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Topic # 112307 4-Dec-2012 16:06 Send private message

A colleague has one of those typical cheap Western Digital external USB drives with a 3.5" USB\SATA interface in it, now the usual problem with these things is the surface-mount mini-USB connector has torn off the daughterboard, so the data is trapped on the drive.

Now, unlike many of these units, the drive _appears_ to be a bog standard SATA drive, but when I plug it into a drive-dock, it works, and thinks there's something on there, but can't recognise the partition table.

So, do those little adaptors in the case offset the data or something odd just to make life difficult, does anyone know a way of recovering the data from it? Or shall I just tell them to call it a day, reformat the drive and tell them to buy a less plasticy enclosure?


Further research has revealed this:

A more expedient solution may be to install the drive in a third party external enclosure. However, this will only work when the data are not affected by AES hardware encryption. One way to verify whether encryption is present is to examine the largest IC on the USB-SATA bridge board. For example, chips such as Initio Corp's INIC-1607E support encryption while the INIC-1607P does not. Also, from a model perspective, Essentials models are encrypted but Elements models are not. Note that the data will be encrypted even when no password has been set.

If the bridge board incorporates encryption, then you will need to find a replacement board from an identical product of the same capacity. If this still doesn't work, and if the drive is otherwise OK, you can overcome any incompatibility by transferring the 8-pin serial flash memory chip from the patient's bridge board to your donor PCB.

So - The unit I have here has a INIC-1607E chip on it, so sounds like it has realtime hardware encryption, to what end, I've no idea as there's no password required, so from a consumer perspective it appears to be totally useless, and in cases such as this, a real problem. Oh well, next time they'll just have to buy a non pre-packaged unit.

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  Reply # 727001 4-Dec-2012 18:08 Send private message

I don't have anything very helpful to say sorry, but maybe your thread will bounce a bit.

Encryption enabled by default - that is really annoying and possibly slightly insane. What good reason is there for this design?

My standard suggestion applies - Boot with gparted live. GParted recognises a wide range of partition types and might be useful if it can say something sensible about the current state of the drive.


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  Reply # 727014 4-Dec-2012 18:26 Send private message

Had a quick google for personal interest. I saw several references to Microsoft Sector Inspector used to confirm the drive is encrypted. Also it appears Gparted will be unable to recognise anything if WD encrypted.

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  Reply # 727332 5-Dec-2012 11:30 Send private message

Yeah, I've got a couple of low-level drive analysis tools, and they both show me that the drive is fine, but there is no valid non-encrypted data, partition table, MBR or otherwise. Looks like a dead loss, it baffles me why they would implement such a thing by default.


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  Reply # 727380 5-Dec-2012 12:46 Send private message

I guess your only option is the convoluted board swap procedure or attempting a heroic solder and glue and goodness knows what else kind of repair, or send it to WD's service agent. It is possible repair restoring data access is cheap if they are well organised.

If you are choosing to format will be interesting if format and access over sata works correctly like you would expect or if the magic box is required to talk to this drive.

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  Reply # 727414 5-Dec-2012 13:47 Send private message

The drive appears to work happily (for read-access anyway, haven't written data to it yet for obvious reasons) in a standard SATA enclosure.

I'm going to remove a USB connector from an old phone and solder that onto the existing board and try my luck, soldering these connectors is a pain.

It'd be nice if the Dick Smith that is 1 block away still sold components. I can't find the connectors on Jaycars site, might end up splicing a regular USB cable and soldering the wires straight to the PCB if I have no joy with the socket. It probably only needs the data wires connected which may make the job easier, I doubt I'm that lucky though ;)


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  Reply # 727434 5-Dec-2012 14:12 Send private message

RS has a wide range but I'd imagine you are miles from Mt Wellington if today's the day for the fix.

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  Reply # 727450 5-Dec-2012 14:36 Send private message

Yup, Welly based. Scrounging from old equipment is probably going to be easiest.

Do RS sell to the public? I was under the impression they were a trade outfit.


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  Reply # 727467 5-Dec-2012 15:29 Send private message

Anyone can order as far as I am aware. RS website accepts registration and credit card payments.

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  Reply # 727476 5-Dec-2012 15:53 Send private message

gzt: Anyone can order as far as I am aware. RS website accepts registration and credit card payments.

+1. Heaps of folks ordered their Raspberry Pi's through RS.

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  Reply # 727499 5-Dec-2012 16:30 Send private message

They do sell, but not everything is available for walk up collection.

Otherwise just chop off a USB cable and solder the wires to the board. You can usually find the USB lines go thru a resistor you can get to the end of easily enough, add the ground to wherever and forget the 5v as it is usually not needed.


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