Major External HDD Problems here

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by stephen1108, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. stephen1108 macrumors 65816

    Sep 30, 2007
    I have this same exact WD External Hard Drive:

    I'm running the latest Mountain Lion on a 15" rMBPro and this drive is partitioned into two partitions. Both formatted in Mac OS Extended... I think. I did this so long ago, I can't remember. It's the one that allows me to boot from it should my MacBook HDD fail (one partition is a back-up/Carbon Copy).

    I've been using it perfectly fine up until about an hour ago where when I was trying to write 3 large files, totaling 1.5 GB to the drive, I noticed the write was taking abnormally long, and then the hard drive just disconnected itself, but the drives were still running when I felt it. Mac OSX then gave me the notification that "The disk was not ejected properly. If possible, always eject a disk before unplugging it or turning it off." Even though I did not eject it myself.

    So I plug it back in and it works, it's recognized by the computer and all, but it's taking forever to load the drive when I open it in Finder. It finally loads, and I can open a video I have on there no problem, but when I try to create a folder, it's taking abnormally long and giving me issues when it comes to saving the new folder's name. So then I try to rewrite the files again, the same thing happens as before.

    To make sure it's not my computer, I pull out my old 2010 13" MBPro, and I boot it up, plug it, experiencing the same issues. So back to my 15" rMBPro, I did a Verify Disk and a Repair Disk using Disk Utility, and they found nothing to be wrong with my disks.

    I unplug it, then plug it back in, and it works as before, but I still can't write the files. So I unplug it for a while, and restart my computer, and now when I plug it in it's recognized, but when I try to open up the drive in Finder, it won't let me. Finder hangs, then I get the "drive not ejected properly" error. If I plug it in and leave it for a minute, it just ejects itself (but leaves the disks spinning).

    I did this one more time, and the same thing is happening.

    Now I'm at a point where I can't even open the drive to let's say salvage my files on there and move them to a different one.

    It's not making any beeping noises, or weird sounds, but earlier while it was plugged in, it made two random beeps out of nowhere, and that was it. But it did beep randomly (like maybe one beep a week) at times. Nothing that would signify it failing however. It was also stationary when these problems started happening, so it's not like I moved it while the disks were spinning.

    Does anyone have any advice as to what may be going on, or what the problem is? I fear that I've lost all my files. :(
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Not sure if this is the solution. Have you tried using another USB cable? May be a cable problem. Or the directory of your external HD needs fixing using Disk Warrior app. Thanks
  3. stephen1108 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 30, 2007
    Well it just started happening and these stupid drives use a proprietary connection so I need to buy a new cable first. I've already looked into that and if it's still acting up tomorrow I'll buy one.

    What is this Disk Warrior app?
  4. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    It (cable) shouldn't be proprietary. It is standard micro-B USB 3.0.

    As it is bus powered (via the cable and not via a power adapter) the shorter the cable the better. A 1m should be ok (maybe) but if you can get a similar short cable it will be safer.

    I find if disks are playing up, then a reformat is the best way to go. Although you lose data so you need a backup. If a reformat doesn't work and another cable brings the same result then you likely have a disk or USB controller failure. Also the micro connectors (particularly in usb 2.0) can be temperamental because they are so small. Although usually they work or they don't.
  5. Dweez, Jul 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013

    Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    How long have you had the drive? It may be as simple as bad media which made it through the QA process. Have you run Disk Utility on the drive? If it's a recent purchase WD will replace it with an RMA number, via their website or 800 number.

    [ edit - I see that you wrote "Both formatted in Mac OS Extended... I think. I did this so long ago, I can't remember", so having WD issue an RMA may not be possible. ]

    Disk Warrior -->

    It's dollarware but worth every penny IMNSHO.

    As an aside I own 3 of these WD 1tb USB 3.0 drives and have had zero issues with them. One is formatted NTFS for when I boot windows, one ExFAT so I can share data between OSX and Windows, and one HFS for OSX use.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Some random thoughts:

    As another poster above mentioned, try a replacement USB cable.
    A good source for cables is "" (the postage usually costs more than the cable, but still worth it).

    (Again, as someone above mentioned), how old is the drive?
    All drives have a "lifespan", some are longer than others.
    It's _possible_ that the drive inside the enclosure is getting old and experiencing errors.

    How full is the drive? (and again, how old?). Over time, as a drive "fills up", the files on it can get "fragmented", with lots of small areas of "free space" scattered around. If there is not enough "contiguous" (totally free) space remaining to copy over a large file (such as a movie file), the drive may slow down, and even "choke" on it.

    The solution is to defragment the drive, to "concentrate" all the free space at "the end", leaving room for new writes, etc. This can be done with a defragmenting application, or, it can also be done by copying the contents of the drive (or partition) to _another_ drive, then re-copying them back (they will be copied over contiguously and leave free space behind).

