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Recovering data from broken hard drive

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April 19, 2011 5:47:21 PM

My WD elements 2TB is broken somehow. Its product number is WDBAAU0020HBK-01.

My device manager acknowledges that there is a "disk drive", but I cannot access it and it does not show up in my computers. I hear five "rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrzz" noises after connecting my WD elements 2TB hard drive to my computer.

I have contacted Western Digital customer support and they determined my hard drive is broken after many attempts to make it work. They even shipped me a new power cord.

I have come up with three possible solutions after doing some research:

1. If I were to get a new circuit board, does anyone know where I can buy a new circuit board for my Western Digital Elements 2TB?

2. If I were to connect my hard disk drive directly to my motherboard, can I use any SATA cable, or does it have to be SATA I or SATA II?

3. I will install Ubuntu rescue remix and Ddrescue, but does it work on Windows Vista?
a b G Storage
April 19, 2011 5:55:54 PM

First run WD's diagnostic software against the drive.
If device manager sees the drive a new circuit board will not help.
Any SATA cable should work.
Ubuntu is a version of Linux it run's independently from Vista.
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a c 316 G Storage
April 20, 2011 11:26:48 AM

There are two boards -- the USB-SATA bridge board plus the board on the drive.

Device Manager is probably detecting the bridge PCB but not the drive behind it.

If your product incorporates hardware encryption, then your data will be encrypted even if you have not set a password. This means that a direct SATA connection will only produce gibberish.

The noise that you describe could be a stiction fault. Did you drop your drive?

See this thread, but heed the warnings:
http://forums.seagate.com/t5/FreeAgent-Products/Seagate...
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Related resources
April 22, 2011 9:09:07 PM

TOPIC EDIT (more detailed version with updated actions taken):

I have the Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB Desktop Elements hard disk drive (model WD20EADS - 00R6B0). One day I came home from school after my mom cleaned my room, she handled and broke my hard disk drive regardless of how many times I told her to not touch the "hi-tec" stuff.

I connected it to my computer and my computer recognizes a "disk drive" in "My Device Manager" under the "Disk Drive" section. But ultimately, you can't really do anything with it because it is absent from "My Computer" or anywhere else such as the partition screen.

I tried to connect it with a SATA cable, where I removed my primary internal hard disk drive (am I supposed to do this?), and plugged the broken HDD in its place, where the computer then said "no device to boot". So I took it that it either means that the drive is completely broken or I am supposed to have my primary internal HDD plugged in with the broken one. The problem here is that I have a micro ATX motherboard and it has only about two SATA connector locations, which are used up (do they sell adapters for this?). I haven't tried to unplug the SATA from my DVD rom and put the broken HDD in its place. I will do that after I get a confirmation, because it is extremely bothersome to unplug and re-plug the thick and un-wieldy cables in a tiny crevice dwarfed by my giant graphics card.

Also to note is that every time, whether connected by USB or SATA cable, my HDD makes an "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrzzz" noise a total of five times after getting connected. The light still comes on when I put it in an external HDD casing. It makes absolutely no clicking nor clunking noises.

NONE of theses noieses found here in the Western Digital Section:
http://datacent.com/hard_drive_sounds.php

I have tried percussive maintenance to a certain extent by just bumping lightly on the bigger side of the HDD. This did not work maybe because I bumped so lightly.

I have contacted WD support, they determined that it is broken. They even shipped me a free power cable to see if it was the power cable's fault.

So is anyone able to give advice on what are my other alternatives? apply more percussion etc.?
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April 23, 2011 4:18:16 AM

Vay said:
TOPIC EDIT (more detailed version with updated actions taken):

<snipped>
I have tried percussive maintenance to a certain extent by just bumping lightly on the bigger side of the HDD. This did not work maybe because I bumped so lightly.

I have contacted WD support, they determined that it is broken. They even shipped me a free power cable to see if it was the power cable's fault.

So is anyone able to give advice on what are my other alternatives? apply more percussion etc.?


"Percussive maintenance" ??? That is like dropping your car off of a cliff to see if that fixes it. There are worse things that you could do, but not much worse. I have seen brand new, top of the line drives demolished by moving them a couple of feet while they are turned on. I have had people tell me they move their computers all the time with them turned on. To quote Clint: "...do you feel lucky?" cause that is playing with disaster.

