[SOLVED] Data recovery on uninitialized disk with bitlocker encryption

Dec 5, 2021
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Hi

I have a 2TB hard disk with a burned pcb. Specifically the motor control chip was completely fried. I ordered a replacement pcb for it and successfully replaced its bios chip with my original bios from the burned pcb.

Now the drive appears in the device manager normally but in windows disk management it shows as uninitialized and asks me to initialize it as mbr or gpt. I know that if i want to recover data from it i shouldn't initialize it. To make things even more complicated I should also mention that the disk was fully encrypted with bitlocker (i have the key).

My main problem now is that even though windows "sees" the disk all data recovery programs that i tried cannot see it! Even CrystalDiskInfo cannot see it. DMDE does list it but when i select it it says "the disk is not accessible".
So my guess is that the problem is hardware, maybe the bios got corrupted or something else burned along with the pcb, in which case there is nothing more i can do?

Basically my question is do you have any suggestions on things i could still try or should i give up at this point?

I tried to keep this short so if you need more info about anything let me know!
 
Initializing the disk will not destroy any data since it only writes to the partition table were no user data ever is.
Still the better way would be to use some partition recovery tool to bring back the old partition because then all files would just show up normally and you could just copy them off.
Data recovery might be failing due to the encryption but, no idea really.

These have helped me in the past.
testdisk
MiniTool Partition Wizard
EaseUS Partition Recovery
 
Dec 5, 2021
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Thanks for the fast reply!

I did try all 3 of the programs that you recommended with the same result. They don't even list that disk.
As you can see in the screenshots both programs list Disk 0,1,3,4. screenshots (Sorry i tried inserting it as image but i keep getting an error.)

So there is a "disk 2" which is the disk i want to recover from, but no program ever shows it as an option! Do you still think that could be because of the encryption or could it also be a hardware problem?

After trying dozens of apps i did find one that supported recovery of bitlocker encrypted drives and it did list the problematic drive! Its called "iboysoft bitlocker recovery". The problem there was that when i select the drive it says "lost partition not found".

Everything i read so far on recovering data from uninitialized disks warned me of complete data loss if i initialized it but i guess there is nothing else left for me to try! So i will wait for a day or so to see if anybody here has any other suggestions and then i will try initializing it.
 
If CrystalDiskInfo can't retrieve SMART data from the HDD, then this would suggest that the drive cannot reach the hidden System Area on the platters. This would in turn suggest that the preamp on the headstack may be damaged.

Can you show us a photo of the damaged PCB? Can you measure the resistance of the TVS diodes?

What is the model number of the drive?
 

Zerk2012

Titan
Ambassador
Thanks for the fast reply!

I did try all 3 of the programs that you recommended with the same result. They don't even list that disk.
As you can see in the screenshots both programs list Disk 0,1,3,4. screenshots (Sorry i tried inserting it as image but i keep getting an error.)

So there is a "disk 2" which is the disk i want to recover from, but no program ever shows it as an option! Do you still think that could be because of the encryption or could it also be a hardware problem?

After trying dozens of apps i did find one that supported recovery of bitlocker encrypted drives and it did list the problematic drive! Its called "iboysoft bitlocker recovery". The problem there was that when i select the drive it says "lost partition not found".

Everything i read so far on recovering data from uninitialized disks warned me of complete data loss if i initialized it but i guess there is nothing else left for me to try! So i will wait for a day or so to see if anybody here has any other suggestions and then i will try initializing it.
Yes wait I'll see if I can get you help.
 
Dec 5, 2021
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Yes CrystalDiskInfo cant even detect the disk. It is a WD20EZRX 2TB hdd.

Unfortunately i cant find (yet) the original pcb but i will keep looking. This happened over 2 months ago and i just found time to deal with it!
I do have the PCB of another 2TB disk (WD20EARS) that i burned that day which had the same visual damage as the one that i am trying to salvage now.
Yes i managed to burn 4 disks by accidentally connecting the modular sata power cable of a different PSU on my new PSU. All the hdds on that power line died but the 1 ssd that was also on it was OK.

So for now i am uploading the image of the pcb of the other disk because the damage that could be observed visually was the same. burned pcb (does anyone know why i cant insert this as an image? i get the message "something went wrong try again")

As for the TVS diodes, on the pcb that's in the picture, one appears to be ok 250 Kohm but the other has 0 ohm resistance so it is shorted so that probably means that other components beyond it like the preamp was also damaged as you said.

If the same is true for the drive i am trying to access then what are my options if any?

