Computer not booting up with Western Digital “My Book” USB HDD plugged in

Today we received a call from a customer complaining that when they had their new Western Digital “My Book” USB back-up drive plugged into their Windows 10 computer, it failed to boot up.

Straight away, I thought that the boot-up setting in the computer’s BIOS had been set to boot from a USB HDD (Hard Disk Drive) rather than the internal HDD. Normally though, you would receive an error message on the screen that an Operating System could not be found, or other wording such as:

BOOTMGR is missing. Press Ctrl Alt Del to restart
Hal.dll is missing or corrupt. Please re-install a copy of the above file
NTLDR is missing. Press any key to restart

However there was no error message. The computer just halted at the starting “splash screen” which showed the computer’s BIOS version and make.

As a sanity check, I changed the BIOS to boot first from the internal HDD. Sure enough this made no difference.

After getting nowhere, I decided to check how the drive had been formatted by the Western Digital factory. I saw that the drive was formatted as “exFAT” which is a Microsoft format, friendly to both PC and MAC computers. In the old days, the drives were formatted as either one operating system or the other and you would choose the correct version at the shop. Now however, WD in their infinite wisdom used a format friendly to both systems, not realising the ramifications.

In order to give the customer the most superior file system, I decided to format the drive as NTFS which allows larger file sizes to be backed-up to the drive; is more robust and allows security features to be deployed on the drive. After I did that, I rebooted the computer and guess what…it now booted normally!

Therefore, if you buy a new external drive, always check the file system that has been laid down on the disk. I recommend formatting the drive as NTFS rather than FAT32.

Needless to say we now had a very happy customer!