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Help! My external hard drive isn't responding

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 25, 2008 3:17 AM PST

Hi everyone. I bought a Western Digital 200GB external hard drive 90-plus days ago, and the buttons quit. I can't back up. I sent WD several e-mails, and no response from them. If I get another external hard drive, could I open this one, and transfer data to the new external one from the old? How would I do this? Also: If this can be done, could the one I have then be reformatted, put in a new casing? Does anyone know how to repair these on/off/auto buttons? Will I lose everything I backed up to the WD external drive? Please keep the explanation simple, as I'm a 63-year-old 'Nanny', IRS Reg. Tax Preparer. Thank you!

Update: Please note: Helene's WD hard drive model number is WDXB2000JBRNN --200GB

--Submitted by Helene S.

If you have an answer recommendation for Helene, please click on the reply link and post away. Please be as detailed as possible in your answer.

Thank you!

Message was edited by: admin to update info in question
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Drive Dalene
by corvetteradios / January 25, 2008 9:29 AM PST

Hi Helene
hat you needto do is buy a new drive,unplug the the bad drive and set it to the side for now, format the new drive and nstall your windows system on it, install the frist drive (bad drive)as a 2nd drive, now you can move your files to C: drive, let me know if that will work? did that alots of times.

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External Hard Drives Vs. External Hard Drive Enclosures
by supersoj / January 25, 2008 11:41 AM PST

The main problem is that an External Hard Drive is going to be a... well... I won't post an inoffencive word, so I'll rephrase that to "It will be difficult."
Repairing it may not even be an option, as many technicians know very little about the relatively newer technology.
However, if you do HAVE to replace, I would consider an External USB 2.0 Hard Drive ENCLOSURE, rather then the External Hard Drive.
This nifty gadget allows you to plug in a Desktop Hard-Drive, of practically any size your computer can recognize, and turn it into a USB 2.0 Hard Drive.
The handy features of this include, first and formost, if the Hard Drive Enclosure's buttons stick, or refuse to work, simply replace it, and install the Hard Drive from the first enclosure into the replacement, therefor saving all data on that drive.
This is especially useful in older machines where there is only one or two low-capacity hard drives onboard((Windows 98 will not tolerate anything over 32 gigs, but you CAN partition the hard drive into several smaller hard drives, causing Windows to think there is more then one disk there.))
As to the External Hard Drive itself, if the buttons do not work, there may be something durastically wrong with the Hard Drive as well, as most External Hard Drives are rather well integrated, so I say, if you can take it out, do it. But be sure to run Disk Checker or Scan disk on it, once you plug it in through other means, to ensure it isn't corrupted, or partially damaged.
I should also point out the rather large price differences:
1) A 500 gig External Hard Drive costs upward of $150 easily
2) A USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure is rarely more then $100-110, while individual hard drives((which you can swap out as you go, with relative ease)) cost anywhere from $50-100 making them about the same.
However, you start noticing the price value when the 500 gig((or smaller)) hard drive fills up, because there isn't much you can do about it, except burn it all onto DVDs((defeating the purpose altogether)), or get another hard drive. Whereas, An External Hard Drive Enclosure can have more then one 500 gig hard drive, you just swap them out as you need them. It also has the handyness of not being limited to that one size. For example, if you buy a 100 Gig external Hard drive, you are limited to only having the 100 gigs. But if you buy an External Hard Drive Enclosure, and a 100 Gig drive, If it proves to be too little, you simply buy a larger hard drive. However, for lighter users, typically an 80-160 gig hard drive would suffice. ((Depends on your' music/video/games library. These three are notorious for being Hard Drive wh... er.... uh... let's rephrase... These three are well known to be rather space intensive.))
If you have the right External Hard Drive, and when you get the thing open, you find a standard Desktop Hard Drive, rather then some of the higher-classed brands, which integrate it in annoying manners, making it impossible to take apart, an External Hard Drive Enclosure would be your' ultimate answer, as it would take this hard drive, and turn it into a removable disk. Consider the possibillity, however, that you may lose that external drive. Some of the higher-classed companies don't like people doing this, and have designed removable hard drives that can't be transferred to other hard drive enclosures, so the user must spend hours upon hours trying to get it fixed, at exorbitant rates, from the manufacturer, bringing them more money.

