Western Digital Elements 4TB External HDD is not working!

I bought this HDD from Amazon around 3 years back and I only use it once or twice every couple of months just for bulk storing all the files that I’ve set aside during this period. It was working perfectly till yesterday, no issues whatsoever but today morning it started acting up. It wasn’t just a single issue but a couple of them

  1. My usual write speed is around 90-100 MB/s but all of a sudden it dipped down to 350 KB/s and stayed there forever. So I ended up cancelling it.
  2. I couldn’t watch a VLC video from within the External HDD, it got stuck every couple of seconds, so I copied the video file to my PC and then it was working fine.
  3. As I open different folders inside the External HDD, sometimes it takes a really long time for that folder to finish loading ( green explorer bar ) and this in turn made my PC folders hang up too. I had to restart my explorer.exe to fix this issue.

These were the 3 problems that I faced earlier today, and all this happened while I was moving / playing a video file I recently downloaded. So I falsely came to the conclusion that this video file was infected and was the reason behind all these problems and then proceeded to delete it, did a full Kaspersky check afterwards, it said there were no virus and so I disconnected my HDD.

A few hours passed, when I plugged it in again, everything was working as it should, the USB icon showed up in the notification area, the connection sound was heard and the External hard drive icon could also be seen inside the file explorer. Everything was working perfectly except for the fact that I was not able to open the external HDD or view any of the files.
If I double click on the external HDD, the file explorer green bar starts loading and never finishes and other times the explorer straight up hangs. And it’s the same result when I click on the arrow ( on the left pane ) to expand its tree.

I started looking for an online fix and tried many solutions, nothing worked but it helped me to find other issues caused by this HDD

  1. When I plug this HDD in, I can’t view Disk Management or Disk Defragmenter. It just keeps on loading forever, as soon as I unplug it, my PC drives shows up.
  2. I can’t use the CMD to chkdsk this drive even though it shows up in the file explorer.
  3. It’s idle half of the time and at 100% the rest of the time ( Task Manager > Performance > USB 1 )
  4. If I try to refresh the file explorer while it’s infinitely loading / hanging, the entire screen turns black. I can still surf the web and do other stuff ( Alt + Tab ) but my desktop is a plain black screen.
  5. If I try to switch on / off my PC while this HDD is connected, the windows loading circle spins endlessly, so I’m forced to manually power off and then remove the HDD before restarting.

Finally I’d like to point out that the HDD is running smoothly ( I mean the sound ), nothing out of the ordinary, no loud fluctuations and when I place my hand on it, I can feel the disc spinning. Please help, thanks for your time and consideration and sorry for the long post. I didn’t want to miss anything out.

There could be various reasons for your external hard drive to become unresponsive or undetected. It can be a hardware issue or some technical issue in the software. The external drive may be detected by the system if you connect it to another PC, but it doesn’t respond.

Below are the few possible reasons for an external drive being unresponsive:

  • A lot of bad sectors
  • Infected File (Virus or Malware)
  • Driver issue
  • Mechanical failure

You can try the below options to resolve the issue:

  • Run CHKDSK
  • Use an Antivirus & Anti-Malware tool
  • Re-install the drivers

You can also check out the below blog to know the solution for your issue: How to Fix Not Responding Hard Drive

Hope this will help.

Thanks for your reply, I tested this HDD on three separate systems, all 3 responded the same way. And I did try to run chkdsk but it won’t work and just before this HDD issue started, I ran a complete anti virus check and it reported nothing. And I don’t think it’s the drivers fault either coz then this HDD should have worked on my other 2 PCs. Any others suggestions?

Ignore this guys advice…he is just a spammer for Stellar and giving bad advice. Whatever you do, never run chkdsk on a drive that isn’t fully backed up, as it can and will cause data loss if there are bad sectors within the file table.

If the drive is reading slow, it is usually because of a firmware issue known as “slow responding”. This issue tends to be the result of head and/or surface issues.

If your data isn’t already backed up, you should back it up now. If the responsiveness of the drive is really bad and your are concerned about your files, it might not hurt to seek the assistance of a local data recovery professional.

If a professional is out of the question and you still want to backup the data from this drive, you will need to get familiar with Linux (if you aren’t already) and clone the drive with ddrescue or hddsuperclone. These programs are free and are recommended because when they encounter bad areas on your drive, they work around them to image the good areas first, then go back and gradually try and get the cleanest copy possible, while keeping a log so that if you have to stop or reboot, you can pickup where you left off and never read the same sector twice.

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I truly appreciate your concern, and just to give more information about the problems I’ve been facing. I’ve taken a couple of screenshots and if you can, please analyze this and suggest a good course of action. Thanks a lot.

I just realized I’m restricted to only 2 screenshots per post, so I’ll split it up. Sorry for the inconvenience.

These are the screenshots and just for your information: The Disk Defragmenter didn’t even open initially but after waiting for 10 mins, it finally did open but the External drive was still missing. Disk Management and chkdsk were in the same state as shown in the pic the entire time.

  1. Disk Management & Defragmenter before plugging in:
    Normal-Disk-Mgmt
    Normal-Disk-Defrag

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I truly appreciate your concern, and just to give more information about the problems I’ve been facing. I’ve taken a couple of screenshots and if you can, please analyze this and suggest a good course of action. Thanks a lot.

I just realized I’m restricted to only 2 screenshots per post, and when I linked you multiple screenshots, the system flagged me for spamming, so I’ll just paste all the screenshots as one big text, please separate them, sorry for the inconvenience caused. It’s posted in the thread, for some reason I can’t send them to you.

Just for your information: The Disk Defragmenter didn’t even open initially but after waiting for 10 mins, it finally did open but the External drive was still missing. Disk Management and chkdsk were in the same state as shown in the pic the entire time.

If I double click on E drive and leave it alone for some time, I get the error message as shown. And sometimes my PC starts lagging, this is the precursor to the Black screen and just like I anticipated, the entire desktop screen turned black and then I removed the External HDD and simultaneously started spamming “Print screen” and that’s how I captured that Black Screen image.