Western Digital Elements external hard drive failure. Seen as "RAW" partition in Disk Management.


Oct 1, 2015
Hello everyone. This is my first post here so I apologize if I don't do it quite correctly.

My hardware/software profile:

Windows 8.1 x64
Intel i7 4770k
16GB DDR3 1600
GTX 980
128GB SSD (OS)

I have an 8 month old WD Elements 4TB external USB hard drive. Yesterday, my computer wouldn't boot and gave a 9C error (USB error). Unplugging the hard drive allowed me to boot.

Once in Windows, with the drive plugged in, I could not get diskmgmt.msc to recognize it. In Device Manager, it would show under Disk Drives as "WD Elements 107C USB Device". The drive would spin up and it seemed to work from a physical functionality standpoint.

I decided to disassemble the external case and plug the hard drive in, internally. There seemed to be no physical damage and I never dropped the drive. Once I had the drive installed internally Windows finally recognized it. However, it recognized it as a RAW partition and kept asking me to format it. I ran the following software hoping to recover data:

  • GetDataBack Simple
    GetDataBack for NTFS
    EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
    Hard Disk Sentinel
Only EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard found any data on the "Lost partition", but it was a series of SWF files in the several gigabytes each. I have important data backed up on this drive. It was used for work and for saving old data from old computers. I have about 465GB of data stored on it, including pictures of my kids that aren't saved elsewhere. The drive seems to function just fine if I were to format it and use it as a new volume, however that is not ideal to me.

Please help me if you guys can. Thank you.


I should mention the drive was protected by BitLocker before. I wonder if that has any effect on it.
If the drive itself appears to not be broken, there are components in the drive enclosure that may have failed. Some of the WD externals use hardware encryption, meaning that the drive can only be read while in the enclosure (or a different enclosure of the same make/model). I am not sure if the Elements line is one of them. There are a number of WD guys on this forum, so hopefully one of them will jump in.

To state the obvious: If you were using this drive as a backup of data that doesn't exist elsewhere, then you really don't have a backup.
Welcome to the community, Chaosrock!

I'm sorry to hear about your WD Elements. :( However, you shouldn't have taken the HDD out of the case because this voids the warranty of the drive. :(
I'd recommend you to run both the quick and the extended tests from the WD Data LifeGuard Diagnostic utility and see what the health and S.M.A.R.T. attributes on the HDD are showing. Here's a link to the WD Software tools: http://products.wdc.com/support/kb.ashx?id=xnxJF2

The RAW value indicates that the file system got corrupted and I'm not sure how successful your data recovery attempts would be. Here's another thread from the community you might find useful: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/280932-32-hard-drive-recovery
However, I'd strongly recommend you to consider turning to a professional data recovery company for help. You can find some of WD's International Data Recovery partners on our website here: http://products.wdc.com/support/kb.ashx?id=GUjlcE

Let me know what the Data LifeGuard Diagnostic results are!
Good luck!