To simplify things, your problem lies with either the Driver (OS), or the WD-Drive. If the problem is due to Windows malfunctioning or the particular driver that comes with Windows that is required to run WD HDDs is corrupted or lost (I don’t know why, but having an important OS system file just disappear is not an unusual occurrence), Windows must be repaired or the bad driver file has to be replaced with a good one. Windows innate repairs are often done in a particular sequence for convenience; this tutorial provides such a list of basic repair applications with instructions on how to run them1. If after running System File Check, you find you have some missing or corrupt system files, you can extract new, intact files from your Windows Install DVD2. If the problem truly is a corrupted or lost Windows OS driver, find out from WD which OS driver your drive requires, and then copy that particular file (uncorrupted) from your Windows DVD to your system.
Sometimes the driver you need can be obtained from Windows Update, a function of this application that rarely occurs without prodding. In order to have Windows Update find and download driver files that apply to your system, go to Control Panel, then Devices & Printers. Highlight your computer and then right-click: select Device installation settings, click, and you get a box saying “Do you want Windows to download driver software and realistic icons for your devices?” Click on yes, and Windows will start helping find the correct drivers for you, including possibly the WD driver Figure. After I made this setting change, Windows Update brought me the WD SES Device driver, which may help with this problem. Another way of getting the most current drivers for your system, is to subscribe to a service like DriverScanner (Uniblue).
I run several external drives most days. One thing I’ve noted is that it takes a good connection for your external HDD to function at peak performance (or at all). Where connections were loose or falling off, or getting disconnected by me when I’m working alongside a laptop, I used some tools to make the connection tighter and more secure. I think this also may help with these WD drives.
A WD tech service guy also told me to make sure all my files were updated, like Windows files, WD software and including the recent firmware update which I couldn’t get to work. He had me uninstall all WD software, then unplug the USB cable to the WD drive that was malfunctioning, download & install the most current WDDriveManager, and only then plug in my WD drive. It still takes 3-4 off-on cycles of the WD drive until it is recognized, but as long as I leave my laptop on, the drive continues to function well
If the problem is a defective HDD (i.e. not the driver, and not Windows), then you must expect the drive to completely die soon. This means you’ll want to get your important files off the failing disk and onto a good one as soon as possible. You can use the native Windows program “Windows Recovery Environment” where you can see your files and move them off the bad drive, but you can’t open any file or any of your programs. There are also a number of commercial programs that may help save your important files (i.e. Manhattan Recovery Device, System Rescue Disk, Paragon Rescue Kit, GEEPS Data Rescue).
If everything you’ve tried so far has failed, and you simply must recover your important data, it’s time to get help from data recovery specialists like ADR (Advanced Data Recovery, Hamilton, MT)3. They take your dying drive into a clean lab intensive care unit for HDDs, test it very carefully and switch parts until they get your HDD to work enough to download your data. They will send you, on a new HDD, whatever data they’ve been able to save. If your old drive is still under warranty, have ADR ship it back to you so you can return it to WD and get a replacement.