How To: Remove WD Hard Drive from MyBook Enclosure

Well, seeing as I purchased four of the 6Tb MyBook drives, you didn’t think I would just leave them in their external cases, being strangled by a USB 3.0 bus without UASP, right?

Well, of course not. The main reason I went with the external enclosure versions was because I could get them delivered for about AU$5 less per drive than buying the bare drive with a 2-year warranty. In the external enclosure configuration, they have better shock resistance in transportation, and they have an extra year of warranty. As a bonus, once I’ve extracted the drives inside, I would have some enclosures with bridge chips that do the odd 4kB sector translation, and a few 12v switching power supplies to use in hobby projects.

Caveats

Of course, it goes without saying, that if you take out a hard drive from its enclosure, you automatically lose any warranty on the unit. The serial numbers are coded specifically, and if the unit is returned with evidence of tampering, the warranty will be void. As a result, you really do have to make a decision to forego your warranty before even considering attempting this.

It makes sense then, to stress test the drives and qualify them prior to this. This would likely catch any transit-damaged infant-mortality cases, but is no guarantee. I’ve performed my commissioning testing on the four units, which achieved satisfactory results, so I have made the decision to forego the warranty.

However, I do not take any responsibility for what happens if you follow these instructions, and I certainly don’t advocate doing this unless it is absolutely necessary.

The Process

The WD MyBook enclosure for the 6Tb units I have is made with a screwless design. It doesn’t have any obvious clips which can be depressed through the vent-holes as with previous WD models. Instead, this drive is basically a game of prying it open, and it’s easier than others I have tried previously.

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The enclosure design is pretty simple, with a central frame and a C-shaped wrap-around frame which has rails which interlock with the central frame. The interlocking notches are not evenly spaced, and from some experimentation, it seems easiest to start in the corner of the curved section on the bottom first.

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By wedging an extremely stiff plastic spudger, or a flat-head screwdriver in my case, into the gap in the casing near the curves, I managed to exert enough force on one corner to start sliding the case out of its rail. Start from one corner, until you hear a loud “click” as the notch in the rail is disengaged. Repeat for the other corner, flip the drive over, and repeat.

You will find undoing the rails on the top of the case requires more lateral movement, but soon enough, it will give way and the C shaped cover will just slide off without any broken clips, although possibly with screwdriver marks on the casing such as with my first attempt above.

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Be very careful while handling the drive frame, as it is only secured in two of the holes by rubberized grommets, whereas the other two holes are “drop-in” and the drive can “drop-out” if you’re not careful. As expected, the green drive is visible above, sitting in its frame.

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Similar to a Toshiba drive I took apart earlier, the bridge board itself is very small, and occupies a corner of the drive.

To take the assembly apart, you should ease the drive out of the frame by pushing it up, and then pulling it horizontally away from the rear. Then, you can pull out the light-pipe from the underside mounting hole, and undo the bridge-board securing screw with a Philips screwdriver. The board disconnects by sliding upwards.

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A closer look at the board reveals the use of a customized Asmedia controller, labelled ASM1051W, likely related to the plain ASM1051. A Winbond SPI flash containing the firmware can also be seen. The top segment appears to house the power conversion circuitry to provide the 5v rail to the drive.

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The light pipe structure seems quite interesting, as there appears to be a push-through-fit rubberized “chamber” which connects the light-pipe to the LED.

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The other side has the SATA connector with a sheet of insulating plastic to stop any potential shorting of the PCB against the rear of the drive. This board is dated Week 20 of 2015.

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The grommets themselves slide off the studs which are screwed into the four corner mounting holes of the drive. The screws are done up with a decent amount of torque, so a quality Torx T10 screwdriver is recommended to undo them.

After this, you will have your desired drive, ready for internal usage inside a computer or storage unit, although due to the sector size difference, re-partitioning and reformatting will be necessary.

About lui_gough

I’m a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!

