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WD passport - USB Device does not recognize device

Dec 4, 2007 4:46AM PST

I bought a WD Passport 160gb. and it worked fine I left it running on my computer for 2 weeks and now its not working error (USB Device does not recognize device) so I thought I broke it, I went out and bought another one and I am getting the same error with the new one and old one, on mulit computers that it worked on in the past, I even tried in on new computers.. any ideas?

Discussion is locked

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The units appear to be dead.
Dec 4, 2007 7:43AM PST

Take them to your favorite shop and have them try there.



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Me too
Dec 17, 2007 11:08AM PST

I think mine is the 120GB but I get the same problem. I plug it in via USB and I get the device not recognized message. It was once working. I am looking for drivers but they seem to not exist. Have you solved this yet? Let me know if you do...I will come back if I figure it out. The hard drive still spins so I doubt it is broken.

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Dec 17, 2007 12:28PM PST

Ok I just figured out what the deal was in my case. This WD USB hard drive works fine on my GF's laptop but it was giving me the "device not recognized" error on my computer. I use a USB extender cable so I do not have to get down on the ground and plug stuff into my USB ports behind my computer. Everything that I own works through this cable except the WD passport drive. (It is a 2.0 USB cable at that so that is not the issue, plus 1.0 should theoretically still work, just not at 2.0 speeds)

SO...I tried to plug it directly into the USB port on the back of my computer and it worked instantly.

Other people have reported a fix after finding that their cable was loose. This USB cable that comes with the drive seems to be picky for some reason. Perhaps these are faulty cables somehow. Hopefully this will help some people. I was pounding my head against the wall over this one.

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plug it directly into the USB port on the back of my compute
Dec 18, 2007 12:19AM PST

plug it directly into the USB port on the back of my computer
plug it directly into the USB port on the back of my computer
plug it directly into the USB port on the back of my computer

(Reminds me of the Head On commercial.)

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Dec 19, 2007 4:36AM PST

Headon goes directly to the forehead? SH*T, I have been putting it on my @hole this entire time.

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WD Passport
Jul 27, 2008 6:07PM PDT

I plugged it in back and it downloading all in pictures etc in folders, But they would not open, I tried to change folders to thumbnails to see what pics where in folders, it would not change ???

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What happens ...
Jul 27, 2008 6:20PM PDT

if you copy a pic file to your hard disk (using My Computer) and try to open it there?


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Thanks for the help
Dec 29, 2007 4:54AM PST

Your solution worked for me too. Thank god for the internet. I don't go onto these too much but whenever I have a problem with my computer, I logon, and here the answer was. Thanks again.

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Jan 1, 2008 10:20PM PST

Yeah cool. I am glad this worked. I searched high and low on every forum I could find and found a lot of problems with no solutions. A lot of people were sending their units back as defective...maybe some actually were, but I get the feeling it was all due to that USB cable that they send out with the unit.

Yeah these forums help a lot actually. I usually skip the company web sites and go right to the forums these days.

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Dead Passport
Feb 4, 2008 11:01PM PST

I have the WD Passport as well and I am getting the same issue. I have new business laptop that I use, so I assume that it is powerful enough to run the drive without external power. I've tried using a different USB cable, but got no luck, I've tried it on different computers with no luck. Western Digital says the drive is bad and to call "so and so" for data recovery, which will cost $1000. Any advice? I'm kind of desperate.

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Just look in our Storage forum.
Feb 4, 2008 11:35PM PST

These devices are not storage and poor backups. and other places are the usual exits if you must recover files.

Why not have your files in two places for safety?


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Lesson Learned
Feb 4, 2008 11:53PM PST

I basically kept all my pictures and music on the drive. I was about ready to back up to another device when it went bad. I can hear the drive spinning on the inside and the light goes on, which tells me it might just be the interface card on the inside, but of course WD support is worthless. All I want is my pictures back. I will be cautious in the future.

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In our storage forum we note...
Feb 5, 2008 1:04AM PST

1. Moving the drive to another housing.
2. Moving the drive to some desktop.
3. Various recovery softwares (Getdataback, Zero Assumption Recovery, others.)
4. Recovery companies.
5. Backup lessons.

