Some years back (after 2010) I was using a 1 TB WDig my book (WDBAAF001HBK-01). Eventually, the USB connector died, taking at least a few associated SMT components around it with it, destroying the interface board beyond all repair.

However, the hard drive itself (wd10ears, 00y5b1) was (and I am fairly sure still is) perfectly fine.

I put the drive in a magnetic bag and packed it away.

The drive has data on it that is completely irreplaceable and I do not have the money to send it off for any kind of competent data recovery. I am inexperienced at data recovery, but can generally and read directions pretty well.

Recently I got a vantec SATA to USB setup, and hooked the drive up to my laptop. The adapter is working perfectly - the drive, however, doesn't show up in My computer (I am using XP still ... no, don't ask, does what I need it to ATM). Under Computer management subsection Disk management the drive shows, but I have not initialized it to prevent further damage.

In Device management, the drive shows under Disk drives, and it says the drive is working fine in properties there. The drive makes none of the dying or dead HDD sounds and spins up - no clicking, shrieking, any of that nonsense.

I've done a little bit on the disk with TestDisk, it popped up with Partition sector doesn't have the endmark 0xAA55 and 25% into the quick search I stopped it prematurely W/O any partitions found.

DMDE doesn't show all zero sectors - I'm going out on a limb and guessing that means the data is still there.

WD data lifeguard diagnostics quick test says:

Test Option: QUICK TEST
Model Number: WDC WD10EARS-00Y5B1
Unit Serial Number: WD-WMAV51853200
Firmware Number: 80.00A80
Capacity: 1000.20 GB
Test Result: PASS
Test Time: 20:40:19, December 28, 2016

I suspect I'm probably getting screwed out of my irreplaceable data (so far) by some proprietary WD software/hardware.

Does anybody else have any ideas of what's going on and how/if it may be possible to recover the data?

Is there any useful information I've left out so far?

  • From my experience at work self recovery can be dangerous. My advice would be to clone the hard drive if its showing up. You can either use a 2 bay HDD caddy or software. If you mess up, theres a copy. It may be that the controller failure caused corruption. Recovery software (Theres freebies) can attempt to find the partitions and repair. If you pick the wrong option you will make it worse. We did at work, thankfully we cloned! I cant remember what software we used, but I think its important to let you know the dangers with self recovery. – Lister Dec 29 '16 at 2:38
  • Yeah, I kinda figured it was very easy to lose the data. Annoyingly, I have no drives anywhere near the same size to clone it to. – Pht Dec 29 '16 at 2:43
  • I'm on the same boat. Leave the HDD alone if you know you cannot recover it yourself. I'd just slowly save up to where you can send it to Data Savers LLC. The more you mess with it, it may reduce the chances of them being able to professionally recover your important data. – DrZoo Dec 29 '16 at 2:55
  • This is what I get for not doing my homework when getting an external drive. – Pht Dec 29 '16 at 3:20
  • Lessons learned the hard way hard are some of the best lessons. If its worth storing, its worth storing twice. You can use free online storage to do it if moneys scarce. – Lister Dec 29 '16 at 4:18

The data on the disk is encrypted by the WD firmware. The only way to salvage it is to buy the exact same model (used from eBay), exchange the disks and pull your data off there.

I had the same thing happening, but fortunately, I had two of them, so I could just swap without hunting the scrapyard.

Any other approach will fail, and professional data recovery will do the same thing.


I'd strongly recommend you consider contacting a Professional Data Recovery Company for assistance with the files, since they are so important to you, @Pht. I see that your WD My Book passes the Quick test, but it's also important to pass the Extended one as well. Doing data retrieving attempts by yourself is highly dangerous when you are not aware of the kind of damage/corruption you are dealing with.

A professional data recovery assistance is your best bet on getting any of the data back. I'd also advise against using third-party adapters because the WD My Book incorporates a hardware-based encryption that prevents you from accessing your files without using the original/genuine WD enclosure.

I hope this helps you. Good luck!


I'd avoid using any kind of SATA to USB conversion. Find a regular desktop computer and connect your drive to an empty SATA port as a second disk, and then boot the OS that's on the primary disk. If it's still intact, the OS should see it. If the PC is running Windows, try the DISKPART command and then LIST DISK to see if Windows can see it. For Linux, run fdisk -l. (That is a lowercase L). Another thing you can try is cloning it with some free cloning software. Most of those have some sort of utility that lets you browse the resulting image and even copy out individual files.

  • The question says the PBR of the NTFS partition is damaged, since it doesn't have the 0xAA55 mark. The MFT is most likely damaged as well. How is using fdisk supposed to recover the data? – Andrea Lazzarotto Dec 30 '16 at 13:02

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