Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recover Data from My Book World Edition

A friend of mine has (had) a western digital my world book network attached 500gb storage device. Unfortunately his house was the recipient of a electrical storm that blew out most of the equipment on his home network. He was left with a worldbook that was no longer responding to network request. If you plugged in the network cord, it immediately went red (or orange) as if the NIC inside was bad. Since this device does not have a usb port for connecting to computers, we were kinda screwed.

After contacting support at WD, they basically said the same thing, and for a cost (probably $100) I could ship the unit back and they would fix/replace it. However, they will not recover the data for you. That obviously was no good.

So, I had a suspicion that the drive itself in the unit was okay, just the motherboard or nic was bad on the WD hd. In order to test this, I broke apart the unit, (lots of snapping and screws) and removed the internal SATA drive. I then plugged the SATA drive into a windows box and looked at the partition manager to see if it could read it. Windows XP showed that there were 4 partitions on the drive, but I could not access the data since it was the wrong file system. This gave me hope that the drive itself was okay. So, here are the steps to recover your data from a world book that has a bad network card or bad motherboard.

Author Edit: These instructions are for the Western Digital My WorldBook 500 GB edition (without raid). Several commenters have left updated instructions for 1GB and 2GB units, including units with raid. Please see the comments if you do not have the 500GB model, as it will provide a different mount command in Linux/Unix.

What you need:
First off, find out if your pc has a SATA slot available. (Basically, if your pc has sata drives you should be okay, you can always temporarily disconnect one that you dont need in your computer). Visit your manaufacturer's website to find out if your pc has SATA (which is a simplified connection to a hard drive versus the old IDE style.) Once you determine your computer (or a friend's) supports sata, go ahead and take apart the pc. Keep in mind, nothing we are doing should damage your computer or your windows install, so there are no worries for borrowing a friends machine temporarily.

Second, after locating a pc that can connect to your WD drive (keep in mind this is the drive you actually physically removed from the worldbook housing) go to the link I provided above and download Ubuntu Linux. Do not worry, you do not need to be a unix/linux geek to solve your problem, it is a graphical program.
Download the Linux iso image and burn it to cd. Keep in mind, you need to take special steps to burn an iso image, you can't just drag the iso image into the cd like you would copy files normally. If you need help, open your cd burning software and use the help file to find info on "creating iso" "burning iso", "burning images" or "creating images".

Once you have the cd burned, you will now open up the computer that will accomidate the WD drive. Open up the computer, install the drive. and then insert the cd and boot up the pc. Keep in mind, with some computers, you might need to access the bios (cmos) and activate the new drive for the motherboard to see.) While in the bios (setup) make sure that your CDROM is the first bootable device.

When the machine loads to the boot menu (boot from cd) choose the Ubuntu option that says something like "Try ubuntu without installing" Basically use the menu that allows you to use ubuntu without installing it.

After a minute or so, your pc will boot into Ubuntu, which is a lot like windows. Access the menus up top until you see one that says "Terminal" I believe it is under the system main menu, though it might be under applications->accessories->terminal.

When you click terminal, you will be taken to a prompt window (text based)

Type in:

sudo mkdir /media/mount (hit enter)
then type:
sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb4 /media/mount (hit enter)

You can now close the terminal window.
Now go back up to the system menu or the places menu and find the "computer" option. Launch this. It is just like "my computer" in windows xp. You should now see your local hard drive (which is actually your windows install on the machine) and you should see the new worldbook drive. If you have any external hard drives plugged in to your computer you will see them as well. Copy the data from the "public" drive of your WD drive into an external drive or your local windows drive.

That's it, data recovered. Take out the CD, Power down your pc, disconnect the WD drive, and fire your computer back up to boot into windows and see your recovered data.


Hank said...

I am trying to follow these instructions, but I have been unable to mount the drive. Windows sees the drive, but can't do anything about the partitions. Linux, using the commands you provide, does not work. If you could provide me with more info, it would be appreciated.

Thoughts said...

Hank, I will try to help, I am no guru of Ubunutu, but I will try.
First off, are you using Ubuntu Linux or some other version of Linux? Did you boot from the CD like I said in the instructions.
Do you get any error message when you type the commands into terminal?

Ksinning said...


i Can see The folders but i dont have permissions to Open The directory.

Please help


Thoughts said...

You can see the folders in Ubuntu or in Windows?

christian said...

dear angel, you just save me from all work of last 3 years and thank you for your article I was able to rescue all data!!! You have all my gratitude!!! Thank u!!!

Thoughts said...

Glad it worked for you! That's why I posted it, I figured someone out there probably was in desperate need just like my friend was to get data back.

John said...