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Can you do that stuff?
Feb 5, 2008 3:16AM PST

Have you looked at those other forum threads? That is probably your only chance to recover the data without paying someone else to do it. The solutions shouldn't be too bad even if you aren't familiar with computers. If it is powering up and spinning I think you have a good chance to recover the data or even fix your drive.

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Other Threads?
Feb 5, 2008 4:10AM PST

Which other threads are you referring to? I have good knowledge of how to run and install and troubleshoot most problems, but when it comes to hardware and the real techincal stuff, I don't have any experience. I've tried different data recovery software, but they do not work because they can't detect the drive.

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No Clue
Feb 6, 2008 12:57AM PST

I can't find any specific thread...would have been nice if they provided a link. I haven't taken a USB hard drive apart before but there should be a way to take the hard drive out of the casing and plug it into your computer internally. It should detect it as another hard drive in your system and you should be able to access the files. That is pretty much what you would pay a data recovery place to do.

How to connect it...I am not sure. I don't know what type of connection the hard drive in the USB case uses. I can only find that people "plug it in internally" but they don't specify by which connection they do so. So it sounds like it might be fairly easy but I couldn't help you out too much since I haven't done this before.

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There are two connection types inside.
Feb 6, 2008 1:25AM PST

It varies across only 2 variables.

1. The drive size (2.5 and 3.5 inch being the most common.)
2. The IDE or SATA drive.

If you need to do this, get the case open, find the make, model and the drive and use to get the particulars.

Replacement cases are plentiful on,,, amazon etc.

It's doubtful you will find a picture laden step by step on this since it's one of the tasks just a little harder than light bulb replacements.


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Feb 6, 2008 1:54AM PST

I took it to my work IT department and they opened it up and pulled out the USB card and connected using their own equipment, and it worked great. So it was the USB card that was dead, I am looking online now for a new casing, fyi it was 2.5" SATA drive. Thanks for everyone's help.

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WD 120Gb Passport
May 1, 2008 10:55PM PDT

Tonight I accidentally dropped my WD passport 120Gb drive (from desk to floor). Before doing so I did the "safe disconnect".

Everytime I connect the WD120Gb Windows says "USB device not recognized. One of the usb devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and wondows does not recognise it. For assistance in solving this problem, I click the message."

USB root hub says:
Unknown device.

Windows 2008, Vista, XP machines return same error.

Anyone got some clues? Tried front and back USB ports to no avail. Drive spins up, the I hear a 'crink' a few seconds later.


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Re: drive fell
May 1, 2008 11:11PM PDT

It not only fell, it broke also. You can try to transfer the drive to a new case, but it's just as likely (even more likely, IMO) that you need a new drive in this case. Or maybe a totally new set.

Let's hope you're not one of those unlucky members that thought data on an external disk has eternal live and 'forgot' to back it up to another device. Too many of them have to pay $$$ to get their data back.


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Possible Fix
Aug 31, 2008 4:05AM PDT

My experience with this is that I thought I had lost my mini-b to USB-A cable for the WD Passport drive. The one I had I had bought from Radio Shack which was equivalent or better quality then the one that came with the drive. I had to get a new one because the one that was supplied had broken.

Now for the one I thought I lost, I went to best buy and bought another cable to replace it. It was not as thick and nor was it gold plated on the tips. It worked fine and was recognized by Mac OS, although when I plugged it in to my PC it would not supply enough power. Thinking that I still had lost my old cable I ran across it and plugged it back into my PC with that gold plated and much thicker Mini-B to USB-A cable. It worked fine and loaded my WD Passport. I believe that if you have a flimsy cable with no gold plating on the tips it just may not be supplying enough power or also having trouble sending the information to your computer. Macs for some reason don't require the gold plating but for PC having it and a much thicker cable seemed to resolve my issue. It's a little more expensive to get this kind of cable but it may also be the problem you are having. Don't hesitate to give it a try. It may save you from having to get someone to recover the data for you and spending more than $30 for a cable that could fix your problem.

