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My Western Digital MyBook Essential crashed recently, and I'm unable to access it through Ubuntu nor Windows.

My goal is to recover my data, and wondering if it's advisable to connect the HDD directly to the PC thru SATA, and then recover the data using a recovery tool such as Recuva or StellarPhoenix.

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Yes, try plugging it in directly. The usb port is simply a SATA -> USB adapter. See if it's recognized by the BIOS. – justbrowsing Aug 20 '13 at 6:20
Just a thought: Buy the same modell, swap the internal HDD, look if the new encryption chip can read the old HDD, backup the data, swap back, send back your newly purchased modell – nixda Aug 28 '14 at 10:46

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, the hard disks in external drives are standard disks, and it is very unlikely they would be anything other than SATA these days.

As SATA is backwards and forwards compatible, you can plug in into any SATA motherboard.

You can also purchase a SATA / USB converter or enclosure and put the disk in that to continue using it as an external drive.

If the disk itself is crashed, you are out of luck. Always bear in mind that disks can break and external drives are more vulnerable simply due to portability. Always keep backups.

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Thanks, tried connecting it directly to my Windows 7 PC, but didn't work. I googled a little bit more, going into the specifics of model and controller chipset, and found a post showing a photo of the exact same PCB that my WD HDD has:…. The culprit seems to be an Initio INIC-1607E SATA/USB bridge chip that performs hardware encryption/decryption, probably explaining why I can't access the HDD natively on Windows. – silvernightstar Aug 20 '13 at 7:37
Interesting. Are you saying that Windows couldn't even see the disk? Even if it was encrypted, I would expect Windows to still recognise the presence of a disk, and depending on how the encryption works, say it needs formatting. After all, the disk is just a disk. I am not saying you should be able to read the data - clearly it encrypted, but it might tell you whether it is worth trying the resolder. – Paul Aug 21 '13 at 0:58
By "can't access" I meant being unable to read my data. Indeed, Windows was able to detect the drive and offered a reformat. USB port seems intact and OK after a close physical inspection of the PCB. I've ran out of options and I'll probably just try Stellar Phoenix as soon as I get hold of a SATA cable. (Hoping that 1. there's no encryption, and 2. Windows was unable to read the drive because the Initio corrupted the HDD's indices/tables/records.) – silvernightstar Aug 21 '13 at 3:52

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