These are some real problems experienced by Western Digital hard drives we see in our lab. We are not affiliated in any way with hard drive manufacturers. All the information below is based solely on our experience and we do not make any claims regarding reliability of the specific model. We see mostly failed drives in our lab and therefore we don't have complete statistics.
When it comes to data recovery one of the most common problems Western Digital(WD) hard drives experience is burnt cuircuit board(PCB). WD drives are very vulnerable to overheating, power surges and streaks. Quite often bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to fry spindle driver chip on the electronics and make the data inaccessible. Should this occur the computer would reboot or shut down completely, you would normally notice acrid smell of smoke coming from your PC and when powered on the drive would not spin up at all and appear to be completely dead.
If this is the case you can try to swap PCB from another WD drive of the same model but your chances of success are close to zero, especially on newer hard drives. The problem is that logic board on modern hard drive is adapted to the head disk assembly it was manufactured with. In our lab we use specialized software and hardware to rebuild these parameters or transfer them from fried board to make donor PCB fully compatible with damaged drive.
All Western Digital hard drives are also well-known for their firmware problems. Firmware of the drive is not located on the logic board as most people think. Main part of firmware is stored on the platters in so-called Service Area. Service Area occupies the negative cylinders of the surface and contains a number of firmware modules. If one of the modules gets corrupted the hard drive fails to initialize correctly and stops working making the data inaccessible. In such case the drive usually spins up fine, it doesn't click but has one of the following symptoms:
it is not found in BIOS at all
identifies with its factory alias(for example WDC ROM MODEL-MAMMOTH---,WDC ROM MODEL-HAWK---),
shows up with wrong S/N (for example WDC-ROM SN# XYZ---) or capacity,
identifies fine but fails to read any data or boot up operating system giving I/O device errors whenever you try to access LBA sectors.
If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail" or "No operating system found" or "USB Device malfunctioned" error or "S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed" or "Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter", "Hard drive not recognized", "Drive Mount Failure" or some other hard drive boot error.
At the moment it is not possible to fix this kind of problem at home. It is quite a complicated job and requires use of specialized expensive equipment and deep knowledge of hard drive design and data recovery technology to repair the firmware. Luckily, it is not usually necessary to open the HDD in clean room and order donor drives, so chances of successful data retrieval are close to 100%.
Another quite common symptom Western Digital drives experience is clicking/knocking/clunking/sweeping noise.
The drive spins up, and and the heads start clicking with a constant or intermittent sound while unsuccessfully trying to locate firmware zone: , , , . Usually this is a sign of damaged or crashed heads and it means the drive needs to be opened in a class 100 clean room environment in order to replace head stack assembly. Don't try to open the drive by yourself - you could damage the platters making your data unrecoverable.
Western Digital drives also have common problem with spindle seizure. Usually this occurs after a fall and the drive either doesn't spin up at all with a siren sound: or starts up with loud noise unable to gain enough rotational speed: . Data recovery in such case involves removing platters from the hard drive in clean room environment and putting them into matching donor. This complex and precise procedure requires a lot of experience and use of specialized hardware to maintain platters in perfect alignment.
WD laptop drives(Scorpio, UE,VE series) share some typical 2.5 inch HDD problems. One of them is heads sticktion to the platter surface.
Heads are normally parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, but sometimes after a fall or abnormal termination they fail to return to their regular parking position and are left on the surface. Immediately after the motor stops spinning they stick to the ideally smooth surface and it becomes impossible to free them without proper tools and experience. Don't attempt to open the drive by yourself - you will damage the platters and this will make your data unrecoverable.
There is one more problem that is typical for all Western Digital drives: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media the platters are covered with starts to degrade and magnetic domains can't turn in the desired direction by writing element of the head. This is how bad sectors appear. When the drive starts reading data from such unreadable bad sector it could start freezing, scratching and sometimes even clicking: . Usually on boot up you would get "SMART failure predicted" or some other SMART-related error. All this leads to further damage to the surface, heads and causes more data loss. Any further reading attempts would just add up to the problems and could make your data unrecoverable. In our lab we use special imaging hardware tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring low level checksum check. That's usually the only way to retrieve as much files as possible from such sectors.
If you hear your Western Digital hard drive making some other unusual noises visit our Hard Drive Sounds page for more typical sounds these drives make.
If you experience any of the problems above with your Western Digital hard drive and need data recovered from it please fill out Fast Quote Form to get free upfront quote on data recovery from your failed HDD.
Please keep in mind that above information is based solely on experience of Datacent staff. We see mostly failed drives in our Lab and therefore we don't have complete statistics. All brands have their specific problems and there is nothing more reilable than regular backup.
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