How to Open a Western Digital Elements 500GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Case

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B002CZQ4GU]I found myself needing to upgrade my MacBook Pro. So I went out and bought a WD 500gb Elements drive (External p/n:WDBAAR5000ABK-NESN Internal p/n:WD5000BEVT) to quickly swap out my old drive and get some needed space. Before actually performing the upgrade though, I cloned it using Carbon Copy Cloner and when that was finished, removed the old drive and replaced it with the new drive.ย  Western Digital came out with a revised enclosure that’s a little different than the last generation, so I decided to make it a blog post. Enjoy!

For this tutorial, I used my handy-dandy swiss army knife.

1. Start by taking the swiss army knife and inserting the screwdriver end (not the knife!) into the top portion of the drive and gently sliding it across the top. It may be a little difficult at first getting the edge of the screwdriver into the plastic edge.

2. Continue alone the left side of the case with the blade. You may here popping as you go along the edge which is normal.

3. Then move the blade to the other side of the casing until you hear a few more pops when the casing separates itself.

4. When there is sufficient room, finish removing the back piece with your hands. Keep in mind, there are a few more clips that will make noise, this is normal.

5. Here is a picture of the two pieces separated completely. Notice the clips on the back piece. These made the cracking/popping noise when you took it off.

6. To remove the drive, start by taking out 2 rubber fillers at the bottom of the case between the plastic and the hard drive.

7. Here is a picture of the rubber fillers removed.

8. Next, insert the blade into the bottom of the drive and gently pull the drive out of the case. It is not held in by screws or glue, but it is quite snug in the case.

9. Then remove the 4 remaining rubber fillers on the sides (they act like screws).

10. Turn over the hard drive and slide it out of the metal casing.

11. Remove the USB to SATA connector on the top by sliding that off as well.

12. Here is all the pieces laid out and a close up of the hard drive.

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54 thoughts on “How to Open a Western Digital Elements 500GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Case

  1. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!!!! This helped me so much. I tried al other tech support forums and everything I could think of.. this is the only place I found explicite directions on how to open this type of WD product.

    Thanks
    Dan

  2. hey ๐Ÿ™‚
    when i got mine open a small z shaped bit of metal fell out with like a clamp on one side….
    now that im putting it back together where does it go ????
    bout 3cm long

  3. NOTE FOR 1TB: The latest 1TB SE Elements drive no longer has a standard SATA interface. I took apart a drive today (date on drive is 06 APR 2010) and found that the USB port is now integrated to the drive itself and instead of a SATA interface there are 12 ATA-style pins that are covered by the LED. So if you want 1TB internally in your laptop, look elsewhere.

  4. hi, thank you for this tutorial… i tryed first to watch youtube but this is the only ( and best ) i found, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve just purchased a WD Elements SE 750GB, do you know if the internal HD is 9.5mm / 10.5mm high? Thanks in advance, and best regards!!! Thanks a lot for your great tutorial, It’s the best I’ve found about opening a WD 2.5 case in all Internet…

  6. NOTE FOR 750GB / 1TB: The latest 750TB / 1TB SE Elements drive no longer has a standard SATA interface. I took apart a drive today and found that the USB port is now integrated to the drive itself and instead of a SATA interface there are 12 ATA-style pins that are covered by the LED. So if you want 750GB / 1TB internally in your laptop, look elsewhere. Besides, the integrated USB port is a micro USB (new standart for chargint mobiles), not mini USB, so if you expected to use your old mini USB – USB cables just forget about that. I decided to give it back to store since I just wanted it to insert in a USB 3.0 case and since it is not SATA interface I couldn’t use it as I was looking for. By the way, it is 12.5mm high and it has a WD Scorpio Blue in it.

  7. I imagine that would be some major surgery and probably wouldn’t work. I haven’t seen the new boards, so I’m not sure.

  8. Thanks for the post. Couldnt find the 500GB Scorpio Blue in stock around town. Saw this post, ran to local Target, bought the WD Essentials on sale!, and now have a fancy new 500GB drive in my macbook!! Put the old 60GB drive in the enclosure for a safe bootable backup.

    Thanks!

  9. If I take the HD out (I have a 1.5TB element bought in Nov of last year), what would you rec to buy to plug into an external HD holder. How easy is it to do that? My Element won’t stay powered up for some reason and it’s the only other thing I can think of to try and save the info on it.

  10. Thank you very much. I have been wondering how to open the case. I was able to open my 1TB drive. IMO (based on my case), it may be easier to open if you start at the end where the connectors are. There is only one latch on that end verses two latches on the other end.

  11. Thanks very much for the guide, successfully extracted a 250GB drive to pop in a laptop. I was in the supermarket searching for guides to see which USB drive to buy to get the drive out and wasn’t having much luck until I found this one.

    John

  12. comment and question. comment the wd elaments drive in my mini dell 10 12 net book is really doing wonderful! thanks so much! question! is wd planning to make a elaments u s b 3.0 hard drive? the smart ware on pass ports u can’t deleet but pleas corect me if i am rong thanks again for the instrucctions also have an elaments inside of laptob as well

  13. yeah, i got my toolset out tonight and removed their proprietary little micro usb interface with hopes there’d be a proper sata connection behind it… (especially since the mechanism has SATA stamped on it)

    NO DICE! the end of the drive was actually blank. just case. though the interface board came off easily and is just a bunch of bare metal on metal contacts.

    issues like this are more often the data interface than the drives themselves. so id imagine one could get a new micro usb board and solve their issue… not sure if WD sells this or if you’d have to buy a new one and perform the surgery yourself…?

