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Rescuing A WD 500GB HDD
My good friend Erik’s neighbour Rob asked his help in getting his lost harddisk data back. Rob, who is a professional gardener, had experienced some earlier problems with his Western Digital hdd until Windows no longer recognized his 500GB device. Something he only mentioned to us afterwards.
And for Rob losing his on harddisk backupped data would have a great impact on his work and the clients he was working for. Losing all his records with phone numbers, addresses and time records would no doubt mean a personal disaster to him.
He already read all sorts of solutions that are provided on the internet, of which of course most of them simply did not work. Up to the point that he out of desperation decided to open up the WD5000AAKX which got him no further either. (And the last thing one should do is follow up the stupid advice to hit the drive to unlock any blocked harddisk heads). But he also had read about replacing the hdd controller by another identical board.
And he found one on eBay but replacing the original bad board with that eBay board apparently was not working either. And at that point he asked us to help him to unsolder the new Bios chip to replace the old Bios with the one on the original not working controller board. And here our rescue starts.
My friend Erik brought his neigbours device and I first tested it with my good but cheap go_comma USB to IDE/SATA adapter. But of course my Windows PC couldn’t see the attached WD 500GB drive yet either.
Next photos show the adapter I used with the connected hdd. After that I unsoldered both sop8 Bios chips from the original and the eBay controller board with my Gordak 952-A hot-air solder station. And I switched both Bios chips before soldering them back on the two controller boards. And now the ‘new’ eBay Bios chip was soldered on the original controller board. So far so good, but this article now also will explain what NOT to do and we probably never read about on forums. And of course I also made backup copies of both Bios chips with my RT809H universal programmer just before I placed them back. Always better safe than sorry!
Previous photo shows the 150mil SOP8/16 socket I used to read the Bios data with, by using the RT809H connected to my PC. And next screen copy shows that the RT809H was perfectly able to read, save and verify the content of the PM25LD020ce sop8 chip. And I copied both the original and the eBay chips as Bin files to my PC.
And with my RT809H I previously also was able to read a Bios chip that is located in my new DVB-T2 H265 HEVC receiver. Something that my old TL866 failed to do because the TL866 failed to read the sop8 ZB25VQ32 Bios.
Immediately after we tested the harddisk with the original controller board with the ‘new‘ eBay Bios chip on it, it was recognized and perfectly showed all maps and files on my PC.
And NOW the part we never should have done afterwards we never knew or read about: NEVER remove the now working controller board and test the eBay controller board with the original not working Bios chip on it on our problem drive. Because afterwards the 500GB WD will still be recognized but a screen message will pop up every time saying to format our device! And we lost our maps and files again!
In other words!: We first immediately should have made a backup of all files and maps without testing the second board with the not working Bios on it!
Next photos will show the WD5000AAKX 500GB controller board. But first two screen copies of both the original not working Bios chip, and the working eBay Bios chip. There were differences but both shared the same device name in the saved bin files.
After Rob heard about our mistake of re-checking the other controller board which made us probably lose the control to the harddisk again, he was of course very disappointed to say the least.
But luckily this article still ends in a great success! And I’m sure following information will certainly help others to be able to rescue their important harddisk data too!
First placing over the Bios from another identical controller board did help our PC’s to recognize the harddrive again.
And Rob was finally able to rescue all his data with a great program called “MiniTool Partition Wizard Server – Enterprise – Technician 10.2.1”. It only took him several hours (about 4) to rescue and backup all his important files.
As it turned out his old harddisk was indeed having several bad sectors and only a couple of photos were a bit infected by the surface errors. And he was lucky he only used a part of the bad WD drive which otherwise would have taken him losing many more hours on this important rescue mission!
Wishing you all equally successful rescuing projects on this windy and cloudy March day!
Albert van Bemmelen, Weert, The Netherlands.
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Note: You can read his previous repair article in the below link: