Question WD Corrupted Firmware ir Failed Heads?

apacheguy

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Aug 22, 2010
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I have a dead 320 gb WD HDD. The spindle motor works fine (I can hear the platters spinning up). However, once the platters spin up I hear clicking noises. This is the sound of the heads contacting the backstop in the parking area.

I have read a lot of documentation and it seems that this problem is either caused by corrupted firmware (which is stored on the platters and is the first thing the heads will try to read) or the heads themselves have failed.

Corrupted firmware is essentially impossible (or extremely costly) to fix, but failed heads might be repairable. Is there any way to know which one I have?

Reference: https://www.sertdatarecovery.com/hard-drive-data-recovery/how-to-fix-corrupted-or-damaged-firmware/
 
You've got it the wrong way around. Fixing a damaged firmware module is a lot easier than replacing the headstack. If a drive has two or more heads, then at least two of the heads have the same copies of the firmware.

Unfortunately the reason that the modules become damaged is usually due to a weak head. Many modules need to be updated from time to time (eg SMART data, grown defect lists), and these are the most prone to corruption when a head becomes weak.

The hard drive -- a computer-within-a-computer:
http://www.hddoracle.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=2600
 

apacheguy

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Aug 22, 2010
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Thanks for the helpful reference. Can you please tell me what is needed to attempt firmware repair on a western digital drive? From the reference: “Such firmware repairs require special access to the drive, either via a serial diagnostic port, or via the PATA or SATA interfaces using undocumented, Vendor Specific Commands (VSC).”
 
HDDSuperTool has many scripts based on WD's Vendor Specific Commands (VSC). You could examine those. However, these VSCs rely on a drive which comes ready and identifies itself. When this doesn't happen, you need special DR software to access the firmware area and repair the modules.
 

mdd1963

Champion
320 GB drives are from/were quite common in... 2007 or so, and today are worth about $10..?

If there is no backup, the data on it truly needs recovery/extraction, I'd decide soon if the data is worth the $300 for these guys to look at it...


If it is just casual data, and not really important, proceed with any potential plans of parts swaps between two drives, but at accepted/implied/much increased risk.
 

USAFRet

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"might be repairable " is actually 2 (or more) questions.

  1. Is it actually fixable? Maybe
  2. Can YOU fix it? If you're asking the question, that is much less likely.
Further, is this the only copy of this data? How critical is this data?
Do you feel comfortable with screwing up whatever process you undertake, and losing it all irrevocably?
 

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