WD Drive Manager may erase hard drives not meant to be erased.
On wednesday last week I was doing a configuration with Western Digital’s Drive Manager. Why? Well, I was in the process of switching my files from one hard drive to another (some 500+ GB of stuff: photos, work files, backups, all kinds of designs… 10 – 15 years of life worth saving and several ongoing projects) and thought it’d be good to clean up the final destination, a Western Digital Mirror Edition 2 TB drive, before pushing over all the data.
The 2 TB RAID drive didn’t have any important files on it since I had copied everything to another external disk, which I then unmounted. I clicked the “Configure” button (which I had wanted click quite often just to see what happens). The WD Drive Manager warned me that I’ll lose all information on the disk, which, since this was what I wanted, was quite ok, so I proceeded. The Drive Manager then unmounted the 2 TB disk and by the sound of it was doing something.
Not knowing how long the WD Drive Manager was going to take to do its configuration (I’ve never done it before), I plugged in my other external HD, a 1 TB Western Digital Essential Edition (the one with 10 years worth of files), thinking that I’d go through some photos while waiting. This, I realized quite quickly, was a mistake. Huge mistake.
As soon as the 1 TB drive mounted, it got unmounted as the WD Drive Manager started to configure this other drive too. Jesus H. Christ! I couldn’t believe it. I did what I thought was best: Force quitted the WD Drive Manager application and plugged out both the hard drives.
And then I had to go for a walk, I needed some air and time to calm down.
When I returned from my walk I made a damage evaluation by plugging in both hard drives and they showed up empty. What a disaster. It was such a huge a shock, beyond comprehension, that I just couldn’t get even mad. I just… was perplexed and felt slightly sick. As I couldn’t think straight, I decided to wait to the next day before doing anything, except that I sent feedback to Western Digital, telling them about what happened and wondering how it was possible.
The next day I began assessing different possibilities for recovering my lost data. Searching the net for both data recovery companies and software.
The data recovery companies I contacted weren’t very optimistic about recovering stuff from a HFS+ disk. When asking about recovering overwritten data (since I presume the Catalog File has been overwritten and the file data is intact), one company said that it is a legend that refuses to die.
I kind of have got the feeling that these data recovery companies aren’t actually able to recover (for a notable sum of money) much more than, say what software for about 100 dollars can. I might be wrong, maybe they can work wonders but since I have no knowledge of any data recovery company what so ever, I don’t feel qualified to even try to select which one to try (does anybody have any good advice?).
Yesterday Western Digital’s Service and Support answered. Here’s the main point of their answer, without all the boring yada yada:
While configuring or changing the RAID on the Mirror you can’t connect any other device. Unfortunately if the drive was erased I do not think you will be able to retrieve the files.
What? They know that one shouldn’t plug in other devices while the WD Drive Manager is configuring! Still they don’t tell the users about this in advance. So I wrote them back.
Hello [name of customer support drone removed],
“While configuring or changing the RAID on the Mirror you can’t connect any other device”, you tell me.
I obviously know that now, don’t I, but the information came way too late.
Your software, while configuring, doesn’t in any way inform the user not to plug in other devices. That is certainly a major flaw in your software. It’s bad design and bad usability with disastrous outcome. An accident designed by you, waiting to happen.
Nor does the provided manual inform the user not to plug in other devices while configuring.
There is no way I can have known that my other hard drive will be deleted by your software. And you seem to think that a warning four days after the accident is in place?
As far as I know, you distribute a poorly designed and dangerous software with your hard drives and do not seem to take any responsibility for your actions. It’s appalling! You know of the danger but do not inform users about it. You deliberately keep quiet and thus endanger the data of unsuspecting people. How evil of you.
And since you asked, I have to say that you have certainly not met my expectations today and I’m definitely not satisfied with your service, or Western Digital’s for that matter.
Disgusted by your malevolence and utter indifference,
If this was 1989 I might believe that it’s normal for software obliterate data without informing the user (and that it might be the user’s fault somehow), but it’s 2009 and I know that if software does shitty things, it is the software that is shitty. Obviously Western Digital doesn’t realize what kind of latent disaster they are distributing with their hard drives.
Well. I’ll wait and see if Western Digital has anything to say anymore, or will they just stop communicating. It would be nice if they had something intelligent to say and not just state self-evident platitudes and apologize for the inconvenience (once again) but I really don’t have high hopes. Big corporations rarely seem to take interest in cleaning up the mess when their shit hits the fan at private person’s level.
And in contradiction to suggestions on data recovery company sites, I have scanned the 1 TB disk myself. I couldn’t just sit here without doing anything – I really need my files. So I checked what the Data Rescue 3 (which, to my knowledge, shouldn’t write anything on the disk it tries to read) was able to salvage from the mayhem that Western Digital caused. And well… at least I now have huge piles of all kind of files to sort through. The file names are gone and so is the folder structure which I built up for several years. Can’t really say in what shape the files are, yet, the sorting will take time. A long time. Very long.
Update October 29th: I made a Flickr set of some of the unrecoverable images: In Loving Memory Of Lost Images.
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