WD My Book Duo doesn't work anymore since this morning

I hope someone has advises, helpful tipps what to do next.

This morning I powered up my computer (Mac Mini, but shouldn’t matter which type of PC) with a USB-connected WD My Book Duo 16 TB unit (with 2x 8TB RED drives) and which creates now big headaches.

I run this setup of a computer with this connected WD unit since about more than 3 years. When powering up the computer, the WD unit’s LED starts to light up, as usual, but then the unit (respectively something inside) (not sure if one or both RED HDDs) starts to make - some kind of clicking - noises. After some time it stops making these noises and the LED is having this “heartbeat breathing” rhythm. The computer OS is up and running, but does not see anything of the unit, nor its separate drives and does not ask for the “FileVault” password (the full disk encryption method on macOS), which I usually enter in order to get access to the data. However, it seems to stuck already in the recognition of the drive itself from the beginning, I guess.

Then I powered down the PC, but the WD unit did not power down itself as well. It keeps being on and the LED light stays in that breathing mode.

Pressing the button on the back of the WD unit did not have any effect. Also not the “4 seconds button press” according to the manual. It does not react and the unit keeps powered on.

While the PC is still off, I then unplugged the power adapter from the WD unit. Waited a bit and plugged back in the power adapter to the power socket (the fan then makes this usual, short-time “boost up sound” for a moment).

Then I started the PC again, not having the WD unit connected via USB yet. Once the computer was up and running, I connected the WD unit via USB to the computer. It started to do the same clicking noises, also for a similar (short) time, and then again just stalls. This time the LED light is not breathing, but simply is on all the time.
On the OS desktop, a window appears giving a generic error message, which is not of any help. It says (translated from German) something like “Error RAID configuration, your My Book Duo device (serial nr. …) seem to have problems with the RAID configuration. Start WD Drive Utilities for further information”.

This WD unit is not (and was never) configured with a RAID. I use the 2 internal RED drives separately, without any RAID configuration. I understand this error window as a generic one. The WD Drive Utilities view was not of any help either and does not exhibit any useful information about what is going on. So far I refrained from clicking on the button in the WD Drive Utilities, which is something about starting a check. As any sort of such intense “physical operation” on the disk may create a worse situation than it is already. Since the unit itself is not even detected at all (no entry in the disk utility manager of the operating system), this check would likely not even work, as there is no device, according to the system view, to check on.

My questions:

  1. Could it be that “only” the controller logic of the WD enclosure has a defect, or does it indicate definitely a harddrive defect already?

  2. Would it be a good idea, to remove 1 HDD and power up the WD unit with the remaining HDD (let’s say Slot#2) and vice versa? To see if only one (and which one) HDD (“Slot#1-drive” or “Slot#2-drive”) is affected and creates the noises?

  3. Would a My Book Duo unit generally be able to startup properly if only 1 drive would be inside (again, there is no RAID configuration, both HDDs were set up to be used separately)?

  4. I do have - for the full picture - a 2nd WD My Book Duo 16 TB unit as well. That one is not connected most of the time. Would it be an idea to swap out the 2 RED drives of the affected unit and place it into the 2nd unit, to test if then they boot up properly? So it would be the test if the affected unit’s enclosure (logic board etc) would be the culprit? Or is this not a good idea at all, since these units have this “WD built-in encryption” in place (which is “always enabled” and not possible to get disabled by customers of this particular product since the beginning)? Does someone know how this could impact this idea? Would this “swap out and into another enclosure”-test still work and a good idea or shall I totally stay away from this test, as perhaps the WD encryption is bound to the particular enclosure? And in worst case I would run high risk of ruining my 2nd WD unit with the other disks currently in there?

Amendment: just to be clear on that: I did not install nor used “WD Security”. Does this mean the WD hardware encryption is not active then? For some reasons I thought this product has a built-in hw encryption, which can’t be disabled. What is the correct understanding? Can I assume now that my unit is not utilizing any WD encryption? Thanks for clarification on that matter too.

Amendment 2: I found this community article from the past. How can I know for sure if my unit, purchased May 2018, has the hw-encryption enabled all the time or not? This topic is certainly confusing, and worrying too.
“WD My Book Duo data forever lost if Drive Enclosure Dies!”

Amendment 3:
The product detail page advertises the hardware encryption as follows:

The My Book™ Duo drive comes with 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption with WD Security™ software built in to help keep private content secure. Set a personalized password to activate hardware encryption and data protection.
Source: My Book Duo Product Detail Page

This marketing text makes basically sense. By setting a password via that WD Security software, the customer can “activate hardware encryption”. Consequentially, it would mean when not setting a password, the hardware encryption is not activated.

Unfortunately, there is a contradicting support article, also original WD source.

Do I need to turn on the encryption?
No. The encryption is always turned on and cannot be configured.

How can I turn off the hardware encryption?
The encryption is always turned on and cannot be configured or turned off.

Source: My Book Duo Hardware Encryption Questions and Answers

This official support article describes completely the opposite: hardware encryption is always on and can’t be deactivated by the customer.
What is now the correct information? Both statements are completely contradicting each other.

Furthermore, following description in the same FAQ support article describes:

Will I lose my data is the hardware encryption is used and the enclosure needs to be replaced?
The data is not lost. If the My Book Duo enclosure fails, replace the My Book Duo enclosure.

The advertised security gained through that “always on”-hardware encryption gets absurd by that description. Why? Imagine the unit gets stolen, only thieves who would take out the disks and try to connect to them to any other option of connecting SATA drives, would not gain access. But, thieves who are aware of that you only need to buy the same type of enclosure from WD, would get around the hardware encryption, as it would be automatically decrypted through a new enclosure of the same product type.
If the information of the support article would hold true, it would be not an effective security solution protecting customers as advertised on the marketing website. Unless… unless the marketing website tells the truth, and hardware encryption is enabled only with a customer set password. But that info, as outlined before, contradicts completely the support article.
So, what are now the true facts?

Thanks so far for any advises, help, ideas!

Hi @mm-europe,

Have you opened a Support Case? If not opened, for more information, please contact the WD Technical Support team for the best assistance and troubleshooting:

Hello @Keerti_01,
yes I did. The same day. So far no response yet.

  1. Yes, it could
  2. You could test each drive individually with the system. Connect it directly to the PC via external enclosure.
  3. Should be able to if they are not configured in RAID

Do you have backup of your data? And, is it important?

If you have a copy of your data, then, you could try to format the disk.

If not, and it is important files, you should contact a recovery service.

I can suggest SalvageData - https://www.salvagedata.com

Good luck!