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The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a USB 3.0 portable storage device with a 1 TB capacity.

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How to fix mechanical issue?

The 1Tb "western digital element" HDD of a friend is unreadable.

Unfortunately, he has no backup ... and the hdd contain precious photography :-(



  • The controller appears (usb controller) in linux.
  • The hdd spin up
  • The partition table is unreadable, I get the following errors in the dmesg :

[107668.995998] sd 33:0:0:0: [sdb] Test WP failed, assume Write Enabled

[107671.016748] sd 33:0:0:0: [sdb] Asking for cache data failed

[107671.016991] sd 33:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through

[107671.077099] sd 33:0:0:0: [sdb] Spinning up disk...

[107672.114243] .............

What I tried :

  • I bought exactly the same hdd,
  • when I swap the PCB's, the "new hdd" with the "old pcb" work together (no bad noise) : but is not readable (normal, i did'nt swap the bios). So the issue is probably not PCB related as expected :-(
  • I Didn't opened the disk as I didn't have a white room. (and I'm not sure if the disk is Helium sealed).

Can I assume that this is a mechanical issue ?

Any Idea how to fix head mechanical issues on this kind of disk ?


Diese Frage beantworten Ich habe das gleiche Problem

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4 Antworten

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I listened to your recording. I have heard much worse so am optimistic.

First of all try to do a sector by sector copy of the drive. One that does not crap out if it detects an error. Preferably in a desk top PC for ease of working. Here are some:

Diskrecoup v2 or Raw Disk Copier v1.6 or from here.

It could still be data corruption. You can try running software that fixes corrupt partition tables

You will also have more luck working with the drive in an actual computer rather than through the USB interface.

TestDisk is a professional quality freeware drive recovery program. I have used it for over 15 years. Take the time to read the manual and play around with a spare non-critical hard. Here is a list of what it does:

  • Copy files from deleted FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2/ext3/ext4 partitions.
  • Fix partition table, recover deleted partition
  • Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup
  • Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector
  • Fix FAT tables
  • Rebuild NTFS boot sector
  • Recover NTFS boot sector from its backup
  • Fix MFT using MFT mirror
  • Locate ext2/ext3/ext4 Backup SuperBlock
  • Undelete files from FAT, exFAT, NTFS and ext2 file-systems

If your friend dropped it on the floor, but not too hard, something like Spinrite may help recover damaged data areas.

If all the above fail well then the only option is a professional data recovery company and their meters start ticking at around $2K.

If you have any questions just ask. There are other software packages but I have tried to keep it simple to start with.

Data recovery is part experience, knowledge, persistence and even some luck.

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Thanks for your answer.

This kind of disk (western digital element 2.5) come directly with a USB3 interface on the PCB !! no internal sata :-(

As I said, the disk can't even read the partition table, so even a block copy is not possible, but I will try a recovery with testdisk.

A professional recovery will be too expensive for him.

In last chance, …. Does a disk plate transplantation into an other disk could work (with PCB too naturally).



Hi @feeling1

O.K. one of those models! Too bad - could be interface or drive itself.

In future, better and safer to buy seperate USB case and standard 2.5" SATA HDD or SSD.

People get seduced by the "complete" package fro Seagate, WD, etc.


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Sounds like a head noise. You will not fix mechanical issues without opening the drive. The question is where the head is hitting and did hit the plate already. I will suggest finding some data recovery specialists with a white room.

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Testdisk tool :

TestDisk 7.1, Data Recovery Utility, July 2019
Christophe GRENIER <grenier@cgsecurity.org>
Disk /dev/sdb - 1000 GB / 931 GiB - WD Elements 1048
CHS 121600 255 63 - sector size=512
[ Analyse  ] Analyse current partition structure and search for lost partitions
>[ Advanced ] Filesystem Utils
[ Geometry ] Change disk geometry
[ Options  ] Modify options
[ Quit     ] Return to disk selection
  • I Can identify the drive. (this is probably the rom/bios informations of the pcb)
  • Unable to identify / read the partition table. (this is written on the disk)

Block Image

  • The analyse process didn't give anything good :-(

Smartctl result :

