1TB MyBook External HD & WD Live TV - all of a sudden not recognising the HD

Hi all,

I’m really hoping someone can help me please. I’ve been looking around this and many other sites all weekend looking for answers, but I can’t seem to find any other posts with exactly these symptoms nor any with an actual solution.

I have a 1TB WD MyBook Hard Drive and a 500GB Passport Drive attached to a WD TV Live Media Player. This weekend we were watching a TV episode and when it finished we powered down the WDTV Live and switched everything off at the plug before we went out. When we came back, I switched all of the plugs back on and loaded the WD TV back up, navigated to local drives the Passport drive was showing up just fine but not the MyBook? So after the usual checks with cables etc and re-starting everything the WD TV still can’t see it.

So I plug the MyBook drive into my laptop so see if I can see what’s happening and as usual the little autoplay window pops up which is basically the CD emulation with the WD SmartWare software. I was waiting for the second pop-up for the actual hard drive and… nothing. It shows up in my computer, but with no volume… so the internal hard drives have a little bar underneath but the WD MyBook is blank. If you right click or double click then the whole system stops, until you ctrl-atl-del or remove the USB cable at which time it all comes back to normal. In the system information when you right click my computer the drive shows up just fine and all tests suggest it’s working. Using the SmartWare software, it can see the drive, but when it starts to populate information about how much of the hard drives are movies and music etc, my local drive is fine but the WD MyBook dosn’t populate, it’s just a big empty grey bar and has no volume information at the top.

I went into settings and diagnostics. The SMART test says my drive is working just fine, the ‘Quick Test’ was still stuck at 90% after about 8 hours so I gave up and the full test has been ticking over all night and currently on about 40%. Now I can hear and feel my drive spinning and the lights on the front are blinking. There is no password on the drive and windows isn’t asking me for one. It’s not been dropped or damaged and there has been no power surge or anything similar. I’ve tried different power and USB cables and different USB ports on two different laptops and my office machine now, all with different OS and all of them have the exact same problem with this drive.

Now I could just give up on this quest, save up and get another drive… but I have a problem. The Passport drive (as it’s less hassle to move) was being used to load films and TV shows which I’d downloaded onto, and after watching them I’d either load onto the bigger MyBook drive through the WD TV or delete them to make more space. However the MyBook is literally filled with family photographs and movies, they’re not backed up anywhere else as there wasn’t room for them on the laptop. I just can’t face the thought of losing these files, so I need to restore function to what is effectively a shiny black brick at the moment but most importantly, do so without losing my data. I’ve looked into data-recovery and I have the option of taking it into PC world, who charge about £100 but all of the reviews suggest not to bother, as out of 1TB of data I’m likely to get about 100mb back and most of it will be unreadable. I’ve also found some other companies to whom I have to send my hard drive off to, and £300+ and over a week later I might get something back.

Given that there was no trauma to the Hard Drive I’m hoping, perhaps naively, that there might be a simple fix I’m missing or something I can do to both restore function as a Hard Drive and keep all of the data intact. Please help!

Thank you.

Right, an update and some good news regarding my problem. Thought I’d share just in case it helps anyone else.

I spoke with WD support yesterday evening. I was worried about the type of service I’d get after reading a few different accounts of dealing with WD support on here, but I’m pleased to say that they were actually very helpful. Sure, they didn’t actually solve the problem and had I followed their advice to the letter I’d have lost all my data by now… but I think they’re restricted to just a few ‘approved’ troubleshooting activities so even if they knew of another way they wouldn’t be allowed to say. Anyway, after a few quick checks it seems that my HD isn’t a complete write-off… they offered to either talk me through how to re-format (which fingers crossed will make it functional again) or alternatively they would have been happy to send me a replacement.

Most importantly however they took me to the Computer Management window, and then Disk Management and highlighted something which I think has solved my issue. I’d been here (disk management) yesterday following advice on other posts about similar problems to make sure that my hard drive had been assigned a letter and having confirmed that it was the F:/ drive I promptly closed the window and moved on. However there was another piece of information there which I’d completely missed… what format the hard drive was in. Unlike other Hard Drives present inside or attached to the computer which are either FAT32 or NTFS… the external hard drive was in RAW format. I still have no idea what this means, however I know when I got the drive I re-formatted it from FAT32 to NTFS to let me store bigger single files than FAT32 would allow. A little research suggests that somehow the file telling computers or other devices (such as my WD Live TV) what format the data is in, i.e. how to read and access the data, had been corrupted. Hence why neither the WD TV live nor any Laptop or Desktop could access the drive even though in the case of the computers they knew it was there and how much total data was on it.

So now to try and fix things by switching back from RAW to NTFS without losing any of my data. Not as easy as I’d hoped… First of all an application called TestDisk suggested it might be the solution and it certainly looked promising ( http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk). It’s complicated to use as it’s a bit old school but it seems to do the job very well so no complaints from me. I just needed to follow the step by step guide ( http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step) to the letter and think I made some progress. It became apparent that this little programme was reading all of my data and building a table or index or something in order to tell devices where it all was and how to access it. So I complete the process to the best of my ability and my hard drive still doesn’t work, but I’m pretty sure I did something wrong because I didn’t understand what I was doing! At every option I selected the My Book to be a ‘Primary’ drive that isn’t bootable… perhaps I needed to make it bootable or perhaps logical?.. I don’t know. But if you are having trouble maybe give this a try as it’s free and perhaps if you have more of a clue about what you’re doing then you’ll be able to get some results with it.

So next I found something called ‘Recover My Files’ from a company called Get Data ( http://www.recovermyfiles.com/) and too my absolute joy and relief, the free version I’d downloaded (after about half an hour of searching the F:/) out of nowhere started listing all of my movies, music and most importantly all of my family photo’s too. In order to actually recover the files I had to pay for the full version which cost me about $70 (£40 odd) but that’s a fraction of what I would have had to pay a data recovery company and at least I could see that the programme had found them before I did. So I tested it on a few photo’s and one 10gb or so 1080p.mkv file and it works, it’s not quick by any means (about 3gb of photo’s and 10gb movie took around two hours to recover) but it did a great job. So right now, it’s ticking along in the background recovering all of my photos and some selected movies and TV shows (think I can get music back from my ipod?) onto an external Hard Disk I’ve borrowed from IT in the office.

I’m only going to be able to recover about half of my Data, but that’s only because I’m restricted by the size of the External Hard Drive I have available to move things onto. However it’s given me the option to select the files I want, so I can decide what the priorities are and not some oik in PC World. So I imagine I’ll  have to leave it running over-night as I assume it’s going to recover data at about the same rate, or maybe slower as I’m asking it to do more this time. But either way I’m not fussed about how long it takes, I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to get the data at all.

Next, probably tomorrow, I’ll re-format with WD Support and if that doesn’t work they’ll replace. Either way, problem solved as far as I’m concerned to thanks to those who have contributed in other threads and helped me troubleshoot and get a solution.