If you have any more questions, such as what kind of stores carry these items, it's usually not future shop, best buy, or target, but your' average run of the middle small computer store, and they aren't that expensive about it, either. As a boon, they also often sell Desktop Hard Drives of various sizes at significantly cheaper prices then say... Future Shi... er... Shop.

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External Hard Drives Vs. External Hard Drive Enclosures
by darrenforster99 / January 25, 2008 3:21 PM PST

"This is especially useful in older machines where there is only one or two low-capacity hard drives onboard((Windows 98 will not tolerate anything over 32 gigs"

Windows 98 will tolerate hard drives over 32Gb, it is the BIOS in older computers that wont, this can be fixed though, most HDD over 32Gb have a "32Gb Clip" jumper which sets the drive to 32Gb, then you can download a drive loader software from the HDD mamufacturers website that loads on boot up to see the rest of the drive, or alternatively flash the BIOS (carefully!).

"Whereas, An External Hard Drive Enclosure can have more then one 500 gig hard drive, you just swap them out as you need them"

I would not recommend keep swapping hard drives as you are likely to damage them either with static electricity or wear and tear on the pins, hard drives were never designed to be quickly swapped round like that.

If you do want removable storage media that can be swapped easily I would recommend either a USB memory stick/MP3 player or memory cards, or a special hot plug hard drive unit as this uses a different connector to hard drives which is less prone to damage when being inserted and removed constantly.

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by richardsenor / January 25, 2008 12:06 PM PST


What buttons are you talking about? If you can still power it up, use
the back-up sofware that came with the HD. If you can still get to the
data, you can transfer it to another external HD, then if the old one
still powers up, you can reformat it. If you know someone handy and
depending on the case, you can have them use a non-magnetic screwdiver
and pry the case open. If it is the switch, that person can find a
place in the case that has enough room and wire a new switch in. Hope
this is helpful. A lot of ifs, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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All is not lost
by sangrant / January 25, 2008 12:22 PM PST

There is no telling if the data that is on your external Hard Drive is lost or not.
There are a number of ways to see if you can recover data. You can buy a simple cable/power adpater that will allow you to hook up your External Hard Drive to your computer. Taking the WD External apart is not that difficult but will take some time and persistance (I assuem you are taking about a My Book 3.5"). Make sure you are grounded, and use a flat blade screw driver to pry the cover off, then use a medium sized phillips head to take the inside apart. (I have taken one apart before it is doable.) The adaper you want is available at many of the on line compuer stores, (Newegg, Compgeek) nd consists of a USB cable with a double sided adapter for 3.5" nd 2.5" PATA disks, and there are some available for 3.5 SATA disk. It also includes a power adpater for the 3.5" disks. Get one of these first to see if the Disk Drive is salvagable. It is a possibilty that the switch in the External is gone. But it is possibe it is a total drive failure. At the same time you buy the adapter cable buy a new external drive, or buy the components and build your own. Once you ascertain if you can get data off the old Hard Drive it is best to transfer the data to your desktop or lapto, and then plug in the new external and transfer teh data back to it.

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sorry to hear about your troubles
by tbone69069 / January 25, 2008 12:42 PM PST

I once had a problem with an exteranal hard drive. The boot sector somehow got traunched. I was able to take the drive out of the case and insert it into my computer as an internal hard dice. It work just fine and I didn't lose any of the data on the disk. I am not to sure if you will be able to get in info back from a back up though as I never had one that had the back up buttons. You say you had the drive for 90 plus months. Is that past the warrantee? if not. Try to go to their web site and get a phone number to talk to someone. If all else fails. Go to PC WORLDS web site and look for the consumer alert as send them an email there. They have looked into problems beople had with faulty computers and got some results.

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Use the phone
by benrau / January 25, 2008 1:00 PM PST

I have had nothing but exceptional help from any hard drive makers I have had to contact. I would certainly try to use the phone if my emails did not work. Are you sure that your emails are not getting a response? Perhaps your junk mail filter is filtering out the answer. I normally try, if I do not get a response in a week or so, to check my webmail server directly instead of using Outlook to make sure that my mail is not being filtered. Often I find it like that.

