back to article Western Digital drive is DRM-crippled for your safety

Western Digital's 1TB My Book World Edition external hard drive has been crippled by DRM for your safety. A kindly Reg reader tipped us off that the remote-access HDD won't share media files over network connections. Which is, as you can see here, the entire stinking point of it. It's a scary world full of potentially …


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  1. Matt Brigden

    Easy workaround

    Zip the file . Works fine on mine lol .

    Im more concerned with the nobbled ethernet . 4.6mbps max transfer takes the Michael . Really helpful limitation on a drive billed as 10/100/1000 . Several months down the line and still no fix for it . WD have admitted the transfer speed sucks and are "looking into it" . Try looking into it with your eyes open ......

    Theres no need to use the mionet software on the cd as you can access to it via java from the mionet site .

  2. Ben

    Class Action?

    I wonder how long before someone starts a class action against WD? The advertising clearly states that it can hold MP3, video, HD video etc. but makes no mention that you can't share those file types.

    Guess I won't be buying any WD products in the future. Still, there is plenty of competition in this market already.

  3. Bob

    It's the Video!!

    I don't know anyone with 1Tb of doc files and photos. The whole point of a 1Tb drive is to store and process video. Like you're a videographer, you have a lot of video footage you took with your Hi-Def DV camera and you're using iMovie, Final Cut and iDVD on a Mac to produce movies and video segments to be distributed by DVD and online by Quicktime.

    It's really too bad that the aspiring videographer who purchases this drive will find after getting it home that it's a nice paper weight. That videographer will learn to avoid WD in the future. Hopefully the store he/she got it from will have a good return policy.

  4. James Goddard
    Thumb Down

    Plain stupid

    I really am lost for words, chocolate teapots come to mind

  5. Nicholas Ettel

    Easy Workaround, Pt. 2

    Don't use it.

    ...just a suggestion. :)

  6. Aaron

    Stupid "Feature"

    Users could just rename the file extension but the main point is they shouldn't have to. At the end of the day the reason most people have large hard drives is to store data files of the blocked types.

    Hell I have something like 500 gig of video captured from online games with fraps. Even when I encode these down to avi all perfectly legal and legit this drive still wouldnt allow me to share them.

    Just one more reason to to just buy a small NAS box and fill it with a couple of 1TB drives, then setup a vpn or something to get your data remotely.

  7. Tom
    Thumb Down

    Better workaround

    Don't buy one! Buy something else.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hoist by their own petard?

    From the first link:

    Use This Product When You Want To

    * Listen to your music while on vacation.

    From the second link:

    Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access:





    A lawsuit, surely, for false advertising?

  9. Richard Hicks
    Thumb Down

    Erm... but they advertise it... being able to hold up to 250,000 songs (in MP3). Surely its misrepresentation? or false advertising?. What the heck is WD playing at? Some one needs to start beating them with the clue stick.

  10. etabeta

    Just DON'T ever buy it

    They can keep crap like this for themselves!

    If nobody is foolish enough to pay cash for this drive they might learn the lesson.

    ...or maybe this drive is secretly subsidized by the RIAA and MPAA!

  11. Matt Brigden
    Thumb Up

    They arent lying you can share them

    What you all missed is the term "Different user"

    This is how it works ....

    I can put anything on the drive as its my drive I own it . I can access everything regardless of file type from anywhere in the world .

    I can let other people use it as well BUT they will only see the non protected files so all your mp3s avis etc will be invisible , The folders will be empty .

    My brother in law also has a one of these drives and we know each others username and password for mionet . Not a fantastic way of doing it but again like the Zip method I highlighted earlier it works .

    Afaik this protection only comes into play over the net and doesnt hamper LAN sharing .

  12. Shane McCarrick

    Any other ways of getting around it?

    Are there any other suggestions for getting around it- e.g. can you use Samba or something?

  13. peter
    Thumb Up

    Brand Loyalty

    Most people including me, choose their hard drive just by scanning prices and cost per GB. I'll just skip any Western Digital drives and go for the one below or above.

    This could really be damaging, as most people know all drives have equal failure rates aside from personal experience and failures due to identical manufacturing bases. A huge black mark against WD will lose them a lot of money very quickly with normal SATA/IDE sales being linked to products that have DRM. Makes no difference to me to not buy WD and go for anyone else.

  14. Steve Browne
    Thumb Down

    Will they learn ?

    What is the point of a device for sharing files but wont share them. Assuming everyone is boot legging files is just downright malicious. How many people have their own video cameras? Did they read the Windows XP (I know, I know) installation adverts, of how GOOD Windows XP is for sharing your video files with your friends ?

    I guess (hope?) that customers will realise that buying anything with DRM attached is a bad thing and that they will just pass them by on the shelves. When MS et al are unable to sell their products because of their groundless accusations, that anyone buying their product has criminal intent and must be restrained, I expect we shall see the end of it.

  15. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Works perfectly with Unlimited Internet Access*

    * Home servers and the serving of content is prohibited

    * Idle PPoE logins are automatically terminated

    * Excessive bandwidth is prohibited

    * No static IP addresses

    * No bandwidth sharing with other computers

  16. Morely Dotes

    Alternate solutions

    If you can live with the limitations of FAT32, get your own hard drive and Google for "LAN Server USB 2.0 3.5" HDD Aluminum LAN Enclosure" - under US$50, no TURDS (Technology Users' Rights Denial Systems), and highly reliable (I've been using one for well over 18 months; once in a while Windows on the clients does something outrageous, so I've had to reboot it 3 times).

    Good-bye, WD. You're off our corporate "acceptable vendors" list.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Will they learn?

    "I guess (hope?) that customers will realise that buying anything with DRM attached is a bad thing and that they will just pass them by on the shelves"

    Unless you're prepared to wield a length of Clue-By-Four with extreme prejudice, don't count on it - never underestimate the collective stupidity of people in large groups.

