WD Elements powering up but not appearing on Mac

Hi all, I have a WD Elements external hard-drive. This morning I can hear and feel that the hard-drive is powering up, but it is not appearing as a hard-drive on the MacBook Pro. I have tried a different USB slot, and restarted my Mac, and it has not helped.

I don’t understand the instructions I found online: is there a way to try and “force” the Mac to try and read the drive?

I don’t know if it’s relevant, but this drive will have been sat in direct sun over the weekend during a heatwave (this is a UK heatwave, so I’m talking 30-35C [96F]). I suspect it’s been in direct sun for a few hours every day (direct as in not through a window, they’re all open so no protection from the sun). I’m guessing that is bad and I should not do that again?

Is there anything I can do to “fix” it? (The drive is just Time Machine so it’s not the end of the world, but it would be annoying to have to buy a new one!)

Edited to add: The WD Elements drive is “new”, bought in the last year. The MBP is a 2019 model.

Disk Utility can usually remount drives (assuming it hasn’t broken)

Yes, this is relevant, I’m afraid. No matter if its a spinning or a SSD drive, heat kills drives.

On a less dramatic view it could also well be the case that the disk has been logically damaged due to being disconnected while being mounted --or worse, during writes. In this case Disk Utility can reformat and make the disk reusable again. Try the “First Aid” item and see what’s being reported.

In a recent thread about hard drive mounting issues the culprit was the cable. So you could try a different cable.

Good luck getting it sorted.

1 Like

Thanks all. I had forgotten Disk Utility existed, and I don’t think I knew it could “see” external drives even when they weren’t mounted! It can see the external drive, so that’s a good first step! It’s been running First Aid for 8 hours now and isn’t even a third of the way through so I will leave it doing its thing (I think it’s because it’s got loads of Time Machine snapshots to check, and is a 2TB drive).

To add emphasis to @MevetS’s point: the thin cables supplied with those ubiquitous inexpensive portable hard drives are notoriously fragile. When experiencing external disk drive problems, one would be well-advised to look first at the cables.

After experiencing two cable-related problems over the years with inexpensive portable hard drives, I bought a few USB-3 to USB Micro B cables (links below) and use these now instead of the WD- or Seagate-supplied cables.
Links (Amazon):
USB-3 to micro-B

USB-3 to micro-B - another example

These cables are thicker and less flexible than the disk drive manufacturer-supplied cables but are more reliable. These cables are also available with USB-C to micro B connectors.

In case you run into this issue, I’ve had external time machine disks take a long time with first aid and then be unable to repair errors. Booting into safe mode and running fist aid from there does the trick for me in theses cases.

I can’t recall if it’s a APFS issue or maybe M1? Anyway, it’s a known issue.

I think it depends on what format the partition is set up. Can you see the volume and partition in diskutil?

I have a 2T SanDisk showing as not mounted in diskiutil. It turns out that I have too manu usb devices connected. You may have to unplug some and try it out

when you type “diskutil list” into the terminal, does the drive show up?

Thank you for your help everybody. Disk Utility couldn’t repair the drive, it ran for over 24 hours and ground to a halt. But since it was only Time Machine and I didn’t really care, I was able to get Disk Utility to erase the drive and it is working.

I’m still not sure what exactly what caused the issue, but I’m guessing something happened when it was getting cooked over the weekend. My new plan is to make sure I eject (safely!) and store away from the sun when not in use!

APFS-formatted hard drives, particularly Time Machine ones, can be notoriously slow.

Heat has been mentioned, as has the cable. Could there be a problem with a heated cable? If insulation between wires has melted, that could be very problematic.

And although OP did state that Disk Utility saw the drive, the other place I have looked is in System Information under USB. I’ve had situations where Disk Utility cannot see the drive but the USB system can. This was an odd problem that certain drives do not work when directly connected to M1 systems, and an unpowered hub needs to be interposed.