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Try another drive enclosure
by jefffulton / January 25, 2008 1:01 PM PST

I had the same thing happen. I went to Best Buy (they had them at Frys too) and bought the least expensive drive enclsure they had - about $49.99 by Dynex. I Popped open the Western Digital enclosure to find a standard IDE hard drive inside. I took it out and placed it in the Dynex enclosore, closed it up. I attached the power to the drive and the USB 2.0 cable to the drive and then the computer and it worked perfectly. I didn't even need any software with XP, it just recognized it as a plug and play external storage device. I've been backing up weekly to it for a year with no problems.

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Answer for Helen-External Hard Drive.
by barryt08 / January 25, 2008 1:05 PM PST

You should be able to remove the Hard Drive from the Western Digital Housing and install it into another External Housing. The only thing you need to know is, whether it is a IDE or Sata Hard Drive before you purchase the new appropriate Housing.

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by benrau / January 25, 2008 1:09 PM PST

It's me again. I have an external hard drive that I use often, in an enclosure, and I dumped a lot of files to it one day, and the next day, it was not recognized. I tried it on a few other computers, and the second computer recognized it. Then the next time I tried to use it with the original computer, it saw it fine, and I have used it many times since. I would, as others said (although I am not sure they all read your post all the way) try to back any info up to a CD, DVD, or another hard drive, and then you can format the external drive from the OS on your computer. Run Scandisk or Chkdsk /F a few times (or if you have a suite, that might help even more) before you use it and count on it. is a page that might give you some phone numbers to try.

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External Hard Drive issue
by richj120952 / January 25, 2008 1:18 PM PST


At this point, I am not sure what you mean by buttons. That being said, if it is the on/off button then all you will need is a new external case. You can buy one for about $30 at your local computer store. You only need to open the existing case, unplug the hard drive and put it into the new case. (Following the free directions included with the new external hard drive case.) If you don't feel comfortable doing that, I would bet that the computer store might either have folks that can do this, or can direct you to someone that can. You would need to do something like this to access the data on the external drive to copy it to a new one. If you don't really need the external drive, the drive in the bad case can be put into a desktop computer as a second hard disk.


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Alternative to HD Back ups
by joemayo / January 25, 2008 1:26 PM PST


I have struggled with Western Digitital and Seagate external drives for over 5 years. Finnaly I got smart. I do all my back ups on the web. I use takes all my back ups run very smooth and I love the concecpt as well. It cost me a few bucks a year but honest to goodnes, to me is worth every penny.

I thought I share this new adventure with you.

JB Honolulu Hawaii

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Answer for Helene S. -- External hard drive troubles
by deltoncbaker / January 25, 2008 1:38 PM PST

The short answer is Yes.
A new USB Enclosure will cost you about $60 dollars for a eSATA model.
You don't sound like you are too electrically inclined.
I recommend you take the drive to Best Buy, Circuit City or "Your Local Computer Specialist" and have them put the drive in a new USB enclosure like the one listed below. They can also perform a diagnostics the drive before hand to see if it is worth saving.
I think that you are performing your back-up routines too often for your drive controls to fail in such a short period. Because, you want to back-up everything so often I recommend you talk to "Your Local Computer Specialist" and ask him to set-up a Raid 1 (Mirrored drives without parity) Provides fault tolerance from disk errors and single disk failure. Increased read performance occurs when using a multi-threaded operating system that supports split seeks, very small performance reduction when writing. Array continues to operate so long as at least one drive is functioning. This would eliminate your need to back-up all together. Both drives are not going to fail at the same time and if one does fail just replace it and the data can be mirrored on to the new drive with just a few mouse clicks.
Thermaltake Max4 eSATA and USB 2.0 External Enclosure
Thermaltake Max4 eSATA and USB 2.0 External Enclosure
Thermaltake Max4 eSATA and USB 2.0 External Enclosure - Storage Enclosure - 1 x 3.5" - 1/3H Internal Hot-swappable Part #: 35842873
Mfg. Part #: N0003USU
Western Digital
500GB My Book Premium USB 2.0/eSATA External Hard Drive
500GB Capacity, External, Hi-Speed USB 2.0, 480 Mbits/s Data Transfer Rate, 7200rpm, 16MB Cache (Western Digital Recertified)
- 40129861 -

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Go for the simple fix
by Channing / January 25, 2008 2:05 PM PST

I have converted several internal hard drives by installing them in external cases. Each has an on-off switch only, and then one or more receptacles providing at least a USB2 connection, and some have firewire or a more direct connection via a card that can be plugged directly into the mother board of a desktop computer that connects to the case with special cables.