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46 Responses to How To: Remove WD Hard Drive from MyBook Enclosure

  1. matson says:

    Will you please share two numbers about this device? I would like to add it to usb.ids.

    You blacked-out model number from your photo. I expect you have a WDBFJK-type. Will you please confirm, or otherwise, tell me what are first bunch of letters of model number?

    What is this model USB ID?

    Optional extra: what is ASM1051W ID? I did not see that one before. I expect, if the ROM is removed, or its legs cut, then bridge chip will use its own (mask rom) id.

    https://usb-ids.gowdy.us/read/UD/1058
    https://usb-ids.gowdy.us/read/UD/174c

    • lui_gough says:

      P/N: WDBFJK0060HBK-04
      Default WD My Book 1230 VID 0158 PID 1230 REV 1065

      I cut the Vcc lead (pin 8) from the EEPROM, and the device detects as USB Mass Storage Device VID 04D9 PID 2013 REV 0103 and disables the goofy 4k sector translation mode as well, so regularly written 512e drives >2Tb actually read correctly.

      Hope this is useful.

      – Gough

      • SourDo says:

        Would you kindly identify in your photo which “pin 8” lead it was that you cut that “disables the goofy 4k sector translation mode”? Thank you. I’m an electronics newbie.

        • lui_gough says:

          One of the most basic requirements of doing anything in electronics is identifying pin numbers. They follow a convention – dot identifies pin 1 (or notched side where pin 1 will be on the bottom row), and pin numbers are read anti-clockwise. In the case of pin 8 on an 8-legged chip, it’s the top pin on the notched side.

          See basic diagram at the end of this page: http://cdselectronics.com/components/chip/ic.htm

          – Gough

          • SourDo says:

            Thanks again, Gough. It worked perfectly just as you described. The WD MyBook “enclosure” no longer identifies itself in Windows as “MyBook 1230”, but instead as “AS2105”. And it now works with a 2TB harddisk I put into it, whereas it did not identify the harddisk before.

          • lui_gough says:

            Glad to hear it worked, and best of luck for your future electronic endeavours.

            – Gough

      • liev says:

        Awesome solution. You really help us. You are the best.

      • Sebastian says:

        Thank you very much for the this useful info about the MyBook series. I have a few MyBooks in use where I have desoldered the EEPROM. There is one major problem with this “solution”: no powermanagement anymore. The drive spins permanently, no matter if it is connected to a computer or not or if the computer is shut down. I dumped the contents of the EEPROM but there is nothing useful in the resulting file. Commen reverse engineering with binwalk etc. also no helpful. There are many tools and firmwares out there for the AMS1051 but NONE of them works with the 1051W. I wonder what is the difference.Any info about the firmwares and their structure is welcome!

        • lui_gough says:

          Thanks for your observation. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more information – I suspect only WD would know the difference between the W version (presumably special for them). That being said, the lack of power management is a drawback for some, but a feature in my eyes. I don’t like drives spinning down at idle and then spinning up when accessed as it can cause extra wear and tear, and I don’t really want to wait while it spins up. Other machines (e.g. Macs) can sometimes have the drive drop out if it doesn’t “wake up” in time as well. It’s not good for heat or energy consumption, especially for less often used drives – I normally resort to physically unplugging drives after backups in that case.

          Considering that I really wanted the drives anyway, having any way to reuse the case is considered a bonus for me :).

