Introduction

This is a Temporary repair

De-soldered USB connector looks to be a recurrent issue with the Western Digital Essentials external hard drive. In case you are in this situation, and if you need to access/restore the data stored into your Western Digital Essentials HD, the first idea is to transfer the HD into another external case or directly connected to you mother board. In fact it does not work! This is all because of the Initio INIC-1607E SATA/USB bridge chip that looks to encrypt your data within the USB to SATA bridging. Also using the same logic board from another Western Digital Essentials HD does not guaranty that your data will be clear to read.

This guide will allow you to access and backup all your data in case you have a de-soldered USB connector. It is not a "state of the art" repair and in any case you should consider this as a permanent repair. However you can eventually re-use the hard drive into another USB/SATA case once your data are safe backed up. This is a difficult repair but it have worked for me.

This guide consist on:

  1. Disassembly of the HD
  2. Temporary repair for the USB connector
Use a large plastic opening tool along the rear panel: There are 4 clips to release. There are 4 clips to release.
  • Use a large plastic opening tool along the rear panel:

    • There are 4 clips to release.

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Slide the cover along the plastic frame. Slide the cover along the plastic frame.
  • Slide the cover along the plastic frame.

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Slide off the largest plastic pieces.
  • Slide off the largest plastic pieces.

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Bend the second small plastic piece to release it from the rubber piece. Now you can slide it out. Now you can slide it out.
  • Bend the second small plastic piece to release it from the rubber piece.

  • Now you can slide it out.

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Slide out the hard drive as shown in the picture Make sure to slide as shown or you may damage the USB bridge logic board.
  • Slide out the hard drive as shown in the picture

  • Make sure to slide as shown or you may damage the USB bridge logic board.

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Black Friday
Broken doesn't stand a chance.
Remove the 4 rubber piece from the plastic frame at each corner. Remove the 4 rubber piece from the plastic frame at each corner.
  • Remove the 4 rubber piece from the plastic frame at each corner.

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Remove the rubber piece from the  SATA/USB bridge logic board.
  • Remove the rubber piece from the SATA/USB bridge logic board.

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Remove both screws holding the retaining plate and the hard drive. Slide the retaining plate in order to disconnect the SATA connector.
  • Remove both screws holding the retaining plate and the hard drive.

  • Slide the retaining plate in order to disconnect the SATA connector.

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Remove both screws holding the retaining plate with the logic board.
  • Remove both screws holding the retaining plate with the logic board.

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Use a tweezer to slightly bent the logic board contacts on the USB connector. The purpose is to ensure a good contact when the USB connector will be applied against the logic board. In the first picture, you can see the contacts in the original position. In the third picture, you can see the contacts in the bent position.
  • Use a tweezer to slightly bent the logic board contacts on the USB connector. The purpose is to ensure a good contact when the USB connector will be applied against the logic board.

    • In the first picture, you can see the contacts in the original position.

    • In the third picture, you can see the contacts in the bent position.

  • Be careful, the contactors are fragile. Just slightly bent them.

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Apply a piece of electrical tape on the back side of the logic board below the USB connector position.
  • Apply a piece of electrical tape on the back side of the logic board below the USB connector position.

  • This will prevent from any damage with the Foldback Paper Clip.

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It is important to have the 2 following steps completed in a short time to guaranty a good quality gluing if you use an instant glue. Apply some glue on the logic board and below the USB connector. Do not apply glue on the rear part on the logic board and on the USB connector. It is important to ensure a good electrical contact between the connector and the logic board.
  • It is important to have the 2 following steps completed in a short time to guaranty a good quality gluing if you use an instant glue.

  • Apply some glue on the logic board and below the USB connector.

    • Do not apply glue on the rear part on the logic board and on the USB connector. It is important to ensure a good electrical contact between the connector and the logic board.

  • Place the USB connector at is original place. Use a magnifying glass to ensure all five contacts are well in place against the logic board contacts. You can use a tweezer to help.

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Use a Foldback Paper Clip to press the USB connector against the logic board. Once the paper clip is in place, ensure one more time that all contacts are well in place.
  • Use a Foldback Paper Clip to press the USB connector against the logic board.

  • Once the paper clip is in place, ensure one more time that all contacts are well in place.

  • Ensure that the glue is all dry before to continue. If you use an instant glue you should wait for a few hours anyway or you can refer on the instruction provided with the glue.

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Be careful, this temporary repair is very fragile. Do not apply any tension on the USB connector or with the USB cable.
  • Be careful, this temporary repair is very fragile. Do not apply any tension on the USB connector or with the USB cable.

