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WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive review – can you use on Mac?

WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive review

As an add-on storage for photos, videos, music, documents, and other files, WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive is a great solution. It features a 5 Gb/s micro-USB 3.0 interface, which is also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1, and is compatible with 480 Mb/s USB 2.0. It is powered using an 100-240 VAC power adapter, is formatted NTFS for Windows, and includes a USB cable. Is it worth buying? Get more in WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive review.

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In the box

  • WD Elements hard drive
  • USB cable
  • AC adapter
  • Quick Install Guide

Pros & Cons – WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive

The Good

  • Plug and Play set up, no program to install to run.
  • Great Unit to store information
  • USB 3.0 typical of most new External Hard Drives.

The Bad

  • Drive speed is 5200rpm, The speed is rarely mentioned as many similar units run at 7200rpm

Specifications – WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive

  • Material Plastic
  • Operating Temperature 41 to 95°F / 5 to 35°C
  • Storage Temperature -4 to 149°F / -20 to 65°CCapacity: 16 TB
  • Ports: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
  • Compatibility: Formatted NTFS and compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7. Compatibility may vary depending on user’s hardware configuration and operating system.
  • Power Source Included AC Adapter
  • AC Input Power 100 to 240 VAC, 50 / 60 Hz
  • DC Input Power 12 VDC
  • Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.3 x 1.9 x 6.5″ / 13.5 x 4.8 x 16.5 cm

WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive review


The sleek design features up to 18TB capacity plus WD quality and reliability. As used for storage capacity, one terabyte (TB) = one thousand GB. Total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment.


Western Digital’s 12TB Elements desktop hard drive connects via USB but still requires a power cable to function (included with the purchase) and features speedy desktop storage transfers with rates up to 5GB per second in USB 3.0 mode or 480MB per second in USB 2.0 mode. (Note that Best Buy’s version is branded “easystore,” while the others are “WD Elements.” They are the same drives inside, however.)

File type

The product is pre-formatted with NTFS use with Windows computers, but you can reformat it if you are a macOS user looking for a Time Machine drive option.

WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive customer review

USB 3.0 functionality failed after a few months

I bought this drive for use in a research project where I am transferring a high number (hundreds) of very large (up to 1GB) data files between various systems and processing them. The fact that the drive has a USB 3.0 interface was attractive for the added speed, and at the time I bought it (June, 2015), the drive was about the same price as buying an OEM drive of the same capacity (4GB). For the first few months, the drive worked great. Transfer speeds were what one would expect from USB 3.0, and the drive was portable and reliable.

After a few months (as of October), the drive stopped being recognised by any system (multiple computers, various OSes) when plugged into a USB 3.0 port. It was still recognised when plugged into a USB 2.0 port, and in these cases it worked fine. My laptop, as it turns out, has only USB 3.0 ports, though its port replicator has only USB 2.0 ports. But the port replicator is big and bulky, so in order to use the drive away from home with my laptop, I got a cheap USB 2.0 hub.

This solution works fine, albeit a bit slow, but I get random disconnects from the drive when I use it through the hub. These disconnects are probably the fault of the cheap hub, since the connection has been pretty stable through the port replicator. In general I’m reasonably satisfied with the product so far, but when USB 3.0 functionality only works for a few months, and then fails to the point that the device is unusable on USB 3.0 ports, I can’t give it a satisfactory rating.

ByJonathan W, Reviewer in B&H

Alternate of WD 16TB Elements desktop hard drive

Western Digital WD My Book (8 TB)

If you need more storage, we recommend the Western Digital 8 TB My Book. The 8 TB My Book is just as reliable as our top pick, and it was about as fast in our Blu-ray and HD Tune tests, but about 4 minutes slower in our Time Machine testing. It’s cheaper per terabyte than the other My Book models, but it still costs around $170 at this writing, so we recommend it only if you know you need that much space.

Western Digital WD Elements Desktop (4 TB)

If the 4 TB My Book is out of stock or the price goes up, Western Digital’s 4 TB Elements is a great and dependable alternative. The Elements is about as fast as our top pick: In our tests, its average write speed was 7.7 MB/s slower, and it took about 5 seconds longer to transfer a Blu-ray film, but those differences were within the margin of error. At this writing, it costs only 46¢ more per terabyte, but prices fluctuate; if you find the Elements for less than the My Book, it’s a better buy. This model lacks backup software, though, and it has a shorter, two-year warranty.

How to choose external hard drive?

Ideally, an external hard drive is something you don’t notice much. It should sit on your desk, quietly spinning away, storing and backing up your data without a lot of setup or ongoing maintenance. These are the features you should look for in a desktop hard drive, in rough order of importance:

Reliability: Although reliability is the most important factor for any storage device, solid information on drive reliability can be hard to come by. Only three companies still manufacture hard drives—Western Digital (which also makes HGST drives), Seagate, and Toshiba—and all of them make reliable drives. But all hard drives die. The vast majority of drives from these major manufacturers will be fine, but it’s still possible to buy a bad egg that will die too soon.

Price: We found that most people buy 4 TB and 8 TB drives by looking at Amazon reviews for our top picks. Although a higher-capacity drive is more cost-effective per terabyte, 8 TB external desktop hard drives are nearly twice as expensive as 4 TB drives, for more storage than most people need. Since many desktop drives nowadays offer similar performance, the less expensive they are, the better.

Speed: Most of the drives we’ve tested in 2018 are about the same speed, and we haven’t seen major speed increases in desktop hard drives over the past few years. This round, we considered only those drives with USB 3.0 connections. Anything faster isn’t necessary for hard drives, because they’re limited by disk speed, not the USB interface.

Capacity: We focused on 4 TB hard drives because of their balance of value and total cost. We also have an 8 TB pick for people who need more storage.

Useful software: Backup software is a nice perk, but you can find lots of free alternatives and other great options for online backup services. If you don’t need the extra features such software provides, setting it up on every computer you use isn’t worth the time and effort. Dragging and dropping files works just fine for manual backups, and your OS’s built-in backup utility suffices for automatic ones.

Warranty and customer service: A good warranty is important in case you get a lemon. Most of the external hard drives we tested have two-year warranties, but some have three-year warranties. Responsive customer service is important too, in case you have trouble backing up your data.

Editor’s recommendations