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Western Digital Data Recovery

For many years Western Digital has been the world’s largest supplier of hard drives. For this very reason there are virtually thousands of different ways Western Digital drives can fail. That’s not to say Western Digital drives are altogether poorly designed either. And given the mass scale of production data recovery of Western Digital drives has made a lot of progress.  So let’s consider Western Digital data recovery:

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Design of Western Digital Drives

One interesting thing about the design of Western Digital hard drives is the fact that the entire service area (or SA for short) is contained on the platter surface. This area, also sometimes referred to as firmware, contains all of the drive specific information needed to translate the data.
This feature can have both good and bad consequences. On the positive side, it makes it possible to swap PCBs more readily than other brands of hard drives. If you have access to tools able to read and write the ROM data you can replace the PCB with one from any model of the same family. This means attend recovery laboratory only has to have about 60 circuit boards available to attempt replacement of any Western Digital drive’s PCB. It also makes possible the ability for smart hot-swap, where a drive with damaged service area can have the code loaded into a PCB from another donor drive.
However, this feature can also have negative effects. One common issue relates to when drives have bad sectors in both copies of the drive’s service area.


Western Digital Data Recovery – Drives with Firmware Damage

In such cases, it is possible to correctly repair the service area. Using a technique known as composite read, both copies of the drive’s service area are read at a composite image is made. This is accomplished using the good code red from both copies and excluding the corrupted data. The newly restored service area image is now ready to be loaded onto a printed circuit board which is then hot swapped onto the hard drive.

Western Digital drives are also prone to various other firmware issues. One common issue is the slow responding firmware glitch. This is caused when the drives G-list becomes overfilled with remapped sectors and the drive becomes too slow for access using a normal operating system. Fortunately using tools in our laboratory such as PC-3000 these firmware issues can be quickly and effectively repaired.


Other Common Causes of Data Loss on Western Digital Drives

Because Western Digital has made so many models of hard drives, they are prone to just about every failure a hard drive can experience. Especially with the 2 1/2 inch models read/write head failure is common. This is generally due to the fact that such drives are used in laptops and may experience jostling around. Fortunately due to the mass production of these drives donor parts are usually readily available, more so than other models such as Seagate, Samsung, and Toshiba.

Another common failure which all drives are prone to his PCB failure. It is not uncommon for customers to bring in several hard drives destroyed by a faulty power supply or power surge to their computer. In some rare cases, a high-voltage surge may destroy both the PCB as well as the read/write heads.Fortunately, the PCB can be easily replaced with another from the same family. Even if the entire ROM code is lost, a backup image of the ROM is stored in the drive’s service area. So using a simple hot-swap technique the ROM code can be restored and a new PCB.


Western Digital External Drives

Another recent trend that Western Digital has started is installing USB interfaces natively on to their hard drives. This is especially true of the newer passport models. While this no doubt cuts down on manufacturing costs, eliminating the need for a USB to SATA bridge, it also creates data recovery issues. Especially is this so since these models are generally always encrypted. Often this necessitates custom configuring a SATA board, then custom decrypting the data afterwards.

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