          – Gough

          • Sebastian says:

            As you said, for backup purpose and then physically unplugging them it is suitable. But if you leave it connected permanently to your PC, NAS or TV the drive will be constantly active. A bad ventilated plastic enclosure like the MyBooks is not a good thing either. From six MyBooks I bought in the past two years I can summarize: All of them came with the ASM1051W bridge. They recognize no other drive than the original one, even if it is the same brand and capacity. Maybe in former (firmware-) versions of the MyBook that was possible – but that is history. So in order to use it you have to disable / desolder the EEPROM. You will get rid of the 4k sector emulation but loose any kind of powermanagement. It is not possible to spin down the drive anymore even manually. Also you won’t be able to use hdparm on the drive in the enclosure since it fails to turn on dma (-d1) and 32bit I/O (-d1). smartctl still works over this bridge. The H/W ID will become 174c:51d6. The PCB has two 4pin headers that are not populated and look a serial console but no output on them, they are related to that unpopulated area on the PCB. The structure of the firmware is mostly unknown. A dump from a desoldered EEPROM showed no familiar header, layout or any strings that might be helpful. ASMedia did not respond to my Email about datasheet and firmware.So be aware of the drawbacks if you plan to re-use those enclosures….

        • Schnuffsche says:

          Sebastian, thanks a lot for all this work. For me, the power management is important, thus your observations confirm that disassembled WD My Books are just to be recycled. Unless of course a future firmware update would fix it.

  2. matson says:

    That is useful. Thank you for going the extra distance and physically damaging your possession for a stranger’s request!

    In my experience of cutting the power pin, GL (Genesys Logic) and JMicron bridges will reveal inner identity, but one NEC PATA bridge became 0000:0000. Linux handled it fine, but Windows could only use it in some host ports. (I do not remember whether silent rejection, or error notified to user, or treated as useless “unknown device”, or what.) I doubt software sanity, I wonder if software (including xHCI firmware and O.S. driver) is wrongly returning 04D9:2013 instead of true ID. Does 04D9:2013 match your keyboard?

    Considering that xHCI is much more capable, complicated, silicon than EHCI, and considering that wrinkles are being ironed-out of host controller drivers still today; I suspect ASMedia chip might have become 0000:0000, and identity 04D9:2013 is taken from a keyboard.

    https://usb-ids.gowdy.us/read/UD/04D9/2013

    If you are willing to give me another chunk of your time, then will you please again check the USB ID of that bridgeboard with cut memory? This time, use some other system software or hardware.

    Example different software setup: a Mac, Linux liveCD, Android slab, whatever else will tell you USB PID.

    Different hardware cold mean same PC and same Windows, but a different host controller, and no other 04D9:2013 present (assuming IF you have such a keyboard).

    • lui_gough says:

      I swore I had saw that VID/PID and yes, that does belong to my keyboard. Power cycling it again on the same hardware gives me VID 174C PID 51D6 REV 0001 which is ASMedia as expected. Must be a Windows goof along the way due to an older NEC Renesas chipset driver possibly being silly.

      I tried it with my Samsung ARM Chromebook running Ubuntu and I can confirm this later result is the correct one as per lsusb. Should’ve double-checked before I posted!

      – Gough

      • matson says:

        One more sanity check: is that 51d6 51D6, letter dee as in disc? Or did you maybe mis-read your screen, is it actually 5106? I feel a bit of doubt regarding five-one-dee-six, considering ASM1051 is five-one-zero-six, so ASM1051W might use same ID.

        • lui_gough says:

