged in for the drive or unplug all other external drives in order to give the My Passport enough power.

      It can also be a WD SES driver issue. More information. Although this driver issue can be fixed and will work, I personally don’t think you should have to install a driver in Windows in order to get it to recognize a portable external drive. Why? Because you would need to apply this fix to every computer you want to plug the drive into. This is the reason I stopped buying My Passport drives in favour of Seagate drives which have never needed a driver fix. They just worked out of the box.

      Hope something in all this helps.

      Best regards,


  38. Nothing can be move to the TB. We have no idea what were are doing and we want to move all our stuff to the TB just in case the computer aka the mac could crash. Is there anyway you can help me move our stuff over to the TB? Any helpful advise would be appreciated.
    Note* it is update by the way.

    • Hi David, in order to try to provide you with helpful advice, you would need to provide some additional information. What do you mean by TB? Can you describe the steps you are doing to “move all your stuff to the TB” and where you are running into a problem? Are you using a My Book drive? What backup software are you using? What makes you suspect it is not working? What have you tried? What do you mean by “Note* it is update by the way.”

  39. You don’t have to use any software if you just want to back up, for example, your ‘my documents’ folder. You can use the My Book like a big flash ‘thumb’ drive and simply copy and paste your folder(s) from your C: drive to your My Book drive.

  40. I have 2 external hard drives (WD My Books) one added in 2007 and one in 2016. I have them both connected to my desktop PC. I have the WD software installed, but when I go to the Back Up screen, it does not acknowledge the older My Book and only has the options for the newer My Book or the Cloud. Can I operate both connected My Books from a single software? HOw can I get the software to acknowledge/ recognize the older My Book?

  41. I have a W-D My Book used to Back-up my 1997 24″ MAC Desktop that has a failed Internal Drive, maybe even the Memory Board. I’m interested in pulling the latest back-up over to my Mac Book Pro and not sure where to go or what cable to buy…need a Firewire to USB cable but as i read about them there’s often a warning that says it may not work as it all depends on the device. My laptop is a Mac Book Pro 13″ purchased in the Fall of 2016, Can you provide some guidance here? Thank you, Guy

    • Hi Guy,

      Unfortunately I know very little about MACs. However here are a few things you can try which are not Mac specific but may work for you. Be sure to be ready and have a place to copy your files off the defective drive immediately should the drive does start working. You never know how long it will last. You could have as little as a minute to get critical files off of it. Each of these have worked for me with different hard drives over the years but be prepared to loose your data if it doesn’t work. If recovering the data is critical, take it to a data recovery company (expensive).

      1) If the drive doesn’t spin at all, disconnect the drive, lay it on a table and give it a good spin. Then block it causing it to stop spinning all of a sudden. Plug it back in and see if it works.

      2) Try the drive at different angles. Sometimes a drive that won’t work standing up will work laying down.

      3) Try putting the drive in a closed freezer bag and then in the freezer overnight. Then quickly reconnect the drive to your computer before it starts to warm up and see if you can access it. If it works, you need to act fast and quickly get the most important files off the drive. You may only have minutes before the drive fails again. If you are very lucky, this may work more than once.

      These are well known strategies. For background information on why each of these strategies work, google it.

      Good luck!


  42. When I opened up the WD My Box all the screen showed was “Install Discovery for Windows.exe”. I installed it and that was it. Blank screen, no prompts, no user guide.
    Can you please tell me where I go from here?

  43. Hi, I have just purchased a WD My Book with the WD Discovery software. It seemed quite simple to set up and I selected 4 drives that require backing up, but when I press ‘back up’ it took 4 minutes to finish and only backed up about 3 folders on my C: drive. I have tried googling this problem and playing with all the settings but I just cannot get it to back up! Any idea? Thanks!

  44. Help Please…just plugged my WD My Book into a different PC that would not even recognize that it was there. Its been a few years since I used this device (looking for some older Pics and files saved from a different computer). Can’t get any prompts or acknowledgements that the PC is seeing the device. There is no existing WD My Book software on this PC. When I power up WD My Book, I hear it trying to work but seemly not being successful…reminds me of the sound of a bad hard drive…yikes!

    Is there a driver that needs to exist on the laptop to get the recognition process going…thought the laptop would see it right away and prompt me to do something.

    Any tips, help to get this working…running Windows 10 Home verson ..64 bit OS.

    • Hi Tom, I have several WD My Book drives and one of them started having the exact same symptoms you did. I tried everything I could think of. Changed the power supply, change dthe USB cable, cracked open the case and put the drive in a completely different case. It just would not be recognized by Windows 10 – or any other version of Windows on my other computers.

      Then, by random chance, it started working while I had it laying down on its side. I didn’t dare even blow on it. I quickly copied (not moved) as many files as I could off the drive, selectively choosing those files which were most important to me. After about 4.5 hours of this, it finally died again and I have not been able to get it to work again since. I am just so grateful for that small window of time.

      Some things you can try include putting the drive on its side and giving it a spin. While it is spinning, stop it all of a sudden. Sometimes older drives develop a dead spot and can’t start up. This little trick may just get your drive spinning again. If that doesn’t work, place your drive in a sealed freezer bag and put it in a freezer. After a few hours, take it out and connect it right away to your computer. If it works, copy your most important files off the drive first. It may only last a few seconds to a few minutes until the drive starts to warm up.

      Wish I had advice to offer you. Good luck with your drive.


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