    As for me, I've always bought WD drives because I've generally found them to be more reliable than their competitors - reliability tops price/Gb every time. However, if they insist on pulling fuckwitted stunts like this, it looks like I'll have to go back to Seacrates.

    Vote with your wallet - I certainly intend to.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i see a problem with this (well, many in fact....,

    but I will start with this one:

    regardless of backdoor attacks..... the intended use has a major flaw:- a major reason to have an NHS database is to provide doctors with access to patient records so things like allergies can be detected sooner etc - so that means doctors will be able to pull up a record when a patient comes in the door - sounds reasonable... until the doctor in question happens to be in terrorist - which today (3 July 2007) 12 or so doctors have apparently proven to be. So if they can access medical records, they could easily steal identiies to use to cover their tracks e.g. pull up deceased records. And If the national ID database comes to fruitition and is linked in to the NHS...

    Any tool the governement can create to help them, can be hacked and hence, help the enemy instead.

    Trouble is abrewing.

    That's why i am going to try out munich for a while.

  19. teacake

    Oh nuts.

    I've just ordered a 2TB one of these today. I've heard the mionet software was rubbish but could be avoided, and £360 for 2TB is cheaper even than bare drives, but if the data transfer speed is rubbish it's going to take forever to back up my files.

  20. Danny Thompson
    Thumb Down

    @ Easy Workaround

    Buy from any other manufacturer - there are plenty out there. Show WD what you think of their DRM'd device.

  21. JeffyPooh

    Removes product from cart, places back on shelf, and slowly backs away

    Oh. My. Gawd. I was ~so~ close to purchasing one these exact products. I've picked it up and fondled the box at my local Costco during each of the past few visits. I delayed a bit only because I really want 2TB (just because). Phew. Close call. Thank you for alerting me to this nonsense.

  22. Hedley Phillips

    They are pretty fragile anyway

    We had one we were testing as an alternative to SDLT tape.

    The very first time I took it to the server room and plugged it in it died.

    It is currently stuck somewhere in the WD RMA process, which I might add is a slow and tedious process. It has taken them 9 days from receiving it to get it to their tech department.


  23. Paul

    I know what I won't be buying for Christmas

    Anything made by Western Digital (Rights Mismanagement). And remember kiddies, a boycott is for life, not just for Christmas. :)

    Not as if we don't have a choice of other vendors, is it?

    Of course the clueless will buy it anyway, and with any luck subsequently return it for not working properly, or inundate the hell desk with calls and ALL CAPS emails.

    Well done WD, it's only taken 30 years or so but someone has finally created a product even more useless than the infamous Sinclair Black Watch.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    Of course the proper way of doing it is to buy an NSLU2 and a couple of USB HDDs (or, ideally, USB cases and seperate HDDs). Install debian and you can do whatever you want... think internet remote control, UPnP, standalone MP3 player (hook up USB sound card and some form of input)... anything.

    As for everyone saying that this device is marketed purely for video... just think about putting backups on there (windows bkf files or something sensible)

    Regardless, WD are now even further on my sh1t list

  25. J

    Of course...

    They're trying to cover their asses before they are sued for facilitating copyright infringement, methinks...

    But of course this is just stupid. Lots of free (as in beer AND speech) mp3 with lectures and speeches, as well as videos, that might be stored in this drive, etc... But no, you're automatically a criminal if you have any of these files shared.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    What kind of kickback did they get?

    ...for including this censorware in the drive? Note to WD: Stick to what you're supposed to be doing: STORAGE. Leave the policing to someone else. I wouldn't touch your crippled product with a 10-foot USB cable. Slow too... Way to lose customers.

  27. yeah, right.

    lost it.

    Looks like Western Digital has completely lost the plot then.

    ...because of course those file types never have the copyright owned by the person who actually purchased the hard drive. I mean, it's not like anyone creates their own sound or video files. No, of course not. Everyone gets all such files from elsewhere, and never EVER actually has permission to use these files...

    Fuck me, talk about a totally asinine, yet completely predictable product.

  28. Mectron
    Thumb Down

    Another illegal move

    By a once good company. Simple solution?

    Just don;t buy any WD product of any kind. What they did is clearly illegal. they have to rights of any kind to dictate what i can do with my Hard Drive. Not hard to find who have pressure them to commit such a crime in the open? Well the most dangerous criminal cartel in the world: THe MPAA/RIAA.

    Lawsuit? Yes! sueing them for selling a illegally crippled product.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Oh seriously...

    Then don't use their remote access software. Set yourself up a vpn or ssh tunnel and just get the files that way. Sheesh.

  30. Simon Buttress

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear


    The more I see of it the more I believe that the Western world is moving away from "presumed innocent, guilt must be proven" to "presumed guilt, innocence must be proven". This is just plain absurdity. Adios WD, no mo' cash from me!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Give a n00b a blog and look what happens. massive FUD explosion just in time for greed fest. Imagine if someone found out seagate had paid him.

  32. Anonymous from Mars

    IT is useful c.1995

    "Use This Product When You Want To

    * Listen to your music while on vacation."

    "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access:





    Finally, a mass storage device for the MIDI purist.

  33. Alan Donaly

    I have solution for WD

    Quick rewrite add an interface to change banned files list pretend it was there all along and we forgot to tell you about it. Since it really isn't part of hardware just stupid firmware anyway shouldn't be more than a momentary blip on their otherwise commonplace reputation. Their drives are still good but this is obviously a mistake of the first water.

  34. mike

    what next

    i can see a time coming soon when a device detects who is in a room anyone other than the person who bought or hired the movie or music and it wont play. Stupid sorry if i just gave the MAFIAA any ideas.

  35. Joe M

    Who is WD?

    I'm sorry. I there still anyone out there using WD drives?

    I used them exclusively until WD started making noisy toasters instead of hard drives. I had four out of five fail within a year and stopped buying them. My supplier told me they were just getting too hot and he was dropping them as well.

