Western Digital My Book 111a This Media is Write Protected (Read Only)

Bought 3 of these Western Digital 3TB My Books from BandH.com because I wanted the core drives out of them (the $130 price per unit was less than buying the bare drives, so go figure…) They happened to be the Mac versions (p/n WDBAAG0030HCH-02 to be exact, Model 111a), which differ only by what software is pre-loaded on the maintenance partition (from here – http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=125&lang=en ).

Guts of a My Book 111a USB 3.0 External Enclosure
Guts of a My Book 111a USB 3.0 External Enclosure

Decided to re-use the flimsy, but working plastic enclosures for a left-over Seagate 750GB drive.  Connected everything and using the working sequence of power-plug first, power on using the little button, then plug in the USB connector.

Bink! The drive appears as a CD-ROM. A genuine read-only ROM drive.  Cool (not.) Can’t format it, partition it, wipe it, nothing.

Google’d all over the place, and everyone was unplug-this, it’s your OS, it’s a bad USB.  But I noticed in the Device Manager, I had a missing driver for a “TUSB3410 Boot Device”.  So took care of that by finding Texas Instrument’s original driver at: http://www.ti.com/product/tusb3410 – that cleared the yellow exclamation point.

Then tried the suggested “WD Quick Formatter” utility from the WD website but kept receiving the same “This Media is Write Protected” error and the utility ends in error and exits.  Hm…

On a hunch, I tried next the “WD SES Driver” – that installed fine, but didn’t change anything (and doesn’t hurt anything – it adds a specialised SCSI extension to allow access to some of the firmware features on the circuit board (LED controls, remote On/Off, etc.)

Finally, I tried the “WD Universal Firmware Updater for Windows” and it at first complained that there was a problem accessing the drive, but try:

  1. Use safely remove hardware to unplug the drive (click USB tray icon and Eject),
  2. Power down the drive using the button (hold for about 5 secs.),
  3. Unplug the USB cable,
  4. Unplug the power cord from the My Book,
  5. Re-connect the power cord,
  6. Press power button to turn it back on,
  7. Re-connect the USB cable and let the PC recognize the drive,
  8. Press [Retry]

And for whatever reason, it nicely reformatted the drive as NTFS and re-wrote the firmware back on the drive.  At that point, I was able to use standard Drive Management to re-format it back to FAT32 (what I needed), and everything is perfectly normal.

==== Addendum 11/13/2012 –

I’ve reused one of the My Book enclosures with an older smaller SATA drive (happens to be a Seagate) and was running into a problem that MANY buyers of the cheaper My Book external drives have been facing:

You plug it in, and try to start it, and the front LED just blinks.  You hold the reset button, and it still blinks.  You leave the power off for an hour, plug it back in, and it still just blinks.  Leave it overnight, and it powers on normally.  Turn it back off and try to restart it, and it just blinks again (no drive spin-up.) [Link to Western Digital’s Community Forum discussion on this topic: http://community.wdc.com/t5/External-Drives-for-Mac/WD-Elements-2TB-External-hard-drive-BLINKING-LIGHT-Problem/m-p/503802#M6647]

What did I just discover?

11/13/2012 – SOLVED (for the blinking light on power-on).  Okay this was a really dumb idea.  But all I did when I turned it off and it wouldn’t turn back on (unplugged everything and kept the power off for at least 30 minutes and still only got the blinking light.  I stuck the My Book in the freezer for 5 minutes.  (Yes…that’s what I just did.)

Just took it out, with a cold plastic case, plugged it in, and it powered on perfectly.

I have never had to refrigerate a USB hard drive controller to get it to reset, but this is a totally new one for me.

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