Recovering data from a WD Mybook Live 2TB / 3TB (or similar)

This article was originally written in 2013 and applies to a fairly old model of the WD Mybook Live. The procedure here may well not work for you, please just use it for ideas. Also, check the comments as a lot of other people have tips!

When the WD Mybook Live 3TB NAS was released, I went out and bought one and promptly put all my stuff on it. I have never kept anything *really* important on there as I didn’t have anything to back up all that data on to. Anyway, the NAS was destroyed in a thunderstorm one day but fortunately the hard disk still worked. Unfortunately the way WD formats these NAS hard disks is very strange indeed. Normal means of recovering data from them don’t work. Scouring google for tips on how to get your data back results in nothing useful.

I tried various hard disk enclosures.. these have no chance as they all pretty much only support up to 2TB disks. I tried various ext2/ext3 windows drivers.. no good. I tried linux machines with custom built kernels.. also no good.

There are basically three problems:

  1. The hard disk is big, USB enclosures hate that
  2. The hard disk uses a (new) GTP partitioning scheme, older versions of Linux will struggle.
  3. The hard disk ext4 partition (the one with all your data on) is formatted using 64kb sectors. This is the biggest hurdle as your PC running linux will not be able to mount it!

To recover your data:

A rough understanding of Linux is useful. In short you’re going to need to get the hard disk out of the NAS enclosure, stick it into a PC running a recent(ish) version of Linux and mount the partition using fuseext2. The trick to being able to mount the 64k sector disk is to avoid directly mounting it using the most excellent fuseext2¬†package. You’ll also need somewhere to put the recovered files – maybe another WD NAS? Maybe not ūüôā

Step by step:

  1. I recommend getting an old PC (with sata ports inside) and an old hard disk for installing Xubuntu (no need for ‘heavy’ Ubuntu) on. Don’t plug in your WD hard disk yet, you don’t want to accidentally format it!
  2. Once you’ve installed xubuntu or whatever you’re using, turn off the machine and plug in the WD hard disk. Boot it back up again.
  3. Start a terminal and type:

    sudo apt-get install fuseext2 parted
    sudo parted -l

  4. The parted -l command will show you hard disks and partitions labelled /dev/sd.. something. You will see both the hard disk you installed linux on and the WD hard disk. The WD one will have a label such as: Model: ATA WDC WD30EZRS-11J (scsi), have a look down the list of partitions for the big ext4 one, like this:

    4      4624MB  3001GB  2996GB  ext4         primary

    Make a note of the disk (/dev/sdb) displayed underneath the hard disk model, and the partition number (in my case number 4). The path to the partiton for me is /dev/sdb4 (it may be different for you).

  5. Now you’re ready to mount the disk. To make life easier for you non-terminal types, I’ve provided instructions on mounting it in your home directory:

    sudo mkdir -p ~/WD
    sudo fuseext2 -o ro -o sync_read /dev/sdb4 ~/WD 

You may hit various hurdles along the way. I’m not entirely sure if older PCs can support really big hard disks. If you’re using an earlier mybook world or something I believe they used XFS and software raid partitions which this blog post isn’t really about.

Remember, always back up anything you care about!

Please let me know if you found this useful, and link to it so it helps others stuck in the same situation!!

More info: Mounting filesystems > 4Kb block sizes on Linux

64 thoughts on “Recovering data from a WD Mybook Live 2TB / 3TB (or similar)

  1. Hello, question to HICHAM and others who had not ETX4 in line 4.
    Model: ATA WDC WD20EARS-00M (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sdb: 2000GB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: gpt

    Number Start End Size File system Name Flags
    3 15.7MB 528MB 513MB primary msftdata
    1 528MB 2576MB 2048MB ext3 primary raid
    2 2576MB 4624MB 2048MB ext3 primary raid
    4 4624MB 2000GB 1996GB primary msftdata

    and after I try to :
    toshiba@toshiba-Satellite-L645:~$ sudo fuseext2 -o ro -o sync_read -o allow_other /dev/sdb4 ~/WD
    fuse-umfuse-ext2: version:’0.4′, fuse_version:’29’ [main (fuse-ext2.c:331)]
    fuse-umfuse-ext2: enter [do_probe (do_probe.c:30)]
    fuse-umfuse-ext2: Error while trying to open /dev/sdb4 (rc=2133571347) [do_probe (do_probe.c:34)]
    fuse-umfuse-ext2: Probe failed [main (fuse-ext2.c:347)]

    Don`t know what to do. Please help to mount to save family pics!

  2. Hi John,

    On step 4.
    4 4624MB 3001GB 2996GB ext4 primary

    I could not see EXT4 for my HDD. Request you to please suggest if that will be an issue.

    Need help Smiley Sad

    My Book 2TB HDD is detected and I can see the folder named PUBLIC in which all my data is stored – for some reasons now I am getting an error ‘Data volume failed to mount’ in the dashboard and I can see a RED light on the HDD.

    1. I read various forums and found some steps to mount the data. Those steps did not work – I have installed PUTTY and able to login to the drive, however, the steps are different like – I dont find SDA4 as mentioned in most of the steps. I am not a technical person to understand and tweak.
    2. I am able to create another PUBLIC folder using the dashboard.
    3. Self Test passed.
    4. Currently it shows 0TB/0TB – I am assuming thats because of no data mounted.
    5. Unable to update the firmware – getting an error that there is no space ‘31102 – Device does not have enough space for upgrade’

    Please help – I know the data is there on the HDD – with some technical know-how it can be retrieved. Any help would be appreciated.

    -Thanks!!