This article is awesome!! A million thank yous for posting this. I searched the web for hours to try and figure out how to get XP to read the files off my Bookdrive and couldn't believe there wasn't any help out there. And then I found this site and it worked wonderfully. Thank again!

Thoughts said...

Glad to hear it worked. It amazes me just how many people are having the same problem. Western Digital should do a product recall for these pieces of junk.

Andy said...

A further thank you. I have just had a My Book World drive fail on me and have recovered my data this way (drive still works fine!). My next purchase for network storage will look closely at sleep/WOL functionality.

legociv said...

Many thanks.

This command:
sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb4 /media/mount (hit enter)

did not work but by changing sdb4 into sda4 it worked.

Strangly the reported free space plus space used is only 40% of the total disk size. There is a 'lost+found' folder on the drive but Ubuntu does nog give me access to that folder.

Mitch said...

Okay, I have something to contribute. These instructions appear to be for the 500GB version.

I had the same problem - no lights anymore at power-on.

The drive I have is the probably the same as Legoisv has above - the 1TB version (My Book World II Edition). I have learned that this is harder to get to the data off of due to a more complex storage method by Western Digitial (called "RAID").

The reason you see there is free space used and it is 40% of the total drive is because your data IS THERE (it's not lost!!!), but one must have knowledge of UNIX commands to access a RAID storage device. I've learned you can't have 1 drive without the other, and both properly mounted to a server. Our data has been spread (for the 1TB version) across drives A and B, and the only way to get to it is to properly have them reconnected to a UNIX system that recognizes that RAID storage methodology.

My solution was to find a UNIX friend in an IT Department, to give him the two drives and a new 500GB external DOS formatted drive, and buy him Sushi if he could get the data from the old to the new. He said "no problem, give me a few days"... My hopes are high, I will post again in a week to see if he succeeded.

KMage said...

THANK YOU! The electronics on my 1TB (blue circle) NAS world book had died and I had several hundred GB of video that I really wanted off the drive. Your process using ubuntu was almost perfect. The only change I needed to make was update the "/dev/sdb4" to "/dev/sdc4" as the drive was the third SATA drive in my configuration. Everything off now, and I will repartition and reformat the 1TB drive for continued life in one of my larger PCs. Thnaks again for the great article.

I said...

I want to say a HUUUGGGEE THANK YOU!!! I'm an advanced with Windows but know almost nothing about Linux, so your post saved a lot of very impotrant info for me.
I'll describe what I did, in case somebody will be able to use it too.
Actually, my situation is a bit different - I believe my WD World Edition 500Gb(I bought it refurb about 2 years ago) has a bad hdd, and it was failing to boot, even if it booted up, it worked only for 1minute or less before freezing. And hdd testing showed no obvious error(I didn't do an extensive surface scan this time, but I know there're "bugs"... And Quick SMART test showed no errors, just said it's ready to fail and hdd is too old. So I did what you wrote, with UBUNTU 9.10 AMDx64, but only the 1st line worked, after the 2nd line it gave me error(I think a bad HDD was the cause of it).
So I tried the same with Parted Magic v4.8(live CD based on Linux - also Free). And it has automatic function to mount devices, but it didn't show me this WD drive.
Than I did try to mount it with terminal, but it gave me error: something like no such command "sudo"... AND I entered the same but without "sudo" and YES!! it did work. I copied almost full hdd except about 50Gb. It shows me 2 empty folders, but I'm absolutely sure they were full of data before failure. But I'll try again later(will let hdd to cool down). I'm sure it's a hdd glitch.
Thanks again!!!

rodexter said...

i had a 1tb = 2x500GB mbweii. your article saved my sanity. i have in there ALL the pictures i have of my family for the last 10 years. i was afraid at first to try your method because of fear that it may ruin the HDD and me never recovering the pictures. but after trying all that ive searched, yours was left. i tried and it WORKED. nevermind the tons of PORN, VIDEOS and MP3s, all of those can be download/buy again but the pictures cant be replaced. thanks a lot...

Stefan said...

I see the Files in Ubuntu (mount)
but when I click on one of the files i get:
The folder contents could not be displayed.

You do not have the premission necessary
to vieuw the contents of "XXX"

What to do? many thanks.

Thoughts said...

It sounds like you need to change permissions of the folder.
There are a few ways to do this. You may be able to right click the folder and select properties. Otherwise, an easy way to do this is to open the command window and type:
sudo chmod 777 /path/to/folder

for instance: sudo chmod 777 e:


thank you so much this save my life!!!!
work perfect!!!!

Tim Villalba said...

As everyone else has said this is excellent. Just one thing that I tried was to connect the drive with a SATA caddy instead of connecting the world book HDD internally. This worked well and allowed me to use a laptop for the recovery. Once again thanks for the sharing and I hope this might help someone as well.

luv2bsly said...

