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WD External Drive to Internal

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April 21, 2011 11:44:52 PM

I have 2 1TB External WD My Book Essential drives. These drives are used strictly to hold media (recorded TV shows, music, and a lot of video rendering that I do).

I recently purchased a Dell PowerEdge and installed Windows Server 2008 R2 on it. I was going to take the 2 external drives (which are out of warranty) and make them internal drives. So, I popped the case open on one of them and removed the USB<->SATA connection that is attached to the drive, then put the drive into the PowerEdge, enabled SATA0 in the BIOS, booted the server, and went straight to "Comptuer Management" > Storage > "Disk management", and I saw my drive there...but, it was saying "Not Initialized".

If you haven't guessed by now, I know a bit when it comes to IT (it is my job, heh)...so I knew right away not to initialize the drive, as it will most likely nuke the data on the drive (as it creates a new MBR/GPT).

So, I put the drive back into its enclosure, plugged it into the server as an external drive, and it works (as it should).

I am assuming that the USB<->SATA Adapater that is in the My Book Essentials enclosure has a weird partitioning scheme going on. What leads me to this thought is that when I plug the drive into the server (or any machine for that matter), it registers as 2 drives...the hard drive, as well as a CD ROM. The CDROM is a virtual CD Rom that contains the WD Smartware software (I forget exactly what it is called)....so I am assuming that the HDD is partitioned as 1 smaller partition which holds the virtual CD image, then the storage partition (basically what windows sees as the HDD).

My question is this: Is there any way for me to pop that drive into the server w/o data loss? I was debating a fixmbr (the old fdisk /mbr from win9x days), but fear that would have the same horrible results.
a c 116 G Storage
April 21, 2011 11:55:50 PM

Backup all data on another separate drive, and then you can try various options. After backing up, you can do what you did earlier and go ahead and initialize the drives.
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April 22, 2011 12:02:20 AM

I have a backup going now, but trying to find 1TB worth of empty space is (was) not an easy task....I am spreading out the files between 3 laptops, 2 desktops, and an AppleTV. Not the cleanest solution. The plan is:

HDD 1: Backup to the locations mentioned, take external drive and make it internal, initialize, and let it remain empty right now.
HDD 2: Take data from HDD 2 and put it on the now clean/empty HDD 1. Now move HDD2 to inside the server and initialize it. Then copy the data that was on HDD 1 but now spread out across the network to HDD 2.

Very time consuming, but it WILL work.

It just irritates me that Windows can't detect the partitions. It makes no sense to me.
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a c 116 G Storage
April 22, 2011 12:28:31 AM

Good plan! I know that the file transfers will be time consuming.

What I do personally, is when I am doing large file transfers (backups) I let the computer do its thing while I attend to other matters.

Sometimes, I start backups, virus checks, spyware checks, just before going to bed. By morning, it is done!
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August 26, 2012 8:31:56 AM

Same thing happened to me, although I was not prescient enough to intitialize the one small partition which showed up as (371Gb), with the remaining of the 3TB as unallocated space. The drive was near full with my media collection on it.

I stopped doing anything else on the same assumption you had - that WD had some sort of proprietary internal partitioning scheme behind the USB interfece and before the internal SATA connection. I waited four days for a tech support call, and the guy (clearly a CSR reading off a flowchart script) swore up, down, and sideways that WD does not have any scheme or abstraction behind the USB port on the outside of the external case. HE swore to me that like any externa; drive case you might buy aftermarket, the cirrcuit board in the elements drive does nothing more than adapt sata to usb, a la dvi-vga dongle. No logic, no translation, no internal formatting or partition scheme. Okay, fine then: what is the problem?

