Unusual Western Digital Elements Data Recovery

This was an unusual WD Elements data recovery. The heads had broken inside the drive and there were actually missing parts to the head stack that were found inside the drive!

Western Digital Elements Data Recovery

During the initial inspection of the Western Digital Elements drive, I noted there was some platter damage visible on the top platter, and the head stack was not parking on the ramp as it should. This client needed the data recovered from the drive so I found a suitable donor and waited for it to arrive.

USB to SATA Conversion

While I waited for the donor heads to arrive, I used the SATA PCB I had in stock to swap out with the USB PCB that was on this drive originally. Swapping the USB PCB to a SATA PCB gives me full access to the drive firmware with my PC-3000 data recovery rig. This connection only takes a while to swap out, and it really helps make the subsequent steps easy. A lot of the newer drives (like this Western Digital Elements drive) utilize the USB port built into the PCB design.

Replacing the WD heads

Once the donor drive arrived, I continued on with the head stack swap. During the process of removing the old head stack, I realized that the sliders were missing completely from the ends of the heads! I looked around inside the drive and found a few of them stuck on the bottom of the cover, and the last one on the edge of the middle platter! I don’t believe I have seen all the sliders off a head stack like this before. I am not sure what would cause that kind of scenario other than a lot of physical shaking or perhaps an issue with the factory-installed sliders.

After removing the sliders and completing the head swap, I was able to access the data on the platters with the PC-3000 and continue to set up the drive for imaging.

Slider from Unusual Western Digital Elements Data Recovery

Imaging the Western Digital Drive

This WD10TMVV model drive had 6 heads on the head stack, so I started the imaging process by turning off the head in charge of the platter with media damage and just went for the data on the other platters. After a few tweaks to the imaging settings, I got everything I could from the lower platters (close to 100%) and moved on to the top platter. Running a gentle first pass is important when dealing with platter damage, so it took a few passes with changes to the imaging settings to get back all that was possible.

The final imaging pass took over a day to complete, and I got back every sector possible during that last pass!

Successful Data Recovery

Because of the media damage present on that top platter, I wasn’t able to get more than 75% of the data from the damaged platter. But 75% was recovered, which is a great outcome when media damage is present! The important files the client was after were recovered and they were pleased to have been able to get their information off the drive for over $1000 less than another recovery lab had quoted.

Affordable Lab Recovery Services

I am pleased to be able to offer affordable clean room recoveries when needed! I have the tools and experience that the big guys have while being able to keep overhead low. I pass those savings on to you. If you would like me to work on your hard drive data recovery, please request a quote to start the process. I look forward to helping you get your important data back!

Drive info: Western Digital WD10TMVV, Elements External USB Drive

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