          Raw output from lsusb so there is no doubt whatsoever:
          Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:51d6 ASMedia Technology Inc.
          Device Descriptor:
          bLength 18
          bDescriptorType 1
          bcdUSB 3.00
          bDeviceClass 0 (Defined at Interface level)
          bDeviceSubClass 0
          bDeviceProtocol 0
          bMaxPacketSize0 9
          idVendor 0x174c ASMedia Technology Inc.
          idProduct 0x51d6
          bcdDevice 0.01
          iManufacturer 2 ASMedia
          iProduct 3 AS2105
          iSerial 1 00000000000000000000
          bNumConfigurations 1
          Configuration Descriptor:
          bLength 9
          bDescriptorType 2
          wTotalLength 44
          bNumInterfaces 1
          bConfigurationValue 1
          iConfiguration 0
          bmAttributes 0xc0
          Self Powered
          MaxPower 0mA
          Interface Descriptor:
          bLength 9
          bDescriptorType 4
          bInterfaceNumber 0
          bAlternateSetting 0
          bNumEndpoints 2
          bInterfaceClass 8 Mass Storage
          bInterfaceSubClass 6 SCSI
          bInterfaceProtocol 80 Bulk-Only
          iInterface 0
          Endpoint Descriptor:
          bLength 7
          bDescriptorType 5
          bEndpointAddress 0x81 EP 1 IN
          bmAttributes 2
          Transfer Type Bulk
          Synch Type None
          Usage Type Data
          wMaxPacketSize 0x0400 1x 1024 bytes
          bInterval 0
          bMaxBurst 15
          Endpoint Descriptor:
          bLength 7
          bDescriptorType 5
          bEndpointAddress 0x02 EP 2 OUT
          bmAttributes 2
          Transfer Type Bulk
          Synch Type None
          Usage Type Data
          wMaxPacketSize 0x0400 1x 1024 bytes
          bInterval 0
          bMaxBurst 15
          Binary Object Store Descriptor:
          bLength 5
          bDescriptorType 15
          wTotalLength 22
          bNumDeviceCaps 2
          USB 2.0 Extension Device Capability:
          bLength 7
          bDescriptorType 16
          bDevCapabilityType 2
          bmAttributes 0x00000002
          Link Power Management (LPM) Supported
          SuperSpeed USB Device Capability:
          bLength 10
          bDescriptorType 16
          bDevCapabilityType 3
          bmAttributes 0x00
          wSpeedsSupported 0x000e
          Device can operate at Full Speed (12Mbps)
          Device can operate at High Speed (480Mbps)
          Device can operate at SuperSpeed (5Gbps)
          bFunctionalitySupport 1
          Lowest fully-functional device speed is Full Speed (12Mbps)
          bU1DevExitLat 10 micro seconds
          bU2DevExitLat 2047 micro seconds
          Device Status: 0x0001
          Self Powered

  3. Jens says:

    Hi, which chip is the eeprom chip where I have to cut pin 8? Winbond, APM4532 or RT8284?

    • lui_gough says:

      The EEPROM is the Winbond chip in my board.

      – Gough

      • Tom Christensen says:

        Hello,

        I’ve got a 8TB My Book, from which I removed the original drive. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to use the bridge-board with other hard drives such as a 4TB WD Green. for example, WD Drive reports the ‘other’ drive as “My Book 0 bytes”, I get a WD SES code 52 error and as such I am unable to format/initialize the drive when connected to the bridge-board.

        Is the due to the 4k sector translation mode? Does the My Book bridge-board recognise other drives if you cut pin 8 on the Winbond EEPROM?

  4. Jens says:

    Perfect… thank you!

  5. highflyingtv says:

    You didn’t mention the disk is encrypted.

  6. Tom says:

    I’m having trouble opening the enclosure. (Of course, I could just break the thing open with no regard for the plastic exterior, but I’m not *that* frustrated yet — I’m still trying to keep cosmetic damage to a minimum so I can potentially reuse the enclosure.)

    Inserting a standard plastic spudger (intended for cell phone repair) into the gap does not exert enough force. But even with a flathead screwdriver it seems like I’m only damaging the shell, but not forcing it to slide apart …

    • Tom says:

      Update: Yay, I got it! I had loosened the corners, but it was still stuck, seemingly in the middle of the backside (where the ports are). I ran the spudger along the seams there for a while and eventually it just “popped” open – I think the clip right next to the USB 3 port had still been holding out.

      Thanks for the post, saved me a lot of trouble!

  7. SanicFast says:

    How thick is the drive? Is it over 9.5mm?

  8. Schnuffsche says:

    So, if I remove the hard drive can I easily use the USB bridge chip with other WD hard drives, even if they have a different capacity than the original one? Say, I want to the the WD My Book 4TB chip with a 2 TB WD20EARS.

