Help me get my data off a WD MyBook

By brookegos
Jun 3, 2013
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  1. My house was hit by lightening a few years ago and it fried my computers- so I very quickly went out and bought a WD 500g mybook external hard drive which I have everything stored on.

    Please keep in mind I am not an expert by any means and do not have a lot of experience with these types of things other than simple computer installs ect. but I would not consider myself a beginner.. I am just desperate to recover my files without having to pay someone $300 to try to do it for me.

    A few weeks ago, my computer simply stopped recognizing it was there. When I would power it off or on or reset it it would attempt to load, but the blue light would constantly blink. First think I did was try a new USB cord, which changed nothing- I also have tried it on three different computers- Nothing.

    I read about taking the hard drive out of the casing (yes I realize it voids any warranty but at this point I am more concerned with my data than getting any sort of a replacement) so I carefully removed it-

    I put it in my computer hooked up to a SATA drive- It did not show up in Disk management or under my computer. I went into BIOS and did see a removable disk, but if I set it as boot priority, obviously it would not work- I do not know if there was something else I should have done to get it to work in BIOS.

    I then hooked it into another computer where I have a second hard drive- Took mine out and put this one in its place since I know that I am able to access my second hard drive on this computer- It simply didnt show up.

    I then took it to Best Buy- And they informed it that the hard drive was trash- That her machine would not even get it to power up at all... that data recovery was not even possible and I should throw the hard drive away and start over.

    I took it to another computer store who told me they could send it out and attempt data recovery at the tune of $300+

    I brought the drive home- Hooked back up the USB board and plugged it back in as if it was again a external- It turned on- light begin to blink as before- but I can also hear and feel it spinning- I am not hearing any strange sounds, nothing sound loose inside, it just sounds like it spins for a few minutes, then stops- and that light constantly blinks.

    I then read online that someone mentioned that with these they often have an encryption built in to the usb connection which makes it so the hard drive will not power up as an internal hard drive or without that usb board on it.. Anyone know if there is truth to that?

    I am desperate to get this to function so I can get my files off of it- Please, if anyone has any ideas what I can do, please share.

    Thank you in advance-
    Brooke
  2. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    I don't know anything that'll help you, sorry. :(

    But here's your step#1 problem: My house was hit by lightening a few years ago and it fried my computers- so I very quickly went out and bought a WD 500g mybook external hard drive which I have everything stored on.

    If your computers get fried, an external HDD will also probably get fried. Remember, having a backup means having a minimum of three copies (original, 'backup', long-term storage backup).
    brookegos likes this.
  3. hood6558

    hood6558 TechSpot Booster Posts: 288   +43

    No there's no "encryption" or anything else to keep you from using an external as a bare drive, it sounds like the SATA controller on the drive is fried, since you can hear/feel it spinning up. Unless you know someone who can solder in a working control board on a SATA drive, your options are grim ($300, or learn to live without the data). Sorry no help, I'm not properly backed up either, so at least you helped remind me to do more secure backups.
    brookegos likes this.
  4. brookegos

    brookegos Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I understand your point, but actually it was an external that I did not keep hooked up- Only to place files and backups then it came unplugged to store files. :) Should have still had another copy of stuff I agree.

    I spoke with a WD tech, and this external hard drive does in fact have encryption on it... it uses smartware, meaning that if you disconnect the USB hookup, it will not read, which gives the explanation why it wont work hooked up directly internally.

    I have also been working with it this morning- and actually got it to show up in my disk management- only problem is it says not initialized- and when I try to initialize it, it tells me it is protected media.. UGH.


    Ive just ordered an identical model, to be delivered tomorrow- which I plan to take apart and see if I can simply use the USB board on this hard drive to see if that will end up getting it to where I can pull my data off it. Cheaper at the moment than data recovery, and prob my last shot before I give up and decide its time to let the data go or store the drive until I can afford to pay to have it done.

    Lesson learned about using external Western Digital drives.. I wont go that route again I am sure of it. If anyone has any more ideas, please keep sharing and I will post my results when I get my donor model :) Thanks for the comments so far.
  5. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,861   +402

    I have a very last resort solution that does not work all the time but has worked before when I used to work at a security device place in Austin. This trick is an old one, but I have seen it work roughly 40% of the time. This will sound crazy and I cannot guarantee it will work, but I will share it if you are willing to try it.

    When a harddrive would fail that had information that wasn't easily replaced, my old boss would stick it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. He would then take it out fast and hook it up to the computer. I saw it would work for about 15 minutes to an hour and he would rush transfer the most important stuff off before it failed again.

    I do not guarantee this will work and after he was done he would trash the drive (normally he would try like 3 times). I would try this only as a very last ditch effort because after that, the drive may not be recoverable by an agency after trying this. I would say try it only if there's no other alternative. I have not tried this on an external, nor have I tried it in years, but if your desperate, it might work.

    I hope this helps.

    Please do this only if all other ideas have been tried!
    brookegos and learninmypc like this.
  6. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    WD drives are generally good. Nothing that happened to you is something to be avoiding WD over.

    It's probably the software on the drive that encrypted your data, which pretty much all external (and USB sticks) come with. The best idea is to format any drive you purchase before use, so that no 'junk' apps remain on it - and it will function as a standard drag'n'drop drive.
    brookegos likes this.
  7. brookegos

    brookegos Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks GhostRyder, I have read about the freezer trick as well just didnt want to give it a go until I have tried everything else- I am thinking once I have tried to frankenstein it with another identical drive- if it doesnt work, Ill try the freezer.

    I guess the reason I said that about WD drives- is it seems from reading various forums that it is a pretty common problem for them to just stop working after not a whole lot of use. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to be a pretty common theme.

    Ill report back later after my labwork is done.
  8. platinumsteel

    platinumsteel Newcomer, in training Posts: 27

    Hey bro..based on my experience go to this website http://www.donordrives.com/ ...all u gotta do is send the drive to them and let them do there thing.Their price ranges are extremely reasonable..I had a 1tb full with data and it got fried cause I accidentally connected it to a switching power supply with the wrong voltage...Those guys are the best I reckon..they repaired my HD and now it's working better than when I got it new.They even repair labtop hardrives....
  9. bazabout

    bazabout Newcomer, in training


    Hi there. I have had the same problem and was about to buy a cheap, new enclosure but suspect the issue of encryption may bite me on the bum. I don't use the drive anymore and have had many happy years with a Synology NAS instead but I would like to recover a few bits and bobs and reformat a presumably otherwise functioning 1tb HD.

    So, did you ever put your old drive in a new WD enclosure and get the required result? I've asked the same question of WD but am yet to receive a suitable response.

    Thanks in advance, Paul
  10. Richie086

    Richie086 Newcomer, in training

    FYI I am a IT Professional and have been in the field for 10+ years and I can assure you that WD drives fail far more often than drives by any other manufacturer. Do not under any circumstances buy WD drives (internal or external) to store data that you absolutely cannot lose (photos, movies, documents, etc) because the drive will fail on you on the exact moment you need it to not fail on you. I have done hundreds of HDD RMAs and 90% have been WD drives. I am not employed/paid by any storage company or HDD manufacturer, and this is just my 'opinion' but it is based on my experience with data restoration which is extremely vast. Any hard drive will eventually fail on you, but WD drives will fail on you even under the best of conditions.


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