light slowly flashing on external hard drive


New Member
A new WD Elements portable hard drive has been plugged into a USB 3 port on a Linux desktop.

The hard drive does not appear on an fdisk -l
listing. The small light on the drive is slowly flashing.

What is happening ? Why doesn't the drive appear in the fdisk listing ?

Is the system trying to automatically mount the hard drive ?

Is the USB port underpowered ?

I hesitate to unplug the hard drive while the light is flashing in case this corrupts the filesystem
on the hard drive.


Well-Known Member
The last time that happened with one of mine, it needed to find a special place in the trash can.

But before you do that, you will need to disconnect it. If it's not showing up anywhere (i.e., dmesg, fdisk, gparted), it may be a power issue even though USB 3.0 provides higher power than does USB 2.0, so disconnect it. Then look for a "y" cable. The short "y" parts plug into separate USB ports (I would stick with USB 2.0 for this purpose) and the long part of the cable plugs into the drive connector. The "y" connectors allow the max power available from each USB port to be presented to the drive. The drive will take what it needs. Of course if the drive controller in the enclosure is borked, then the drive may already be tanked. But it may work.

I worked on the drive I mentioned for many hours over several days, using different drive enclosures, and different Linux tools to interact with the drive. Even fsck ran for hours without getting even 10% of the drive rewritten, and using dd to write from /dev/zero to the drive never completed. Try everything you can, it may come back, but it may not.

Is the drive under warranty with WD?


Well-Known Member
IMO, anything WD labels "green" isn't worth the money. I had one of the first of its green line hard drives and eventually had to make it an external sorage device, and then it failed soon after! Get the receipt and send it back, threatening to inform everybody in every linux forum you can join that their 'green' hard drives are not worth a you-know-what! I'll bet you get your money back.

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