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western digital "3 clicks of death"

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Old 01-04-2009, 09:00 PM   #1
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The following WD issue was originally posted by pritalus on fixya.com and now the same exact same thing has happened to me.

Western Digital says the hard drive has failed and acts like it is no longer their problem and without a care directs me to the data recovery section of their website. After reading several similar posts on fixya.com the "three clicks of death" is a known issue and the worst possible scenario that could ever happen with any hard drive. It's like having a safe with all your goodies inside and bam one day your safe blows up. How many safes need to blow up before there is some trouble at the safe company? How many WD?

I have close to two years of graphic work and my entire family photo album lost now.

pritalus post...

I have had this My Book Essential 500GB external HDD running very smoothly.
But suddenly it has stopped starting. When I start my PC (to which it is connected) or power-up the HDD, the following happens:
1. the HDD spins up, followed by 3 'click' sounds.
2. the HDD spins down
3. the HDD spins up again, followed by another 3 'click' sounds.
Hereafter the HDD becomes silent.
The 'click' sound above is the same sound the HDD used to make when it shuts down (when computer shuts down).
The HDD is detected as a new hardware on the computer and it says that it’s installed and ready to run.
It is also listed in Device Manager as "WD External USB Device" not what it used to be earlier: "WD5000 ...”
It is neither seen in My Computer nor listed in Disk Management.
It seems to me that the hard drive inside is still fine.

End of post.

Would like to know if anyone has had any success with retrieving their data? How much it cost and what company they used.

Also I plan on elevating this to a legal issue with WD so please email me if you have had the horrible “three clicks of death” as I would like to compile a list of "victims."

Thank you

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:46 PM   #2
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Dear Scott,

I am so sorry for the problem you encourtered. The clicking sounds often caused by several reasons: Firmware Corruption, Head Crash and PCB problems. I want to know after it is can be detected in bios, did you try to power it on and check it is still recognized by bios.

[Moderator's Edit: removed solicitation for business.]

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Old 01-05-2009, 06:37 AM   #3
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I do not think the WD external drive is recognized by my BIOS, the WD tech ran me through a few test with the WD diagnostics software and only the two harddrives on my computer were there - HP (C:) and FACTORY_IMAGE (D:). How can I see if my BIOS can see it?

thanks LL,

Rav
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:51 AM   #4
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Hi Laura, good to see ya jump in here! BTW tell Alx Bud from Reclamere says hello :)
@ravenatmore
Unfortunately you have discovered the dirty little secret of hard drives - they are not safes. More like a car- if your car fails and you miss an important appointment, the car manufacturer is not at fault. External drives do not perform well as a 24/7 regular storage device. Heat is a primary issue with them. They are more designed for archivin material, transportable storage, but not designed to repalce adding another HD inside the PC. Anywho...
While it sounds like you have suffered a hardfailure, the first test to determine if there may be a failure of the USB interface device is to get the drive out of the MyBook enclosure and attached to the PC Directly. I would expect the internal drive is SATA, but getting the drive out of the MyBook enclosure and procuring the appropriate adapters to mount it directly to the PC is the first step. The External enclosure probably isn't recognized by BIOS.

Laura's diagnosis is pretty much spot on, hard to be 100% certain without seeing the drive but based on what you have reported she hit it. If this is a physical issue then you probably don't want to take it to the corner computer shop or one of the big box shops with a service center, but you will need a data recovery specialist. In US probably the cheapest you will find someone is the $1000 range - and it could go a LOT higher. Wish we had some better news :)
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:59 AM   #5
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Sorry to bring back an old post but i was googling about my problem.

IMO this company is complete B.S. I think they know there is a big problem with the hard drives they are stuffing in their myBooks but are turning a blind eye on purpose for the reason of profit (THAT is why their website has data recovery specialist, and thats WHY they want you to be re-directed to them so bad)

Some people will just take it as it is and say, oh it just died it happens. This is all non-sense, if you google the amount of people having this type of problem with this company and there pre-altered to crash hard-drives. Notice how the problem is with the hardware, therefore you can't use a program to recovery the files, and when the first person you call is WD they gladly direct you to their recovery center with a smile.

The reason I know this is a scam is because I had worked for school boards throughout highschool and college in the tech department. 95% of the time the old guys there would just throw in a new hard drive at any sign of a problem and just throw the old ones out. I would ask for them instead of throwing them out, go home, format, partition, works like new. Im talking 10+ year old hard drives here, never hardware issues and not one of them made by western digital.

They definitly aren't tricking me. I have had my 500GB external for about three years now (yes only three years!) I only picked one up because it was a good deal and on sale. It was the first time I have had a western digital anything. And the funny thing is I hardly ever use it. I had a couple hundred mp3's, a ton of pictures, and my backup files for my 2 laptops, brothers laptop, and a computer. As well as some other stuff I probably forgot about.

I can quite honestly say that i maybe used it once or twice a month to transfer files. When I went to plug it in today 3 clicks pause, 3 clicks power down. Green light stayed solid, computer recognized a usb mass storage device. No longer showed the WD500xxx or the generic f: drive.

Tried all the standard troubleshooting, checked the system properties, showed no problems. When to my computer>manage. Does not show up in disk drives with XP. Tried it on the other laptop running vista, it shows up but is unknown and will not partition or inialize.

