My Passport will not show up on iMac running macOS Big Sur

I have reached out to WD Customer Support and exhausted all troubleshooting suggestions with them. Since my device reached End of Support in 2013, there really isn’t anything more they can do. Maybe someone else has seen this issue and might be able to help! I’m pasting below all of the troubleshooting steps I performed based on my interactions with WD Customer Support.

Since I submitted my Incident, I have upgraded my iMac to macOS Big Sur version 11.3. And the issue remains the same.

There is no error to capture in a screen shot, because the device is not recognized at all. When connecting it to the iMac, it spins on, like it should, and the tiny light comes on, but nothing happens on the iMac to actually recognize the device.

I am including a screenshot of Disk Utility, where you can see that nothing appears for the device. You can that a different Western Digital device is connected correctly, it is a 3TB device that is formatted as 2 volumes, one for regular use, and one used specifically for Time Machine Backups. Please note that I have connected the 3TB device into the same USB port on this iMac as the one I have currently plugged the My Passport into, and the USB port functions correctly with the 3TB device.

The My Passport drive was accessible and functioning properly approximately 2 months ago on my old 2009 iMac running OS X El Capitan. I just recently tried to connect it to my new late 2020 iMac, and it will not connect, just like many others who I’ve read that are having the same connectivity issues since using macOS Big Sur.

There is no physical damage to the My Passport device. And as stated above, it connected properly to my old iMac. I have not tried another USB cable, because 1) it is a special cable that is needed to connect this My Passport device, and 2) it worked just fine with my old iMac.

I went through all of the steps that were possible in the article/link you provided. I will provide a response for each step listed in the article. 1) There is no power adapter, it gets its power from the USB cable connected to the iMac. 2) As stated above, I did not change out the cable because it is not a standard USB cable and the device worked fine on my old iMac. 3) I have tried multiple USB ports on my new iMac and the results are the same, and other devices function properly in each of those USB ports. 4) I turned off the iMac, let it restart, waited a full hour, and then retried connecting the device, and it still did not work. 5) As I already stated, it worked on my old iMac. I do not agree, that there is any issue with my new iMac, every other device, including a Western Digital 3TB device, all work correctly. I am not contacting Apple about this issue, this is a Western Digital My Passport issue. 6) Since it showed up correctly on my old iMac, the device has not failed.

I have a similar problem. My WDeasystore 4TB was recognized on my 2019 MacBook Pro 16-inch using a USB-C to USB 3 adapter. macOS is Big Sur; all current (11.3). Disk Utility previously successfully created three APFS containers that were used to create backup images on this drive. Shortly thereafter first one, then all three of the backup APFS containers have disappeared without being deleted. At first the emptied drive was still visible to Disk Utility, just missing the containers as if the disk had never been erased, formatted, and used without apparent trouble.

I have used 3 different cables. All worked before and continue to work with other drives. (As I write this, a Time Machine backup just completed to a similar. older “My Passport for Mac” 4TB drive. This WDeasystore drive is only 1 week old.) Disk Utility runs after normal boot for my administrative user. Same after rebooting. Also tried running Disk Utility from Recovery mode (cmd-R on re-booting). Under no condition is the presence of the WDeasystore drive seen by Disk Utility. The drive powers up every time. It can be felts spinning and vibrating, LED flashing. The pattern of vibration varies as if the firmware is trying to do something. Essentially the same results on my vintage 2011 MacBook Pro 17-inch with High Sierra installed. The formerly used APFS containers were previously functional on the 2011 computer. Now the whole drives and its containers are invisible, having disappeared.

AppleCare has been consulted several times. They have no explanation to offer for the disappearing containers, stating that APFS is supposed to be more robust that the older Mac OS (Extended) file system.

Whenever the new drive is connected to the computer the cursor turns into the spinning beachball and nothing works when clicked. Nor does the keyboard work. It is impossible to correctly eject the drive for two reasons: it is not seen, and the computer is unresponsive. Even opt-cmd-ESC does not work to access the Force Quit menu. As soon as the drive is unplugged, the spinning beachball ceases and all other applications, clicks, and keystrokes start working again.

I’m writing in response to this posting rather than others reporting invisible drives with versions of OS X or macOS because of the similarity to description including the spinning beachball cursor.

This exact same thing is happening to me.

