Flaky MyBook / Caviar SE16 WD500AAKS

I have an older MyBook ES with a 500GB WD Caviar SE16 WD500AAKS which has been behaving oddly. The is data on the drive (~400GB) that I would really like to recover and I’d appreciate any suggestions how to best accomplish this.

Drive behavior is as follows (this is on both Windows and Mac OS, but currently on the Mac):

  • Drive will spin up fine when plugged in

  • Disk Utility properly recognizes it as a “500.11 GB MyBook ES”

  • The disk mounts properly and I can access it, albeit it’s VERY slow with sporadic bursts of normal activity

  • The drive will seem to hang during which I can hear a periodic noise that sounds similar to a clock ticking, happens about once every 1-2 seconds – I guess this may be the sound of the head tracking, it’s not loud

  • Randomly, the drive will come back to life and will display its contents as any working drive would

  • I’ve tried copying files off the drive with some success, but it demonstrates the same behavior described above (rhythmic clicking punctuated at seemingly random times by normal activity)

  • Occasionally, I’ll come across files that it absolutely cannot copy; Mac OS returns an error 35 (no such volume) or error 36 (I/O error)

  • I’ve also come across a file that I KNOW should be a folder, but is only displayed as a file with no filetype

In my quest to recover my data from this drive, I stumbled on an internet post which suggested putting the drive in the freezer. Oddly enough, lowering the temperature of the drive seems to indeed help it maintain its ability to operate (although it’s still plagued by the steady low-volume clicking described above).

The drive is well out of warranty and I’m not that interested in spending $1000+ to have someone pull the platters out in a clean room.

Does anyone have any suggestions how I might get this drive to operate, at least long enough to copy over my data?

Many thanks for any advice.

Your drive is about to crash. I think you will have more chances taking the drive out of the enclosure and connecting directly to your computer.