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My Western Digital MyBook Essential external HDD crashed recently and I'm trying to recover my data from it.

Thinking that the HDD enclosure is simply a USB/SATA converter, I tried connecting the internal HDD directly to my PC through a SATA port. However, this didn't work and the Windows Disk Management tool only recognized the drive as "unallocated space".

I'm concerned that my action could have allowed Windows to modify my HDD in an unrecoverable way, e.g. low-level operation to MBR, etc.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

No, Windows won't format or change any connected drive unless you accept that "This drive is unformatted, want to format it now?" question. However I could imagine that there's some built-in encryption in the controller (i.e. the bridge between USB and SATA) to avoid exactly what you're trying to do here. I know some portable drives offer such functionality with included (but optional) password prompts in the drivers (or through hardware buttons), so you can't access the drive without proper authentication.

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Thanks, my Western Digital HDD actually uses an Initio INIC-1607E SATA/USB bridge chip which reportedly supports encryption/decryption according to this post ifixit.com/Guide/…. I didn't put any password though, so was hoping it would still work. –  silvernightstar Aug 20 '13 at 8:34
    
Ah yes, from that article it sounds like you're probably out of luck if the controller is your problem. Try reconnecting it and see whether it's working, but it indeed sounds like the encryption. –  Mario Aug 20 '13 at 8:38
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