Why is my Western Digital Elements SE Portable 500GB Hard Drive not detected on any computer?

Faisal R January 19, 2014
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I bought a WD Elements SE Portable 500GB (2.5 Inch / USB 2.0) WDBABV5000ABK external hard drive in 2011. In January this year, some of the partitions started vanishing all of a sudden. A few days later, the drive stopped getting detected at all when inserted. I’ve tried using a new microUSB WD cable. No detection. It’s full of data and I don’t want to send it to WD before getting the data. I also don’t want to spend on data recovery services.

Here’s some more info:

Since many months the WD USB cable seemed to cause the drive to stop spinning and turning/twisting the cable and moving the drive a little would make it start spinning again. I guess it wasn’t the cable causing this problem but the micro USB connector on the drive.

I’ve carefully opened the drive after seeing a few videos on YouTube on how to open it from its casing. There’s no attaching connector like on most external hard drives. There’s just the USB connector directly soldered on to the drive PCB. Along with this, there’s another 12-pin (6 + 6) connector. I wonder whether some kind of cable can be connected to this 12-pin connector to retrieve the data. I’ve never heard of or seen such a connector before so it’s not a standard one.

  1. Oron J
    January 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm


    Sorry to hear about your problem. Some manufacturers have indeed started producing mobile drives with bespoke controllers (the other make I've come across was Iomega). I don't think there's any standard way (SATA, PATA, etc) to connect to such drives. I'm sure the additional connectors can be used by someone, but suspect that that "someone" are WD themselves...
    Short of suggesting that you try to press on the USB connector and, if you get it to work, copy off the data immediately, I can only suggest contacting WD for help. If memory serves me right, they offer two distinct services: warranty replacement (free, no data recovery) and data recovery (not free at all...).