Last updated: Jan. 11, 2017
When you can't find or access the data on your Western Digital (WD) external hard drive, it can be very annoying even devastating especially if the data are those precious photos and computer backups.
There are a variety of reasons for WD hard drive data loss, from accidental deletion, disk formatting, to device corruption/damage, etc. Fortunately, it's not the end of the day.
In this guide, we break down all WD data loss situations into 9 different chapters and show you the best resources and solutions to help yourself recover your those deleted, formatted, or lost files.
Note: this guide applies to most Western Digital hard drives including Essentials, My Passport, My Book, etc. that you use for backing up data on a PC or Mac. Some solutions may not work well with Solid-state Drives (SSDs).
Chapter 1: Restore Files Deleted from WD Drive
If you've accidentally deleted some files off your drive, stop using the device immediately. Do not save more items to the drive. Because the erased files are still recoverable provided that they are not written over. The best way to get them back is to try a third-party data recovery software.
Chapter 2: Recover Formatted WD Hard Drive
Similar to deletion, a quick reformat won't get rid of the data stored in your external drive right away. Instead, the space your lost data took is now marked as available to be re-used. You can often retrieve the data before they are overwritten. Note: if it's a low-level format, you won't be able to recover the data.
Chapter 3: WD Drive is Corrupted or Shows Errors
If your connect your external drive to a computer, it says "the disk is not formatted", "Device not accessible" or "I/O parameter error", etc; probably your device has corrupted or crashed. Follow the step by step in these resources to fix it or recover your data.
Chapter 4: Folders in WD Drive Became Shortcuts
If you open your WD external drive after connecting it to your PC, and you see all the files and folders in it become shortcuts. You try to click on them, and they are all unable to be opened. Then your PC has infected by virus or malware, which hide your real data by turning all items into shortcuts with only a few KBs in size.
Chapter 5: WD Drive Not Detected by a Computer
If your disk can't be recognized by your computer, for example, it doesn't show up under "My Computer" or "This PC" (under Windows OS) or Finder on Mac OS X, there could be some device driver, or file system issues; Refer to the resources below to find relevant solutions.
Chapter 6: Data Recovery from a Dead, Broken or Damaged WD Drive
If your hard drive has totally failed or suffered water damage or physical damage because you dropped it onto the ground; Navigate to the following resources to do further diagnose or fix your device.
Chapter 7: Forgot Password to Unlock WD Drive
If you can't remember the password to unlock your hard drive, or want to recover or reset the password, here's a list of helpful resources to help you out. Warning: do this only when you own the WD device as you may need to wipe the drive completely.
Chapter 8: WD Data Recovery Software
For most data loss scenarios, a recovery program may help salvage your data without sending your device for expensive data rescue services. However, software only helps when your WD drive can be recognized by a computer, and your lost data are not overwritten. Here're some great recovery applications you can try. Note: you'll need to first connect your device to a computer.
For Windows PCs:
For Mac machines (MacBook, iMac, etc.):
Chapter 9: Western Digital Data Recovery Services
If none of the above methods work to recover your data, your last resort is to send your device to a data recovery center. Please note: do this only if you've super important data to be recovered as data recovery services are very expensive, and it's not guaranteed that you'll be able to get all your data back. Also, be aware of data recovery scams.
- PC Advisor: Can You Trust Data Recovery Service Providers?
- Recovery Services Recommended by Western Digital Support
- Data Recovery Services from Gillware based in Madison
- Reddit: Need a recommendation for a Data Recovery Service
- The Data Rescue Center (Livermore, California)
- Flashback Data Services (Austin Texas)
Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.