WD Essentials USB connector…

Western Digital (WD) manufacture a range of external portable hard drives, including the Essentials HDD which has a well-documented issue with the USB connector. Rather than a standard SATA interface on the motherboard, WD Essentials hard drives have replaced this with a USB connection. What’s more, the Initio INIC-1607E SATA/USB bridge chip encrypts the data during the USB to SATA bridging. This means that your data is automatically encrypted as it is written to the hard drive and decrypted when it is read back.

We have noticed many drives arriving with a de-soldered USB connector. Simply replacing the logic board with a donor does not guarantee recovered data. Hard drives that use this SATA to USB bridging create significant problems when the motherboard is damaged. Put simply, we cannot gain low level access to the firmware modules. Therefore reprogramming the hard drive is nearly impossible.

In these cases, it is necessary to use a replace the USB motherboard for a compatible SATA motherboard. Thereafter we must copy across the adaptive data from the hard disk drive, before attempting to communicate at low level. The information we access allows us to decrypt the data whilst copying it across to a new hard drive.