"New power cable" ??? since it powers up, that could not possibly, even remotely, fix your symptoms. No idea what WD was thinking there, bizarre.

You can NOT just remove the boot drive because Windows is on it and the machine will not boot up Windows without it. Just carrying around a drive and/or touching it can cause damage to the drive. I have seen people do it without harm, but I have also seen parts totalled out by someone touching them improperly. Again, see the quote by Mr. Eastwood. It might be beyond repair now, but if it is not, doing that can trash it beyond repair.

This is a job for a professional who is skilled in hard drive recovery. If you do not have any data on the drive that is critical to you, your best bet is to replace the drive with a new one. If you do have irreplaceable data on the drive, the only way is to have an experienced pro do it. This is one of the things that I do in my work and there is no way I could teach an experienced technician how to do this without spending days with them. It is definately not for a beginner. Again, even touching the drive in certain ways can trash it.

Sorry, but it is better to be honest and blunt than to lie to you and make you waste more time and possibly cause more damage.
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a c 316 G Storage
April 24, 2011 6:30:45 AM

The OP's problem appears to be a simple case of stiction. Allow me to explain exactly what a "data recovery professional" does in such a case. The procedure involves using a screwdriver to rotate the platters in their normal direction of motion with one hand, while retracting the heads to their normal parking position, using firm continuous pressure, with the other hand. That's essentially it. For this "data recovery" service, a typical professional will charge you $1000 or more. I can think of only two other professions that charge so much for so little, and they are lawyers and prostitutes. And the reason they get away with it is the secrecy that surrounds the profession, plus the intimidation factor. If you've ever lost a loved one, you'll know that this is the worst time to go shopping for a funeral plot. Similarly, when you've entrusted your entire digital life to your hard drive, and your HD has failed you, then this makes you extremely vulnerable. In a great many cases there will be DIY fixes that will cost you nothing, but there are a great many in the data recovery profession who will attempt to intimidate you by exploiting your fear at this vulnerable time.

For example, the following statement is the most ridiculous that I've seen in a long time:

"Just carrying around a drive and/or touching it can cause damage to the drive".

As for the comment regarding a "new power cable" (AC adapter?), I agree that it would be an unlikely culprit. However, a very common failure mode for switchmode supplies is high ESR capacitors on the secondary. The symptom would be a reduction in the supply voltage under load. Since the HDD sounds like it is executing repetitive "spin buzz", and since each buzz would load the supply, then the observed symptom could be consistent with a bad adapter. The power LED on the enclosure would be derived from the onboard 5V DC-DC converter, so this would not necessarily be affected by a drop in the +12V input. A port powered drive on an overloaded, current limited USB interface exhibits similar symptoms.

As for finding a professional who is skilled in hard drive recovery, these people are few and far between. From what I have seen during the past two years, the only thing you can be sure of when someone claims to be drive recovery professional is that they will charge you money for whatever it is that they do. Most appear to be ex-IT keyboard punchers or PC "technicians" who one day decided that data recovery would be a good earner. The vast majority of these people know absolutely nothing about electronics, have never handled a soldering iron or a multimeter, and wouldn't recognise a capacitor even if it discharged across their testicles. That said, I agree that in many (most?) cases experience trumps intelligence, so if you can find someone who has done the same job many times before, then you should be OK. However, since the profession has no official accreditation, all that it takes for somebody to hang out their shingle as a DR professional is a fancy web site, and perhaps an investment in a tool such as PC3000 or DeepSpar Imager.

To quote Dirty Harry, "are you feeling lucky"?
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a b G Storage
April 25, 2011 1:59:40 PM

It is certainly worth a try to recover your data using software means but first did you run software diagnostics on the drive? What does it report?
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April 26, 2011 1:05:06 AM

fzabkar said:
The OP's problem appears to be a simple case of stiction. Allow me to explain exactly what a "data recovery professional" does in such a case. The procedure involves using a screwdriver to rotate the platters in their normal direction of motion with one hand, while retracting the heads to their normal parking position, using firm continuous pressure, with the other hand. That's essentially it. For this "data recovery" service, a typical professional will charge you $1000 or more. I can think of only two other professions that charge so much for so little, and they are lawyers and prostitutes. And the reason they get away with it is the secrecy that surrounds the profession, plus the intimidation factor. If you've ever lost a loved one, you'll know that this is the worst time to go shopping for a funeral plot. Similarly, when you've entrusted your entire digital life to your hard drive, and your HD has failed you, then this makes you extremely vulnerable. In a great many cases there will be DIY fixes that will cost you nothing, but there are a great many in the data recovery profession who will attempt to intimidate you by exploiting your fear at this vulnerable time.