All of my external hard drives are controlled by my computer software. There are no buttons. You mention buttons, suggesting some software and a control card in the external case that communicates with your computer. If so, the first thing to check is you software installation. Reinstalling the software, to control those buttons, may solve the problem. That would be the simple fix if all the facts in the situation are as I have described. I, personally, would not want the added complication of buttons on an external hard drive. It would just be one more thing that could go wrong. And your situation may be a case in point.

If I am off the mark and there is no software, the next simple fix is to keep the hard drive and get rid of the case, depending on how the unit is constructed. If the case is heat sealed with no visible screws, that makes it harder. If there are no screws visible, it may be that the case is in one or more parts that snap together for assembly. That means using some thin, flat device such as a metal spatula designed for icing a cake to slip into the cracks to find the tabs without pushing too far in to avoid damage to the electronics. Pushing the inside piece of the case toward the center of the unit (pushing in) while prying the outside piece of the case away from the tab (pulling out) may allow tab to unsnap and the case to come apart. This is not often simple in the doing, but once done it seems to have been fairly simple -- if we had only been able to see inside the case. Some people are totally fascinated by such a challenge and if you know such a person you may want to make the call.

Once you have case open, disconnect the hard drive and write down the identifying data, over take a digital photo of it and print an enlarged copy. Take the information to your local computer store and ask the salesperson to find the right external case for the drive. I have had good luck with Nexstar cases by Lantec. Installing the drive in the new external drive should be fairly simple. Plug it into a USB2 port and you should have an operating external hard drive.

If, on the other hand, the hard drive is dead for some reason, you'll probably need the assistance of a professional to retrieve your data.

Channing Hillway
Ventura CA USA

Inside your case, you should find a normal hard drive connected to the

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Bad external drive
by Heavener / February 1, 2008 8:20 AM PST
In reply to: Go for the simple fix

I, too, had WD and Seagate external drives fail. In both cases, the drive overheated (and the Seagate had been inside the tower without any problem). I think it has something to do with the external enclosure, so now I run with the top removed and haven't had any problem.

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External Hard Drives
by darrenforster99 / January 25, 2008 2:55 PM PST

Dear Helene,

I don't exactly know how the pre-built external hard drives work, but I'm guessing that inside the case they are probably the same as the ones your can build at home. If you open the case you will probably just find either a Western Digital SATA, 3.5" IDE or 2.5" IDE hard drive under there. (SATA has a small thin cable with small black plastic connectors on the hard drive end, and IDE has a ribbon cable with a seperate molex connector for the power). If it is connected in this way then you can easily get a new external case for it, instead of buying a new external hard drive get an external case, make sure you get the right one for the connector - take the hard drive to a decent computer shop or computer fair if your not sure, if there a good computer store they will set it up for you, many of them in the UK do this free of charge if your buying the case from them, best bet for this type of service is to go to a small computer store not somewhere like PC World.

If the drive is connected in any other way then you probably aren't going to be able to fix it, in future though I would suggest instead of buying an external hard drive, buy an external case for an IDE or SATA hard drive and then buy either a SATA hard drive or IDE hard drive to go into it. SATA is recommended over IDE as it is far faster. They are really easy to fit together as all the cables are different sizes so they easily go together, although remember about size as well - if it's a 2.5" case you need to get a 2.5" (laptop) drive, 3.5" needs a 3.5" drive - 2.5" cases are a lot more slimmer and look nicer than the 3.5" ones but 2.5" drives are quite a lot more expensive than 3.5". I'd recommend a 3.5", also 3.5" drives can be plugged into the IDE cable on a normal computer. The handy thing with doing a build your own is that it is quite considerably cheaper (at a computer fair an external case in the UK is about