  3. Hi John, I have this problem now with a 2TB MyBook Essential. I raised a ticket with WD as it still have a week or two of warranty left. However, I’m expecting they won’t help much with recovery of the data. So I plan to try your technique. Just wondering, does it have to be a direct SATA connection or can I buy a cheap USB3-SATA adapter and still use the Linux/mount technique to recover data?

    Thanks for the great suggestions.

  4. This may be a dumb question but can the drive be pulled and used with an enclosure? I thought this was possible but after pulling the drive and plugging it in, my mac says it is unreadable and must be reformatted. Before I do that, I just want to make sure that I will end up with a drive that I can use.

    thanks

  5. This was very useful, thank you.
    I did mounted my drive (finally). And now I know why I couldnt do this before. But here’s a thing, I’m running xubuntu and when I open folder with mounted partition-it’s empty. But gparted still shows 222gb used data. As I see – folder is marked as rw for root. So I’m trying to run thunar or mc with root – but it freezes. I’m also trying to chmod this partitiong – but it freezes too. Any suggestions how I can view this data?

  6. Thank you very much! It was a life saver!
    I took your article’s basic idea and solved it in a slightly different manner.

    Since I gave away all my old computers, I had to buy and external HDD USB enclosure and live with it ! So, I created a VirtualBox machine using CentOS 7 – minimal iso and installed the basic packages in order to make things work.

    In the end of the day “parted -l” worked fine and I could see /dev/sdb in four partitions.
    So, using fuseext2 it worked like a charm, and all I needed to do was to cope with the inumerous I/O and bad block messages. I was able to read and copy data from the 2TB mounted partition and the sample files I fetched were fine.

    The only thing is … it is taking forever to copy (started yesterday night), and it will take probably one or more days to finish.

    While I am crossing fingers here I thought I could thank you once again for the ideas and help you provided.

    Best regards,

    Rodrigo Duran

  7. Dear John,

    Many thanks for posting this valuable resource.
    I have installed the new version of xubuntu (14.04.3) which successfully mounted my 3 TB my cloud folders without the need for fuseext2.

    My sincere gratitude for your help.

    Best wishes,
    Nawaf

  8. Hi John,

    This was a lifesaver for me too. Thanks very much for posting this info; worked flawlessly for me.

    Cheers, Michael A.

  9. Hi
    I was asked to help recover files from a 3TB WD green sata hard disk which came from a wd NAS which had a motherboard fault
    The disk has GPT partitioning and ext 4, it is said the format with 64k sectors is unusual and rarely supported by linux

    I tried the above method using the current version of Xubuntu (15.10)

    Without success , I then tried several free linux readers for windows again without being able to access the 2.7 TB partition with the data

    Further research suggested paragon software ext driver for windows may work

    There is a free version and a professional version for $19.99 usd
    I purchased the pro version and on starting up it offered an upgrade to latest version
    ( pity the first download was not the latest version)

    Installed on win 10 pro x64 , from the programs mounter the linux partition was assigned a drive letter and files became visible in Windows Explorer , pictures (jpg) had preview icons the same as on a ntfs or fat32 partition

    This program may save you a lot of time as well as your data

    Regards
    Mike Barnes

  10. Trying to recover data from a 3tb hard drive for my company. We did a soft recovery and it did not work. What would be the next steps to take. Also when and if we can recover data. We would like to transfer to a server. How do we do that??

  11. Have the same issue as Nick (first comment). Doesanyone know how to fix this problem? Thanks for help

  12. Hello everybody,

    recently my 2TB WD MyBookLive NAS also “broke”. I executed the steps as described in this article but got the same error message as Nick (comment from May 27, 2015). Now I was able to recover all my data in a different way. Here is my approach:

    All I needed to successfully get all my data back was:
    – PC with Linux-OS (I used Ubuntu 14.04)
    – PC with Windows-OS (I used Win7, but should also work with XP, Vista, 8 and 10)
    – “broken” WD MyBookLive NAS (HDD removed from WD NAS case)
    – NTFS-formatted hard drive with at least the same free space as the size of your “broken” WD MBL NAS, in my case 2 TB (this will be used as temporary storage for a disk image of the data-partition (Partition 4) of the “broken” WD hard drive)
    – IsoBuster (download from http://www.isobuster.com, free-version is sufficient! available for Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10)
    – enough free space to save your recovered data

    1.) Plug your removed WD NAS hard drive and the NTFS-formatted hard drive (with enough free space) to a PC with Linux-OS.

    2.) Start Linux and open the Disks application. Find your WD MBL drive with the four mentioned partitions. Pick the fourth (big) partition, which contains all the data and create a disk image of it. Save it on the NTFS-formatted drive. (This process of creating the disk image of my 2 TB WD MBL took me 1.5 days)

    3.) Run a Windows-OS with the NTFS-formatted hard drive (containing the disk image) connected. (You now should have enough free space to save the amount of data you want to recover)

    4.) Install “IsoBuster” on your Windows-PC (You could also use other tools, which are able to create a virtual drive from img-files on Windows. I got a bluescreen, when using “Virtual CloneDrive” or “MagicDisc”. But “IsoBuster” worked stable.)

    5.) Start “IsoBuster”, click on File –> Open Image File and select your created disk image.

    6.) Find all your data, which you had once saved on the WD MBL NAS, in the “shares” folder. Right click on the folders/files you want to recover and select “extract”. Now you are asked where you want to save the data.

    I hope this helps for some of you.

    Lars

  13. Thank you Michael Barnes!!

    I followed your instructions, downloaded and installed the Paragon software, and voila!! I was able to see and recover all of my data! I was really panicked because my “My Book Live” NAS drive stopped connecting to my network, and all of customer backup data was on it.

    Thanks again for the suggestion

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