Western Digital – Data Recovery Information

Western Digital - Data Recovery Information

Burnt Circuit Boards

Typically, one of the most frequently experienced problems associated with data recovery in Western Digital(WD) hard drives, is a burnt circuit board(PCB). WD hard drives are extremely susceptible to power streaks, surges and overheating. Usually, a power streak combined with a poor power supply is enough to fry up spindle driver chips, making it impossible to access the data normally. If this were to happen, the PC would either shut down or reboot on its own. You would probably be aware of an awful smell of smoke floating up from the computer, and when switched on it would seem to be totally void of life with no sound or movement emitting from inside.

Western Digital Hard Drives Famous for Firmware Issues

Most people think that the drive’s firmware is found on the logic board; it’s not. The main part of the firmware modules is in fact located on the platters in the “Service Area” which is found in the negative cylinders of the surface. If a module becomes corrupted, the hard drive can’t correctly initialize and it stops working; once again, the data cannot be accessed. If this happens, the drive normally starts fine but is followed by one of these symptoms:

– it shows the wrong capacity or S/N
– it can identify with its factory name; e.g. WDC ROM MODEL-HAWK—
– it can identify OK, but can’t read data or boot up – gives I/O device errors when you attempt to access LBA
– it can’t be found in the BIOS

Possible error messages
“No operating system found”
“S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed”
“Primary Master Hard Disk Fail”
“Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter”
“USB Device malfunctioned”
“Drive Mount Failure”
“Hard drive not recognized”

At this point, fixing a problem like this at home isn’t possible. You will need someone with the right expertise and knowledge of data recovery and hard drives and who has access to the specialised equipment needed to repair the firmware. Data recovery success for this is almost a hundred percent.

Clunking / Knocking / Clicking / Sweeping Sounds

The drive starts to spin, and while trying (unsuccessfully) to locate the firmware, the heads begin to click. This is normally a sign that the heads are damaged, and they will need to be replaced in a class one hundred environment (clean room). , , , . Do not attempt to open or repair the drive yourself! This could severely damage the platters and your data would be unrecoverable.

Another common problem with Western Digital drives is spindle seizing. This often occurs after being dropped. The drive will either spin up with a loud noise and not be able to get to the required speed; or it won’t start at all and you’ll hear a siren sound . Again, recovering data in this case requires a specialist to remove the platters from the hard drive in a clean room and then put them into a matching donor. This procedure is very complex and should not be tried at home.

Western Digital Laptop Drives

VE, Scorpio and UE series laptop drives have some 2.5″ hard drive issues in common. One of these is typical for WD drives – bad sectors. After a certain length of time, the magnetic media that covers the platters starts to decay, resulting in the magnetic domains not being able to turn in the direction needed. This is when the bad sectors appear. The HDD then starts to read the data from the unreadable bad sector and starts to freeze. This causes scratching and even clicking sounds. When rebooting, you would most likely get a message reading “SMART failure predicted” or a similar SMART error. What this does is cause more damage to the heads and further data is lost. Attempting to read the data continuously will only lead to more problems, and your data may become unrecoverable.

In a lab, special imaging tools are used to read the raw sector data. Normally, this is the only way of retrieving as many files as possible from those sectors.

The other issue these drives have in common are heads that stick to the platter surface.

Head Issues

Usually parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, the heads may fail to return to their designated parking spots after experiencing an incorrect termination or fall, and may remain on the surface. As soon as the motor stops spinning, the heads get stuck to the smooth surface. It is then impossible to get them loose without the correct experience and tools. Once again: do not try to open the drive yourself! This will most certainly cause damage to the platters and your data will no longer be recoverable.

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