    Is it correct that I have to use ‘Advanced Format’ drives?

    Thanks and kind regards
    – Schnuffsche

    • lui_gough says:

      In practice, I’ve tried and been successful in using newer bridges with both AF and regular 512 byte drives. It seems the bridges will present a 4k native sector size over USB for drives >2Tb, and 512byte sector size for smaller drives. As a result, there can be “interchange” issues (i.e. >2Tb drive formatted on the bridge and connected to a computer SATA port or a bridge that doesn’t do 4k translation won’t read properly).

      I can’t guarantee that it will work for all drives though – I’ve had an occasional drive that refuses to play well with particular bridge boards probably due to a timing issue (e.g. using an SSD from particular vendors, one WD 160Gb Blue drive but other 160Gb Blue drives are okay).

      – Gough

      • Schnuffsche says:

        Dear Gough

        thank you very much indeed. I tried it with one WD2500AAKX which did spin up but could not be formatted. Also, in the WD drive management software (for Mac) the bridge would continue to report as 4TB My Book. Its the newest bridge btw.

        I guess I will need to try different drives to see which work.

        Again, thanks a lot.

        – Schnuffsche

        • lui_gough says:

          They may have changed something – but I never use the software that’s supplied. The ID may be incorrect because the firmware for the bridge is specified to “overwrite” the drive’s ID with the model number of the MyBook, however, that is purely cosmetic in my experience.

          If you’d like to disable all the WD nonsense (i.e. overwriting IDs, WD SES device), you can revert the firmware to the mask ROM failsafe firmware by snipping Pin 8 that supplies power to the serial EEPROM that holds the firmware – that’s if you are “giving up” on the bridge and willing to damage it (intentionally) to try and make it a little more flexible. It will (after the mod), or should, report all drives as their 512-byte sector native and make interchanging with internal ports just fine.

          That being said, I’ve not bought any newer drives, so I can’t guarantee that the newer bridges work the same – my assumption would be that if it uses the same Asmedia chipset, any differences are purely firmware based.

          – Gough

          • Schnuffsche says:

            Gough, thanks for the reply. May I ails you what tool you recommend to snip Pin 8? Kind regards,

            – Schnuffsche

          • lui_gough says:

            A quality pair of flush-cut sidecutters is my favourite tool for that kind of work. If unavailable, a good pair of nail clippers might be sufficient. If you have no intention of ever re-connecting the pin with a dab of solder, you could just use a small jewellers thin flat-bladed screwdriver to snap it off.

            – Gough

          • matson says:

            Because I did not have such fine-small side-cutters, I used a utility knife. Very risky to damage something else, if it slips.

  9. Justin says:

    Hello,
    Just wanted to say thank you for this guide! I cut the leg of the winbond chip and the enclosure finally works with my old HDD.

  10. Ricky says:

    Hello,

    Not sure if this is relevant but maybe you will be able to help me.
    I currently have the older model of this HDD (WDBWLG0030HBKNE) and it has stopped working. After some trouble shooting and internet searches i have found the issue to be a faulty Bridge chip. however this model does not seem to be available in stores anymore, do you think it would be possible to use a bridge chip from this newer unit? If not is there another way to bypass this card to extract the data another way?

    if possible please share your thoughts.

    Thank you for your time

    • lui_gough says:

      Unfortunately, since the depreciation of Windows XP, some newer drives are beginning to ship with bridge boards without the 4k sector translation goofery that was happening with drives of this generation. If you plug the drive directly into a PC and it comes up corrupted or incorrectly partitioned, then it’s a good chance you’ll need a bridge board with 4k translation. Whether present models of drive still have this feature, I cannot advise. http://goughlui.com/2013/10/02/experiment-usb-to-sata-bridge-chips-and-2tb-drives/

      – Gough

    • thomas says:

      There is a way to set up a decryption filter in linux. I did that for my 4TB My Book so that I could use it inside my desktop computer. Contact me if you want me to help.

