Western Digital SmartWare hard disk

Western Digital SmartWare and data loss

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive News by Administrator

Data Recovery with Western Digital SmartWare HDDs

Western Digital overtook Seagate as the largest manufacturer (by volume) of hard disk drives during 2010. Two of the most popular products that we see in for recovery are the external hard disk drives named the “My Book” and “My Passport” range, for example, the WDBAAF0020HBK, WDBAAG0010HCH & WDBACX0010BBK. Both the My Book and Passport range include ‘SmartWare’. This software is stored in the form of a virtual CD which utilises the end sectors of the hard disk drive. The SmartWare software offers a “visual drive control center with automatic continuous backup.” The hard disks Cheadle Data Recovery have received from the My Book or Passport range very rarely utilize this or any of the other additional features which are offered.

More significantly all of these disks have built-in hardware encryption, this causes particular challenges in any data recovery scenario. If the hard disk drive in a WD My Book range is removed from the caddy and detached from the USB/SATA printed circuit board and connected directly to a computer all of the user data will be unavailable due to the encryption. Equally, the My Passport range has an integrated USB connector into the main hard disk drive printed circuit board. Again this poses a number of difficulties as it is necessary to access the native SATA port to be able to read the drive’s firmware and to send commands which are not supported by the USB interface. We’ve also received a number of disks which have become inaccessible after the owner has attempted to upgrade the firmware of the SmartWare virtual CD which has resulted in data loss.


Western Digital SmartWare hard disk

Western Digital My Passport HDD with integrated USB and hardware encryption. SATA connection is soldered to PCB to allow access the firmware.

Although both the My Book and My Passport range of drives can have their data recovered, as with any other range of hard disk drives, they both require greater attention and time compared with other HDDs to achieve positive results. in short, the ‘SmartWare’ might not be such a smart option; few people use the value-added functions that hard disk manufacturers offer on their devices, and these extra functions seem to cause a greater number of problems compared with more basic products. Nevertheless, manufacturers feel they need to provide these value-added functions in order to differentiate these products from their budget line. Despite this, the hard disk drive inside the caddy is usually exactly the same. In short – it’s best to keep it simple when choosing a storage device.