Question 3 TB Western Digital drive, out of MyBook, inaccessible. Seeking advice.

May 13, 2021
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Hello everyone,

I have a 3TB Western Digital MyBook drive that suddenly stopped being recognized.

This has the awful WD USB PCB that's required in order to see the filesystem because of the block size translation. It has the ASM1051W chip, which, I understand, actually does NOT encrypt the drive.

However, setting that aside for a moment...

Even when the USB PCB is removed, and drive is just plugged in to SATA power and data, it only gets recognized in the BIOS briefly upon a cold boot of the system. By the time any operating system tries to address it, it's gone. If I warm boot, the BIOS doesn't see it. This happens with both motherboard SATA and PCI card SATA adapters.

Whether the WD PCB is present or not, the drive spins up, and just gives repeated three "gentle" clicks.

I've even tried a donor USB PCB from another MyBook. There was no change in behavior.

When connected via USB, repair utilities like testdisk or ddrescue just error out, rapidly, on every sector. It's as if the disk itself isn't even attached. When connected via SATA, it doesn't stay present long enough to be addressed by any OS.

I'm most intrigued by how the drive just stops existing until a cold boot, is detectable again for some number of seconds, and how that's repeatable.

What's next? Would there be any hope in a hard drive PCB replacement and ROM swap? Or is it clear that the drive is damaged physically? If the latter, are there any reputable data recovery services that don't cost several thousands of dollars?
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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What is the goal here?

Is it to recover whatever data that was on it?
If so, why was there not a backup of this data?

Or is it to bring the physical drive back to working condition?
Is it still under warranty?
 
May 13, 2021
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What is the goal here?

Is it to recover whatever data that was on it?
If so, why was there not a backup of this data?

Or is it to bring the physical drive back to working condition?
Is it still under warranty?
Hello and thank you for replying.

The goal is to recover the data. As is a common story, it contains media of sentimental value.

It was not backed up. I always conclude these engagements with a lecture about that. As you surely know, it's much easier to deliver that along with the data.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
143,009
8,342
174,690
22,101
Hello and thank you for replying.

The goal is to recover the data. As is a common story, it contains media of sentimental value.

It was not backed up. I always conclude these engagements with a lecture about that. As you surely know, it's much easier to deliver that along with the data.
As mentioned above, it is likely that the data was encrypted via the enclosure.
Lacking the functioning enclosure...that data is inaccessible. Even assuming the bare drive is fully functional.
 
May 13, 2021
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If CrystalDiskInfo cannot access the drive's SMART data, then this would point to head/media/firmware problems.

BTW, your My Book is probably encrypted by the bridge firmware.
Hello and thank you.

I'm not familiar with CrystalDiskInfo. Is this worth trying even if the operating system doesn't see the device?

As for the bridge firmware, I had read that this specific chip does not encrypt. But now I'm seeing it might. I suppose my question is... these other behaviors suggest a more fundamental problem with the HDD itself, apart from the USB bridge, yes? Where would you go from here?
 
May 13, 2021
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As mentioned above, it is likely that the data was encrypted via the enclosure.
Lacking the functioning enclosure...that data is inaccessible. Even assuming the bare drive is fully functional.
Oh, I have the enclosure: AC adapter, USB bridge PCB. Even all the plastic, not that it helps.

My thinking is that the drive itself - or its SATA PCB - is damaged. If I can get it repaired, I'm aware that I may need the USB PCB to access the data.

Does anything from the drive's behavior - disappearing from the BIOS on warm boots, not getting recognized by Windows or Linux, etc., suggest one specific root cause or another?
 
May 13, 2021
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Thank you to everyone who has attempted to help.

I have some more information:

(1) I obtained an identical unit, WD MyBook 3.0 TB, with the same ASMEDIA AS1051W chip. I was able to take its SATA drive, connect directly to a PC, and access the data after changing testdisk's block size to 4096 bytes from 512. This suggests to me that the AS1051W chip does not encrypt, but the USB bridge simply translates the block size. So I feel like if I could get the non-working SATA drive to be recognized by a system, I could access its data.

(2) If I plug in ONLY the SATA PCB, detached from the drive itself, from either the failed or the working WD drive, I see that same behavior: initially recognized as a 0 MB WD disk, then not present on subsequent warm boots. This suggests to be that the PCB is more likely, but not certain, to be OK. This is disappointing, as a new PCB and ROM swap is relatively expensive and less invasive.

I am rapidly approaching the conclusion that the problem is inside the disk. I'm so used to being able to slowly use ddrescue or similar to methodically extract, and am frustrated that this disk appears "too dead."

Anyone's thoughts are welcome.
 

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