Thanks for the tips. I have some added advice after my device died. I was able to get the above steps to work with the following modifications.

1) I would recommend typing the following command: sudo fdisk -1
This will tell you the "code" for your partition on the drive. Mine was sde4.

2) Then I typed the following command: sudo mkdir /media/wddrive
followed by this command: sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/sde4 /media/wddrive

This got me to see the drive. The folders with the bulk of the data were locked by another user (x on the upper right corner of the folder). Execute the following command to unlock the folders: sudo chmod -r 777 /media/wddrive

Summary: sde4 was my specific partion with the data. wddrive is the path that I gave for that partion to be mounted to.

Hope this helps those with locked data !!!

DOSser said...

I really want to say a BIG thank you for this article.
I was able to recover loads of precious videos from my 'dead' device.
It was very straightforward, many many thanks.

BigE610 said...

how do i change the owner of the drive. I tried to change permission so i could write to the drive but no luck. thanks

BigE610 said...

I tried to change permission on the drive but i was told that i am not the owner. any ideas on what i can do. thanks

Thoughts said...

Are you using the sudo command in unix/linux? If not, try using that. Otherwise, from the graphical interface, you can right click the folder and change the properties/sharing in there (from the gui)

Joe said...

After all this time,..... this post is still saving files! Thanks for writing this up. I had 2WD 500's one of them was dying so I decided to take them both apart, knowing I would be able to get the files off somehow,.... and here was the answer. The first drive took quite a few tries to mount but the second one went on the first try. Thak you!!!!

Mattias said...

Thank you for taking the time to post this.. It still gets attention.. I just saved my data from a 500 MBWD Bluerings and am quite happy.. As teh one above me mentioned it took me quite a few tries before it finally went along.. 3 days actually but it worked.. Thanx again


Cairns & Cars said...

Two questions:
1. Will this same process work with Vista?

2. Instead of installing the drive in my computer, could I use an external sata shell with a usb interface to my computer?

Cairns & Cars said...

Two Questions:
1. Will this process work with Vista?

2. Can I use an external SATA hard drive enclosure with a USB interface instead of installing the drive in my computer?

Thoughts said...

1.) Yes, it will work in Vista, but you still need to load a version of Linux in order to mount the drive.

2.) Yes, you can use a e-sata shell as long as it has the hookups for the drive. I discussed it in the post and linked to one that is inexpensive that you can buy. Your mount path would be a little different.

ikeetek said...

i have no blue ring lights on myBookworld 1tb extrnl drive. questions that may have been asked before -
1. may i hook up the broken enclosure to my pc with usb to usb? or is firewire good, too?
2. if so, what would my mount path be then?
thanks much for any help.

Thoughts said...

Sorry it took so long to respond. If you have a firewire to esata adapter, that should work. I am not sure what the mount path would be though.

Edals Eel said...

A big thank you, I can now copy my data off.

j4mes said...

This blog is still saving data!
Many many thanks!
Mine was a 1GB My World, single disk, blue rings.
Managed to recover all data, family photos and 640GB of family videos from my customer. I had worked out it was an ext3 partition, and was going to plug drive into a server at work (but needed ide=>sata adapter).
Using your instructions instead, managed to recover everything whilst on customer's site.
My disk was /dev/sdc4, easy to look in /dev to identify sd? beforehand.
Thanks again.

j4mes said...

This blog is still saving data!
Many many thanks!
Mine was a 1GB My World, single disk, blue rings.
Managed to recover all data, family photos and 640GB of family videos from my customer. I had worked out it was an ext3 partition, and was going to plug drive into a server at work (but needed ide=>sata adapter).
Using your instructions instead, managed to recover everything whilst on customer's site.
My disk was /dev/sdc4, easy to look in /dev to identify sd? beforehand.
Thanks again.

Carlos said...

This was a blessing even five years after original post. Thank you so much!

KevinSMD said...

This worked like a charm!
Mine was a 1 TB My World blue rings
There were four raid components
Designated /dev/sdb1 through 4
But /dev/sdb4 was the largest and had the public folder with my data on it.

KevinSMD said...

Thank you! Worked like a charm!
I have an old MyWorldBook 1 TB Blue rings
There were four raid components in disk utility
Labeled /dev/sdb1 - sdb4
Largest was sdb4 and that is where my public folder with all my files resided.

Koula Moutsos said...

I've had the My Book World Blue rings 500GB for over six years.
It finally died.
I didn't thing the hard drive was damaged and planned to install it on another computer.
I was able to save all my data, mainly photos from 2005 when my first daughter was born.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Had to use sudo fdisk -l to get my drive number first and now I can see my data :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

My WD drive finally stopped responding. Thanks to your instructions I've been able to copy my data off the hard drive.

Much appreciated!

Colm from Ireland.