My Passport Drive Isn’t Recognized By My Computer
One minute you’re working away copying some files to your 1 or 2 TB external Passport drive, and everything seems fine. Then the unthinkable happens, your drive takes a nasty fall off the desk to the floor. You pick it up, it looks OK so you think it should be fine. But when you go to plug it back into your computer…. nothing. Or maybe it recognizes that something is plugged in, but sees it as a generic USB device and not as a working WD Passport hard drive. Now if you’re a tech savvy computer guy, you probably think to yourself that you might still be able to recover the data off of it by taking it out of the case, connecting it using a SATA to USB adapter and some good old data recovery software. So you go ahead and open it up to be shocked by what you find…. THERE IS NO SATA PORT!
The Challenge of WD Passport Data Recovery
Western Digital was the first company to begin the trend toward installing a USB port natively on external hard drives. Previously externals were basically the same as internal hard drives, but with a SATA to USB bridge to connect it externally. Not so with most WD Passports 500Gb and larger, now the USB is the only connection you have. This presents a serious challenge for data recovery. If you can’t remove the USB bridge and SATA connect the drive, and it isn’t recognized anymore you’re basically stuck.So is it possible to recover your own data from a failed Passport? Not likely. There are plenty of forums out there with some suggestions about building your own SATA board to connect the drive, and to be fair this is possible. However there’s another issue that these solutions don’t address… encryption.
WD My Passport Data Encryption Issues
Even if you are able to successfully set up a SATA board for your Passport hard drive, you’ll undoubtedly find that the data is encrypted. “But, I didn’t set a password” you say. The fact is, it doesn’t matter. From the day it was built the data on your drive was already encrypted with a randomly generated key from Western Digital. The password you set, is actually only used to tell the drive when it’s safe to access the key (which is stored in a hidden sector near the end of the drive). That way if you set a password later on, it doesn’t have to go back an encrypt existing data because it’s already done.So at that point you’re again… stuck. Unless you’re an encryption breaking expert. If you get a complete clone (100% of the data) of the drive, it is possible to use a WD My Book USB bridge to decrypt the data. Generally it’s just a matter of finding one that uses the same encryption chip (if one exists) and possibly a bit of soldering work to move a chip over and you can decrypt the data. Just be sure that the LBA of the drive you’re cloning onto is the same as the Passport (as recognized via SATA, not USB).If you don’t get a 100% clone (or at least the last few MB of the drive), there’s no way to decrypt the data without specialized tools like PC-3000 or DeepSpar Disk Imager with USB addon.
My Passport Hard Drive is Extremely Slow
Drives that have experienced a head crash and now have bad sectors will often become slow responding. This is due to the relocation feature of hard drives. When a bad sector is detected, the drive flags the spot as unusable and will remap the sector to another extra unused area on the platter surface. Normally this goes on without your computer ever knowing the difference. However when your drive has a large number of bad sectors due to a head crash, it doesn’t handle it well. It’s a very common issue for WD drives to need what’s called a “Slow Responding Fix”, a process where the list of relocated sectors is cleared and the relocating feature is disabled. Unfortunately without at least some specialized data recovery tools, there’s no way to do this on your own. You’ll either have to wait two years for it to finish, or seek out a professional.
Get Help Recovering Data from a WD My Passport Hard Drive
If your data is life-or-death critical, seek out professional recovery. Many times DIY data recovery attempts make the situation worse, running up costs or even making recovery impossible. A drive that’s half functional may quickly and catastrophically fail from simply trying too many things before getting help. Here at Data Medics we have the tools and expertise to quickly and safely recover data from a failed Passport hard drive.If you are going to attempt DIY recovery and can live without your data if it comes down to it by all means give us a call. We’ll gladly offer advice and information to give you the best possible chance. Visit our Contact page for more information on how to reach us.