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Rescuing A WD 500GB HDD

By on March 12, 2019










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.

wd hdd repair

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!

hdd fix

repair hdd hard disk

how to fix hdd

programmer for hdd

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.

tl866 software

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.

tl866 software update

tl866 software corrupt file

western digital hdd board repair

western digital hdd board fix

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:




  1. George Greenfield

    March 12, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Been there done that. I have swapped out the controller circuit board on many Hard drives in order to rescue the data. Copy data to new Hard drive and trash the flawed drive.
    I learned many years ago if you fix something and it works NEVER put the bad part back in to confirm. Just toss it in the can.
    Tinkeritist is a terminal disease. Id it works don't foll with it.

    Good repair article Al.


    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 13, 2019 at 6:50 pm

      Indeed George! Swapping the 'new' eBay replacement board with the old bad Bios chip onboard was a bad idea. Just swapping the boards however was not enough. And I am glad having the new RT809H programmer to help me save many Bios bin files already. The TL866 is sadly not capable anymore to read the newest chips. My latest Bios saves were the Bios chips from three DVB-T2 TV settop boxes. This way making sure having a rescue backup in case they get a bad firmware update or if the chip corrupts itself.

  2. Parasuraman S

    March 12, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Mind blowing solutions with such extreme professional precision; not a cup of an easy tea for me! Well done! Good info on don'ts!

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 14, 2019 at 5:21 am

      I hold your level of expertise on these matters very high Parasuraman! I'm sure that only having the right equipment at hand may be holding you back on a nice cup of tea (;)

  3. Mihai

    March 13, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Hello, Mr. Albert van Bemmelen !

    Very interesting information about rescuing hdd. Thank's for sharing your experience with us.

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 15, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Mihai, See my reply below the other posts. It somehow got shifted further down (;)

  4. Abner Allado

    March 13, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Thank you very much for this very informative article. I learned new things about hdd repair & rescuing lost data.

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 14, 2019 at 1:38 am

      I hope it will help you rescuing any lost Abner. And if you need another rescue program instead of MiniTool Partition Wizard, the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a good choice too! It works also in rescuing lost USB stick memory data.

  5. hongkong pom

    March 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you for another excellent article.

    I assume that the drive was not making any clicks of death so that it was only the controller board chip that had corrupted?

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 13, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      You are completely right. The drive was only not seen by any computer.

  6. John Kent lcgi

    March 13, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    I had a similar issue sometime ago. I ended up sending the controller to a company in Canada to fix my bios chip data to a new board. Took a long time and cost a lot. But the data was the important thing. People don't realise the complexity's of modern electronics. Very informative article.

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 14, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      I guess John, that they just did the same thing or maybe were able to re-flash the original Bios with the right version.
      I ordered a couple of good internal hdd drives through miniinthebox or lightinthebox in the past for my laptops thinking they would be WD drives made in other countries. But to my big surprise according to the text on top of the drives they were made at Western Digital in Roermond which is just about 24Km from my hometown Weert. And it took a lot of weeks for them to arrive!

  7. Robert Calk Jr.

    March 14, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Good job, Albert. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry. I have my OS and everything backed up in a HDD that will fit right into my laptop. All I would have to do is remove it from the HDD enclosure and put it into my laptop. I optimize and backup my computer at least twice a week.

    • Albert van Bemmelen

      March 14, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      I did the same thing Robert by making a standby copy of my 500GB 2.5 inch internal HDD drive. But the fact that Windows needs those security updates frequently could be a problem if my spare 500GB copy drive no longer is up to date if replaced with my constantly updated internal used drive if needed. Same thing goes for the viruskiller programs that need those new upgrades too.

      • Robert Calk Jr.

        March 15, 2019 at 1:11 am

        That's why I update my HDD so often. Whenever I have new updates for my computer, I optimize my laptop HDD and then copy the OS into my 1T backup HDD that is in the enclosure. If my laptop HDD ever crashes, my backup HDD is ready to go and I will not have very much that I would need to recover from the original HDD.
        I normally backup my HDD a couple of times a week. But I also backup my HDD immediately after new updates, and immediately after uploading many photos or uploading e-books, etc..

        • Albert van Bemmelen

          March 15, 2019 at 4:15 pm

          Understood, you go extreme into safety control Robert. You do not take any chances. I have several computers that can't be all online. But I do keep backup images on external harddisks just in case. Sadly it were Windows 10 updates from Microsoft that recently corrupted many computers that my ICT shopowner friend had to restore because of the terribly going wrong Microsoft update(s)! Some people even came into his shop frequently because of several wrong going updates. And it now looks as if they are trying to make every user subscribe on Windows on a yearly payable fee. Similar to what they've done with Office 265. If those updates are needed so frequently it somehow just does look like Windows was designed badly from the start. And it also happens that Windows programs just do not work like the integrated burning software tool my friend used to burn some CD's. All he got were expensive coasters afterwards and I had to use other burning software on his computer to fix this.

          • Robert Calk Jr.

            March 16, 2019 at 4:21 am

            I am glad that I never had any problems with any updates. Many of the updates are for protecting against viruses and things. Criminals and terrorists never stop trying to steal and cause mayhem!
            My friend Michelle that I wrote articles about repairing some of her devices, had her auto-update turned off and never optimized or updated her laptop HDD. It took me several hours to download all of the updates and optimize her HDD.
            But I do try to make sure that even if something bad happened, I would not lose much data. And I made a mistake before using the word "copy" for my backup HDD when I really meant "clone".

  8. Albert van Bemmelen

    March 14, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Glad you liked it Mihai. Know that some of today's new Bios chips not only are able to keep their programmed content for at least 60 years now. And maybe also is specified in max 100.000 block write cycles, or 10.000 complete chip write cycles. And some also can be read wirelessly with a NFC/RFID connection. And often are write protected after programming if needed.
    For instance this smaller one:

  9. Albert van Bemmelen

    March 16, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    I also cloned my 500GB internal harddisk to a backup 'safety' copy. Of course it will not be updated like my internal drive that is in daily use. Since nothing is perfect it is a good method. And it is not only the Windows system that is under constant attack, it are also the programs like WinRar (pre v5.70) and other tools used under Windows that often are infected with a vulnerable hackable backdoor addition. Like some versions of the often used tools as CCleaner etc.
    And as you know some ports on our PC/computers are always open simply to be able to receive emails and to get online.

  10. Humberto

    March 19, 2019 at 3:00 am

    Great repair Albert. Good images and explanations too. Congratulations.

  11. david startup

    March 19, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Linux is the way to go, it is the better secured OS, nothing but problems with windows, plus Linux is more superior than windows when it comes to hardware!

  12. ulises Aguilar pazzani

    May 8, 2019 at 11:35 am

    grate Job Sir


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