After nearly climbing through the phone to punch the guy when he suggested I may have dissassembled the drive near a strong magnet, or that I damaged the drive removing the case ( I used a web site diagram and was incredibly gentle and careful), his conclusion was that coincidentally, the drive experienced a random failure just during the 10 minutes I had it out o9gf the case and was carefully installing it in my PC. Okay. Not likely but plausible. And since the internal board in the case is only an adapter, of course no software emulation program is available. Though WU would happy to refer me to a data recovery company, given that the drive is clearly corrupted. I asked why I should have to pay for a five month old hd which failed (allegedly) during a simple procedure which the manual makes no warnings about. Mr. CSR told me that the internal drive (3G caviar) was not intended to be used as an internal drive. I asked him, then, whether the caviar internal drives which WD sells, one of which is the exact model I which came with my elements drive, whether the WD caviar internal hard drives are intended to be used internally. Not picking up on my jab, the CSR said yes, WD's internal drives are intended to be used internally. I asked him then, why my internal drive can't be used internally, and whether the drives used in elements external drives are perhaps sub-standard or manufacturing seconds, and he assuredly said no. I asked him whether he was aware of how incredibly ludicrous and contradictory his explanations and answers were in this situation, but he did not seem to understand. He offered a link to WD's data life guard utiilty, then when I told him I was using Win 8 Ent RTM, he jumped on that as the obviuos problem. Right.

BTW, I sold the external case with a smaller drive in it before I mounted the 3tb, expecting no problems, its a simple operation. So I can't go back and put it in the external case and back it up.

But then, I read here that another user had the exact same experience. Now, I am not a statistics analyst, but what, I wonder, would be the odds of two otherwise healthy WD hard drives failing at random for two users both during a simple 10 minute simple procedure if moving from case to internal, with the failures not related to the procedure. I don't need a calculator to comfortably say it is in the trillions. If there were say one more person who experienced this, we are talking like one in a quintillion chance. SO, either my friendly WU tech was lying or just unaware of the truth, or WD is engaged in an undocumented practice to keep the drives sold as externals from being used internally.

Anyways, aside from a letter I am going to send WD with the words class and action, I am primarily interested in rescuing my data. I am letting ontrack run, est. 4 days, to find partitions and recover what I can manually. We will see how that plays out, then I have to free up 3tb to put the stuff.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on here? What logic is contained on the little circuit board in the case? Elements desktop is not encrypted, and ontrack is already showing lots of found files which are not encrypted, and i am not the only one with this problem. I dont believe my disk is corrupted, and there must be a utility, a software emulation of the SATA-USB card, a simpler and faster solution to solving the problem which clearly WD created - intentionally or otherwise, other than resorting to days and days of forensic file rescue, and the pain of shuffling around to find space for 3tb of data.

Thanks to anybody who could: provide some insight into what is going on here, a utility to restore the mbr or partition table to the one windows used to see when the drive was conected over usb, or some relatively efficient way of offloading all my data before formatting. Windows keeps asking to format the disk, I wont due to fear of further corruption, and the two huge partitions marked as raw, unallocated, I don't want to touch either unless it is safe. Any advice? Thanks



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September 28, 2012 4:18:37 PM

mikestashuk said:
Same thing happened to me, although I was not prescient enough to intitialize the one small partition which showed up as (371Gb), with the remaining of the 3TB as unallocated space. The drive was near full with my media collection on it.

I stopped doing anything else on the same assumption you had - that WD had some sort of proprietary internal partitioning scheme behind the USB interfece and before the internal SATA connection. I waited four days for a tech support call, and the guy (clearly a CSR reading off a flowchart script) swore up, down, and sideways that WD does not have any scheme or abstraction behind the USB port on the outside of the external case. HE swore to me that like any externa; drive case you might buy aftermarket, the cirrcuit board in the elements drive does nothing more than adapt sata to usb, a la dvi-vga dongle. No logic, no translation, no internal formatting or partition scheme. Okay, fine then: what is the problem?