    My collection of 320Gb to 500Gb Seagates and Maxtors is humming along nicely thank you.

    Instead of being smart about DRM, WD should try to make drives which work.

  36. Matthew

    whats the point

    The only reason you would buy a 1tb drive is if you have media files.... so um... what the hell is the point of this??!!

    anyway who are they to say what you put on your own hard drive which you have paid with your own $$!

  37. Chronos

    Safe harbour?

    As far as I can see, WD *have* to do this. They may not be a common carrier (look it up) and may not be protected by safe harbour. I know we're talking about US law, but WD is a US company. IANAL, of course, but this is basic arse-covering law that every sysadmin should know.

    A huge FUDpile over one little move to protect themselves whilst still providing a useful service to those who need, say, to access technical manuals on the move from a pitifully small hard disk equipped "corporate" laptop. Read the damned articles on it: It's not stopping YOU from accessing anything, whether that be over MioNet or your own LAN. It's stopping you from turning WD's MioNet (they have just Borged it. Read the "about us" page into the next big copyright infringement site which, as far as I'm concerned, is a totally acceptable, even necessary, thing for them to do. In fact, they have been very generous (or foolish) not to include .iso and cue/bin in those restrictions. I know I would have.

  38. Charley

    On the bright side

    It doesn't seem, from their list, to block .zip, .rar or .torrent files.

  39. Simon

    That's made my next purchase easier

    When I buy my new hard disk I won't need to look at Western Digital drives.

  40. Ash

    How jolly enjoyable it would be...

    ... to format this drive, install some other media streaming app onto it, and using it anyway?

    I guess you could buy a caddy and a 1TB hard drive separately, though.

    Guess i'll buy Seagate, Maxtor, or Hitachi from now on. BOO SUCKS TO YOU WITH KNOBS ON!

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Christian Berger

    That's why we need free software

    That's why we need free software, even and especially on embedded devices. It wouldn't be a problem if you could just reflash your drive's ROM and get some decent software onto it.

  43. An ominous cow herd

    Another easy workaround

    Go to shop -> Return drive and get money back -> Buy another brand -> Problem solved.

  44. David Simpson
    Thumb Down

    total non-story

    the owner can access any file from anywhere - it just can't be used to make your record and dvd collection available to the world.

    I do wish the sadly ageing vulture would think before publishing rubbish like this.

  45. Outcast

    Lost customer

    I've always chosen WD hard drives over other brands.

    WD... You just lost a long standing customer.

    @ the admins.. can you pack these comments and send them to WD ?

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Anonymous Coward


    I was going to get a couple of these, not because I'm technically unsavvy but just because they looked like a simple quick solution. Having read this article I am NOT going to buy them. I have emailed WD and told them that they have lost sales due to their decision to deny me access to my own damned files.

    I hope that anyone else who was thinking of getting any WD digital product AT ALL will now purchase a similar product from a rival and then email WD to tell them that their arrogance and stupidity has lost them sales.

    As they specifically state : "Listen to your music while on vacation." as one of its selling features and then block mp3 files from being shared I would have through that Trading Standards would like to pay them a visit

  48. Phil Dalbeck

    Better Alternatives...

    Pick up a Buffalo Linkstation live. I liked the one in Work so much I bought my own... Faster than a Greyhound on speed, no restrictions (unless you enable them) and the latest updated for its build in linux distro makes it web accessible as well.

  49. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Sneaky commercial plan.....?

    Maxtor ATA/SATA drives are usually what I end up purchasing for my own use, and Seagate SCSI drives for work. I have never owned a WD drive and I don't think I've ever seen one in a commercial server, so I can't comment on their quality.

    I though they were a pretty respected company, but this just seems like a great way to alienate customers UNLESS they go aiming for corporate customers. They don't want their employees wasting company time and resources downloading Kylie on her mechanical bull (apparently, the most common file on corporate file servers in the UK in 2007!!). A lot of companies buy software just to keep their servers clean of illegal MP3s. Add a few bits to the code to deny certain file types like MP3 and they could be on to a winner.

  50. davcefai

    Not a Question of Workarounds

    From what I read earlier today the trivial workaround is not to use their software.

    However how can one retain any trust in a company that pulls off a stupid stunt like this one? WD's business is supposed to be selling disc drives. The RIAA's is suing grandmothers who do not own computers.

    I doubt that, even in the US, selling disc drives could be considered to be facilitating "piracy", at least not in any sane courtroom. (OOPS! Are there any left?)

  51. BitTwister

    The rot begins...

    > Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared

    All this says is that the file types don't use Microsoft's DRM <spit>. I wonder how much more apparently standard hardware we expect to see which is crippled by being tied to Redmond?

    But as others have said, the *real* solutions for what this drive "provides" are simple and much more useful. This is just a dumb product aimed at the dumb by the dumb.

  52. IMVHO
    Thumb Up

    One happy customer!

    Hello, my name is Vlad P., and I orchestrate zee free exchange of pictures, video, and audio files by our esteemed media, and international elections monitors, in MY country. Like you at Eastern Digital, my mission is to be sure to allow everyone to think that I facilitate the freedom of zee movement of digital media, while not actually allowing that at all (hahaha!). Your product has proven most efficient in achieving zee mission.

    You would have been as please as me, I am sure, to see zee expression on zee stoopid faces of zee reporters of lies when zey first attempted to share zee lies with their fellow traitors, and the spies of zee West. For your hard drives, fifty-thousand rubbles, for zee look on zee faces, priceless!

    I will be sure to recommend most highly your product to my friends in other freedom-loving countries. It is a shame dat comrade George may not have time to push zees through congress, especially since he vould have zee questions about lawful (hahaha) interception.

  53. Jason Sheldon
    Thumb Down


    So Word documents and PDF files are all public domain are they? I guess writers and publishers aren't as important as record labels and film studios.


  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @David Simpson

    David - you mis-understand.

