Western Digital is no stranger to the external hard disk drive game, offering a wide range of products which range from lightweight disks to multi-bay network-attached storage enclosures. In this review, we’re likely to look at among the products in the former camp.

Our Western Digital Elements review went simply. We bought a drive through Amazon and got our hands dirty with it, testing speed, errors and more. After discussing our experience with the drive, we’ll offer you our verdict, that will determine if the Elements drives makes it on our best external hard disks list or if they’re yet another mediocre option.

The answer is somewhat of both. An Elements drive is a good way to have a large amount of storage for cheap, but you’ll have to handle the slow spinning disk, in addition to a shroud that doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. That’s true for some economical external hard disks and, unfortunately, Western Digital doesn’t seem to be considering going against the status quo.

Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths:

Inexpensive
Two-year limited warranty
Plug & play
No bad clusters per our testing
Phone support for thirty days after purchase
Weaknesses:

Spinning drive
No included hard disk drive utilities
3TB & 4TB models show diminishing returns

Features
75 % – Good

The Elements drives are centered on portability, stripping away the bulky enclosures and power supplies of desktop hard disks and only a slim form factor. The plastic enclosure feels decent, with a plastic support running along the exterior of the drive, but a few falls will probably put it out of commission.

That’s true for just about any spinning drive, though. The drive inside is insulated from whatever surface it’s on by four small, rubber feet, which, though handy, probably do less work than it’d seem. As the name and marketing suggest, Elements’ drives are said to be basic, therefore the mileage you escape yours will largely rely upon how you address it.

If you’re hard on your own drives or move them around frequently, make sure you read our LaCie Rugged Mini review. Though more costly, the LaCie Mini has a weather-resistant shroud that may handle up to 1 ton of pressure.

In the Elements box, you’ll find the drive, an obnoxiously long legal agreement and a USB 3.0 cable that terminates with a USB type A connector. It would’ve been nice to visit a cable for USB type C, aswell, because they’re increasingly common. The performance wouldn’t change – the interface continues to be USB 3.0 – but that convenience matters.

Western Digital Elements SETUP
The Elements drives are plug-and-play, meaning the required drivers to perform them are incorporated with your operating system. From the box, the drives are set to utilize Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. It’ll use macOS, too, but you’ll have to reformat the drive.

Plugging in the USB 3.0 micro B connector – the the one which appears like two micro USB connectors smooshed together – results in a surprisingly satisfying click. One’s teeth that seal the bond grab on tight and don’t release, which is reassuring with a lightweight drive.

We tested the 2TB model on Windows 10, so, unsurprisingly, Windows took the drive without hassle. What’s surprising, though, is that the drive was empty. Usually, external hard disks come packed with installers for things such as for example backup utilities and disk checkers. With an Elements drive, you get yourself a blank canvas.

That could be an excellent or bad thing according to what you like. For all of us, it’s a very important thing, because we’d rather opt for the tools you want to backup (read our best online backup guide to see what those are). Having said that, novices is going to be unaware there are Western Digital utilities available, so having an installer preloaded may help ease confusion.

Western Digital Drive Utilities
Even so, it seems sensible that Western Digital doesn’t include any utilities on the drive because there aren’t any. Beyond a diagnostic tool for Windows, Western Digital doesn’t have any downloads for Elements drives.

Critical tools are missing, including a backup and security utility. The moniker the Elements drives bear is telling. They’re designed to store data, and that’s it. If you’re looking for more features, it’s probably easier to have a look at Western Digital’s My Book line (read our Western Digital My Book review).

Warranty & Support
85 % – Very Good

Like almost all of Western Digital’s products, there’s a restricted guarantee together with your Elements drive. In cases like this, you get 2 yrs from the date of purchase to apply for a repair or replacement, but much like virtually all limited warranties, damage you inflict on the drive isn’t covered.

Additionally, there’s a support section on the site that shows FAQs for every single particular drive. You’ll find troubleshooting steps for your OS not recognizing the drive and it being inaccessible, and guides for partitioning and formatting the drive on Windows and macOS.

If you’d prefer to talk with someone about your drive, you can call Western Digital cost-free. Following the first call, you get thirty days to make as much calls as you want, but from then on period, you’re out of luck.

The Verdict
Western Digital says all you need to learn in the name of the drive. Elements drives are designed to provide portable, economical storage, and for that, they succeed. Having said that, if you’re looking for more great features or quicker speed, you won’t see them.

Instead, you’ll locate a drive that’s suitable for storing documents and media but struggles in terms of taking it on the run. The drive size is okay, however the fact that it’s a spinning disk is concerning. If you’re looking for solid state options or perhaps want to look around more, read our other external hard disk drive reviews.

What do you consider of the Elements drives? Tell us in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.