  11. Rick says:

    Excuse my ignorance but if i was to buy a my book 6tb unshell it then fit it in my pc or a different jbod enclosure, would i have any compatibility issues? i will obviously no longer use that asmedia controller.

    • lui_gough says:

      I can’t give you any guarantees of course, but the drives used in the enclosures are usually Green series (or now, renamed Blue series) drives. These are not intended for JBOD/RAID or multi-drive usage anyway. Whether they have tinkered with the firmware, I’m not sure. In my experience, they will work in single drive internal port usages just fine, multi-drive will probably cause issues at the first sign of data loss as the drives would not have TLER (time-limited error recovery) features resulting in it dropping out of and breaking RAID/JBOD sets. There are also potential “freak” compatibility issues between an individual drive that doesn’t recur with another drive of exactly the same model sometimes as well (as I’ve occurred with some Seagate 4Tb drives).

      Doing this also voids the warranty and voids any support from the manufacturer – so remember, you do this at your own risk.

      Data interchange (i.e. being able to read the stored data on the drive when taken out of the case) will depend on whether the drive has an older “XP Compatible” 4k “native” sector translation by the bridge chip or not. Later drives are increasingly avoiding the use of this translation thus making the drives “interchangeable” without a reformat. Otherwise, repartitioning and reformatting will be necessary.

      – Gough

  12. Enrique Garcia says:

    How can I reuse the case with other disk??
    I had removed the 3Tb HD from its case and I want reuse the USB 3.0 case with other disk but when I put other disk in this case, the computer don`t recognize it

  13. Mario T. says:

    Hi Gough,
    Thaks for this useful articles. It made me realise that it’s probably better to get reds for my NAS than pursue conversion of these greens into reds.

    Btw, what do you think about this article and the whole conversion idea? The method described on the link below cannot give them TLER, right?
    https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/hacking-wd-greens-and-reds-with-wdidle3-exe.18171/

    • lui_gough says:

      Dear Mario,

      WDIDLE is a utility that can set the drive head parking time – this doesn’t affect the error recovery behaviour of the drive, however, such tweaks may be necessary depending on the I/O pattern of your application regardless of drive type as by default, after a certain amount of idle time, the drive heads are unloaded onto the ramp. The default values for different vendors/models of drives can be different.

      In former early Greens, there was talk that TLER can be re-enabled using a tool called WDTLER. Unfortunately, as far as I know, these tools no longer work on current drives as the whole thing is now baked into firmware.

      – Gough

  14. JanSik says:

    I purchased few days ago the 8TByte WD MyBook willing to use its USB 3.0 interface also with other SATA disks. I followed the instructions of this website and after having cut the pin 8 on the Winbond chip, the board ( https://goo.gl/YPfpfa ) continued to not recognize other disks. Than I looked at the scheme of the the chip and found that it looks similar to this one (https://goo.gl/2vtAe3 ). Measured the voltage on the just cut pin 8 of the chip and found that there are still 3.17 Volt. Probably it came from pin 7 as it was still connected to Vcc. Than I cut also the pin 7 and everything started to work correctly and the board was usable with plenty of other discs. I can not understand why WD does not wand that their board can be reused with other WD disks? However I noticed that after cutting of the 2 pins the chip becomes very hot with temperature rising to about 70 degrees Celsius.

  15. L T says:

    I also got the 8TB version today from Best Buy and as JanSik mentions, cutting pin 8 is not enough, pin 7 also must be cut so that the USB board is detected as ‘ASMT 2215 USB Device’

  16. I bough some time ago 3 WD My Book with 4 Tb and I did not know what to do with the boxes as was not working with older disks.

    I follow some of your advice by cutting the PIN 8 of the Winbond chipset. Did not work. Then cut the PIN 7 and it did the trick. I can now use the box for an old 500 Gb!

    Thx for the trick!

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