    "the owner can access any file from anywhere - it just can't be used to make your record and dvd collection available to the world"

    The sharing software stops me sharing ANY mp3. You, like WD and the RIAAA, have automatically assumed that ANY mp3/avi (etc) file is illegal. There are lots of people out there with mp3/avi files that are perfectly legal to share - this device is designed, specifically, to stop people sharing files that is is perfectly legal to do so.

  55. foxyshadis

    Weird list

    Why the hell are so many amiga mod formats on there? I've never heard of anyone charging for demotunes.


    Not true; it blocks all WMV and WMA files, drm or no drm. But it doesn't block m4p, so it's Apple's DRM that they're really looking out for. Redmond has nothing to do with this, I suspect.

    @David Simpson

    This blocks you from sharing files WITHIN YOUR OWN HOME.

  56. John Savard

    One Possible Application

    I've just thought of one possible type of customer who might actually have a valid reason to pay good money for this kind of device.

    Suppose you're setting up a network for a small office, and want to simplify avoiding getting sued if some bored employees share music on the work network?

    So, while this product is clearly not for everyone, and is as useless as claimed for home networks, it has a niche.

  57. Ivan Headache

    @ Joe M

    Conversely, who buys Maxtors anymore?

    Mine - all four of them - have died within a week of each other - all out of warranty.

    whereas my WDs are (very) quietly humming along nicely.

    As we have seen time and time again in the comments pages on El Reg - no two persons' experiences with hardware are the same.

  58. tempemeaty

    Western Digital can go play with themselves

    Wellll....... I'm not buying another WD product ever again. I CREAT MY OWN DIGITAL MEDIA with programs like, Audacity, Cinema 4D, Carrara 5Pro, etc. I really don't need a corporation building anything that will interfere with my use of my own creator-made content.

    So to Western Digital all I have to say is go play with yourselves. I don't use Vista and now I don't use WD either.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    What the fuck?!

    I buy hard drives all the time mostly on price. From now on I won't buy a single WD drive EVER and should I ever be asked why I spent x number of pence more on another one I'll explain that WD drives are now DRM crippled and stop you from playing your own files on your own computer. I'm going to tell everyone about this!!

  60. tim chubb

    wheres the storey?

    i dont really see what any of the fuss is about, how is it any different than an ipod, or any other crippled DRM product?

    yeah its annoying if you want to share stuff legitimatly, but if you plan on serving multiple gigs, you would be much better off building a real nas box, and having all the control you want over it, because assuming you have an old pc kicking about and it has sata ports, all you need is your drives, and a livecd.

    and has anyone tried just mounting the thing as a network drive in windows, then sharing files over the net?

    bet that would work.......

    end of the day if it comes in storm trooper white, the products shite

  61. Vic
    Thumb Down


    "There are lots of people out there with mp3/avi files that are perfectly legal to share - this device is designed, specifically, to stop people sharing files that is is perfectly legal to do so."

    That being the entire point. My copious collection of mp3s is not music - in fact, I think I have three tracks on this drive (all validly licensed). Yep, sad indeed. These mp3s - and other assorted formats -- are recordings of lectures, research meetings, etc. - all here for a legitimate reason and sometimes need to be shared (again perfectly lawfully).

    Send it back to its maker. In a box.

  62. Lachlan
    Thumb Down

    Common Carrier Irrelevant


    Common Carrier Law is the consumers concern, not WD's. WD does not provide Data Transport Services, they provide data transport tools. A consumer who uses WD's drive may be responsible to common carrier if they provide a public service, but WD is more analagous to a boat manufacturer.

    Boat manufacturers are NOT liable for what their boats eventually end up transporting.

    Until now, I liked Western Digital Drives. Seagate is looking more and more like it's worth the slightly higher prices.

  63. Anonymous Coward


    It is NOT the hardware doing DRM.


    It is WD's AccessAnywhere software.


    See here:

    Once you do this ALL file types are available to the network from the drive.

    WD's simply could not get around the DRM issues. Sound familiar, Vista?? >:-/

  64. Steven Ballmer

    So what?

    Sounds like a security concious company to me!

    Why haven't I heard about this?

    Posted Saturday 8th December 2007 20:13 GMT

    This was in no reports to me this week!

    I will take action! Heads will roll!


    I love my kids! Do you? Let me put that another way, do you let them use Macs?

    I once had a grounds keeper for the Northeast lawn, I gave hinm a 3400 sqft house, 58k salary, truck and performance bonuses. I went there one evening to complain about a dandylion I found near the heliport. When I walked in I discovered he and his family had four 24″ iMacs in the place! I called the department of social services which took the kids to foster homes, I fired him and had him deported and made his wife a maid in the south-west wing!

    Now you tell me if having a Mac is good for your children!

  65. sleepy

    drive brand bigotry

    Somewhat off-topic, but people have expressed some funny ideas and I'd like to join in. Over the years I have bought thousands of drives, and I have preferred Hitachi (formerly IBM) for several years. I have never bought WD. And I'd also like to tell everyone that any manufacturer that can't make reliable drives goes out of business anyway, so on the whole you are deluding yourself if you think sticking to one brand is particularly effective. FWIW a reasonable indication of a manufacturer's current abilities is if, and how early, the highest current capacity drive is offered. There is a design envelope within which the manufacturer can build reliable drives, and this gives you a fairly accurate indication of where the manufacturer's current limit lies. That would be 1TB now, and Hitachi GST were the first to ship in volume by a significant margin.

  66. David Wilkinson
    Thumb Down


    Anyone casually researching the product would never suspect these hidden limitations!

    Some companies want to make it illegal to share your content. My uncle ended up in a situation where he couldn't legally make copies of his own wedding video.

    He 100% owned the video, but it was CSS protected so he had to use an illegal tool to copy it.

    Don't ask me who it ended up with as an encrypted DVD, probably some video editing program decided that all DVDs have to be encrypted just in case the person using the software doesn't have all the legal rights.


