My Book Live - melted / almost caused a fire

Hello folks, During the night last night we woke to the smell of what seemed to be a fire somewhere in our home. I removed downlighters / light switches in the hall 3-4am trying to figure out where the smell of electrical / burning was coming from. Then we honed in on our new wifi router which is on top of the AV/network/TV box cabinet in the hall alongside our old WD My Book Live device.

It seemed to be coming from the router so we plugged it out, there seemed to be no more fume so we went back to sleep, obviously a light sleep given the circumstances. Then today I needed to work from home so plugged in the router to see if there was any issue and all seemed well and its functioning fine.
So its clearly been bugging me any my family that we did not really track down the cause of the electrical smell. I changed a flickering LED light bulb but again unlikely this was the cause of the smell.

Then just a few minutes ago I was at the cabinet where we store all our AV / network stuff and noticed the power light to the MyBookLive was not on…strange as the power adapter is plugged in to the socket and switched on…then I move the MyBookLive, the power adapter dropped out of the back and it is a mess of melted black plastic as is the DC IN socket on the device - bingo there is the source of the electrical/fire smell! The DC IN socket on the MyBookLive is full of melted black plastic and even if I had an alternate power adapter I would not be able to power up the device. No idea if the power adapter or the MyBookLive device is the root cause.

So two issues here:

  1. our family pictures and videos of all the kids for the last 19 years are on this thing
    and - more importantly:
  2. thankfully this thing did not ignite when we were away for a few days vacation recently and start a serious fire

I can post some pictures as needed but a little Googling shows I am not alone in having this happen with a MyBook device:
‘MyBook Live caught fire!’

my device looks exactly like this one in terms of the damage and the melted plastic. I’ll be calling WD for Ireland support during business hours tomorrow for their reaction. Ok this device is probably 10+ years old but they should be aware of the safety issue here and maybe act on it to registered device owners via an advisory.

Does anyone know if the hard drive can be extracted from the device and the data recovered? I have a password setup to access so I assume the data is encrypted somehow - we are upset about the device melting and the scare regarding a ‘fire’ last night, but also very upset we may have lost almost 20 years of family photos!

thanks for any advice, Kevin

Hi Kevin,

Luckily nobody got hurt!

I also have been having trouble last 2 months retrieving my data (Connection refused to UI and private share - #2 by Jonty.S) and now the only thing left seems to be open it up and screw the hard drive out of it. If it is not damaged, this can be done and get the data off it. On youtube you can find an instruction video on how to carefully open up the device (there is a trick to that) and get the disk out safely. To get the data from your disk, there are several ways. One is to buy an external harddisk enclosure and connect the hard drive to your PC with USB. Then you need to get the data off with a program from this link: Third Party Data Recovery Software Options for Windows and macOS. I was advised to use “Paragon” by the helpdesk.
Alternatively, you can try the easy way out like I am trying right now. I bought a diskless WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra, where I should be able to slide my old harddisk in in one of its 2 slots. Unless the old password is a problem, this should be working and I should be able to access my data again. Just received it though, so I’m just about to install it. Also bought a new WD40EFAX 4Tb harddrive to go in the other slot. Hope this works!

Edit: It now looks like every disk that is inserted in the My Cloud EX2 Ultra first needs to be formatted, in that case it wouldnt work to retrieve the data. Will keep you posted.

thanks so much for the response. I’ve managed to get the hard drive out of the MyBookLive casing. I also have a hard drive cradle that will accept the drive and allow me to connect to it via USB. I see a few Windows 10 utilities that seem to allow access to the Linux/EXT4 image - so I’m hoping this will allow me to recover the data. Will update back here how it does.

There is a freeware tool called Linux Reader for Windows.

Alternatively you could use DMDE (US$20) to view and recover your data.

Note that some WD products use LUKS encryption.

I suspect that it shouldn’t be too hard to repair the enclosure’s PCB. Your local TV repair shop would probably be able to do it.

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Re : [quote=“kevin.oconnell1970, post:1, topic:254860”]
No idea if the power adapter or the MyBookLive device is the root cause.

I am glad that I read your post. In my opinion, it it is unlikely the network drive is the cause of the meltdown. The network drive is a low powered device, and from it’s powered input (I’m too lazy to go quote what it is) it would not have the capability of burning up rubber as shown.

The photo of the melted plug is very insightful. I believe the components of the plug malfunctioned and caused an increased amount of current to flow across it’s leads. Definitely the meltdown involved high current! Perhaps the adapter failed if it were not receiving a good enough air flow, and became too hot.