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WD Passports!!!!!!!!!! grrrr!
Oct 10, 2009 5:54AM PDT

it's my cable!!!! i realized after reading through the postings that my device does not work because it is my cable....i played around with it and when i held it "just so" it worked!!!

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Feb 5, 2008 3:10AM PST

I am a little shocked to see that response come from a moderator. I am not trying to flame you but it usually isn't helpful to give a "you should have done this" kind of response. I know that your intentions are to help but that is something for them to consider in the future.

I agree though, it is a good idea though to have things like pics, music, documents and such backed up on a DVD or CD rather than a hard drive because they eventually fail mechanically.

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Plug directly....
Feb 5, 2008 3:36AM PST

Please supply a better example when the member is either not following directions or not telling us they did.

I'm shocked at some of our members at times but will continue onwards in hopes they'll get it done.

Thanks for your comment.


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FIX: not using the cable
Aug 23, 2009 9:11AM PDT

It's possible that the estension cord isn't thick enough to carry the current the HDD needs. For example I have an estansion cord that's somewhat thin, and it can power flash drives but not external hard disks that don't have power adapters or Microsoft Zune players.

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Possible solution
Mar 7, 2008 2:01AM PST

Here is a possible solution to the original problem, but I don't know why it works: Plug the drive into a computer running Vista. (I know this is an XP forum, but read on ...)

I have a similar problem. I have a WD Passport 60 gig that I keep music and personal files on at work. Computer is running XP Pro, version 5.1.2600. Every few weeks or longer, the drive simply disappears and cannot be accessed, even after unplugging and replugging it in. The drive light is on, and you can hear a soft rhythmic clicking, as if the drive is spinning on an endless loop. No error messages, nothing. The drive is simply not detected. Rebooting the computer does not solve the problem.

I took the drive home to see if I could recover it. I plugged it into my Vista box there, and it started up fine. All files were there, and fully accessible. The amazing thing is, after this "reset" through Vista, it works fine when plugged back into the XP computer at work. (At least, until the next time it craps out, which can be weeks later.)

I have done this numerous times, and it always works. It's somewhat annoying, but better than not having the drive.

Note that plugging it into other XP computers (at work) does not "reset" the drive, and you still just get the clicking sound, with no recognition by the OS.

Hope this helps. More importantly, does this suggest to anyone what the underlying problem is? I'd like to be able to solve the problem for good ...

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What the
Mar 7, 2008 3:53AM PST

That could be the first time that I heard about something working on Vista and not XP. Nice find.

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Change the cable
Mar 26, 2008 12:47AM PDT

Same thing happened to me. Fixed it by switching to another (thicker) USB cable I had AND plugging it directly into the back of the computer.

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USB size
Mar 27, 2008 11:36PM PDT

I have noticed that I have a few USB devices that do not work with the USB extension cable. I just got a 2GB flash drive and it doesn't get recognized either.

I compared it to another USB flash drive that I have and that works with the cable. The actual USB connection part on the 2GB flash drive is longer than what is on the other flash drive that works. So it looks like the extra length is just enough to prevent a good connection to the USB cable.

If you look closely there are two small square holes towards the end of the USB male end. The female USB connector has two pin-like prongs that are supposed to click in the holes. This is the problem. On the longer USB male parts it prevents the prongs from clicking into those square holes.

I looked at the passport and it has this longer male USB end as well. I was not aware that there are different USB male lengths but this is what is happening.

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The infamous Waste Disposal "storage device"
May 14, 2008 8:54PM PDT

I unfortunately have 3 120GB passport drives. They work fine on the powerful Dell PC I do most of my photo work on but they have never worked on the crappy old PC I have connected to the internet (hmm... this one!). Recently I acquired a Dell laptop and thought whoopee doo! now I can transfer stuff from the good PC to the laptop - not so because of course the laptop refused to acknowledge the drives. The lights came on, but like they say no-one was home. I searched the internet and came across this forum. Ok I thought, try a new cable! I unwrapped and plugged in a cable that had come with my Canon camera and so far, touch wood they are working perfectly! Thanks! By the way I am not sure of some of the drivers and things I downloaded from WD. I have cleared them all off now, but they were doing some weird things to my internet connection for a while. Cheers again for the good work!