Recycling a Dead Western Digital My Book

Western Digital WDG1U5000 My Book Essential Edition 500 GB USB 2.0 External Hard DriveA few days ago, my backup routine that I had put in place stopped working. When I checked into the reason why, I found that it “could not login” to the external drive I had set up for the backup. It turns out that it was, in fact, dead. I could not connect using the USB connection OR the fire wire connections.

I also did a search on Google (western digital external drive stopped working) and discovered that this particular drive seems to die for no reason after about 18 months! You can check the Amazon reviews on this drive ( and see for yourself.

But, wait, there is data on that drive that I still want to have access to. Here’s what I did…

I figured, I have nothing to lose. I can’t use the drive the way it is, and I bet there is a regular drive inside the external drive casing. So I started looking for a way to get inside and get the drive out.

Once I got the drive out, I found out that it is a SATA drive. I happen to have an extra SATA connection inside my desktop computer. So, I plugged it in and the drive works fine. All my data is still there.

So the drive still works. It’s just the board that provides the USB and Fire Wire interface to the drive that is busted.

If you have one of these drives and want to recycle it as an internal drive, here’s how you get in. I’m doing most of this from memory, so forgive me if I forget a few steps. But here’s the gist of it.

If you have one of these drives, you’ll notice that there is a rubber edging around the edge of the drive where the two sections of the casing meet. Take that rubber edge off. It comes off pretty easily just by pulling on it.

Next, you’ll need to pop the case latches that hold the two halves together. I used a small knife that I have but a small screw driver will probably work as well. Don’t worry about breaking the case, you won’t be able to use that any more anyhow. We are just after the drive.

Once you have the casing off, unscrew every screw you can see. There is a screw on a side-mounted circuit board (tiny) that will need to come unscrewed too.

There are also some rubber grommets that are spacers between the metal bracket the drive is mounted on and the drive itself. Once you take these out (pliers and sideways through the opening) the drive should come right out.

If you have one of these drives with 500Meg or more on it that you don’t want any more, please send it to me. I wouldn’t mind having another three of these drives to take my 360gig RAID5 drive up to a 1Tara RAID5 drive. Send me a message through the “Ask a Question” link on the upper right of this page and we can arrange where to ship it to.

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  • Chris

    Wow. Thanks. You just saved my backups and iTune library. Very cool. Again, thank you much.

  • Erock

    This totally works! Hah! I had a WD Mybook die on me, and it was just the USB/Firewire that had failed. The drive itself works fine. I was able to connect it and pull all the files off I thought I’d lost. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Keith

    This is really strange. I just read this article.

    And it says that the drive might start working again if you plug the A/C directly into the wall and bypass your power strip. I just tried this and my drive works now after about 2 weeks of nothingness. WTF?!!