Whatever the cause, thanks for the notice and photo. My drive is only like 5 years old, but I consider myself on notice. I will have to keep a backup of this backup! And I will for now on be sure to check my network drive’s power cable from time to time.

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I was never comfortable with how hot my network drive gets. I pay particular attention to it, storing it in an open space, against no other devices —to it’s side, above, or below— so that it’s heat is not coupled with any other device. I have the Energy Saver Hard Disk Sleep function always enabled. I vacume the vents for dust.

Unfortunately, Western Digital did not think to provide a LED light signaling a sleeping drive or active drive, so I can not attest to the fact that it ever stops spinning. All I know is that it gives off a lot of heat. I’m probably saving $$$ on my home heat bill because of it.

I am making no point here in sharing this with you, only to make a relative comment on the design of this device which makes a person say “hmmmm”.

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FYI the LED will be solid blue when in standby mode:

My Book Live & My Book Live Duo: LED Behavior

Understood, I imagine the internals of the MyBookLive are low voltage, but if the AC adapter malfunctions and the tip receives more voltage/amps than its designed for the melting happens which is definitely not q great outcome.

The unit was in a well ventilated cabinet (with fan) and the drive was on top in the open air. I contacted WD support and the guy was helpful and logged it. From the serial number my unit is 2013/2014 vintage so long out of warranty. I did’nt get the impression there was going to be a huge investigation on the back of this but it would be logged as a safety/overheat item so I have done my best. The suggestion was to buy a second hand unit online and swap over the drives.

Instead I am going to plug the drive into a sata hard drive docking station (that I already have) and get some software to access the EXT4 format drive (apparently a Linux-type format) on a windows machine to hopefully recover the data. The WD support guy confirmed it was in an EXT4 format and should be accessible via Linux/Linux emulator.

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Thanks for posting this information. I also own a “My Book Essential 2TB” Drive and have experienced exactly the same issue. I’ve been using the drive for years without any problems. Similar to your experience, my wife and I both smelled a burning electrical odor about 3 weeks ago. Could not trace it.

During my next backup attempt for my laptop, it revealed that the drive wasn’t working (no light on the front). When I checked the USB and power connection the plug on the back was very hot and burned my thumb; That’s when I noticed the cord was melted into the dc-port and could not be removed.

The drive sits on my desk (No issues with ventilation) and It’s plugged into a surge protector strip with my laptop and phone charger. The WD Drive turned out to be the only problem.

I’ve also contacted WD support to advise of the problem but they have only said that the unit is out of warranty and that they’re unable to provide any assistance. I also thought that they should advise other owners of this issue before it causes a serious fire or casualties.
They don’t seem to want to acknowledge my my concern over the fire risk? At least, by posting about the issue, it may encourage others with these drives to check on the status and replace them before they fail. Thanks!



thanks for the followup…seems we have had exactly the same issue and a safety issue at that with the WD device. If nothing else we’ve flagged it here on the forum for others to be aware.

I managed to extract my data from the WD drive by removing it from the WD enclosure and plugging it into a SATA USB device. I then used the excellent free Paragon file Linux software for Windows 10 to access the EXT4 drive data. I’ve purchased a Synology Diskstation device (that takes 2 x SATA drives and protects via RAID1). I could’nt bring myself to buy another WD device after the panic it caused.

I originally registered for this forum years ago, and no longer have the email address that I registered with, but I re-registered here today to post this.

One of my MyBook Live’s (2Tb) had a similar problem yesterday. I was initially confused when my smoke detector briefly went off yesterday lunchtime. It was only later in the evening when I was trying to copy some files that I found the drive was offline and when I went to pull the power cable from the back I found that the connector had melted. There was a sign of high heat at the back of the device and it appears that there had been a flame, albeit briefly.

As I have another of these drives of approximately the same age I am now very concerned. I’ll be calling WD Support shortly.

Well, maybe I won’t be calling support as there doesn’t appear to be a UK number, which isn’t very helpful when there is a clear fire risk with their products.

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There must be a UK phone number somewhere?.. As I said I’ve moved on to Synology Diskstation technology after the WD experience! Good luck.

Today I had same trouble with Western Digital Elements wd6400E035-00 . After bad oudur I went searching in may office and found out it’s the hard disk.
You can clearly see the molten plug.

Mine too. Grateful I was home when it started smoking, or the antique desk it was sitting on would have caught fire. Wouldn’t want to have had to explain that to the family-- it belonged to Abraham Lincoln. The desk. Not the drive. It’s old, but not that old.

Seriously though, they’ve obviously been aware for years now that these adapters are ticking time bombs. A little warning, maybe?