I have raised the issue with Apple Care and they are convinced it’s a WD issue rather than an Apple issue. However, this only occurred sine updating to Big Sur, which is suspicious.

I have had no real answers from Apple or WD as of yet.

My Passport shows up in Disk Utility, but it cannot be mounted. The following error code occurs when I try :

Could not mount “My Passport”. ( error 49244.

But no further explanations have been given.

Same here. I have used the WD Passport with MacBook Pro more or less satisfactorily for periodic backups for several years. Problems started AFTER update to Big Sur with the “preparing backup” freeze. I tried to solve this problem but only got deeper into trouble. I now have no backup with Time Machine, the WD drive is not recognised, except for unlock. I don’t really have the knowledge to continue as I’m afraid I might delete something vital! Has anyone managed to resolve this glitch? I live in hope…
Thanks for reading

Unfortunately I have not yet found an issue. WD aren’t and haven’t offered any support. They will only offer a replacement which is pretty poor in my opinion, however they say it’s policy.

I’ve spent hours speaking to Apple and they can’t seem to work out the issue either.

I have no backup either, so I think my next step is to reach out to a data recovery company in hopes they may help. However, it’s an expensive solution.

A replacement? They offered to replace a device that is no longer supported? That is both very surprising, and amazing!

How did that happen? I would be very interested in that offer for mine. It may be an older device, but it was probably only used about 10 times total! And it was always stored safely in a closet.

I wish I could offer some help, but I’m stuck too.

After spending hours trying to resolve the problem mentioned I decided yesterday (and after updating to MacOS Big Sur 11.4) to have one last go at connecting MY Passport. Big Sur(prise) - it worked! Options that weren’t available to me previously were ‘ungreyed’ and the whole process went smoothly erasing the external drive and producing a backup with Time Machine?!! Now I’m no techno wizard and just ‘follow instructions’ but I’m absolutely certain that Big Sur wasn’t mentioned in the list of OS previously so ‘someone’ has obviously done some kind of update - whoever - THANK YOU! Hate to throw away perfectly good equipment! Better communication in future please WD/Apple.

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That is great JoanCR! I am on macOS Big Sur 11.3.1 and only recently performed that update, didn’t know there was already a 11.4, my iMac has definitely not notified me. I will check it out, and let everyone know what happens. Not sure if I remember what type of Mac you have, or if you recently said, but I’m on a iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020). FYI, that is available in the Apple Menu (About This Mac) in the top-left corner; I’d be curious to know what your specific device is. Still: good for you!

I just reviewed the release notes and security updates for macOS Big Sur 11.4, and nothing stood out to me as how/why your issue was resolved, so still good for you! :smiley:

I can’t update at this moment, I’m in the middle of too many other things, but I will do it soon, and then update with what happened.

Hi there

I’m using a MacBook Pro (Retina) Big Sur 11.4 bought in 2014 - just for personal use - so I was concerned (and a little annoyed) about a comment I saw that one shouldn’t install updates on old machines! That’s just not on.
Re-mounting the WD Passport this time was as smooth as silk and it carried out the backup with no problem - hopefully that will continue!

Good luck

Well, I’ve updated to macOS 11.4. Connected My Passport via USB, and it just turns on, does a lot of spinning, and the small blue light is on; but it still does not mount the drive. It is not displaying in Disk Utility either.

Maybe the next OS update will fix my issue?! LOL!!!

Hey all,
Just jointed the community today. I wanted to ask a question of the people here since no one has mentioned it yet.

Q: Those of you having problems, have you checked to see if there is a firmware update for your drive? WD will periodically send out firmware updates. You can find the firmware update tool under WD support. Just specify your drive model and follow the upgrade instructions.

I have numerous WD drives:

  1. 12 TB My Book (new)
  2. My Passport 4 TB drives (a few years old now)

I’ve used the firmware update tool on the My Passports, and was sure to have the latest firmware at the time. Since then, they just work. I have a late 2015 27" iMac, and running Big Sur 11.4, and all drives function fine. I didn’t own the 12 TB My Book before last Friday, so can’t speak about it prior to my current setup, but the Passports have worked fine since Big Sur 11.0.1, and even Catalina and Mojave, etc. I also have a late 2013, 13: MacBook Pro with Big Sur, and the Passport Drives have worked on that as well when I’ve needed to use it. However, that machine is rarely used anymore, and the iMac is my main computer for now.

