WD Elements keeps Mac apps from opening

My iMac restarted on its own all of a sudden and when I logged back in no applications (Safari, Mail, etc) would launch. Several restarts later I noticed my 4TB WD Elements portable was very slow to show up. I tried disconnecting it and restarting and problem went away. Reconnected it and open apps on Mac ran OK but could not open any additional apps. Disk Utility just spun beach ball. I can see the Time Machine files on the drive but have to Force Eject it. Any suggestions for rescuing drive or fixing weirdness? Already ordered a replacement but can’t even reformat since Disk Utility won’t run. (Yes, I tried different cable and different USB port.)

It seems like there may be an issue with your WD Elements portable drive causing conflicts with your Mac’s apps and Disk Utility. Here are a few suggestions you can try to troubleshoot and potentially resolve the issue:

  1. Update macOS: Ensure that your iMac is running the latest version of macOS. Sometimes, updating the operating system can help resolve compatibility issues.

  2. Check drive connectivity: Make sure the USB connection between your iMac and the WD Elements drive is secure. However, you have already tried using a different USB cable and connecting the drive to a different USB port.

  3. Verify drive health: Use a third-party disk utility tool like DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro to check the health and repair any potential disk errors on your WD Elements drive. These tools can often address issues that Disk Utility might not be able to handle.

  4. Boot into Safe Mode: Restart your iMac and hold down the Shift key immediately after the startup chime. This will boot your Mac into Safe Mode, which performs a series of checks and prevents unnecessary startup items from loading. Once in Safe Mode, check if you can access Disk Utility or open applications without any issues. If the problem doesn’t occur in Safe Mode, it may indicate a conflict with a third-party application or extension.

  5. Reset NVRAM/PRAM: Resetting the NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) or PRAM (parameter random-access memory) can help resolve various system-related issues.

  6. Disconnect other peripherals: Disconnect all unnecessary peripherals from your iMac, such as external drives (except for the WD Elements), printers, and other USB devices. Sometimes, conflicts can arise between different devices connected to your Mac.

If none of these steps resolve the issue and you’ve already ordered a replacement drive, it may be best to focus on migrating your data to the new drive once it arrives. You can try connecting the WD Elements drive to a different computer to see if it exhibits similar issues there. If it does, the drive may have developed a hardware fault, and data recovery services might be necessary if you need to retrieve any important files.

Remember to consult with a professional or reach out to WD support if you’re unsure about any troubleshooting steps or if you want to explore warranty options for your WD Elements drive.

Thanks for the quick assistance. I’ve ordered a new drive and fortunately the wonky one had only Time Machine backups, so in meantime I did a clone to a different drive. I also ordered a USB-C to mini-USB cable so I can try the wonky drive on a laptop with latest OS, different hardware.

Safe mode didn’t work–same issue with Disk Utility. I’ll try #5 and #6 if no luck with laptop. At this point I’d be happy just to reformat the drive so I can use it.