Data Recovery Case Study: WD My Passport

The client phoned us up after their Western Digital My Passport fell from approximately 10 feet from a shelf, and upon being powered up, wasn’t recognised by their machine. There was also a slight ticking noise coming from within the external hard drive. The data recovery was successful and the client got 1.5TB of data back.

The client, who edits short films, was storing his past work on a WD My Passport external hard disk drive, which was stored on a shelf. When files on it were required, he went to retrieve them, and unfortunately dropped the drive from a height of about 10 feet. Upon connecting it to his machine via the USB interface, he heard it power up, with the platters spinning correctly. However, it wasn’t recognised by the operating system. Data recovery tutorials online proved ineffective, as did every free data recovery program he could find. Because the data was particularly important and would have resulted in lost work for his small business, he had to consult one of our data recovery technicians.

When the drive arrived in our data recovery lab, it was catalogued and booked in with a unique QR code and job number that followed it from the beginning of the data recovery process to the end. Our data recovery engineers then began work on it in our Class 100 clean room, ensuring a working environment free of dust and moisture and preventing further damage. Hard drives aren’t designed to be opened up, so it’s best to leave this to a data recovery expert with the correct facilities.

It is vital that a physically damaged drive is not powered up, as this can make data recovery incredibly difficult, or even impossible. A head that is even slightly misaligned can scratch the surface of the drive when it’s powered up, complicating the data recovery process massively. Upon inspection, our data recovery technicians discovered that there was one dislodged head that needed to be replaced. To access the client’s data, it was clear we needed to find a donor part. We have a library of old hard drives with parts totalling more than 14,000; since this model is fairly common, we had a suitable donor part in the library. Occasionally, we’ll need to find a donor part from somewhere else, which can be difficult lengthen the data recovery timescale.

Once we replaced the damaged head with the donor part, we cloned the hard drive to begin the process of data recovery. During the cloning process, one of our data recovery technicians was present at all times to monitor the drive. Although only one head was damaged, there was a possibility one of the others was damaged in the fall too. Once we had a clone, we mounted it as a full file system to see if the data we had recovered was what the client required. We produced a report detailing the data recovery steps we had taken, and provided a file listing and no-obligation quote. The quote is fixed, and if the data recovery is unsuccessful, the client pays nothing. The required files were among those we managed to retrieve following the data recovery, and the client accepted the quote; his data was with him on a blank external hard disk drive within 24 hours. 

Data Recovery