Western Digital is one of the most notable and trustworthy brands in the digital storage niche. They have been around for years and are known for the reliability of their products. Easystore and Elements are two popular choices from this manufacturer and serve the same clientele looking for a fast external hard drive.
These are also similarly priced and look pretty much exactly the same. The truth is the difference between these two is not huge. Let’s have a look at the minor differences so you can compare and contrast them.
The WD Elements range of external hard drives is widely available. They are sold through a number of different retailers and platforms. Any retailer that has Western Digital products will likely have these in stock as they are one of their most popular products.
Given their popularity, these are a safe bet when it comes to picking a dependable hard drive. You can also find them in every major online retailer.
USB 3 and backward compatible
More boring to look at than the Easystoressss
Could be 2-3 different types of hard drives inside
WD Easystore Pros & Cons
The Easystore hard drives are an exclusive range sold by Best Buy. This retail giant is a US-based conglomerate that operates in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. If you don’t live in one of these countries you will be very unlikely to encounter an Easystore hard drive for sale.
Nicer finish than the Elements
Often on sale
USB 3 and backward compatible
Not available internationally
Face to Face Comparison
Storage options and speed
Both of these hard drives are available in storage options ranging from 3TB to 18TB. This makes it very hard to make a distinction between the two.
They also may come with a variety of different internal structures. They may have a WD Red, WD Blue, or WD White hard drive. All of these have a similar cache size and speed. The red is the most popular and if you plan to shuck these drives they will fetch the most money.
However, it is impossible to tell which kind of hard drive is inside until you have opened it up or used a program to identify the drive. Most newer models are fitted with a white label hard drive which is perceived by some to be a rebadged red while others claim it doesn’t quite measure up to the red’s premium standards.
A defining difference for the WD White, when compared to the Blue or Red, is that they are harder to shuck. They will require a modification to work inside many PCs. This is due to WD implementing a feature that allows the drive to be reset by a 3rd pin in the SATA interface.
This isn’t a problem at all if it is kept in its original enclosure but can cause issues on a PC. The PC will send current to this 3rd pin which will prevent the drive from spinning, essentially constantly rebooting.
Some solutions for this potential problem are to strip the 3rd pin or cut the wire from the connection to this pin. For most users, this won’t be a problem but is something to be aware of if you’re a data hoarder.
Although it is a lucky dip for which kind of hard drive you will get inside either of these products, you can check using software before opening them. If you are running Windows on your computer you can use CrystalDiskInfo or similar software. This will provide the model and serial number which you can check against WD records.
These external hard drives are made for desktop use and are not particularly robust. There is minimal shock resistance for either model. If you are looking for a tough hard drive you may have to look elsewhere.
Something like the ArmorATD could be more up your alley. Although we wouldn’t recommend dropping any hard drive on purpose, specifically designed tough hard drives are the only ones more likely to survive the possible repeated impact.
For everyday use, these hard drives are fine and definitely have a reputation for being reliable. They will last years and years provided that they are not treated poorly or dropped several times. Just try not to drop them from any great height.
Compatibility and connectivity
The WD Elements and WD Easystore have USB 3 compatibility. With such large capacities, USB 3 is the most sensible option. However, they are also backward compatible so are fine to use with an older computer that only has USB 2 or even USB 1. In the latter case, it could take day/s to transfer terabytes of data though.
Neither of these hard drives has ultra-fast connection ports such as firewire, eSATA, or Thunderbolt 2. They are also lacking USB 3.1 connectivity which is significantly faster than USB 3. Lacking these fancier connection types leaves these hard drives a little behind the competition but they are also much cheaper than many others. You also may not have a PC that uses these connections so buying a more expansive hard drive with these features would be a waste.
Hardware encryption is possible with the WD Elements drives. The latest generation has a microchip onboard that encrypts and decrypts data on the fly. It does so using an Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm.
This is where there is a distinction between the two drives.
The WD Easystore drives do not come with built-in encryption technology. This makes the Elements drives a more savvy choice for a security-conscious buyer.
However, there are ways around this to make the Easystore drive more secure. You can use third-party software such as BitLocker or VeraCrypt to protect your data. Using software such as these will technically be a little slower than the onboard encryption of the hard drive.
You would be unlikely to actually notice a discernable difference though. Most modern CPUs in your desktop or laptop are built with Advanced Encryption Standard instruction sets. That means that they are incredibly effective at doing encryption on the PC side rather than on the hard drive’s end.
It may even be better to encrypt using PC software as it is more secure. If you were to do so, then it makes this difference between the two hard drive types negligible. It is worth keeping in mind though if you would like automatic encryption without having to take any extra steps.
Most of the time, you will find that the price of these two different types of external drives to be similar. The defining factor between the two will be when they are on sale. Given that the Easystore hard drives are exclusive to Best Buy they can often be bought at a huge discount. Best Buy is a huge retailer that has sales often, especially on shopping holidays such as Black Friday.
That is not to say that the Elements hard drives cannot be on sale from any of the retailers that stock them either.
If you don’t need an external hard drive straight away it may be worth waiting for a sale. If you do need one straight away have a look online and see which is cheapest at the moment as these hard drives are so similar you should be satisfied with either choice.
Stand Out Features
Huge range of storage options
USB 3 as main connectivity but also compatible with USB 1 & 2
Quality internal hard drives
Built-in AES encryption
This makes the Elements drives more secure out of the box than the equivalent Easystore hard drive.
These hard drives are available from all major retailers and are not an exclusive product like the Easystore.
Big retailer buying power
These hard drives are often on special and when they are they are much cheaper than the Elements drives
These are very similar hard drives in pretty much every way including cost, capacity, speed, and connectivity. The main defining difference is the onboard encryption that the Elements hard drives have but is lacking in their Easystore counterparts.
If you are very keen on the safety of this encryption then go for the Elements drive. If this feature is not super important to you it would be possible to make your decision depending on whichever is cheaper while you are looking to buy.
Last update on 2021-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API