For example, the following statement is the most ridiculous that I've seen in a long time:

"Just carrying around a drive and/or touching it can cause damage to the drive".

As for the comment regarding a "new power cable" (AC adapter?), I agree that it would be an unlikely culprit. However, a very common failure mode for switchmode supplies is high ESR capacitors on the secondary. The symptom would be a reduction in the supply voltage under load. Since the HDD sounds like it is executing repetitive "spin buzz", and since each buzz would load the supply, then the observed symptom could be consistent with a bad adapter. The power LED on the enclosure would be derived from the onboard 5V DC-DC converter, so this would not necessarily be affected by a drop in the +12V input. A port powered drive on an overloaded, current limited USB interface exhibits similar symptoms.

As for finding a professional who is skilled in hard drive recovery, these people are few and far between. From what I have seen during the past two years, the only thing you can be sure of when someone claims to be drive recovery professional is that they will charge you money for whatever it is that they do. Most appear to be ex-IT keyboard punchers or PC "technicians" who one day decided that data recovery would be a good earner. The vast majority of these people know absolutely nothing about electronics, have never handled a soldering iron or a multimeter, and wouldn't recognise a capacitor even if it discharged across their testicles. That said, I agree that in many (most?) cases experience trumps intelligence, so if you can find someone who has done the same job many times before, then you should be OK. However, since the profession has no official accreditation, all that it takes for somebody to hang out their shingle as a DR professional is a fancy web site, and perhaps an investment in a tool such as PC3000 or DeepSpar Imager.

To quote Dirty Harry, "are you feeling lucky"?


I started my electronics education several decades ago, eventually earning the highest level of license the FCC had available. That license allows me to have full control of all aspects of a commercial television station, a radar installation, a radio station, or a shipgoing radio system. I can sign the required certification logs to ensure legal operations. I then went on to major in Electrical Engineering. Along the way, I also earned a couple of different amateur radio licenses and became experienced with reception, transmission, building, and tuning radio equipment. During the 1960s, I built and operated my own personal radio teletype station using a terminal unit that I personally built from scratch using descrete components.

I started my education in using various meters and test equipment also in the mid 1960s. My expeience using electrical and electronic test equipment includes VTVMs which were replaced by various types of VOM's over the years. I soldered my first connection in 1957 while constructiong a radio tranmitter under the guidance of a certified electronics instructor. My first class in soldering occurred with a gas fired iron since electrically operated ones where not all that economical at that time.

I bought my first personal computer in the mid 1980s after having already been a computer professional for over 10 years at that point. I have been the technical manager of more than one computer department and have owned my own personal computer support company for many years. In addition to doing hands on hardware and software work myself, I have taught computers at the college level.

In short, I have several decades of electronics, electrical and computer training and experience. While I agree that everyone seems to think that they can do what I do, most really can't. However, you seem to think that because so many people do not recognize their limits that I have no knowledge of this subject.

The reason why I wrote that about carrying around or touching the drive is related to static electricity. Perhaps you studied ESD as part of your Electrical Engineering major, as I did. Or perhaps you have studied it during your decades of electronics work, as I also have. If so, you would know, as I do, that it is not just a theoretical threat, it is a practical one. In one case that I am personally familiar with, a high percentage of critical electronic components were testing as bad from the assembly line. The cause turned out to be that the stools the line workers were sitting on insulated them and their movement created enough static to damage the parts as they were worked on. The solution was anti-static straps.

It was obvious from the original post that the OP was not knowledgeable about such things so I issued the warning. I suggest that until you know more about these subjects, that you refrane from criticizing those who do know about these subjects. One does not even need to understand Ohm's Law to diagnose and fix most problems since almost no repairs are done to individual components in a modern personal computer.

