WD My Book Elite - Potential lost data


I’m attempting to help a relative recover data. they have a WD My Book Elite WDBAAH0010HCH. This is their description of the problem:

I have an external hard drive that is at least 5 years old & maybe 10. I had transferred lots of home videos & other files to this Western Digital My Book Elite external hard drive & all was well. I never used the software on the WD hard drive to move the files over & set up the folders to organize them. I simply used Microsoft Explorer to do this. Then, sometime later, I was upgrading my computer (from an HP lap top to a Dell desk top), and I decided to make a full back up of the HP hard drive. I thought it would be best to use the WD software to ensure a full and complete backup. So, I “set-up” the My Book Elite hard drive. When I did this I think the software partitioned the hard drive because I could no longer see all of the folders & videos that I put on there.

They shipped the drive to me to see if I can recover the data.

When connected via USB, it shows up as a CD Drive, WD SmartWare. In Disk Management, the drive shows up as Not Initialized and Unallocated. Disk Managements prompts me to initialize the disk. I haven’t done that, for fear of causing further damage. I also have not run the WD SmartWare software.

I have currently only connected the drive via USB cable. I tried several programs (EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, GetDataBack (for NTFS and Pro), WD Data LifeGuard Diagnostics, Partition Find and Mount). They all seem to be unable to read the drive. As soon as a scanning process starts with some, I get sector reading errors. I copied this, but I can’t remember from which program:

I/O Error ‘Reset failed’ reading sector 0 on DISK4 (RT#633)

Partition Find and Mount is what I am attempting currently. It is not giving me any sector reading errors, but the Intelligent scan found no partitions. I’m currently running a Thorough Scan.

Was this data potentially encrypted? If he didn’t use the WD software when copying the data initially, does that mean it wasn’t encrypted? Perhaps this setup process set up encryption, but is it possible that the data on the drive is not encrypted and has not been overwritten yet? I am pretty clueless about how encryption works on hard drives.

If this Thorough Scan doesn’t find anything, my next guess was to try removing the drive and connecting it directly (SATA dock), in case the enclosure is somehow preventing the data recovery software from working. But when poking around, I found some comments that the data could only be read via the enclosure. Whether or not it will do me any good, I’m assuming it should be safe to remove the drive and attempt connecting via SATA. I’m pretty sure the drive is past warranty anyway.

Is there a chance the drive was damaged when he shipped it to me? I don’t know if sector reading errors are evidence of damage, or if it’s just something to do with the enclosure / software or encryption.

Any recommendations on how to proceed? It’s likely that much or all of what I have been doing is barking up the wrong tree. I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I’m proceeding cautiously.

Thanks for reading!


I’m pretty sure the hard drive has mechanical problems (possibly introduced when shipping). I removed the bare hard drive and was able to have some scanning, but still a lot of sector errors. It was finding some files, but it was reeeeeally slow. I ran it overnight, and when I came back in the morning it had halted at about 2% (program not responsive). After that, I could not get the drive to be recognized at all using multiple docks with 3 different connection types, and 2 different computers. And the drive is making a fairly loud repeating mechanical sound.