I want to mention here that i managed to completely fix a 4TB disk that was also on that power line and had the same damage as the rest.
 
Dec 5, 2021
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And if BitLocker is involved....you may be completely out of luck anyway.

Why was there not a backup of this data?
Yes i know with bitlocker i may never manage to unlock it if its corrupt enough even with the recovery key but as long as i have the time i will try!

As far as the backup goes well i kind of did back it up. I mean the most important data i also had on an external disk but the rest i just kept copies of it on more than one of my disks, thinking that its very improbable that they will all fail at the same time!
I couldn't backup everything on separate external disks because i am talking about 11TB of data just didn't have the money to buy every hdd twice!

It just happens that i had some more recent pictures and videos that i hadn't baked up yet on the drive that i am trying to repair in this thread. If i manage then great if not then the damage is not that big.

Btw i really like the picture that goes with your posts, i mean that's exactly what happened to me, it actually made me laugh!
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Highly improbable that multiple of your drives would actually die at the same time.
But it does happen.

3-2-1.
3 copies, on at least 2 different media, 1 of them offsite or otherwise unconnected.

Given the probable need to replace the headstack...how much is this data worth to you?
How much are you willing to spend?
 
Dec 5, 2021
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I was afraid you were going to say that.

On a side-note the links you posted are very helpful and full of good information. You even issued a warning about modular psu cables. Unfortunately even if i had seen that earlier it wouldn't have help because at the time i didnt even realize i was plugging in the wrong cable, i mean they just happened to look the same! Still i thank you for all the info!

So just to recap, if i find my original pcb and the 5V TVS diode is shorted then my problem is probably a bad headstack assembly?
If i cant find the original pcb im just going to assume its a headstack problem since i already tried troubleshooting everything else i can think of.

I haven't decided yet if the data in this disk is important enough to justify spending hundreds of euro on professional repair but it is important enough for me to spend a bit more time on it and i am tempted to try the non-DIY job of replacing the headstack!
I believe i can create static free and dust free box to work in, i do have some hepa filters here and i have some experience working on electronics so i can avoid static.. My main problem which is admittedly a big one is i don't have the means to read the microjogs in order to find a suitable donor even though i do have some hdds here that seem to be suitable based on model numbers and dates.

I will give it some thought until tomorrow and i will look for the original pcb and then i will report back on what i decided!
 
Dec 5, 2021
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First, you go to the hardware store and buy a box of coffin nails, some wood, and a saw.
You will need these to bury the drive after opening it up.
You honestly made me laugh again (i am not being sarcastic)! :)
I do know i will most probably fail if i attempt it and i do understand that there are jobs that can be diy and then there are jobs that just need a professional.
I would only do it if i decide not to take it to a professional lab. I mean at that point i either just throw the disk away or i spend some time on it and then throw it away, with the slight chance that i am actually lucky enough to fix it. I like experimenting (on non critical devices), ive been doing it for a long time and ive learned a lot from it.
But like i said i haven't decided yet will be thinking about it a lot until tomorrow!
 

USAFRet

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You honestly made me laugh again (i am not being sarcastic)! :)
I do know i will most probably fail if i attempt it and i do understand that there are jobs that can be diy and then there are jobs that just need a professional.
I would only do it if i decide not to take it to a professional lab. I mean at that point i either just throw the disk away or i spend some time on it and then throw it away, with the slight chance that i am actually lucky enough to fix it. I like experimenting (on non critical devices), ive been doing it for a long time and ive learned a lot from it.
But like i said i haven't decided yet will be thinking about it a lot until tomorrow!
Opening the drive case will add a zero to whatever the data recovery company will charge.
If they will take the thing at all.

Sure, you can open it, for investigative purposes, to see what it looks like when you apply power.
But, as said above, replacing the head stack is not a DIY situation.
And it is more than just building an actual clean booth. Proper tools, proper torque values, etc, etc.

And your data will still be gone.

Given inexpensive drive space, and free automated software...
 
Dec 5, 2021
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So just to give an update on my situation, based on USAFRet recommendations i decided to ask a few local data recovery companies for a quote on headstack replacement and i should know their price by tomorrow. I don't even know what price range is considered reasonable for this kind of work. I expect it to be more that what i am willing to pay but you never know.
If it is more than what i think my data is worth then i will try to proceed with the diy method. Thank you again fzabkar your tool is exactly what i needed! i already have the ROM saved!

I decided to mark a best answer since i think that my main issue with how to proceed with the data recovery was solved, the rest is up to me to decide.
I want to thank you all for your help, i will post again after the headstack replacement is done so you know what happened in the end!
 

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