A warning about WD external security capable drives

Lets say the USB to SATA interface goes out. It’s the board that does the encryption.
Removing the drive an putting it in a SATA dock or direct to a motherboard without the converter interface results in an unreadable drive because it’s ALWAYS encrypted.
If you can get your hands on another interface on ebay - great- YOU are all fixed up.
the password is stored somewhere on the drive - my guess is a normally unreachable sector.
If this sector gets corrupted, either your password won’t work, or your blank password is now no longer blank.
WD has no mechanism for blanking this password sector, nor do they seem to have any intention of making one.
They also have no mechanism for retrieving your password, or generating a “master” password based on the drive serial number etc. the way that laptop manufacturers like DELL do if you lose your laptop password, and prove ownership of the laptop.
DELL did it right - WD doesn’t care if you lose your data. They seem to think we will all be stupid enough to buy another drive if we lose our password, or if it becomes corrupt. I think they will lose customers left, right and centre because of this practice.
They don’t even offer a utility to mount a drive with a blank password onto a standard SATA interface in case the interface gets damaged.
So - you can swap all the boards you want - unless you can rewrite the firmware to bypass the password checking routine completely, any boards you put on will read the password sector, and demand the password before decrypting the drive for you.
I think it’s time to stop using security enabled Western Digital external drives until they rectify this situation, and create a way for a customer that can prove ownership of their drive to regain access to data on otherwise working hardware.
Yes, drive failures happen - but even a drive with a bad interface or a head that has fallen off can be recovered.
But if the data you recover is encrypted, you still have no access to it. Period. And Western Digital doesn’t care.
They won’t even sell you a USB to SATA interface board to you - and in fact also won’t replace yours if it’s under warranty. They will only replace the entire unit ensuring that your data is gone. Now that is really sad because in the case of a bad USB interface board, they COULD save your data - however they simply REFUSE to do so.

They make claims that it would be hard to stock boards because of firmware revisions etc, but anyone with any knowledge knows that you can flash the board with any required firmware as long as the board itself is the same revision. Besides, I am not even talking about the drive’s board, I am referring to the USB to SATA interface which is responsible for the encryption.
That’s not just being unhelpful, that is blatantly telling us that our data doesn’t matter to them whatsoever, and they will not take even the simplest steps that they COULD do in order to help us in these situations.
People, I say to the hundreds of thousands of you (or even millions) that until WD changes their ways, you might want to consider other alternatives to using these drives for backup purposes. At the very least, don’t get one that has the ability to set a password if you ever want your data back if the drive fails in any way or happens to corrupt your password.

Hi SuperTech-IT, note that all WD hard drives that have the password protection and hardware encryption are advertised as such, for the customers that want that type of feature. As you also mentioned, WD also makes hard drives without hardware encryption for customers that don’t need it. The recommended rule with any important data is to have it saved in more than one place, which is also the definition of the word “Backup”.





I am sorry, but I refuse your explanation. When someone turns off their encryption, they expect that their data will no longer be encrypted.

The fact that it still is, is NOT explained ANYWHERE that I have found in ANY documentation, and it presents a real risk that people need to be made aware of, as well as WD’s apathy towards this situation.

Consider the following - a user with a laptop has their house hit by lightning.

They religiously backup their laptop to the device.

The lightning corrupts or damages the laptop drive, and ONLY the USB to SATA board in the My Book.

Had the drive not been encrypted like they asked it to be, they would have access to the drive in an external dock to revive their laptop once repaired.

Now they have lost their data AND all their backups.

No sir - people think that when you turn off encryption that it’s no longer encrypted.

It’s like going to the bank and knowing you can have your money locked into a trust fund or simply in a savings account, and then one day when you desperately need the money, the bank says you cannot have what’s in your savings because they locked it in anyway despite the fact that you specifically asked them not to.

Not only that, but they look at you and say “Well, if you wanted to have access to your money any time, you should have kept it in cash” and won’t help you to get your money.

It’s not right, and the public needs to know it!