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Hello fine friend!
by fanten30 / January 25, 2008 3:15 PM PST

I am thinking you either had a spill on or near the keyboard which may need to be replaced unless you have another keyboard you can input into the computer somehow by asking a computer speacialist to help you with to save you alot of money. When a keyboard has trouble it messes with the information throughout the entire computer scrambling weird information around in which the dirty components that are blocked are trapping good information which needs to be travelling into the main motherboard of the computer. If not you'll have to open this baby up and cover it up then go get some component cleaner for computers and when you get home make sure you clean under where all the keys are well at least twice letting the board dry in intervals and then when it is dry the second time you should have evrything perfect and dandy and if not your keyboard is fried and possibly ruined other components inside of your computer, but I hope and pray you will have it up and running after the cleaning for I had bad remotes and cleaned them with windex under the rubber button part in this way and they are back to perfect again! P.S. Don't lose the screws! Get some duct tape to put them on and they are sure to stay put. Good Luck and God Bless You my friend, Shawn

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Do not attempt yourself...
by Jkawaii / January 25, 2008 3:24 PM PST

Pay a data recovery company to retrieve your files.

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External hard drive problem
by Karridog / January 25, 2008 3:33 PM PST

Very soon I will be purchasing a hard drive like yours. Don't allow that company to ignore your situation. You have to continue making that company understand your problem until they do something about it. Call your Better Business Bureau and explain to them how that company is ignoring. Also, contact the BBB in their state or city. I don't know where you live, but we have a consumer protection agency here in Fairfax County. The county will not let that company get way with cheating you. Telephone your county office and they may be able to help you. Save all of your receipts and document every contact that you have with that company. Don't give up. Go to and ask them what you should do. You just might get some free legal advice. Also contact the ACLU. If they cannot help you they will find someone who can. You will get plenty of advice. I'm 73 years of age and I have had some experiences like you are having. Send them letters. Call them on the phone. Make them get tired hearing from you. You can write to me if you need some moral support.

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'bring it back and ask for your money back'
by anton.vanwamelen / January 25, 2008 3:42 PM PST

Most of the times and we think that Western Digital is no exception will gladly replace your malfunctioning HD. Please go the store and get it from there or otherwise you bought it on the net tru a store the same thing. Otherwise you go on the net and go to the Western Digital website, search for help. Reading your story you did that before, but to no avail. Neverthelesss, you must seek and ask for a Repairnumber on the repairsite of the drive and send the stuff to them, write that number on front of the package (you are entitled for that with the receipt note of the store where you bought it). They will notify what's the matter with it.

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You have options
by davedave308 / January 25, 2008 4:55 PM PST

I've never replied to a question here before, but I think I can help.

First, I haven't had trouble with Western Digital before, however sometimes you just have to be persistent. Always be nice, but be insistent, and if you get what you want, be appreciative.

Next, since you state that the power switch is broken I'll assume that the drive itself is okay. Although I'm sure I could repair the switch, that type of repair work is not something just anyone wants or is able to do. I doubt most retailers would try to fix it.

To re-use the drive: The drive can be removed from it's case and either placed in another external hard drive bay or installed inside your computer.

To re-use it in another external bay, you'll need a bay made for either PATA or SATA. If you're comfortable removing the drive from the case, you can identify the type by looking at the connections to the drive itself. The PATA (an older type some will still call ATA, IDE, or EIDE) drives have a wide connection (about 2 inches) for the data and a large white connector (with only 4 wires) for power. SATA (a newer and faster connection) drives usually have a black power connection and a smaller connector (about 1/2 inch wide) for data. Most external bays plug into the computer using USB but firewire (aka IEEE 1394) is also available. Be sure to choose the one you prefer/need. Don't buy a firewire bay if you don't have any firewire ports on your computer - that's why most enclosures use USB.

If you want to re-use the drive in your computer, you'll have to make sure the drive can plug in to your computer's internal ports. The question again is whether the drive uses SATA or PATA and also whether your computer has SATA or PATA. A newer computer will probably have only SATA, while slightly older ones will have both and even older computers will have only PATA. You can add SATA or PATA to a PC by adding a card but that'll cost about $30 to $40.

