WD Elements 2

Eight years ago I got my first real smartphone. It was a HTC Hero and when I started carrying it along with several other changes I started carrying a reasonable camera around with me all the time. Fast forward 8 years and I’ve had several phones and upgraded my camera and video taking ability hugely and along the way I’ve had a child and been through a number of life events. I now find myself with thousands upon thousands of pictures and hours of family videos. I can store these online (and do) but the essence of a good backup solution is one where things are stored in multiple places on different formats.

Enter the Western Digital (WD) Elements Desktop Storage. The range – which is distinct from the Elements range – is WD’s basic home storage and I got the 5 terabyte drive. It should be noted that this is not actually 5,000 as the layman might expect but has 4657gb of usable space. The drives are as the name suggests designed to stay in one location and get power from their own mains connection rather than over USB.

The disk comes pre-formatted to be compatible with Windows and once plugged in has served me perfectly for the last couple of weeks. It does not have best speeds I’ve ever seen topping out at a quoted 625 meg per second (which I never was able to come close to) but for a storage drive or even to stream media it worked perfectly.

The pre-loaded software was a little less impressive. It includes a 30 day trial version of WD SmartwarePro which retails for $19.95. This software has the ability to set pre scheduled backups to the drive (or other drives) of any type of file or specific part of your hard disk. It also lets you copy these backups to Dropbox on another schedule. Finally even if you don’t purchase the full version of the software it will let you perform some basic SMART hard disk tests and update the drives firmware. If you are looking for a basic backup solution the software is an option but it may not be the best one available. It’s worth keeping around even if you don’t install it just for the ability to update the firmware.

Product Information

Price: RRP £254, Amazon £136

Included in the box: Hard disk drive, USB cable, ac adaptor, Quick install guide

Retailer: Amazon

About Manufacturer: Western Digital (WD)

WD is an American hard disk manufacturer and one of the largest in the world. They were founded in 1970 as a speciality semiconductor maker but got their break in the early 80s when they were chosen to provide the hard disk controllers for the first IBM PC. Since then they’ve produced or kept up with many changes in the hard disk market and along with their main competitors Seagate produce most of the world’s hard disks.

WD Elements 3

The Ergohacks Evaluation


The drive is versatile although designed for a static rather than a mobile situation.

It will operate in temperatures of 5 to 35 degrees Celsius and is certified to store data between -20 and 65 degrees C. It has a couple of fans and vents built into it and generates a fair amount of heat so should also be put somewhere with a good air supply.

Ergonomic Design

Once setup the drive needs little physical interaction apart from the occasional dusting. The black gloss plastic seems to somewhat resist dust and with the single white LED that shows accesses it looks surprisingly good on the desk.

It does have an audible hum particularly as it comes up to speed when you first access it but is quiet in sustained use.

Environment & People

Hard disks are intrinsically a not particularly environmentally friendly device both because of the amount of rare metals used in their construction and the power used to drive them. The WD Elements Desktop range is reasonably environmentally friendly and somewhat recyclable and is possible to disassemble and recycle most of the parts.


At the £130 mark for 5000 gigabytes the drive works out at very roughly two and a half pence per gigabyte. If you’ve a large amount of data to store locally this is among the most economic bulk storage drives I’ve seen. A word of caution – no drive is perfect and at some point in its life – in a year or ten years – this one is going to fail to. Never keep any crucial data in only one place. The ideal system is a 3-2-1 setup. Three copies of a file, two different types of media and one off site backup.


Data Transfer rate: Stated 625 Megabytes per second
Speed: 7200 RPM
Size: 5TB stated – actual
Dimensions: 16.5cm x 13.5cm x 4.8cm
Weight: 989g (without cables)
Colour: gloss Black
Cache type: DDR3 SDRAM

Warranty: Limited warranty, 1 year in the Americas, 2 years in the EU and 3 in the APAC/Japan. It is also possible to purchase an extended warranty direct from WD.


The drive connects via USB and supports USB 3.0 but will work happily (if slower) on a USB 2.0 connection. The drive is mains powered. It is formatted to work with Windows PCs but can be reformatted to work with OSX and some other systems such as the Xbox One.


WD Elements1


Increasingly we’re all looking to store more data, be it video files, photos or music and hard disks are getting larger and larger storage capacities and dropping in price at an almost visible rate. Western Digital is one of the two great manufacturers and the Elements Desktop range is designed for low security bulk storage in one location. WD have produced a winner. The drive is good looking, quiet and most importantly has a great per gigabyte cost. Many people simply won’t need a drive this big but if you do this would be a great choice. Recommended.

The review is based on the WDBWLG0050HBK 5TB Western Digital Hard Disk kindly provided by Western Digital. This post contains affiliate links. First published on the 14th December 2015

Leave a Reply