Trouble formatting External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jstieber, Sep 19, 2014.

  1. jstieber macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2014
    I am posting on behalf of my sister. She has a Mac Mini and a WD Passport external Hard drive. I have been trying to walk her through reformatting it but nothing is working. I'm looking for some advice.

    The hard drive is already formatted in Mac Os Extended. When the disk utility recognizes it the drive is read only. The disk utility gives no options for formatting under the erase tab. The volume scheme under the "partition" tab is also all "greyed out" and unclickable.

    In an attempt to format from a pc I found the drive and tried to format thru the disk management program. It also gives no options for formatting.

    Obviously something isn't write with the drive but I have no idea how to go about figuring it out.
  2. RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    Not 100% sure but I think the issue relates to OS X handling of attached storage, be it HDD or thumb drive.

    You need to eject a disk from the Mac it is being used on before attaching it to another Mac or PC - it is not at all like how Windows handles external storage (ie you're not supposed to just unplug a USB drive but pretty much everyone does so without suffering any grief).

    Try reconnecting the drive to the Mac it was previously used on and then ejecting it.

    If that is not possible, you can try google for a remedy or perhaps someone else on MR can provide more info.

    Best of luck!

  3. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    If you have access to Windows can you format through there to wipe out anything OSX may have done? Format it as FAT or exFAT (if an option) on Windows. Then take it back to OSX and see how it likes it then.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Here's something she might try.
    No promises that it will help.

    1. Connect the problem drive to the Mac, let its icon mount on the desktop

    2. Click on the drive icon ONE TIME to select it

    3. Type "command-i" (eye) to bring up the "get info" box for the drive.

    4. In the lower right hand corner there will be a "lock" icon. She should click on that, and then enter her administrative password. The lock will UNlock.

    5. In the lower left hand corner of the get info box, there is checkbox that says "ignore ownership on this volume".

    6. If that box is UNchecked, she should put a checkmark in it.

    7. Close the "get info" box.

    She should try copying a few files TO the drive. Does this work?

    She should try trashing the files she just copied. Does that work?
  5. ryguy92000 macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    WD Externals....*shutters*

    The above idea of "unlocking" the drive is a good one. And decidedly worth a try.

    The bad news is that WD externals are...well polite manners won't let me say! They have a new feature built into the enclosure itself (not the HD) preventing a complete formatting for security reasons. My dad is still going through this and its nothing short of garbage. If you can figure a work around I would love to hear it. We have some software at our shop that is nothing short of torture for these externals and we get through it. Its called "Drive Genius" and does a good job when used in the "initialize" mode. Not cheap but its the only way I know of to get around something this stubborn!

    Good Luck! :D
  6. TechpumpkinWD macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2014

    If you just want to reformat the drive and have access to a Windows PC the fastest way would be to use WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostics and run “Write zeros” on the drive.
    It will completely erase all information that was on the drive. Once done you can initialize and format the drive in your preferred file system.

    Hope that helps
  7. MikeLane macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2009
    Is this a recent feature of WD drives?

    I have a WD My Book 3TB External bought about a year ago that behaves perfectly normally as far as I can see
  8. TechpumpkinWD macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2014
    There aren't any features that will prevent the drives from being formatted. There is however hardware encryption built-in the external drives. All the data stored there is encrypted even in the cases when no password has been set.
  9. jstieber thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2014
    Thanks to everyone who has replied!

    I appreciate the help so much.

    So far I have tried all suggestions except the WD website, which I am currently attempting. If this website proves to be the solution I'll post again because I hope others can benefit from this post.

    I've been growing increasingly frustrated with WD.

    Ok so I have now tried the WD website program and here are the results:

    1. The quick test failed due to too many bad sectors
    2. The extended test also failed due to too many bad sectors.
    3. Write zeros also failed due to drive partition failure.

    I'm beginning to think that this drive may be beyond repair. If so, its fine, I'd just like some reassurance from someone who has a better understanding than I.

    Any and all further suggestions and comments are appreciated!
  10. TechpumpkinWD macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2014

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