  • Before to continue, you should ensure one more time that the connectors are well in place to prevent from any short circuit. I recommend to:

    • First, plug and apply the electrical power on the logic board only do not plug the hard drive or even the USB connector. Wait for a minute if everything goes well!

    • You should use a hold computer if any available to you. Your computer should be protected from a short circuit here but we never know. Please don't use your brand new computer!

  • When you are ready to go:

    • Plug the hard drive with the USB/SATA bridge throug the SATA connector.

    • Carefully plug the USB connector to the logic board and your computer.

    • Apply electrical power on the hard drive.

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  • If everything goes well your USB hard drive should be recognized by the computer and you should be able to backup your data.

  • Do not re-use this WD external case. The connector repair is too fragile and can break again at any time. You may lose your data one more time!

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Conclusion

The hard drive inside the Western Digital Essentials HD is standard SATA. Once your data are backed up, you can re-use the hard drive as an internal HD directly or you can install it on a new empty USB enclosure as well. There is plenty available on the internet.

5 other people completed this guide.

Gaetan

Member since: 12/26/2012

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27 Guides authored

6 Comments

Hi Gaëtan,

Thanks for this tutorial. My name is Cherisse and I'm currently in this situation and feel extremely defeated. My friend followed your recovery steps to help me fix my HD, however, he said that it seemed like two of the contacts on the USB connector had broken off and he couldn't continue with the steps. I took it to a computer repair shop and after waiting a week, they told me that they can't find a single file on it. I find that strange since the hard drive itself is not damaged. I don't know what to do and would love your help. Is there a way I can email you to get additional help and advice? I would really appreciate it. cherissethurab@gmail.com

Thank you

C

Cherisse - Reply

Hi Cherisse,

What your computer repair shop probably did was to connect the HD to a desktop computer directly or with another enclosure. Actually this is useless because the USB-SATA bridge used by Wester Digital is somehow encrypting the data. This means that your data will only be readable using the original WD logic board. I hope they did not charge for this?

If you want to restore your data, you have to find a way to connect the logic board USB contacts to a USB port. If the orignal USB connector is broken or can't be used, I would recommend to solder a USB Type A male connector with cable directly on the HD logic board contacts. You can probably recycle this cable from an old device your not using anymore (an hold webcam for exemple). This would require some tools like a solder iron with a very thin tip and maybe a multimeter. Let us know if you need some help to find with wire to connect to which contact.

Gaetan -

Hi Gaetan,

Thanks so much for your response.

I'm not that techy, so I'll try get a friend to help. I understand some of what you're saying but this sort of stuff isn't my expertise at all. :/

When I got home from picking up the HD, I put it into a dock and realized that they wiped everything off of it by initializing it. Now, I have an "Untitled" drive with nothing in it.

When this problem first came up (before taking the HD to them), I put it into the same dock I mentioned above, and ran a scan with Disk Drill. The scan revealed that there was over 300GB of files on the HD, but I didn't have the software, an extra HD, or know-how to restore the files. Each time I plugged in the HD to the dock, it asked if I wanted to "Initialize" it and I never did.

All I have now is the HD with no case. The parts are all separate. I can try to get a friend to help with your suggestions, but now that the HD has been wiped, I'm not sure what the next course of action should be... :(

Cherisse - Reply

If you're friend is finally able to get the HD connected to a computer using the original USB/SATA bridge that have its connector broken maybe you can try one of those utility software to restore deleted file. Honestly there is few chance it work if the disk was erased.

Gaetan -

Just followed your instructions, retrieved my files and saved myself at least $300 (what I was quoted as the minimum fix cost) - MASSIVE thankyou.

I only did one thing differently - I was impatient to wait for glue to dry so I used a clamp (from my wood work) and connected it straight up. Worked perfectly.

Genius!! I took a photo if you are interested to see - pretty funny!

tokenandbec - Reply

Very well illustrated guide that can be used for those who want to directly access their internal drive from one of those enclosures, for the purpose of changing the drive's firmware settings, for example.

As for the USB repair - from the pictures, on your logic board it wouldn't have been difficult to solder another USB port as long as the pads on the board weren't damaged (lifted off or broken) and if you know soldering. The important point is to avoid overheating, which can lift the copper traces off the board.

As for those who purchased one of those encrypted drives - let this be a lesson : hardware encrypted drives were designed for the enterprise, to protect against theft of intellectual property when traveling outside of the office. It's useless for ordinary people, who are much better off encrypting confidential files by software.

Snuffo Laughagus - Reply

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