This Western Digital data deletion story is a reminder of why offsite backup is so important

My Book NAS
My Book NAS (Image credit: Western Digital)

Best Western Digital Hard Drive Hero

Best Western Digital Hard Drive Hero (Image credit: Western Digital)

It's been quite the day for Western Digital after a number of people reported that their My Book NAS devices had experienced some sort of data failure. For reasons unknown, people found that their storage was empty when it should have been full. And that's bad.

According to a Bleeping Computer report, users worldwide found their devices were empty, and to make matters worse they were told that their login credentials were incorrect, too. These are the Live variant of the My Book NAS devices, all of which were connected to the LAN and internet via Ethernet.

Today, WD My Book owners worldwide suddenly found that all of their files were mysteriously deleted, and they could no longer log into the device via a browser or an app.When they attempted to log in via the Web dashboard, the device stated that they had an "Invalid password."

Western Digital told everyone to disconnect their devices from the network, but by then it was too late for many.

"I have a WD My Book live connected to my home LAN and worked fine for years. I have just found that somehow all the data on it is gone today, while the directories seems there but empty. Previously the 2T volume was almost full but now it shows full capacity," a WD My Book owner reported on the Western Digital Community Forums.

After investigating, Western Digital found that these impacted devices had experienced a factory reset via a malicious software attack. It's worth noting at this point that the last time these particular devices received a software update was 2015. That's less than ideal and it's easy to see why these particular devices were targeted.

Western Digital:

"Western Digital has determined that some My Book Live devices are being compromised by malicious software. In some cases, this compromise has led to a factory reset that appears to erase all data on the device. The My Book Live device received its final firmware update in 2015. We understand that our customers' data is very important. At this time, we recommend you disconnect your My Book Live from the Internet to protect your data on the device. We are actively investigating and we will provide updates to this thread when they are available." - Western Digital

That's obviously very bad, and it's even worse for those who lost data that cannot be replaced.

However, it seems that too many people didn't have any sort of backup for their data. In fact, the NAS device probably was the backup in a number of cases. But as people in the data security world have been saying for years – everyone needs an offsite backup. It could be Backblaze, my personal favorite, or it could be a USB stick that lives at a friend's house when it isn't being used.

It doesn't matter how you do it, but I strongly suggest that you find some sort of offsite backup solution in case, heaven forbid, something like this happens to you. You could even pick up one of the best external hard drives from our list and use that for offsite storage, too.

Me? I have Time Machine backing my Macs up to a NAS and that NAS backed up to a cloud storage provider. I think I'm covered across most potential bad cases – but I'm sure it could still be better.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.