Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How to remove WD Smartware for Windows machines with multiple access privileges

I bought a sleek WD Passport 500GB recently to backup my work in a networked Windows XP machine. But, soon I was having difficulty getting the folders I want to backup. The Smartware software in the hard disk do not allow me to do this but instead lets me backup the entire "Document" folder. This does not help because this is a university machine with access privileges set up. I had run as adminstrator to install the Smartware and now it is backing up the "Document" folder for that administrator account, which is inaccessible to me and not useful to my work. The administrator access was given to me purely for installation purpose. So, through several helpful websites, I am able to remove/deactivate the software and do the usual drag-drop or copy-paste to the hard disk like all other hard disk, which with the Smartware, I could not do. I've compiled steps I have taken, some from helpful websites, and others my own, to hopefully help someone who wishes to remove the smartware from their WD hard disk.

Thanks to for his tip on Step 1 and Step2. I had switched the two the other way round because when I did Step 2 first, it couldn't remove the VCD Manager when it couldn't detect the My Passport drive.

Step 1: Remove VCD Manager
  1. Download VCD Manager for Windows to your desktop. (mirror here)
  2. Unzip the file using any extraction program.
  3. Double click on WDSmartWareVirtualCDManagerforWindows-v1.0.7.4.exe.
  4. Click Continue to disable the VCD.
  5. Once the utility has found your drive, click Configure Drive and then click Exit.
  6. Turn off  or disconnect the drive.
  7. Wait 10 seconds and turn on or reconnect.
  8. Check that the VCD no longer appears.

Step 2: Update Firmware
  1. Disconnect all other external drives from the computer except for the My Passport hard drive you want to update.
  2. Download the Firmware Updater for Windows. (mirror here)
  3. Unzip the file and double click to open the Firmware Updater.
  4. Click Continue to update the firmware.
  5. Click Update Firmware.
  6. Click Accept the End User’s License Agreement (EULA). The updater will scan the drive; this may take a few minutes.
  7. Once the updater is finished, click Exit.
  8. Disconnect the drive.
  9. Wait 10 seconds. Reconnect and you will find that My Passport no longer appears.

At this point, I tried to access the hard disk using another two Windows machines and the My Passport icon no longer appears in My Computer. So, I formatted the hard disk just to be sure that everything is gone.

Step 3: Reformat the My Passport hard disk. I used KillDisk's Kill option.This has to be installed using admin access. Simply right-click on the .exe installation file and Run As admin and enter your password for the admin account.

KillDisk Kill completely clears the HD, including partitions. The HD is now unallocated. If you run Smartware, it will says "No writable WD SmartWare partition found".

Step 4: Partition hard disk using Disk Management (wd community link)
  1. Right-click on Computer from the Start Menu and then click on Manage. This will bring you to a window called Computer Management. Alternatively, go to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management. Right-click and select Run As to start the program as admin.
  2. Click on Storage.
  3. Click on Disk Management.
  4. There should be a disk that is unallocated. Right-click on this box and select New Partition. This box should have a black bar. If it has a blue bar, it means it has already been partitioned and formatted. You can right-click on the blue bar and select Delete Volume. If you require more information, go to the WD Community Link for partitioning hard disk using Disk Management here.
  5. Go through the wizard, clicking Next and finally Finish.
  6. Wait for a few seconds and you should see the box with the unallocated disk showing the text "Formatting".
  7. When it says "Healthy", you can close the program and check for your hard disk icon on My Computer. 
  8. You can now use your WD Passport hard disk like any other hard disk.

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