Is there any way I can recover the data from my hard drive without voiding the warranty?

Sanuja R September 22, 2014
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My Western Digital External Hard Drive recently stopped working and started giving a clicking noise. Western Digital says that I need to send it to an authorized data recovery center for the warranty to not be void. However, I am in Sri Lanka and have no method of sending the drive.

It gets recognized by Windows Disk Manger (partially). The first time, it asked me to create a partition table, with MBP or GUID as the options (or something to that extent). Once I select OK, it gives me an error telling that an I/O error occurred. I could not get a screenshot. When I try to recreate the error, it doesn’t appear. Now it just shows that it is an Unknown and Uninitialized Drive My question is this: is there any way to recover the data by using something like a magnetic reader on top of the drive so that it doesn’t need to be opened, which would void the warranty?

According to an answer at How to recover data from dead hard disk (with tic tic noise)? , the problem might be related to “The actuator arm (or whatever controls it).

I appreciate any help ASAP on solving this problem.

  1. Paul Y
    September 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    On occasion I have got a faulty drive to work having stored it for a few days in my freezer or ice box. At this stage it would appear you have nothing to loose in trying this if getting your drive to WD or another tech is a cost issue. Having done this see if you can coax any access to your files via another operating system, but you may have to work quickly. Maybe try downloading GParted Live, a linux distro for partioning hard drives and boot your system from a live cd or usb thumb drive to access your files and or copy them away from the faulty hard drive. You would need to start with their alternative to Windows Explorer/file mangler. Progress can be extremely slow and requires some patience. Hope this helps....There are also other linux distros suited to file recovery - see what you can find at http://distrowatch.com/.

  2. Hovsep A
    September 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    you can try HDDRegenerator or Spinrite
    http://www.dposoft.net/
    https://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm

  3. Guy M
    September 22, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Check with WD to see if it is still under warranty, and if their warranty includes data recovery. If it is under warranty and they will cover the data recovery, it may be worth finding a way to get it back to WD. Surely there is mail service there.

    Having the data recovery done by a specialist can be very costly. If you take it to someone local, take the time to read up on what a proper data recovery shop should have and what certifications they should have. This is a VERY delicate process and should only be handle by well-trained professionals.

    • Oron J
      September 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Guy, unfortunatley, WD's warranty is based on replacing drives. Their data recovery service offered as a commercial service (as far as I know, they never offer it for free).

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Ugh. That sucks. I do feel for this person. Data recovery is so expensive when it requires a clean room.

  4. Oron J
    September 22, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Sanuja. Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic no. You can't read a disc "from the outside" (the tolerance for the distance between the heads and the platters is measured in microns)

    The clicking noise, as you indicated, suggests that the actuator arm is not working properly or that that read head can't align itself properly on the disc. In other words, it's a mechanical fault. Somebody will need to open the drive in a cleanroom and transplant the platters to an identical hard drive. This is a delicate and expensive operation. There may be a data recovery bureau in Sri Lanka that can do this, but if not, your best bet is to send it to WD. If the cost is too high, you may just need to accept that you've lost your data.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

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