WD20NMVW My Passport Ultra

WD 2TB My Passport Dropped on the Floor

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive Recovery Case Study, Recovery of the dayby Administrator

27/06/2017 – WD 2TB My Passport – Dropped on the floor

A 2TB (2000GB) Western Digital My Passport Ultra portable HDD was dropped by the customer on the floor. The HDD made some quiet clicking noises and was not recognised by his Apple Mac or Windows computers. From the initial telephone diagnosis of the HDD, it was not possible to determine whether there was a failure of the read-write heads as a result of a physical shock. The most common reason for a mechanical failure of an HDD is a physical shock.

WD20NMVW My Passport UltraHard disk drive details

Manufacturer: Western Digital

Model: WD20NMVW-11AV3S2

Printed Circuit Board: 2060-771961-001 REV A

Main processor: 88i9446-NDB2

Motor controller: WD Nautilus A21V599

Diagnosis of the fault

A full diagnosis was completed. In the received state the HDD was not recognised by any equipment or diagnostic equipment. It was necessary to remove the native USB-integrated printed circuit board (PCB) and swap this with an equivalent SATA PCB. Making changes to the ROM code allowed access to the firmware in an engineering (kernel) mode. From here it was possible to assess that the firmware had failed due to a large number of read errors. The drive was suffering from the ‘slow-responding’ firmware fault. This was corrected, and it was possible to initialise the HDD to a state where attempts to read the user data could be made. The HDD was using the Western Digital Self-Encrypting Disk function where the owner of the HDD had applied a password to secure the data. We were able to remove this ‘security’ feature without the need of the original password due to the weakness in Western Digital’s application of the security protocol.

The result

Testing showed that of the eight read-write heads inside the HDD, two had weakened due to the physical shock. However, all heads still had reasonable functionality. It was possible to provide a quotation to the customer for the recovery of the data without having to replace the mechanical components of the drive. The drive is currently imaging on AceLabs PC3000 disk imager. A very good result is expected.