    BTW I repair computers and my experiences with WD have always been good, last I checked they offered a free (credit card secured but ultimately free) advance replacement option. They ship the replacement ASAP and you can sen the defective unit back in the same box. (you just pay return shipping)

    Seagate on the other hand charges $26 for advance replacement or forces you to buy a $16 RMA kit (won't accept bubblewrapping).

    Not a good option when your drive is defective but has readable data, or when you are in a hurry (who isn't).

    So I will continue to buy WD's hard drives, but I won't be buying any of their networked hard drives now or in the future.

  67. Thomas Martin

    I have two, no problems !!

    I have two of them and the first thing I did was to do a low-level format and give them a Windows drive letter. I share things and have no problems. Take that WD !! It is my stuff and I can share it with whom I please.

    What a man can do, a man can un-do.

  68. Jeremy

    What is the problem here?

    Clearly WD are saying this:

    "If you want to share your illegal ripped DVD collection with the outside world, fine, just don't do it on our web service, ta."

    Can't blame them, really...

  69. frankgobbo

    This is easy

    I own one of these drives (500GB version)

    Try going to this URL:

    There you will find instructions on opening up the sshd on the MyBook World Edition drives. From there, you have access to a normal, ARM-based Linux distribution, whereby you can install anything you want. Mine's running Squid and a caching DNS server, as well as being a sharing point for media and does MRTG graphing for all the SNMP devices on my network.

    It's a 266mhz ARM cpu with 32 meg RAM, and does a very nice job of standalone services.

    Personally I think it's a brilliant product, who gives a toss about the inbuilt Mionet rubbish?

  70. Marty

    are people unable to read....

    You know it always surprises me that people just type comments and think later….

    The device in question does not deny YOU access to anything you store on it, it just stops you sharing the most common media files with other accounts.

    The way the device works is that you set up a user login, this then gives you access to storage space. Space you can store and retrieve anything from, anywhere in the world. You can flag folders for share so that other users of the device can access the shared content.

    The restriction only comes into effect if a user is accessing the device from outside of the LAN, and then they will not have access to the restricted file types.

    And as for the poor upload performance, this again is only to the WAN. As most users do not have a upload speed above 1mbit it will only affect corporate users and I assume corporate users will prefer to use a proper VPN.

    The original article should make it more clear on the workings of the device, and readers should also do a little more research into a product than a poorly written article on El Reg.

    I presume WD incorporated the restrictions so that the device would not be purchased by thousands of ‘knock off Nigel’s’ and become the device of choice of the minions with hooks and parrots. I don’t suppose WD want to be associated with or be identified with that sort of behavior. That to me is more believable than them getting undisclosed amounts of money in envelopes, from a guy in a trench coat and panama hat, who knows the correct response to the phrase ‘the black dog barks at the red moon at midnight’....... or from the RIAA

  71. Anonymous Coward


    >> Clearly WD are saying this:

    >>"If you want to share your illegal ripped DVD collection with the outside world, fine, just don't do it on our web service, ta."

    No, they're not. What they're saying is

    "If you want to share your music or video collection with the outside world, our product is not going to let you, EVEN IF YOU OWN THE I.P. RIGHTS."

    It's not their job to police what I do with a mass storage device, any more than it's my local car dealer's job to install a speed governor to prevent me breaking the speed limit in my new car.

  72. BitTwister


    > it blocks all WMV and WMA files, drm or no drm.

    Fair comment. And by blocking ogg files - a genuine 'no strings' open standard - they're bowing & scraping to *any* perceived threat from content "owners" and creating a problem for users. Plus, as has been pointed out, what a drive gets used for is of no concern to its manufacturer - or should they also be blocking all document formats, just in case they contain copyrighted material? Analyzing any image content, trying to detect naughty pictures? I doubt if many drive purchasers would expect it to come with its own set of moral standards...

  73. BitTwister


    > It is NOT the hardware doing DRM.

    Yeah, but how many Windows users will just be plugging this thing in and using it as-is? Most, I suspect - adding another set of handcuffs to the clanking mass already installed.

  74. BitTwister

    @wheres the storey?

    > how is it any different than an ipod, or any other crippled DRM product?

    No different, when used straight out of the box. But the difference and the story is that it masquerades as an external drive designed to share data - except WD seem to think that not all data is equal and they arbitrarily impose a restriction on users, branding anyone trying to share certain file formats as a wannabe thief.

  75. Albert Stienstra
    Thumb Down

    Yes I can read

    I hate DRM, XRML etc. without restriction. I do not have a parrot or hook. However, when I buy something, I own it, whatever company parasites aka known as lawyers write down. When I cannot use something I bought and want to use for whatever novel purpose I think of, the product goes back and/or there will be hell to pay. Companies writng DRM in their products have to be very careful that customers using this for their own purposes really do not notice DRM in any way. At the most they should be notified when they inadvertently break some kind of law - which most customers do not have time for anyway.

  76. BitTwister

    @What is the problem here?

    > Clearly WD are saying this: "If you want to share your illegal ripped DVD collection with the outside world, fine, just don't do it on our web service, ta."

    Not true. They're simply *assuming* that if a file in a certain format is being shared, it's being shared illegally. At the very least that's arrogance.

  77. BitTwister

    @This is easy

    > you have access to a normal, ARM-based Linux distribution, whereby you can install anything you want.

    Excellent! So for some of us, this is actually going to be a *very* useful open-ended little box. There's a pile of stuff I'd like to set up/offload from my server/avoid adding yet *another* PC and that URL explains everything required. Heh - I might actually get one now!

  78. Brian Whittle

    Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh

    not worth buying get a freecom fsg or datatank better design and more usable.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    makes me wonder how Slingbox gets away with it... (it's great by the way!)

  80. Cyfaill

    Western digit terminated

    Western digit terminated their own sales to me for capitulation to MS dreams of conquest long ago.