    My advice:

    Sounds like the drive is getting older and could be having problems that _might_ indicate that it's no longer reliable and nearing failure. (Again, these problems might be resolved by a cable change and/or a defrag).

    I would NOT rely on this older single drive to contain files that were important to me.

    It's time for you to start thinking about a second external drive, to serve as a backup to your current one -- and in time, to replace it.

    However, I would recommend that you do not buy an "already put together" external drive. Instead, get yourself a "bare" drive and a USB3/SATA "docking station". You can see what's available by going to and entering "usb sata dock" in the text search box.

    There are many choices and all are relatively cheap (generally, around $30). All work the same and are easy to set up and use. There's no magic involved, anyone can do it.

    With a second drive, you can now use something like CarbonCopyCloner (free to use for 30 days from downloading) to "copy over" your valuable stuff to the new drive.

    Now, even if the older drive fails completely, you won't have lost your data.
  7. stephen1108 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 30, 2007
    Ohh, see, I thought it was a proprietary because I've NEVER seen one of those micro-B USB 3.0 ports/cables before :eek:

    I'll look into buying the cable from Monoprice, or even Amazon (I have a Prime account).

    I wanna say I bought this drive in mid-late 2011, but I really wasn't expecting this to die on me. I have a drive that I've had since 2009 (another WD Passport) and it still works fine. I actually bought this new drive in case that old one failed on me, and now look at what happened :eek:

    The drives aren't very full at all. I mean, there's a lot of stuff on there, but nowhere near full. I have a backup partition, which I use Carbon Copy Cloner to backup my Mac on it, and that's partitioned with 400 GB. The other one I use for storing documents and whatnot and that partition is 600 GB.

    I want to try defragmenting it, but it won't stay connected long enough for me to even go about doing that. I guess I'll have to buy a new cable and see what happens, then go from there.

    At this point in the game, I'm definitely buying a new drive, this one is already unreliable in my eyes. But why exactly do you recommend the bare drive and USB SATA dock set up?

    Thank you all so much for the input!!!
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "But why exactly do you recommend the bare drive and USB SATA dock set up?"

    Because if you have a dock and one or more "bare" drives, you can swap drives around easily.

    Also -- seems like one of the more common problems with "failing" external drives is the _enclosure_ and/or the power supply, and not necessarily the drive itself.

    When you use a "drive/dock" combo, if the drive is failing, just get another drive (you don't have to buy a new enclosure along with it). If there is a problem with the dock, just get another dock (and keep using the same drives).

    A docked drive doesn't _look_ as snazzy as an externally-enclosed drive. But it will work as well.

    Another comment, unrelated:
    Over the past few decades, I've had more failures from 3.5" "desktop" type drives than from 2.5" "laptop" drives. In the future, I'm probably going to buy only 2.5" drives, even though they may be of lower capacity. They just seem to last a little longer...
  9. stephen1108 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 30, 2007
    That really makes sense, thank you for the input! SO I got the cable from Amazon, it's the right one, and when I use it the same thing happens as before, so it's not the cable. What should I do now? I'm thinking this is a logistical failure... I can't even open up the drive on my Mac to see the contents :(

    I was really blind sided by this, the drive never gave any signs of failure at all.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "SO I got the cable from Amazon, it's the right one, and when I use it the same thing happens as before, so it's not the cable. What should I do now?"

    I'd get ahold of a USB3/SATA docking station.

    Then, I'd open up the WD enclosure, and take the "core drive" OUT of the enclosure and try it in the dock, and see what happens.

    IF the drive mounts, I'd start copying the important stuff OFF OF IT as quickly as I could.

    Once I had the important stuff safely archived somewhere else, I'd re-initialize the problem drive. If it initialized properly, I'd run Disk Utility's "repair disk" feature on it three or four times, observing the results.

    If the old, problem drive re-initialized ok, and tested ok, I'd use it as a "scratch drive" -- to keep things I wanted to have around, but could "afford to lose". For example, you might consider creating a "cloned backup" of your Mac's internal drive using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
  11. stephen1108 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 30, 2007
    I already looked into that and apparently that's impossible with my select drive :(

    Western Digital soldered the SATA to USB connector to the hard drive itself so I'm S.O.L. with at home solutions at this point. I'll have to look into a data recovery service. I'll do that when I have some extra money to spare.

    Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it! I'll buy a set up like you recommended and I'll be purchasing an online backup service subscription ASAP.
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Western Digital soldered the SATA to USB connector to the hard drive itself so I'm S.O.L."

    Soldered? Are you sure?
    I've NEVER heard of that.

    Post a close-up pic here, so we can see what you're talking about.

    Otherwise, be prepared to spend at least $1,000 for data recovery.

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