Western Digital external hard drive just died for no known reason

Firstly, I had no idea Sandisk and WD merged until, well, just now when trying to get support. Their page says to call CS even on weekends, but when I do that, this is when I found out. That shows you how long ago I bought my drive. My mistake, I admit, for not duping it earlier. Now I know. This now dead drive is from 2012–like the movie of the same name.

Suggestions welcome please… I am trying to remain calm:

I have a WD external hard drive. It is called My Book Essential and it has a P/N on back: WDBACW0030HBK-01 4512B and says made in Thailand. I believe this particular version is 3 TB of space, of which I have used at least half for my stuff.

Everything important is on it. You have all probably seen this type of situation before where a novice like me makes this mistake. Well, now I know what I should know, but until now, I did not, so please do not flame me. But now, the drive seems to be dying or dead. All of a sudden, one morning a couple weeks ago. Done. It does not sound bad when spinning up or running, but it does not mount up anymore to anything I have.

I keep nothing on my home office PC because it can die (and they have, and I have lost files before). If I have something important it gets put on this drive. In theory, it can be unplugged and used on a new PC instantly, so that is why I do it that way.

I have had another earlier WD external drive die before and lost nearly everything. This was in 2007. I had to pay hundreds for a data recovery service (forget which one) to recover some of it but not all, and it was disorganized at best. They sent me a new WD drive which I used for years and then replaced it with this one because this one has more space, which I require for my work. I have now seemingly run into this issue again, here in 2017, and this WD drive is about 5 years old. I have another similar model WD drive that I keep movies on. That one works and has the same power supply and USB connection cable. (Trust me, I am going to be backing all of that up ASAP!)

The one with all my important files died while I was copying pictures to it one morning and forced the computer to cease up. I had to do a repair and restart. When I was able to restart my PC this drive would not boot up. Its power was on but USB not seen. I restarted again, I tried to unplug USB items and restart… every time this would not come up. I had tried plugging the WD drive in after my PC booted up but nada. The other WD drive does show up and works fine so at least I have my movies. Ha.

I switched power supplies because they are the same, tried in other outlets around the house and on other Windows computers (have 3 running Windows 7, including a laptop), including a MAC. Nothing. At one point this WD drive would not even power up, but on the back there is what appears to be a reset button and I was able to get it to power up and try everything again. But the power light flashes continuously, and does not remain solid. I did remove the cover (carefully) and can see no obstructions, dead spiders, shorts, burns, loose parts and I can see the little LED blue-ish feed that goes to the power light. When plugged in it flashes continuously, not solid. When I plug in its USB to a computer, that computer seems to recognize something but will not mount it. Now I am worried this drive is dead. Had even swapped cables and power supply with the other WD, but no luck there either.

So how do I get my stuff off and quickly and fully copied to a new drive without running into this again? Can the folder structures I have on it be retained at all in doing this? Sadly, I imagine a box store telling me with a smile on his face that it will cost $$$$$$$$ and weeks and end up with nothing, except to try to sell me some new piece of junk where it will invariably happen again.

And going forward, what drive should I have or believe in? I do not want nor do I trust an online cloud-like services because I have had online hacking experiences before and am quite skiddish, but maybe you have suggestions for this if I am ultimately forced to put my faith in it again. (I tend to download my facebook account weekly because we all know they can just temp close your account whenever they feel like it so that is kind of like losing your data in a way) And, do such services allow one to load up to 2 TB of files, photos, reports, documents, music, videos, and other data anyway? I work for myself from home and so many work files are on there as well, and personal data, etc. How much does a good online cloudish service even cost? (At this point I think the seemingly bad construction of something within WD drives is why I am suffering today so heck, they should pay me for it!) I do not know what is the best thing to do going forward but sadly I was literally just recently looking at buying a second WD drive to make a copy of everything I have and then this happened before I had a chance to. Does one really need to have two drives to back up everything?

Now this mess has happened to me twice and I am beginning to think it is better to print everything and give up on trying to store any files online. As for pictures or scans, maybe I should print em all and forget digital too.

I do not have nor do I believe in automatic back up programs, as those never worked for me when I have used them anywhere, and there would be no room anywhere for any of it other than to, well, another drive. I have found that unless you have a super computer and a lot of time, most auto backups chunk away in the background slowing down performance or the web. And I do work at all hours so there is no real chunk of time that would be best for this type of procedure. Instead, I move things as I go and access things from this drive when I need it. Either way, I think I need a new one again and do not necessarily want to go with WD this time. But I need ample space and the ability to mount USB and copy files to and from it regularly. It is like my big Docs folder and it should be. It is where I save pretty much everything.

As for the security of my WD drive, I cannot think of any instance where it was moved or suffered any impact. There is a slight possibility one of my kids got in the home office and knocked it off its shelf but then put it back. I am only guessing at that because that is the only thing I can think of other than it just wore itself out somehow, which would be more horrible of a reason. It had been on a small shelf under my desk and plugged into a USB on my PC.It does not run hot or anything. It just does not boot up to a computer anymore and so dealing with this horror is how I spent my morning the day this happened.

The most annoying part is that I know every software or hardware person I talk to is going to treat me like I didn’t do this or should have done that, or suggest things beyond my abilities. What I really want are ways to get back the data fast and in full and then find a way to prevent this going forward. Assuming the disk or part of this drive that carries my data is still ok, I can only hope there is a way to get er fixed!

On the day this happened, I did secumb to the beast and took it to geek squad at Best Buy. $49 is the fee to leave it and let their services check to see what is wrong. Guy took it apart and determined its motor goes on but nothing mounts or maybe even spins. He shipped it to their recovery service and a couple weeks later they wrote back saying $1500 plus a new drive, and that’s with no guarantees everything will be saved! Too much. I told them no and asked them to ship it back to the store so I could go pick it up and try something else. They said they believe something mechanical AND software related is wrong with it. Strange it should be both.

The guy at Best Buy suggested his idea for trying to avoid this in the future which is to basically buy a new one every year and migrate a copy to each new one so you always have two. Me? I may just give up trying to save everything. Note to those in the creative field: get out! You cannot save your work.

Thank you for any help. I am searching for any docs or printed info on what exact drive this is. It is a bit disheartening that WD merged with Sandisk… to me, that’s like when two airlines merge. Means the customer ends up with less overall service (already proven partly true since I cannot call anyone until Monday). Hope I am wrong here!

Twas a long post I know. Thanks for reading. But you now have all the deets.

Unfortunately, the disk is selected when the unit is assembled. It is prone to change with firmware and production revisions. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but if the disk is inaccessible you will need help from a professional data recovery service company.

WD’s certified partners can analyze the hard drive for free:

On the other hand:

No drive. Always, always keep a backup (A secondary copy available at the same time in a different hard drive/location) of your data at all times. All drives from all manufacturers will eventually fail. Some of them will show no early signs of failure. At all. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Yes. Otherwise (By definition) you do not have a backup.

Totally overkill unless you are running out of space, which calls for larger drives. Running monthly diagnostics (SMART tests and full tests) can help detect physical issues and component wear. My current setup consists of a 1 year old drive and a 6 year old drive.

Thank you Trancer, I will check out the WD approved data recovery services listed in that link. I guess going forward I do need to do more.