  14. hello.
    I need help.
    Buy a hard drive wd elements is 750 GB but I’m not sure if I can connect even normal pc sata cable and then I guess that voltage levels must be different or not.

    thanks.

  15. Any idea if doing this will void the warranty on the hard drive? Or if WD would be able to notice it’s been disassembled? I’ve got a 1.5 TB WD Elements hard drive and it’s been having some issues with saying the drive must be formatted. I’ve been reading that external hard drives have issues like this commonly, and work when taken out of the enclosure and placed into a computer instead. I don’t want to lose all the data on the hard drive (by getting it replaced by the warranty), but I REALLY don’t want to lose $100 dollars in case this would be noticeable to them and void the warranty.

  16. Thanks for this.

    I had old 60g WD passport – I opened it but it was an IDE not a sata drie.

    I need SATA from my laptop

    Went and bought 320G passport but now the drives are a unit – no board to pop off !

    As I had opened it I decided not to try and exchange it – went and bought a WD essentials SE 500G – got it home and saw the size of the unit is the same as the passport – there is no room for an adaptor board.

    I need an essentials WITHOUT the SE extension – there are some around but have been discontinued (perhaps)

    People want ing to do this trick might want to move fast.

    Pity because in Aus at the moment the 320 can be for for $A66 – the drive plus adaptor seperat is much more than that – not a mass item

  17. Its a nice thing to have because once the PC is updated, you can attach the adaptor to your old drive and access the stuff on it. (someone may want to confirm this)

    I intend to rebiud my HP PC as its slow and vista – going back to XP because the win7 update is a gouge – im surprised there hasnt been a class action against MS over vixta and the horrendous cost of win7 update

  18. I have a later 1TB WD Passport Elements ext drive which I have opened but it is a later one (manufactured 28 Nov 2010) and has an integrated USB bridge that is not removable. Great ext drive but not suitable for installation in my Macbook Pro.

  19. Appearently the 2.5′ 500GB Elements SE, Hdd is also integrated usb.
    external WDBABV5000ABK/ internal- WD5000BMVV.
    It looks like all 2011 models has moved to integrated usb. party’s over… ๐Ÿ™

  20. Hello yermolai!

    Yes,it will be usable.You can put it back into the case, if you’re smart enough easily ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Thank you so much for your guide which has proved very useful. Upgraded my PS3 to 500gb. Used the old PS3 drive (120gb) to give myself some more portable storage reusing the WD case.
    Excellent work – thanks again.

  22. Hey dude, I especially like this awesome article! I have been reading that external hard drives have issues like this commonly, and work when taken out of the enclosure and placed into a computer instead. Thanks!

  23. Thank you! Your procedure worked perfectly on a WD Elements 320GB drive manufactured on 24 Dec 2010

  24. I found this very helpful. This worked for my WD Elements 320Gb. I was taking out the hard drive to swap with ps3 60Gb Seagate 5200rpm. Unfortunately after putting the WD elements back together it didn’t support the hard-drive but oh well, I got to upgrade my ps3! THANKS AGAIN

  25. Noooooo!! I wish I would have seen these posts before. I have bought the WD Elements SE 1Tb (although, pretty cheap) and it doesn’t have the f…. SATA interface only this stupid microUSB. ๐Ÿ™
    I’ll try to change it, wish me luck…

  26. i am trying to fix the USB port on my 1TB SE Elements drive. It is very loose and wont pick up my connection will opening it and pressing it toghter work for a temp fix to get the information off my hard drive. I am sorry if this sounds stupid but im not a great computer guy and you sound like you know what your talking about with this. Im a solider stuck in Afghanistan so i wasent able to send it back and recive a new one for my Warrenty because i taken it over sea. So i had to buy a new one and im at leaset trying to recover my information on it.

  27. Thanks for the method, but It’s useless to open the new USB3 WD Elements SE, since the USB3 interface is now integrated on the controller’s board and you cannot remove it (there’s no SATA connector) mine is R/N: D3B DCM: BAABAAA Model WDBPCK5000ABK-EESN

  28. I bought a 1 TB WB elements a 2009 3,5″ model. WDBAAU0010HBK-01.
    contained a normal 1TB caviar green SATA drive, with a slip on sata to usb board. I butchered the casing, not its inside my NAS TS 239 PRO.

  29. Worked perfectly on my 1TB western Digital HDD Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚
    Now my media center has lots more room yipppeeee!

  30. awesome article, Thank you, very easy to follow the pictures.
    I used a small kitchen knife.
    But i found that the USB port is now integrated to the drive itself and instead of a SATA interface (thereโ€™s no SATA connector)

    2.5โ€ฒ 500GB Elements WDBABV5000ABK-00 – it doesnโ€™t have the fโ€ฆ. SATA interface only this stupid microUSB

    looks like I’ll have to put everything back again, boring…

  31. Devin, You’re saving my life !
    My old sata hard drive, with all of my photos not backuped…, is now installled in my WD Elements and the 1TB initially supplied with the WD is now in my new Synology NAS.
    Thanks a lot fou your time spent to realize this useful tutorial.

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