Recovered files from dead WD MyBook Live 2 TB. Thanks everyone

#1

I have/had a WD MyBook Live (MBL) 2 TB network drive from which I have successfully recovered the files to another harddrive. Thanks to all the helpful posts scattered through these forums and others who have posted online. I’m hoping my notes here will help someone else.

I suspected the circuit board or the firmware was faulty and the operating system of the MBL would not load hence the solid yellow light. From my PC I could no longer see the MBL on the network and I couldn’t access my backup files. To describe my model of MBL, it connects by ethernet to a router or switch, it has no USB port. The problem was the indicator light on the front started out blue but switched and stayed solid yellow. I suspect a power outage caused the problem because after the outage I could no longer see the MBL on the network in Windows Explorer. I could hear the hard drive spinning and there were no unusual sounds from the drive but I couldn’t see or access the MBL on the network.

With help others posted here and in other forums I was able to access the folders and copy my files from the MBL to another hard drive. My alternative was a $400-$500 cost for a data recovery firm to try and recover the data. I thought I had nothing to lose trying myself.

Here is what I did and the info I found that really helped:

  1. There are great comprehensive tips on opening the MBL case without breaking the tabs if it’s a concern. [GUIDE] How to unbrick a totally dead MBL

  2. Removed the hard drive from the case and removed the circuit board. I ended up breaking all the tabs but I’m not reassembling the MBL at all, the enclosure is getting recycled, I’ll re-use the hard drive. Note, there is one hidden screw under a piece of rubber where the yellow light is on the board. I couldn’t get the circuit board off. Once the 4th screw is removed the circuit board slides off easily.

  3. Recovery software. I’m running Windows so I used R-Linux file recovery utility (for Windows)
    https://www.r-studio.com/free-linux-recovery/

    Another free utility people have recommended is Disk Internals (R-Linux worked and I didn’t try this one)
    https://www.diskinternals.com/linux-reader/

  4. Use a SATA dock or for about $20 on Amazon there are adapters that connect to a unhoused hard drive with a USB cable and power supply. That is all you need to temporarily power the drive and move files to a computer or another drive.

  5. Using the R-Linux. I found R-Linux unclear at first and it didn’t show any folders or files. The hard drive from the MBL showed as 2 drives in Windows Explorer and R-Linux. Windows Explorer can’t access the two folders.

In my case, I already had C, D and F drives on my laptop. Connecting the drive from the MBL added drives E and G. My files were on drive E. In R-Linux I clicked on E: and it took about 40 minutes to read all the folder and filenames. Do this step or it seems nothing is happening, this is the confusing part about R-Linux. After clicking on E:, slowly the folder names and filenames of what I needed started to be listed in R-Linux. Be patient.

I check-marked the folders/files I wanted to recover then clicked “Recover Marked” (folders/files) and set the destination drive on another external hard drive. It took another 20 minutes to grab about 100 GB of files. I had some music which I checked and the files played just fine. What was valuable to me were the installation files for some obsolete but still functional software which I managed to recover.

Question:

  • Some people said the files on the MBL are encrypted. Maybe that’s an option in the MBL interface to add encryption, but in any case, I had no issues with R-Linux accessing the folders and files on the hard drive from the MBL.

Comment

  • I’m not diligent enough to back up my backup (I thought about it a lot) and I have a 2 hard drive NAS box that offers me cloud like services. I’m thinking of buying another 2 drive NAS box and using the original to backup the new one.

  • Anyone who is still relying on a MyBook Live should consider what are the consequences to you when that device stops working. It will fail, either through a stuck firmware upgrade or the circuit board failing.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the forums that helped me. I probably spent 2-3 days searching the Internet, getting quotes from data recovery companies, and trying to revive the MBL. In the end, the fix took about 60 minutes.

Photo of the SATA to USB 3 adapter with power supply

Screen shots of file recovery in action
In my case the E: drive was the largest partition spanning from 4.31 GB to 1.82 TB

Double click on E: drive (or click on Scan in the menu). The dialog box says remaining time is 6h 24 minutes but the scan only took 43 minutes in my case.

Success!! I can see the folders on the drive removed from the MBL. I checked the folders/files I wanted to copy to another hard drive and clicked Restore Marked (folders/files). I transferred a bit over 100 GB of data to another hard drive in about 20 minutes.

Successfully recovered files from non-responsive MyBook Live (yellow light)