Dead WD 2.5" SATA ext HD

I have a Western Digital 2.5" external hard drive that suddenly stopped working. I have seen external hard drives fail a couple of times and I was able to take them out of the external cases and connect them to a SATA to USB converter and get the hard drive to work.

So I took this one apart and found that it has a micro USB connector built right on the hard drive circuit board. Then there is a 2x6 dual row header connector next to it. The label on the HD says it is a "Serial ATA Hard Drive" but there is no SATA connector! I'm confused, how can it be a SATA HD if there is no SATA interface? Unless the 2x6 header is another type of SATA connector that I never heard of?

I would upload a picture of the HD but I can't figure out how to upload pics here...
The HD part number is WD3200BMVV (type that in google image search for pic).

Can anyone tell me if that 2x6 header connector is a SATA interface? Or is it a proprietary Western Digital interface.

And btw, the hard drive does not show up at all on my computers. Tried three Win 7 PC's and one Linux and none see it...
3 answers Last reply
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  1. There is no SATA access via the 12-way header. This header is indeed proprietary. Some pins are used as LED outputs while others are switch inputs. There are also two Tx and Rx pins for a serial diagnostic console.

    An additional complication with these drives is that the data are often hardware encrypted by the USB-SATA bridge chip (Initio 1607E or symwave SW6316), even if you have not set a password.

    If you insist on SATA access, then you will need to hack your PCB. This hack intercepts the SATA Tx/Rx data path between the bridge IC and the drive's MCU.


    BTW, a very common problem with these drives is physical connection issues with the USB connector.
  2. So it's not really a SATA hard drive I guess.

    I checked the microUSB connector on the HD under a microscope and it looked ok.

    The HD makes some really strange and un-normal buzzing sounds when it is first powered on and then the HD goes quiet after about 30 seconds. Would these sounds indicate it is a drive head issue?

    There is a seller on Ebay that sells the circuit board for my HD along with instructions on how to move the ROM IC from my board to the replacement board. $69.50. Anybody have advice on what are the chances this might fix the hard drive? (I'm an EE, I can solder)
  3. It could be a power problem. If so, try a USB Y-cable.

    A standard USB 2.0 port is current limited to 500mA. A Seagate ST9500325AS drive, for example, requires about 850mA during spinup, and about 400mA thereafter. A Y-cable is therefore sometimes necessary to pick up power from two USB ports.

    Otherwise it sounds like you may have a stiction problem (heads stuck to platters) or a seized spindle motor. It does not appear to be a PCB fault.

    In any case, you can't just replace the PCB. This is because most modern HDDs store unique, drive specific "adaptive" information in a serial EEPROM chip. This chip, or its contents, needs to be transferred from patient to donor. In WD drives, this chip is usually located at U12.

    The following PCB suppliers offer a firmware transfer service, either for free, or for US$10:

    I would advise that you avoid those suppliers who don't tell you that a board won't work without modification. Often they will attempt to obscure the requirement for a firmware transfer by deceptively describing their products as being "for data recovery only".

    Alternatively, if you are not adept at soldering, your local TV/AV repair shop should be able to transfer the chip for you.

    Some PCBs do not have a discrete serial flash memory chip. Instead they store the adaptive data inside the Marvell MCU (the largest chip). In this case you will need a "PCB adaptation" service.

    The following PCB supplier includes such a service for free:
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