1TB Passport Essential Brick or Not?

1TB Passport Essential USB 3.0 drive format NTSF, used on both Mac and Win7 machines.  

Plugged into the Mac today, and get an error message after rapidly blinking light that drive is not recognized by this computer.  No further action is possible unless we open disk utility in which case, Passport appears, but info shows disk as unformatted.  The only option available is to erase or erase and repartition - This would be last resort.  Repair and Verify options are grayed out.  Using WD Smartware, running the checks, Quick Smart Status, the disk passes.  In Quick Drive Test, the process hangs, or self cancels at 90%.  Haven’t taken the time to run the full test, as it gets to 10% and doesn’t appear to want to go any further.

On the Windows machine, disk doesn’t show up in “My Computer,” but does show in device manager in control panel, and we are told that the drive is functioning normally.  Opening WD Smartware on the Win machine, drive shows up as an unavailable backup target, but not as a source.  It is identified as My Passport Essential with “No writable partitions found.”

The thing that offers us some hope is that we are getting some activity showing from the disk, by way of feeling the random, non-sequential movement inside, and seeing the irregularly  blinking light.  Downside is that since it doesn’t show up either in Finder (Mac) or My Computer (Win) we don’t know if any of the recovery software is capable of pulling any of the files off this disk.  

As I understand it, a reformat, if possible would make possible a likely recovery of some of the data using a recovery program, since the entire disk isn’t overwritten by an erase, or reformat - Correct?

Open to ANY suggestions.

Thanks !!! 

If the hard drive was indeed NTFS you could attempt a file system repair by using PhotoRec or TestDisk.


Hi dsoelter,

NTFS format will have read-only permissions on a Mac but should be accessible on a Windows computer. Since the drive is showing up and seems to pass some of the tests it sounds like the drive may be physically ok at this point. However, it does sound like a logical issue such as a damaged/corrupted partition. If you need to recover the data I would not recommend formatting it. This could make the issue worse.

One thing I would try is a different cable to make sure that the USB cable isn’t bad. Since it is a Passport drive, I would recommend a cable that is less than 10-12" long. If the drive still isn’t working properly then you may need to try some data recovery software or contact a data recovery company. I included a link below on some recovery companies that we are partnered with if you decide to go that route.

Data Recovery