If you use either of the options above, you'll have access to your data. If you aren't compfortable doing the work yourself find someone who's preferably in the computer business and hire them to do this for you. If that isn't an option, find someone who's built their own computer before as they're likely to have the skills and knowledge to do this for you. When hiring someone for this type of work, stress that you don't want to lose the data! Some "computer guys" can be careless with their customer's data and it always pains me to hear about lost data, whether it be pictures, financial documents, business records or whatever.

I've probably included more detail than you need yourself, but perhaps someone else will benefit from the info as well. If you have any further questions, please ask. Many of the responses I read week to week here are very good. I hope I've been as helpful.

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Re: External Hard Drive
by typhoon56 / January 25, 2008 5:39 PM PST

This leaves you with a dilema. If someone opens the casing they invalidate the warranty, however, the data appears more inportant. Any competent computer engineer should be able to remove the drive from the casing and simply replace the casing with a generic one. In the UK, Maplin's stock the boxes in order that you can make an external hard drive from an ordinary HD and a generic box. In the States I am guessing possibly Radio Shack (Tandy in England) or some such company should be able to supply the casing. You need not then need to buy another EHD. In all honesty a competent amateur should be able to do it. I have a friend who regularly builds EHD's from the two seperate parts. A better solution, if you know a competent technician, is to get them to replace the switch or switches. It's not Rocket Science and shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes. My friend replaced my son's soft switch on his P.C. in about that time. Hope that helps. I.P.S.

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Not too concerned with warranty?
by OttifantSir / January 25, 2008 7:09 PM PST

If you're not, then it's quite possible to do as you said: Remove the harddrive from the casing and either insert it into your computer or buy a new DIY-casing. This will, however negate any warranty on the drive.

There is one hurdle I see in this: Backup. If this is a drive with a button dedicated to backup, it most likely contains some firmware that may or may not be supported by another casing, because the firmware might be dual; A portion in a chip in the casing, and a portion on the drive itself.

Cheapest bet though, is to try. Datarecovery costs a fortune.

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by Hank Wells / January 25, 2008 7:23 PM PST

I had problems with WD before and they take ages to answer any emails, even weeks.

Keep sending emails and inform them that you are also sending reports of the progress from them to you to a well known web site. They don't want bad publicity as they are no longer the fastest cheapest Hard Drive manufactor also there have to complete with SSD disks.

Remember to change the title of the email slightly "My Problem" to "I have a problem", and so on. If they can flob you off they save money and that is good for Western Digital but not for you. Tell them you are also going to write to PC magazines asking for help as they are not helping you and requesting that the magazine publish it as a warning to other readers about this product.

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WD external drive
by sheldontraceySWT123 / January 25, 2008 8:39 PM PST

If you can take the drive out of the case, hook it up internally. All an external drive is, is a internal drive put into a external case.
Then transfer your information.

I never buy WD products.

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External Hard Drive Failure
by waytron / January 25, 2008 8:46 PM PST

Some companies can take a week or more (if ever) to reply to an email, I would suggest maybe giving Western Digital a phone call at 1 (800) 275-4932.
Unfortunately, I am seeing a far greater failure rate with external hard drives than I ever have with internal hard drives. Whether is it due to the fact that they are portable and more likely to be bumped and dropped or improperly cooled or even unplugging while still writing, who knows. But, they can fail at any time for whatever reason and therefore should never contain your only copy of data. I am always amazed at how much faith most of us seem to have in hard drives. These are mechanical devices spinning at speeds of up to 10,000 RPM and they WILL fail and it is just a matter of WHEN. Hard drives are like tires on a car, they are subject to daily wear and tear, if you replace them every few years, odds are that you will probably never experience a blow out, but they could fail at any time and the longer you continue to use them the greater the likelihood of a problem. Sorry for the speech, but I see roughly 1 or 2 clients per week that lose everything to hard drive failures, and it could have been prevented so easily. I look at them and want to say. ?What were you thinking, you had 10 years of family photos, thousands of dollars in music and your accounting data for your business on an $80 spinning disk and never thought that it might fail?? Enough said about that. Back to your problem Helene, I am not exactly sure why you want to transfer the backup data from this damaged External Drive to a new one. It is a backup, right? I am assuming that your original data is still on your computer? So all you need to do is just purchase a new External hard drive and backup again to that one. But if for some reason, this data is your only copy and you removed the original from your computer then this is what you want to do: First if this data is really important to you, I would suggest that you might want to consider handing this project over to a professional. But if that is not an option and you want to move forward and give it a try yourself, that is fine. It would be helpful to have the exact model number of your drive. NOTE: You may go to all this trouble and expense and find that in the end it was the hard drive that failed and not just the external casing or buttons.