# smartctl /dev/sdb -a
smartctl 7.2 2020-12-30 r5155 [x86_64-linux-5.15.0-60-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-20, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org
Model Family:     Western Digital Elements / My Passport (USB, AF)
Device Model:     WDC WD10JMVW-11AJGS0
Serial Number:    WD-WXJ1E23CVTX5
LU WWN Device Id: 5 0014ee 25e13a484
Firmware Version: 01.01A01
User Capacity:    1,000,204,886,016 bytes [1.00 TB]
Sector Sizes:     512 bytes logical, 4096 bytes physical
Rotation Rate:    5400 rpm
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ACS-2 (minor revision not indicated)
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.0, 3.0 Gb/s (current: 3.0 Gb/s)
Local Time is:    Fri Feb 24 14:05:24 2023 CET
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled
SMART Status not supported: Incomplete response, ATA output registers missing
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
Warning: This result is based on an Attribute check.
See vendor-specific Attribute list for marginal Attributes.
General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x80) Offline data collection activity
was never started.
Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (  22) The self-test routine was aborted by
the host.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:                (16624) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x70) No SMART execute Offline immediate.
No Auto Offline data collection support.
Suspend Offline collection upon new
No Offline surface scan supported.
Self-test supported.
Conveyance Self-test supported.
Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x9080) Does not save SMART data before
entering power-saving mode.
Error logging capability:        (0x31) Error logging supported.
General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (  32) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   4) minutes.
Conveyance self-test routine
recommended polling time:        ( 144) minutes.
SCT capabilities:              (0x7035) SCT Status supported.
SCT Feature Control supported.
SCT Data Table supported.
SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 21504
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
33 Unknown_Attribute       0x8050   113   001   040    Old_age   Offline  In_the_past 158398941233254
144 Unknown_Attribute       0x2200   001   048   022    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 142047453380628
160 Unknown_Attribute       0xa00c   064   016   064    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 25198624
176 Unknown_HDD_Attribute   0x0014   042   000   080    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 71743141875792
16 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   016   033   000    Old_age   Offline      -       54494817943812
128 Unknown_Attribute       0x0040   032   017   000    Old_age   Offline      -       36714995515680
80 Unknown_Attribute       0x2020   068   000   ---    Old_age   Offline      -       154637959184
129 Unknown_Attribute       0x0020   000   054   020    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 499038294088
32 Unknown_Attribute       0x3040   004   000   111    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 636192555056
1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x8041   088   001   068    Pre-fail  Offline  In_the_past 70421359624720
5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x1010   080   016   ---    Old_age   Offline      -       33092 (32848 11008)
32 Unknown_Attribute       0x4000   004   023   111    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 1120986464305
32 Unknown_Attribute       0x0010   000   032   111    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 193738190358646
160 Unknown_Attribute       0x0034   032   144   064    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 176283179810832
16 Unknown_Attribute       0x0150   048   128   000    Old_age   Offline      -       17663053058308
16 Unknown_Attribute       0x8174   008   016   000    Old_age   Offline      -       158381220306944
18 Unknown_Attribute       0x0021   128   001   ---    Pre-fail  Offline      -       163071587000650
161 Unknown_Attribute       0x2024   000   000   ---    Old_age   Offline      -       4400234893312
48 Unknown_Attribute       0x3130   016   161   ---    Old_age   Offline      -       19104306069780
33 Unknown_Attribute       0x0040   108   016   040    Old_age   Offline  In_the_past 275416879120
1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x0064   000   032   068    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 500382834784
49 Unknown_Attribute       0x8074   000   033   052    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 79459579330576
144 Unknown_Attribute       0x9010   000   097   022    Old_age   Offline  FAILING_NOW 159929839427844
SMART Error Log Version: 0
No Errors Logged
SMART Self-test log structure revision number 0
Warning: ATA Specification requires self-test log structure revision number = 1
No self-tests have been logged.  [To run self-tests, use: smartctl -t]
SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
1        0        0  Not_testing
2        0        0  Not_testing
3        0        0  Not_testing
4        0        0  Not_testing
5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x2800):
After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

Read disk

Naturally, ... no way to read even one sector of the disk.

# dd if=/dev/sdb bs=128K count=1
dd: error reading '/dev/sdb': Input/output error
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes copied, 0.00490512 s, 0.0 kB/s

PCB swap

  • Same noise / mechanical issue (sure 90% that the issue is mechanical)

My Options

  • Data recovery lab ( too expensive regarding the data's ) ~80% chances of success.
  • Transplant the disk plates into a new disk (+ swap the bios chip) ~20% chance of success (the plate have to stay aligned, ... hard operation : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9P4UadR...)
  • Transplant the heads of a new drive into this drive in a "relatively clean room" ~35% chances of success ? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_vssaUR...)
  • Cancel the recovery and avoid the sacrifice of a new 1tb disk

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It's Dead .....

I put the head of the new disk in the old disk (this procedure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_vssaUR...) ..... result :

  • Bad noise, the disk is "clicking" since 20 seconds then stop.
  • No way to read anything (nor sector, nor partition table ....)

Then I reverted the operation, new heads in the new disk, old heads in the old disk ... the new disk work .... So I didn't destroyed the heads. Old disk ... can't be read, still clicking .... :-(

Why the new heads where not working on the old disk.

I think I will stop the investigations :-(

RIP the data's.

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2 Kommentare:

I see you tried this to the limit. You certainly are an IFIXIT fixer at heart.

The WD proprietry firmware/hardware makes it very difficult. Switched circuit boards can also have slightly different alignment, etc.

As I said above "In future, better and safer to buy seperate USB case and standard SATA HDD or SSD."


As I said, this is not my drive .... Over anything else, I recommend to everybody to make offsite backup of their important data's ...

Drives are not expensive in regard of our data's ....

But yess .... prefer a case and a sata hdd (in mirroring raid if possible).



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Laurent wird auf ewig dankbar sein.

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