Clicking Western Digital Hard Drive Surprising Recovery

A customer contact me and reported that their Western Digital WD3200AAKS 320GB drive from 2008 had stopped working and was making a clicking sound. It would no longer mount on the computer, but did make an audible clicking sound before spinning down.

Bad Heads Recovery?

They first took it to a recovery shop that diagnosed the clicking Western Digital hard drive as having bad heads. The shop said that because the drive made clicking sounds then spun down, and was not accessible to their recovery rigs, they would not be able to recover the drive. The shop recommended they try us for an affordable clean room data recovery since the photos and music files on the drive were very important to the client.

Diagnosing the clicking Western Digital

Once the hard drive arrived I started with an inspection. The head stack appeared to be in good shape and there wasn’t any media damage present. This made me think there could be a weak head (a head that seems to be in good shape but does not read data properly all the time), the PCB could be the issue, or a firmware problem could be causing the issue. I connected the drive to the PC-3000 to continue with the diagnosis.

My first hunch was that a head could be weak. Using the PC-3000 I edited the head map from 0123 to 0000. Basically, this means the drive will only use head 0 and will not utilize any of the other heads. The symptoms did not change. Then I changed the head map to 1111 so the drive would only use head 1, and the drive ID’d on the PC-3000! This made me believe the issue could indeed be that head 0 was week. Editing the head map yet again to 1123 allowed me to image 75% of the drive. I still could not get to the data that was accessed by head 0, so 25% of the data was missing from the image.

Bad head 0 resurrection

Once the drive was imaged as much as possible using the 1123 head map, I swapped the head map back to default (0123) in preparation to swap out the PCB and retest. If the PCB didn’t change the issue then a head swap was going to be the next option. In this case, when I changed the head map back to 0123, the drive ID’d as it should, and head 0 was responding at full strength! I imaged everything under head 0 and ended up with a full 100% of the drive imaged.

Clicking recovery results

It is difficult to say in a case like this what the issue actually was. It could have been that head 0 was weak and not functioning properly and then decided to behave. It could also be that the issue was with the PCB and that it also just decided to work again during the process. But whatever the issue was, I was very pleased to be able to get 100% off the drive without having to do any internal parts replacement.

Get your clicking Western Digital drive recovered

The client was very pleased to have gotten 100% of their important data back without having to pay for a head stack replacement as they had expected they would need to. If you have been told your drive needs a head stack replacement and you would like to get a second opinion, please let me know! You can start the process by requesting a quote online, or you can give me a call to discuss the project with me directly at (620) 615-6836. I look forward to working with you to get your data back.

Details for the drive recovered in this post:
Western Digital – WD3200AAKS – WD Caviar SE16 – MDL : WD3200AAKS -75VYAO – 17 FEB 2008 – LBA625142448 – Interface SATA – Capacity 320.0 GB – RPM 7200 – Firmware A0

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