    As a pure Linux (Debian) user I moved off of the clunky and hobbled drives produced by WD some years past.

    This is just par for the course by this manufacturer.

    I do find it interesting that the work arounds are considered normal by some users.

    I think that it should not be necessary for people to buy a new product and "fix it" out of the box.

    Save the world, use Linux, watch your backside and don't buy into dumb products that reinforce the notion of a police state having any chance of survival in the information age.

  81. James Cleveland


    Apparently, FLAC and MKV are okay. Maybe they're pushing for better quality ripping standards...

  82. Jeremy

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "If you want to share your music or video collection with the outside world, our product is not going to let you, EVEN IF YOU OWN THE I.P. RIGHTS."

    No, no, no, no no. You're all missing the bloody point. What they are restricting is the 'Mionet' web service not the god-damn hardware.

    The secret is to bang the rocks together, guys!

  83. Anonymous Coward

    @Do It Yourself

    Well, it is a well known fact that you're better off building your own NAS kit. You save a hundred bucks or so and you clearly know what goes into the box. Plus, many kits out there can actually do FTP, HTTP, NFS and Appletalk apart from SMB (and don't even need any proprietary software to use it!), so you could use it for more than a NAS.

  84. Mectron
    Thumb Down


    There is no LEGAL excuse (beside been force by a criminal organisation such as the MPAA/RIAA) to cripple a product to the point that is become 100% useless. It was design to PERMIT you access your files from anywhere. This is false advertizing, deceptive marketing and illegal crippling.

    The totally illegal move from WD should (lets hope) result in the company bankrupt and closure. So other drive manufacturers will not be tempted to take such criminal action agains they onwn consumers.

    Boycott don't (saddly) work, but i have not buy or use and Sony product since they infected millions of computer with rootkit (using music CD), i never buy any product that contain DRM that cannot be easly remove (what is the point of buying a crippled product that is useless when the "free" version is superior in everyway way). and will never ever use any western digital product anymore.

    Company need to learn the consumer is always right. But some openly criminal cartels and companies seem to think that STEALING and SUEING they own consumers is a viable business model: Sony, WD, Macrovision and of course the most dangerous criminal organisation in the world today: MPAA/RIAA

  85. frankgobbo
    Thumb Up


    Happy to help.

    Try googling for mybook world edition hacking, and there's loads of forums and precompiled software (and somebody is working on a version of FreeBSD's Ports collection for it), but so long as you're comfortable compiling/installing libraries and software and your requirements aren't massively CPU intensive, it'll do most anything you want.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >"presumed guilt, innocence must be proven".

    As the entire history of file sharing software consists of making it ever more difficult to trap illegal downloads this is probably inevitable. The original Napster type model worked just fine for Legal filesharing...

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "No, no, no, no no. You're all missing the bloody point. What they are restricting is the 'Mionet' web service not the god-damn hardware."

    No - you are missing the point.

    WD sell this product as a PnP share drive - including the line about accessing your music when you are on holiday.

    The Software is, as you say, the problem. WD ship the software with the hardware. Thus the whole bundle which is a WD product is defective. So it is WD's fault - they could have picked someone else's software .

  88. Sampler


    As a hell of a lot of people seem to have got the wrong end of the stick - and rightly so from the huge gaping details in the story - there should be a reprint detailing the facts.

    YOU can access any filetype, anywhere - be it LAN or net side.

    OTHERS can access files you denote as public EXCEPT those on the blacklist to prevent WD from being sued for inducing piracy.

  89. Edwin

    c'mon El Reg...

    Can we please update the story here? As far as I can tell, only one user at a time can access these 'locked' media files. You may or may not be happy with that, but it's a pretty important distinction vs. 'you can't access these remotely'.

    I have seen loads of 'I'm no longer a WD customer' on the basis of a flawed story.

    In most countries, that would open you up to legal action by WD...

  90. SoupDragon

    More worrying - anti-capitalist restrictions

    though maybe this is a unix 'feature' - try creating a directory called 'Shares' - the system will not let you do that either - maybe it is objecting to capitalism as well now!

    (who uses the Mio sharing anyway? - your original DRM story is not a WD one).

  91. Joe Blogs

    Music over the web

    Want to access your music/media over the web?

    nuff said.

  92. Darren

    Portable HDD??!!

    Zipping is a good idea, but what about setting up an FTP server on it?? Or another WACKY idea, move it to the other PC you want to use it on!!

    This drive sounds like a complete waste of time though, you could sue for mis-representation, the product DOES NOT do what it say it does, it doesn't let you share over your own network!!

  93. Alan Riaso

    WD have crossed a dangerous line here

    The day that a disk maker decides what data you can and cannot access or store on your drive is a sad day indeed. I'll be shouting and screaming to anyone that will listen to avoid buying Western Digital products, and as hardware procurement is a duty of mine at an IT firm of 40 people I'll certainly be doing my bit.

    I'd be very interested to hear WD's take on this. It won't however effect my WD boycott/badmouthing campaign against them.

  94. Smell My Finger


    You said it all: the drive is configured not to allow anonymous access outside the local LAN. What kind of chump allows unauthenticated access to files from outside their LAN anyway? Anyway this wasn't a technical decision by WD it's a legal decision. They don't want to be sued for supplying a device that can be so easily used for bootlegging.

    Please stop the straw-man arguments -- your thinly disguised excuses for piracy are risible and an embarrassment.

  95. Chronos


    Give up, old son. These people will believe what they want to believe, regardless of little things like "facts" to the contrary. Slashdot ran an almost identical (and identically wrong) summary of this non-issue

    and got the same sort of responses, although at least they had the good sense to admit to the terrible summary in an update. They've now started on Seagate (who own Maxtor, who in turn borged Quantum in the late mesozoic era)

    because their external drives go into standby mode after 15 minutes and are formatted NTFS (which, as any fule no, is a simple method of bypassing FAT32's 4GB file size limit, which limitation could be construed by the idiocracy to be infringing their rights to copy DVDs as the ISO files won't fit) and upset the OSen of the world [1] that can't handle a disappearing block device without barfing all over the desk. One wonders how difficult formatting a disk EXT3/Reiser and disabling standby with sdparm really is.

