I own a WD Elements 3TB external hard drive (WDBAAU0030HBK-01) which I disassembled and converted into an internal SATA drive. When I did that I partitioned the drive after installing it in my machine.

Now I want to use it as an external drive again so I put it back into the enclosure. However, I can't do anything with it anymore. Formatting works with neither Windows nor Linux tools.

Using Windows Disk Management: I am prompted to create a partition table. Once I agree to do that it tells me that the device is write-protected.

Using Linux: Plugging the device into a Linux machine gives lots of errors on dmesg:

[ 1351.123500] sd 11:0:0:0: [sdh] Unhandled sense code
[ 1351.123503] sd 11:0:0:0: [sdh]  
[ 1351.123505] Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
[ 1351.123508] sd 11:0:0:0: [sdh]  
[ 1351.123509] Sense Key : Data Protect [current] 
[ 1351.123512] sd 11:0:0:0: [sdh]  
[ 1351.123516] Add. Sense: Logical unit access not authorized
[ 1351.123519] sd 11:0:0:0: [sdh] CDB: 
[ 1351.123520] Read(16): 88 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 08 00 00

When running GParted it reports:

Input/output error during read on /dev/sdh

and fails with that same error when trying to create a partition table.

My guess is that the WD SATA/USB converter that is part of the external hard drive enclosure requires the drive to be formatted in a certain way. Otherwise it will not accept commands.

How can I make this drive work in the external enclosure again?

  • 1
    Given the cost of a generic usb enclosure, I would just bin that one and buy one that doesn't have these measures
    – Paul
    Apr 7, 2014 at 14:26
  • You sure you didn't rook the USB adapter while disassembling the enclosure? Apr 7, 2014 at 14:52
  • @techie007 Might be possible but I think it's unlikely. I'm thinking the drive was in a special format because I couldn't read it when I hooked it up via SATA first even though it was working fine via USB.
    – Chris
    Apr 8, 2014 at 0:40
  • @Paul Yes, that would be the pragmatic measure which I will probably take next if all else fails. My main motivation is understanding what WD does to the drive and not so much saving those few bucks on a new enclosure.
    – Chris
    Apr 8, 2014 at 0:43

1 Answer 1


First, I would make a backup of everything on the drive that you don't want to lose. After you've backed up your drive, you'll want to try Western Digitals Formatting Program to reformat the drive.

If that doesn't work, you will have to do what is called a 'zero write' or 'low-level formatting', and then reformat the drive using the above software.

A zero write takes an extremely long time especially on a 3TB drive (try 12 hours for 350GB! I recommend trying to format it via WD's software FIRST; it writes over your entire hard drive with zeroes, effectively deleting ALL the information on the drive. This will delete ALL formatting and ALL data on the drive.

There are many tools to do this (note that with a 3TB drive it could take weeks), however definitely try using Western Digitals' program to do this first before trying others (then you can blame them if something happens :P ) Western Digital's Data LifeGuard

Use Only As A Last Resort:

If you have a HDD:

I recommend Darik's Boot And Nuke (DBAN)

Follow the instructions to install this onto either a cd-r or a pen-drive; remove any usb, cd's, or drives you don't want to be overwritten, then restart your computer with the pen drive/cd-r in it (do this on a computer you will not use for a while).


If you have a SSD (Solid State Drive):

I have never used this software, and probably will not be able to help you with it, however it was recommended to me, so I felt I should include it.

LowLevelFormat - Does exactly what you need, and provides good information on their website

I hope for your sake that you do not have to do a zero write, but on the bright side it might increase your drive speed too. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  • 1
    I would think only the first few kilobytes would technically need to be zeroed (if time is a concern). The rest should be over-written by the new filesystem and partitions, right?
    – Wutaz
    Apr 7, 2014 at 15:09
  • 1
    It would definitely work on a HDD, but I'm not entirely sure if that's the case with SSD's though as they don't necessarily save files in order, especially if there's bad sectors involved
    – Woody
    Apr 7, 2014 at 15:38

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