1. Before you go to the trouble of removing the drive from the casing, double check all wiring and plugs to make sure everything is installed correctly. Try plugging the drive into different USB port. If it still does not work, you might even want to try a new power supply (if it uses one). You may be able to get one from your local Radio Shack Store. If you really turn on the charm, you might even get the salesman to try it for you at the store without actually having to purchase one. Depending on where you purchased this drive, you might want to take it back to them and see what they say before moving on.

2. You can purchase just a new drive casing for about $30, but you will first need to know what kind of hard drive is inside of your Western Digital model. It could be using either a PATA (IDE) or SATA type drive interface and it could be either a 2.5?(Laptop size) or 3.5?(Desktop size) drive. In this case, seeing as you said that this is a 200gig drive, it would most likely be a 3.5? drive, but you will still need to know what kind of interface is required. You may be able to get this information online or even from the original box. If not, you will need to open up the casing and take a look. A few external casings now accept both types of drives like this one from Masscool but most of them will accept one or the other. If the hard drive has a 40 pin connector, it is and IDE (PATA) drive. If you are confused, you can go to and search for some photos of the drive connections to determine what type you have.

3. Once you have the correct new drive casing, you can simply remove the old drive from the Western Digital case and install it into the new case. Each case comes apart differently so without the actual model numbers, you are on your own here. But you may be able to find some instructions online for your specific models.

4. If the drive is OK, it should work as soon as you plug it in. Now plug in both your New External Drive and your Old drive (in a new case) into your computer and simply copy the contents from one to the other.

5. If all goes well, you will now have 2 working USB hard drives. I would use both of them and rotate using them so you always have 2 full backups.

Good Luck!

Wayland Computer

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Broken Drive
by Robinpow / January 25, 2008 8:50 PM PST

You have a couple choices... If you live close to a city there should be an electronic shop in the yellow pages that can fix your drive. If you can't find anyone to fix it, there are several services that can recover your data, but it won't be cheap.

Over the past 20 years, the world of computers has changed greatly. However the old saying, "There are two kinds of people, one that has lost data and one that will loose data". Back in the ole days of floppy disks it was standard practice to keep TWO back ups.

While the hard drives of today are much more dependable, they can still fail. I still keep at least two backups of almost everything. Important non replaceable like digital photos, legal documents and such I do a third back up to DVD and keep it at a family members home.

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HP Desjet D1420
by nelpasa / January 25, 2008 9:11 PM PST

Every time I refill my cartridges I get a message telling me that there is a problem with the cartridge. Is there a way to bypass this artificial malfunction, to make me buy another unit?

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Wrong Thread
by Launchpad_72 / January 25, 2008 9:32 PM PST
In reply to: HP Desjet D1420

Uh, I think you have the wrong thread. In answer to your question though, they're specifically designed to PREVENT refills, since the ink is where they make their money. You're better off buying re-manufactured or generic cartridges.

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None of the Above...
by Launchpad_72 / January 25, 2008 9:30 PM PST

Actually, you can keep all your data and have a working external HD for about $25.
All you have to do is buy an external drive enclosure (aka a Sled) from a site like (avoid retail stores, they jack up the price), and transfer the Hard Drive in the old external to the new sled, and you're back up and running.

While this is a fairly easy procedure, it's still requires some technical expertise, so if you have a technologically inclined friend or relative (especially the younger ones), have them do the swap.

As far as your HD goes, Western Digital (last time I checked) is supposed to have a 3 to 5-yr warranty on their products. If you just can't get them to listen, call and ask for their supervisor. That usually works. Keep in mind, they won't fix it if you've already taken it apart.

I wish you luck, and Happy Computing!
-Launchpad_72 aka IAmTheDonut

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