    Let 'em carry on. Eventually they'll be stuck buying Excelstors (smirk) and Hitachi Deathstars (fnarr). I'd set up a data recovery outfit in preparation for this eventuality, but I fear I couldn't afford to carry the punch cards ;-)

    [1] Before anyone starts, I USE, as my primary OS, one of said OSen. ALL software sucks. It just sucks orders of magnitude less than Redmondware on the Lovelace scale, especially if you know how to use it properly.

  96. Dam

    @Edwin: you fail

    WD have brought this upon themselves, not el reg.

    They're the ones that push their box with false and deceptive advertising.

  97. Carl Williams
    Thumb Up

    Looks like I brought the right product then

    I recently purchased a Lacie Etherdisk Mini, which doesn't need a separate client to work on windows, just standard network drive mappings and holds and shares mp3, wma and avi without any problems and transfer speeds are good too, it supports 1000mb jumbo frames for streaming media. It is far faster and more reliable than the £50 NAS cases you can buy (I have two of those as well) and comes in 500mb, 750mb and 1TB versions. Perfect for the home or soho network file store.

  98. Joshua E.
    Black Helicopters

    jesus there's a lot of knee-jerking going on here

    It seems like most people who've commented here are just dying to jump on the bandwagon with all the other armchair revolutionaries out there.

    Look, WD is saying: Here's a hard drive. Use it however you want. It also has some hardware built in to make it useful as a server, a way for you to access stuff on your drive when you're away from home. We've also included some software to help you do that sort of thing, and we'll let you use this "mionet" setup if you want. That's what most 'home users' would want it for -- log in from work to grab an mp3 from home, or the like. Now, if you want to turn one of these things into a server that distributes media content (to your friends, or your customers, or whatever -- whether it's legally yours or not) then you'll want to use something other than "mionet" to do it. It's not designed for that, and we really don't want the hassle of having to defend ourselves against charges of enabling a sort of p2p network for anonymous file-sharing. Share all you want, just don't use our service to do it. We don't care if it's legal content you're sharing or not -- it's not really designed as a commercial content server, either, or anything other than a convenience to the user in being able to access his files when away from home."

    That doesn't seem like they're trying to "dictate" anything other than what sort of content they want to run over their service. *shrug* Which is fine. You can use whatever sort of server software you want to on the thing, if that's what you want to do.

  99. andy rock

    i dunno...

    ...they seem pretty good to me, after having read frankgobbo's pages on what you _can_ do with them, i think they look pretty damn good.

    "I think that it should not be necessary for people to buy a new product and "fix it" out of the box."

    yeah, me too but if there's a shit-hot fix that can improve a prduct that much, it would affect my decision to buy it in the first place.

  100. Dale
    Thumb Down

    Returns Numbers?

    Id like to see the returns numbers on this box after a couple of month of sales. Something tells me they will be a lot higher than other HDDs of similar type.

    When are vendors going to realise that consumers wont stand for this kind of crap?

  101. Adam Collett


    Just use FreeNAS, it's a fantastic distro and you can run it off a PII with 128Mb RAM quite happily. It does software RAID 0 and 1. It does SMB/CIFS, FTP and AFP for those Apple users out there.

    It has a web front end which is really easu to use and no DRM whatsoever. It's going to be a lot cheaper too as you just find a machine lying around not doing anything and whack as many big drives in it as you can afford! Bingo!

  102. scot stockwell

    GPL license??

    Funny thing is I am pretty sure the OS on this thing is Linux but try as I might, I cannot find a link to the source code on WD site at all.

  103. Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear

    I just dropped them from the list of company suppliers.... wont be buying any WD drives at all now.

  104. Anonymous Coward

    RE: GPL license??

    i think we should badger them for the source code. at the very least we can cost them a few quid in admin by setting the nutters, sorry 'evangelists', at the FSF onto them.

    tee hee!

  105. Anonymous Coward

    Grow up

    For the love of God will you all look at the facts before jumping on your bandwagons?

    All WD have done is try to protect their network from being used to share illegally pirated files. When you children leave university and have to get a real job you might find that the companies you work for have to take similar precautions - that's what happens in the world of grown-ups.

    There is nothing misleading about the advertising. You can get all your files whilst on holiday, etc. etc.

    There is nothing nobbled in the Hardware.

    EL REG - you really should print a corrected version of this extremely misleading piece of reporting.

  106. Anonymous Coward

    I'm buying one

    "I just dropped them from the list of company suppliers.... wont be buying any WD drives at all now."

    I'm actually going to preferentially purchase WD stuff from now on - just to p*ss off all the half-wits on here whose mouths were jerked open by their knees without any attempt to engage their brains.

  107. toddddot
    Thumb Up

    shame on them

    I came across this product at Costco, got all excited at the possibilities, considered buying one on the spot. Decided to do some research first. Went to WD web site and read about the product, noticed the unverifiable licensing thing, read further and to my utter disbelief, pretty much every common type of file is blacklisted.

    The audacity of WD to market this product as a network shareable device accessible from anywhere and not indicate the restrictions anywhere on the box is unacceptable.

    I will never ever purchase WD products again.

    Shame on them.

  108. Anonymous Coward

    I Don't Believe it

    Cleverest thing ever invented since square wheels

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Well done WD !

    You just pissed off a shedload of sys admins and knowledgable IT folk - the sort of people who recommend stuff to friends and famiy (and in many cases businesses). You may as well have stuck tape around the disks labelled DANGER - ANTHRAX.

    BTW - the missing Paris Hilton link? The HDDs can't be used to share those intimate home videos, so she'll likely buy one... Well, ok they can, but don't tell her ok?

