Case Study: Western Digital Passport WD10TMVW-11ZSMS4 not spinning

Recovery Type: External Hard Drive
Drive Capacity: 1TB
Manufacturer: Western Digital
Model Name: Passport
Model Number: WD10TMVW-11ZSMS4
Manufacture Date: 28 July 2012
Main Symptom: Not Spinning
Type of Data: Pictures and Images
Data Recovery Grade: 10
Binary Read: 99.99%


External hard drives are touchy devices. Since their main purpose is portability, they are moved around and become prone to damage. They get dropped, bumped, slid or shaken, which upsets the delicate balance of the moving parts inside the drive.

In this case, the external hard drive was dropped. When the customer attempted to connect it to their computer, the light on the drive turned on, but the device was not recognized. The drive was making a beeping sound, and the platters were not spinning. When your device displays a USB device not recognized or hard drive not recognized error it is likely evidence of physical damage. An experienced data recovery lab like Gillware is more than capable of recovering data in instances of physical damage.


Once the drive entered Gillware’s lab, data recovery engineers performed a full assessment and discovered the drive’s read/write heads had gotten stuck on the platters, preventing them from spinning. When the drive was dropped, it killed the heads and kept them from reparking properly. Fortunately, the engineers found the platters were still in good condition, meaning the data would be recoverable.


Since the read/write heads needed replacing, the drive would need to be brought into our cleanroom and opened for repair. Engineers replaced the broken heads with working ones and re-calibrated the drive to dial it in and get the new heads working well enough to extract the  lost data.


After replacing the read/write heads, engineers were able to get back 99.99% of the data from the drive. Failures due to dropped external hard drives are highly common and easily preventable. Keeping a drive stationary or securing it to a desk using velcro or tape is an easy way to keep the drive from falling. External hard drives should be handled with care and not moved unless necessary.

Drops are not the only point of failure for an external drive. All hard drives of any type will eventually fail, causing data loss which may not be as easy to recover as in this case. Unfortunately, many people use physical storage devices such as externals and flash drives for file backup. When these drives fail, users more often than not lose their files and do not have them in another location. For this reason, the best way to keep files safe from data loss is using an online backup solution. By using a secure, cloud-based online backup service, users can be sure their files are protected from data loss threats such as viruses, fires, or dropped external hard drives.