Friday, March 14, 2008

How to: Recover from a Failed MyBook (and MyBook II) Firmware Upgrade

I recently suffered the same fate as many others when attempting to upgrade my Western Digital MyBook Pro external drive to the latest firmware revision, 1.08a. Half way through the updating process, directly after erasing the firmware on the MyBook, the updater encountered an error leaving me with a completely unusable drive.

If you're in the same boat and desperate to get to the instructions on how to recover your MyBook, click here.

A quick search showed many others in the same situation as myself, but with no solution to restore the MyBook to a fully working state. As all those in a similar position know, this situation is something of a catch-22; the MyBook cannot be returned as it still has sensitive data on it, and opening it will void the warranty. As the MyBook was now a shiny paper-weight and I had no desire to return the device with my data on it, I took to it with a screwdriver, and then took it apart (I have more recently discovered that there are a couple of guides to doing this - 320Gb Premium Edition, 500Gb Essential Edition) but disassembly is not difficult anyway.

After removing the drive and backing up my data, I examined the MyBook's circuitry and found that the flash memory was a SST39LF200A, which is a Silicon Storage Technology128K x16 CMOS Flash (more reading here). Google also revealed that the controller in the MyBook was an Oxford Semiconductor OXUF924DSb, further hmmmmmGlavin! boffin info here.

You can't flash a firmware without flashing software, so I went in search of anything related to Oxford controllers. Oxford don't seem to be big on releasing anything to the general public, but after a while I found an Oxford firmware updater at the FireWire Depot. Frustratingly the most recent chip that it supported was the 922, and I wasted the rest of the day trying to munge the libraries from Western Digital's 1.08a Firmware Eraser into Oxford's ye olde firmware updater in the hope that I could get the MyBook to be recognised, but to no avail.

The next day I took a different tack and got stuck into looking for a more recent version of the updater, finally digging one up at Dat Optic. Not only did this one support the 924 (does Oxford name all its chips after Porsches?) but it also had an accompanying user manual, not that I'm into that sort of thing.

Anyway, with no further ado, here's how to recover your MyBook from a Western Digital firmware "Update" failure.

7/11/2008 - MyBook II users: the process outlined below will not work for a MyBook II series device. However, a number of users have had success with a slightly modified version that essentially uses the correct firmware for the MyBook II series instead. I haven't tested this myself, but Mo, Scopes and bigharm56ai have all provided methods that should work. Please make sure you read through and understand all the instructions before you attempt to fix your MyBook II.

Before we begin, you will need the 1.08a Firmware update from Western Digital (mirror), and the Oxford Semiconductor Uploader (version 2.17.0100.0001) from Dat Optic (mirror) which you should install. The Oxford Uploader is a Java application so if you don't have Java, get it from Optionally you can also download the manual for the Oxford Uploader (mirror).

Please note: If at any stage during this process the Microsoft Hardware Wizard appears, stating that it has "found new hardware", follow these steps: Choose "no, not this time" when prompted whether the driver should be searched for on Windows Update, and click Next. Select "Install the software automatically (Recommended)" at the next step and again click Next. If the Windows Logo testing prompt appears, click "Continue Anyway", and then click Finish in the hardware wizard.

  1. Extract the file and run MyBook Firmware Upgrade r1-08a.exe. This will start the Western Digital updater and extract the firmware files to a temporaty location. The updater must be running during the following steps as when it is closed it will automatically delete the firmware files we need to fix the MyBook. Don't click any buttons on it and just leave it running.

  2. Connect your MyBook to a USB port on your computer and make sure it is powered.

  3. Start the Oxford Semiconductor Uploader, and click OK to ignore the warning message. If it cannot find any devices, click the "Scan USB" button.

  4. The Uploader should find your drive and state that "A blank USB UF924DSB has been selected". Click the "Select Flash" button.

  5. Choose "Silicon Storage Technology" as the Flash Vendor and SST39xF200A as the Flash Type. Set the Speed to 64nS, then click OK.

  6. Click Upload/Upgrade Firmware.

  7. The Uploader will upload an "Upload Acceleration Fragment" to your MyBook.

  8. When this has completed, click the Scan USB button once again. The Updater should then prompt you to "Select a Configuration File". Choose the file called config_1X.txt in C:\Program Files\Oxford Semiconductor\Firmware Upgrade\data\UF924DSA. This file and the one in the next step are the temporary files created by the Western Digital Update as mentioned in the first step.

  9. A second prompt will appear, asking you to select a Firmware file. Choose the file called UF924DS_release.bin in the same path as the text file.

  10. The Uploader will then start uploading the firmware to your MyBook.

  11. When it is complete, your MyBook's capacity light should turn on, and the drive should function as normal. Close the Western Digital Updater and the Oxford Uploader. If you have any trouble accessing the drive, reboot your computer and disconnect/reconnect the MyBook's power cable.