WD Passport Studio 2 Portable Hard Drive -- Any Recovery Options

sixo used Ask the Experts™
Hello, everyone.

One of the users I support has a Western Digital Passport Studio 2 hard drive that he's been using for a bit less than a year. He was attempting to save something onto it yesterday, and he received an error message saying that the disk wasn't usable (even though he'd been using it quite a lot recently). Then he brought the drive to me.

I've tried both the USB and the S-ATA interfaces of the drive, and the results confuse me. When I connect the drive to the computer using the USB cable (having plugged the drive into its control board, of course), Windows (and even the computer BIOS) recognizes the drive as a WD Passport, but the drive shows up as "not initialized." I've attempted to use some software tools, like R-Studio and GetDataBack, with the drive plugged in in this way, but though both programs can detect the drive, neither can do anything with it -- there are no scan options or anything. I've booted into Linux with the drive connected in this fashion as well, but in this case the operating system can't even recognize the drive is present.

Alternatively, when I remove the drive from the control board and plug it in directly using an SATA cable, I receive a "hard drive failure" message, neither Windows nor the BIOS recognizes the drive, and it doesn't even show up in the Disk Management console. Likewise, when I boot into Linux with the drive connected in this fashion, the drive isn't recognized at all.

I'm thinking that this means the drive is dead, but as a last resort, before I have to tell the fellow that his drive has died and the data on it are unrecoverable, I wanted to ask you all if you can think of any other options for recovering the data on the drive.

Thanks very much for any help you can offer.
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Top Expert 2010
When a device is very sick, there is no defined correct procedure for a BIOS to report. It might show that nothing is there, or it will give you make/model, but zero capacity, it should tell you not initialized .. it depends on the nature of the problem.   The USB bridge chip has to interpret the problem and figure out what to tell the O/S at the other end, so it can do something differently than a BIOS.  Bottom line, results are inconsistent because that is normal.

So at least now you know why it is confused and why you have conflicting info.

In your case  since the PC BIOS does not see the device, then first don't waste any money buying something like spinrite.  If BIOS doesn't see it, then nothing else will either. Options are

1. Contact ontrack, gillware, or another data recovery firm, if the data is worth $1000+  (but I have seen recoveries cost up to $2000 for a disk that had massive damage, that belonged to a college professor that gladly paid it).

2. Some people have had limited luck replacing a circuit board.  If your other option is just throwing the disk away, then it is a longshot, but you can try doing this.  Just remember that if you ever intend to pay the $$$$ to get the data back, just do that first.  You can easily make professional recovery impossible by trying a DIY solution

3. Live and learn.

So sorry.

not to sound like a noob but have you tried the disk via usb in another pc and have you tried it in other usb ports?


dlethe: Thank you very much for your advice.

ggefter: Yes, I've done both of those things. I should have mentioned that in my question. I've also tried multiple USB cables and multiple SATA cables. No luck with any of these.
Top Expert 2010

One other thing, Since you are in same time zone as me, there is a great local data recovery firm in North texas ww.24hourdata.com   They have the bunnysuits and equipment, and TI, HP, EDS and some of the larger firms here keep them pretty busy.  You can drop the disk off 24x7 or just call them to get a quote.  If they are unsuccessful it costs nothing (other than shipping if you aren't local)

I expect other major cities have other firms as well.  This one I am familiar with, and they do have the equipment to do it right, since they have all that fortune 100 business.

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