After nearly climbing through the phone to punch the guy when he suggested I may have dissassembled the drive near a strong magnet, or that I damaged the drive removing the case ( I used a web site diagram and was incredibly gentle and careful), his conclusion was that coincidentally, the drive experienced a random failure just during the 10 minutes I had it out o9gf the case and was carefully installing it in my PC. Okay. Not likely but plausible. And since the internal board in the case is only an adapter, of course no software emulation program is available. Though WU would happy to refer me to a data recovery company, given that the drive is clearly corrupted. I asked why I should have to pay for a five month old hd which failed (allegedly) during a simple procedure which the manual makes no warnings about. Mr. CSR told me that the internal drive (3G caviar) was not intended to be used as an internal drive. I asked him, then, whether the caviar internal drives which WD sells, one of which is the exact model I which came with my elements drive, whether the WD caviar internal hard drives are intended to be used internally. Not picking up on my jab, the CSR said yes, WD's internal drives are intended to be used internally. I asked him then, why my internal drive can't be used internally, and whether the drives used in elements external drives are perhaps sub-standard or manufacturing seconds, and he assuredly said no. I asked him whether he was aware of how incredibly ludicrous and contradictory his explanations and answers were in this situation, but he did not seem to understand. He offered a link to WD's data life guard utiilty, then when I told him I was using Win 8 Ent RTM, he jumped on that as the obviuos problem. Right.

BTW, I sold the external case with a smaller drive in it before I mounted the 3tb, expecting no problems, its a simple operation. So I can't go back and put it in the external case and back it up.

But then, I read here that another user had the exact same experience. Now, I am not a statistics analyst, but what, I wonder, would be the odds of two otherwise healthy WD hard drives failing at random for two users both during a simple 10 minute simple procedure if moving from case to internal, with the failures not related to the procedure. I don't need a calculator to comfortably say it is in the trillions. If there were say one more person who experienced this, we are talking like one in a quintillion chance. SO, either my friendly WU tech was lying or just unaware of the truth, or WD is engaged in an undocumented practice to keep the drives sold as externals from being used internally.

Anyways, aside from a letter I am going to send WD with the words class and action, I am primarily interested in rescuing my data. I am letting ontrack run, est. 4 days, to find partitions and recover what I can manually. We will see how that plays out, then I have to free up 3tb to put the stuff.

Does anyone know what exactly is going on here? What logic is contained on the little circuit board in the case? Elements desktop is not encrypted, and ontrack is already showing lots of found files which are not encrypted, and i am not the only one with this problem. I dont believe my disk is corrupted, and there must be a utility, a software emulation of the SATA-USB card, a simpler and faster solution to solving the problem which clearly WD created - intentionally or otherwise, other than resorting to days and days of forensic file rescue, and the pain of shuffling around to find space for 3tb of data.

Thanks to anybody who could: provide some insight into what is going on here, a utility to restore the mbr or partition table to the one windows used to see when the drive was conected over usb, or some relatively efficient way of offloading all my data before formatting. Windows keeps asking to format the disk, I wont due to fear of further corruption, and the two huge partitions marked as raw, unallocated, I don't want to touch either unless it is safe. Any advice? Thanks


Hello all
the problem is the drive usb connecter assembly without the usb connector you will get a error of drive is write protected.
what i did was used data life gaurd tools to lowlevel the drive to remove the udf partition remove it from the usb connector then install it to my desktop
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November 24, 2012 3:08:15 PM

Use the TESTDISK utility. But don't use it in Windows, use it in LINUX by getting administrative privileges (using sudo). To get help how to use it in LINUX, see the website of TESTDISK utility, they have explained the procedure properly by using examples. I got rid of the same problem by using TESTDISK 6.13 by using it in UBUNTU (Linux flavour) when everything else including easus and steller failed. Try it, It will surely help. :) 
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a c 288 G Storage
November 24, 2012 6:21:51 PM

Essentials drives are hardware encrypted. The USB-SATA bridge board is required to decrypt the data.

Furthermore, 3TB My Books are configured with 4KB LBAs, so even the Elements models, which are not encrypted, will still not be accessible when connected directly to a SATA port on a computer's motherboard.
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