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What to do with a broken Western Digital WD Elements portable Hard Drive

Updated on February 28, 2012
Not much fun when it just sits there and blinks at you.
Not much fun when it just sits there and blinks at you.

Oh there's nothing better than having oodles of space on a portable hard drive to back everything you have up on so you don't have to choke your own computer with the lunatic amount of mp3s and pictures of cats you've collected over the years...
...That is, when the portable hard drive works that is.

When it doesn't (and Western Digital seems to have big problems with portable drives failing to get read on occasion), you will end up with that sinking feeling that your big collection of saved things has now just become a very fancy paperweight.

The good news is that you do have a number of options with what to do with it. So if you're WD elements drive is doing nothing but blinking at you and refusing to be read, try some of these solutions to see if you can get your can has cheezburger cats back where they belong.

Replace the cord: Both the USB and power cords to these drives can become damaged over time so check that they're in good working order. If you want to test them, borrow a set from a friend to see if that makes any difference. The USB cord for this system should only set you back a couple of bucks.

Open the case: Deep in your enclosed hard drive.. surprise surprise is actually, a normal hard drive. The only difference is that that it's connected to a USB cord reader while is a part that commonly fails. The good news is that it's easily removed by taking out the obvious screws with a screwdriver. After that you have a couple of ways to use the drive itself:

♦ Get another 3.5 inch Hard Drive enclosure kit that comes with USB and a power cord. These are commonly found at computer stores and eBay. This will make your portable hard drive still nice and portable, just in a different (non Western Digital) case.

♦ Plug your hard drive directly into your motherboard. If you're not technical enough to do this, consult a technical friend for advice. If it's a big sized drive (1TB or larger) just be aware that some older motherboards might have a problem with it connected and you might have to update a variety of things to get it working. Failing that...

Use a data recovery service: it's the most expensive option here but you can send it to the professionals to get everything off it. Check online for your nearest service.

And if those tricks fail...

Throw the dead drive through the nearest window: Sure it won't help you get anything off your drive, but it will make you feel much better about how frustrating a broken portable hard drive can truly be..


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      that last option worked... :D

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Agreed, WD external drives are crap imho..

      So weird cause I have no trouble with them inside a comp case as internal drives directly connected to a sata controller on mobo?? I go through lots and lots of hard drives and sometimes internal drives break down as well but not as common, mostly it says Seagate on them for some reason when breaking down internally for me, lol. By far the most stable disks I have ever used period is the Samsungs drives no longer in production, F series and in particular F2, F3 series. Have not gone through enough F4 series to be able to speak for those and Samsung sold out right after F4 so?? Gotta have used at least at bare minimum of 10 drives of same brand and model to speak for their reliability imho and never had the chance to go through 10 F4´s. Disks sometimes break down and people talk online so that is why I have this rule for myself about 10 drives minimum of same brand and model, gotta be fair and keep the fanboi stuff out of discussions like these

      , cheap and reliable rule imo and Brand talk I don´t care much for and don+t think one company is better then the other as companies, their drives may do the speaking for them instead and Samsung that makes so much plastic crap in other areas really knew how to put together magnetic drives imho, weird right? It is what it is I guess, so sad they no longer make them + it made market divided into 2 giants, can anyone say price cartels, lol.

      Anyway, the WD chassies and especially the cheapo Elements series work great with F series inside them, cannot promise all of them do but the few I have swapped out do indeed + F series run about 10 degree Celsius cooler in external enclosure so that could have something to do with it? My F series run under 30C at summer and inside a comp chassis they are at 21-25C so to bad no longer in production.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Bought three months ago; spent weeks loading photos, and now its dead. What a waste of money. Will never buy WD again and will make sure as many people as possible know how bad they are!

    • Al Shield profile imageAUTHOR

      Al Shield 

      6 years ago from Bendigo, Victoria

      I have two and amazingly the earlier generation one is still working, the newer one causing massive headaches. Considering how well these things sell, you'd think WD would invest a bit more money into the reliability side of things..

    • Cat R profile image

      Cat R 

      6 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      So agree with you on WD. My internal WD drive is now stone-old, having been one of the first 80GB drives. And still works! On the other side I now lost 5 of my 7 WD external drives WITH 1000+GB of stuff on it!


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