  110. Law
    Paris Hilton

    WD off my list

    I just got my third RMA back for my 120GB 2.5' drive, again it died for no reason at all within about 6 months. I was already going to boycott them from now on, this just proves to me that the company is going down hill!

  111. James Henstridge

    Some file extensions they missed

    They seem to have missed a fair number of file extensions that can contain copyrighted work without a clear way to verify the license.

    These include TXT, HTML, XML, DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF, ODT, ODS, ODP and ZIP among others. I am sure Western Digital will get round to fixing this problem in a future firmware upgrade.

    Perhaps it would be safer if they worked with a whitelist of formats with "verifiable media license authentication". It would reduce the chance of accidentally sharing files illegally.

  112. The Power Of Greyskull
    Thumb Down

    What not to buy for Christmas:

    1. An asbestos wok.

    2. A concrete waterski.

    3. A Western Digital drive.

  113. daily

    no more

    I literally had one of these in my shopping cart at Costco. Some dude saw me put it in and came up to me and told me about this issue. I was shocked!

    I put it right back on the shelf.

    The other day, I went to buy a 320Gb HD for mom, I could have bought a WD, but I opted for a Maxtor instead, just because of WD's bullsheite.

    WD lost my patronage

  114. wayne

    Thanks for the tip el-reg

    I've always had good service from WD, I have 4 of their drives in my home systems and would naturally have looked at their drives first when the time comes to add another. Not any more. Any other manufacturers that are daft enough to put any kind of DRM on their products will also be struck off the potential list of suppliers. No I'm not a pirate either (as if it will stop any pirates anyway), I just like to have complete control over my devices without having to do workarounds. Bye bye WD.

  115. Visionary Labs

    WD publishes Work-a-Round*DxPOSi&p_lva=1652&p_li=&p_faqid=1531&p_created=1176311730&;p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9MTE2LDExNiZwX3Byb2RzPTg1LDIyNSZwX2NhdHM9JnBfcHY9Mi4yMjUmcF9jdj0mcF9zZWFyY2hfdHlwZT1hbnN3ZXJzLnNlYXJjaF9mbmwmcF9wYWdlPTE*

    I'm sure there will still be plenty of haters - but hate MioNet and their software - WD was simply providing a easy software solution. It's MioNet that has these features built into their product.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, seems this matter is set to grow ....

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Richard Hicks

    "By Richard Hicks

    Posted Friday 7th December 2007 19:36 GMT being able to hold up to 250,000 songs (in MP3). Surely its misrepresentation? or false advertising?. "

    Well it holds them as they stated - just dont let you get them back and I dont see the term "able to hold and release up to 250,000 songs (in MP3)" ;)

    The devil is in the details and or course the filesystem used ;o).

  118. BitTwister


    > so long as you're comfortable compiling/installing libraries and software

    <raises hand> I am, I am! Thanks again for the heads-up. All very useful stuff.

  119. BitTwister

    GPL code

    @scot stockwell

    It's here: Just follow the fiendishly misleading link 'Software and Drivers', then select the product from the drop-down list. The GPL code is then selectable from another list.

    @AC - see above before digging out the white sheets and burning crosses, Ok?...

  120. David Wilkinson

    To the people saying its just the software and just the webservice...

    If they put a big warning on the box saying "this products severely restricts internet access to all media files", then fine.

    Anyone who know enough to get around this products restrictions doesn't need this product!

    Someone has a new kid and a new digital camera and they want to share some home videos. Setting up a FTP server, dynamic IP ... is beyond their skills and their extended family isn't too comfortable with FTP.

    So they why they buy this. Only it doesn't work as expected. The only way to share babies_first_step.avi is to give let everyone log in and hope that no one in your extended family accidentally hits delete.

    The only people who will be happy with this product are those who bought it for the wrong reasons in the first place.

  121. Rick

    DRM liability

    If the ISPs are liable for illegal sharing because their lines transmit the files, and hardware manufacturers are liable because their hardware can facilitate the transfers, and software manufacturers are liable because their software also facilitates come the RIAA and MPAA are not liable for publishing the content that can be transferred illegally in the first place?

    Lets prosecute those responsible right from the beginning and cut out prosecuting all the middle players...illegal file sharing problem solved. ;)

  122. C

    But why . . .?

    They do have a risk of no safe harbour but surely a possible risk is preferable to simply taking a large lump hammer to one's own gonads, in a customer relations sense. These guys can't be that stupid, surely?? There must be more to it.

  123. Amos


    Whoops... I just switched drive manufacturers for all the drives we purchase. Pity I used to like WD - especially its high end drives ...

    But that is just the most inexcusable attitude towards customers. If I cannot trust them not to pull another stunt like that in the future, I'm just going to have to not trust them at all.

  124. Andy Gates

    Footshooting at its finest

    The posters who say that nobody wants to share a terabyte of awful home content is missing the users. In our regular "naughty file types" policing, user-generated content has taken over from ripped media. They're making this stuff, and they're sharing this stuff. WD have really shot themselves in the foot with this one: if their punters can share holiday photos but not movies, that's broken.

    Better hire some more tech support staff for a while...

  125. BitTwister

    @DRM liability

    > If the ISPs are liable for illegal sharing because their lines transmit the files, and hardware manufacturers are liable because their hardware can facilitate the transfers

    No no - let's prosecute the power companies - THEY'RE the ones making it all happen. Ban electricity now! It's the tool of the devil...

  126. George Worley
    Thumb Down

    ZIP FIle?

    That defeats the whole purpose. WD nor any manufacture should be in the police business. It isn't up to them to determine if I can share my family videos nor my band's jam sessions. Give us a break.

  127. gmvoeth


    Cant you simply RAR or ZIP and encode those kind of files and send them that way ???

  128. Carry van Eijk

    The word named "shares"

    Just try to make a folder named shares and see what happens. That device does more than people think.

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