The statement that you so strongly criticized is right on target to tell someone who thinks that hitting a hard drive is part of the maintenance process. That person would also not understand ESD, what damage it can do, and how to protect against the problem. Therefore, my warning was totally appropriate.
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a c 316 G Storage
April 26, 2011 6:45:02 AM

Let me put DR in perspective.

Recently my father had eye cataract surgery that cost him less than AU$2K, even as a private, uninsured patient. He will soon be undergoing another operation to restore hearing to an almost totally deaf ear, at a cost of around $1K, again as a private, uninsured patient. In comparison, a DR professional would charge that and more for nothing more complex than a wax-ectomy. The difference between the two professions is that DR is protected by an unwritten code of silence. It's like a masonic society, a bruderbond, an exclusive Club where the most trivial knowledge is steeped in mystique.

For two years I have participated in another DR forum dominated by DR professionals, many of whom are mercenary, avaricious, and selfish. They despise me because I help those visitors who would otherwise be exploited by them. I am the guy in the audience who lifts the magician's black curtain and exposes their wires, trapdoors, and body doubles. It has now reached the point where I have my own stalker. Some would say that's a sign of success.

As for percussive maintenance, that's a procedure that has its own risks, hence my warnings. Whereas a DR professional would give the OP only two choices, send the drive to him or bin it, I have offered a third, admittedly inelegant, option. Perhaps more importantly, I have shown the OP just how trivial the proper procedure really is.

As for ESD, the solution is not to touch anything. That includes your mobile phone, flash drive, digicam, camcorder, and of course your iThing.
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April 27, 2011 4:27:59 AM

fzabkar said:
Let me put DR in perspective.

Recently my father had eye cataract surgery that cost him less than AU$2K, even as a private, uninsured patient. He will soon be undergoing another operation to restore hearing to an almost totally deaf ear, at a cost of around $1K, again as a private, uninsured patient. In comparison, a DR professional would charge that and more for nothing more complex than a wax-ectomy. The difference between the two professions is that DR is protected by an unwritten code of silence. It's like a masonic society, a bruderbond, an exclusive Club where the most trivial knowledge is steeped in mystique.

For two years I have participated in another DR forum dominated by DR professionals, many of whom are mercenary, avaricious, and selfish. They despise me because I help those visitors who would otherwise be exploited by them. I am the guy in the audience who lifts the magician's black curtain and exposes their wires, trapdoors, and body doubles. It has now reached the point where I have my own stalker. Some would say that's a sign of success.

As for percussive maintenance, that's a procedure that has its own risks, hence my warnings. Whereas a DR professional would give the OP only two choices, send the drive to him or bin it, I have offered a third, admittedly inelegant, option. Perhaps more importantly, I have shown the OP just how trivial the proper procedure really is.

As for ESD, the solution is not to touch anything. That includes your mobile phone, flash drive, digicam, camcorder, and of course your iThing.


The difference between a hard drive, which is what we were discussing, and the other items that you mention is that the hard drive has much of the circuit board exposed when the drive is outside of it's enclosure. The other items have a protective shell built around them to protect them from ESD, physical damage, and other dangers. There is absolutely no comparison between those devices and a hard drive when it comes to exposure to potential problems.

Even suggesting that it is a good idea to hit a hard drive to try to fix it is beyond belief. I brought that up because people who don't know how idiotic that is might read these posts and think it is a good idea.

This issue is about getting a task accomplished, not whether or not some people charge too much for their services. A personal problem with a group of people is not germane.
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January 22, 2013 5:42:49 AM

http://www.free-recovery.net/data-recovery/

This one helped me restore my damaged western digital when the partition table is damaged. It restored almost 800GB data including photos, videos in my 2TB disk.

When your disk is damaged, you may turn to the disk manufacturer who may also recommend you google data recovery software to find help.
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March 26, 2013 12:44:22 AM

Can any of you answer my question posted at this link
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1634323/iomega-sam...

My problem is that I changed the casing of 1TB 3.5 drive ... from 3.5 iomega casing to 2.5 elements casing,
now i want to fix my partition table ... otherwise i have to format and put data again ... lengthy process.
i need a way to fix the partition table ... so far i tried many softwares which failed except R-Studio.
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