Hope this helps someone, I know coming to a place like this everyone is on a different experience level and some just don’t want really deep technical solutions. So hopefully I can give feedback that applies to both sides.

Welcome iFrog, and I like your user name!

Honestly, I had thought about something like that, but I can’t get my iMac to recognize the drive at all, so I’m not sure how I would be able to facilitate getting a firmware update at all, unless you have something you are thinking of!

Well, based on the problem I’ve read about on this thread, the Hardware should at least show up in Disk Utility, even if the volume doesn’t mount on the desktop. For droves that don’t show up at ALL, I would usually question if the drive controller was bad, or not, or even if there was platter damage. From what I’ve read, your drive works, but NOT on Big Sur. There are a couple suggestions I can give you:

  1. If you know how to work with Virtual Machines, you can use VMware Fusion 12 for free (for personal use.). You can legally virtualize macOS from version Lion to Big Sur without needing the Server version. The other option is to install windows 10 in a VM, or use a physical windows computer, if you have one. You could also use Linux if you know how, just to simply confirm the drive still works.

  2. What you would want to do is chose whichever guest OS, or alternative Host OS, you want to work with, make sure the drive mounts on that platform and install the necessary WD tools. For a VM you can connect the drive directly to the VM via the USB and bluetooth settings so it will function natively in that guest OS.

  3. You could also try safe mode on the Mac, boot while holding shift.

  4. If this was a desktop drive (not the passport drive) I would suggest taking the drive out of the enclosure from WD, and either put it in a drive dock, or buy another enclosure from some place like amazon, Newegg, etc. Just reading this thread suggests people here may not have a lot of technical experience with dealing with drives, so I don’t want to go overboard here with suggesting things that could make things worse, if you don’t know what you’re doing. So I’ll leave it at this for now until I get further feedback as to what you’re comfortable with doing, and go from there.

These are great suggestions iFrog!

Unfortunately, at least for me, My Passport doesn’t show up under Disk Utility at all.

In the past, I used Parallels and had Windows 7 installed. But my old version is no longer supported on Big Sur, so I never even thought about that.

But, I like the idea of looking into VMware!

I haven’t tried safe mode either.

I recently (in fact, just this past week) disassembled my old Time Capsule (from 2009) and took out the 1TB WD drive! I was going to put it an enclosure, but then just decided not to. It was that old, and my Time Capsule would no longer power up, which is why I removed the hard drive, and I just figured it wasn’t worth it to me, with newer technology and faster connections available, etc.

But, you sound like an awesome resource for another issue I am having with my old iMac (27" Late 2009 model). Are you on the Apple Communities at all? I’ve been working on there to get some help, and so far, I’m still stuck…trying to reinstall El Capitan on that machine. I’ve exhausted every suggestion available on via, but there is someone who is trying to help me from Apple Communities, but so far, no luck! :wink:

I really don’t use the Apple Communities, I have from time to time, but I am more likely to use the Macruors forums. On there I go as MacinMan. There is one other suggestion I can give you regarding your WD drive. Go to some place like Office Depot, or Best Buy, even Walmart, and buy the 4TB My Passport. those are the ones I use. This would be simply to confirm your existing hardware isn’t dead. If the new drive has the same problems, you can return it and you’re out no money. If the new drive works, consider your old drive dead, and money well spent.

Thanks! I’m in the process of installing VMware right now! They sure do require a lot of information from you before allowing you to signup to get it free, but I’m good with that!

I’ve never been in the Macrumors forums, definitely received emails, etc from Macrumors, so I will check it out!

I think I’m stuck (for the moment) with VMware. I got all the way through setting up the virtual machine to after the selection of Windows 7 as the OS. Then during the setup, it erred out due to the OS not being installed. I still haven’t purchased my external CD/DVD/BD drive for this iMac, so after I do that, which will be now! :slight_smile: I will get back to VMware.

FYI…I do successfully use an older 3TB WD drive with this iMac. I have it setup with 2 volumes, one for Time Machine backups, and one just for other use.

Thank you again for all of this useful information!! I appreciate it!

Oh! In the meantime, do you have any suggestions for another Operating System (that might just be free or downloadable) I might try within VMware to see if I could try to mount My Passport?

Pick a Linux bistro such as Ubuntu, or Linux Mint. if You are familiar with FreeBSD, you could also use that. However, Linux Mint, or Ubuntu would be the quickest setup for a free OS.