Opened up the case, and tossed out all that useless plastic with their garbage company logo written all over it. Plugged it into the CPU directly, same thing.

I have had one laptop for 7 years with not one problem. the other for 3. Hell the computer my parents have is 8 years old with no problems. I still have 2 7gb hard drives that are 10+ years old that still run no problem, and they have been abused! left out of a case with no protection laying around collecting dust.

And this pathetic company wants to sell me a hard drive that barely lasts three years, and any attempt to inquire about it they want to point me in the direction of their "data recovery specialists" with a smile.

Im not buying it and nor should you! Infact NO ONE should ever buy from this company again, if they get away with it, it will just continue.

It wouldnt surprise me if these so called "specialists" at their compnay just replace their faulty part within the hard drive with another one that has a 3 year timestamp on it. Most people would be happier then anything to pay 1000$ to get their files back, but im not buying it.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:43 AM   #6
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WD doesn't have in-house recovery, they direct customer to the nearest authorized WD recovery shop. The difference being if the shop is authorized, then the drive is still under warranty. If we open the drive in our shop, the warranty is voided. And they probably do the recovery the same way everyone else in the world does. The vendors do not provide parts. You can't order a replacement head stack from WD, or Seagate, or anyone else. You have to find a compatible used drive, swap the parts, recover the data and suggest the customer trash the dead one - it's not a repair process it's patch it together to run long enough to get the data. Across the board, WD is no worse than any other manufacturer in today's drive market - the majority of the drives we see for recovery are Seagate/Maxtor and WD - probably because they have the largest market share but we see them from all manufacturers - and from just a few weeks old to 9 -10 years old. And it is all driven by the consumer. We want bigger faster drives, at cheaper prices in smaller enclosures. Todays drives use much higher areal density ( bit's per sq inch of platter surface) and completely different writing methodology to cram that maximum amount of data into a minimum amount of space. In 1997 ( 12 years ago ) a 1 GB drive sold for right around $1000 - now you can get a TB for around $100 - the consumer -you and me - has made the hard drive into a disposable item. I suppose if we were willing to pay $1000 for a 1 TB drive still today, we would be getting much more reliable drives.
I'm not defending any particular vendor, I just hope you understand it is not limited to WD drives. Do a google on Seagate 7200.11 firmware and see what a horror story that was! I think if anything the vendors biggst failure is selling external drives. Platic cases with little to no air circulation ar going to kill drives everytime. You are using your the way they should be, occasional archival use rather than running round the clock. Generally speaking we see more external drive issues than internal, and my guess is the two primary causes are heat stress, and the fact that the user can disconnect the drive dirty. BTW $1000 for a WD 500GB drive is actualy a pretty good price, our price on those for physical recovery start at $1800 - I know unless I get lucky, after spending hours actually swapping the head stack it will take me another 6 - 12 hours to get the head alignment set so it can read reliably. And that alignment issue is again driven by production methods needed to keep he cost of the drive down.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:47 AM   #7
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Makes me sad :(....

Definitly wont be being an enclosed case next time. I have a sata to USB converter. Ill just be filling the hard drive now out in the open when i use it on its side... then let it cool and put it back in original packaging until I need it again.


And every couple months, taking an image of it and storing that image on a bunch of DVD-Rs.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:50 AM   #8
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Or do like we do here in the lab when we are imaging a drive, we have a couple of fan sets from old servers with 3 - 5 12VDC fans, when we have an open drive there is always air flow across the drives while thay are spinning. and since it's always 70 -72 degrees in here, it makes for nice cooling. Even out of the case, the drive is missing the airflow it gets from teh fans and case ducting that an internal drive gets. Another trick is to get one of the USB active beverage heater/chillers (plugs into a USB one side heats, oher cools, and put that under the drive, will keep it cold - well as long as you have the right side in contact with the drive...
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raptor_pa View Post
Or do like we do here in the lab when we are imaging a drive, we have a couple of fan sets from old servers with 3 - 5 12VDC fans, when we have an open drive there is always air flow across the drives while thay are spinning. and since it's always 70 -72 degrees in here, it makes for nice cooling. Even out of the case, the drive is missing the airflow it gets from teh fans and case ducting that an internal drive gets. Another trick is to get one of the USB active beverage heater/chillers (plugs into a USB one side heats, oher cools, and put that under the drive, will keep it cold - well as long as you have the right side in contact with the drive...

ahh so im assuming it is extremely important to keep hard drives cool with lots of airflow....

In your experience, if the hard drive powers and spins when you first plug it in, clicks three times slight pause then clicks three times and the computers recognize a usb mass storage device. Then it powers down. and the computer gets no other info, no drive letter, no info on capacity or anything.

What is usually wrong with it?
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:54 AM   #10
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The general cause is the drive is not able to find the synchro track to loacte the service area of the disk. Potentail causes are
firmware
head failure
preamp failure
platter damage in the SA area

On this model most common is head/preamp. Generally the diagnosis doesn't go any further since the preamp is attached to the headstak, and replacing the heads replaces both. I don't know of anyone who actually replaces just the chip, I know I sure as heck can't work on components that small with that many connections LOL.
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raptor_pa View Post
The general cause is the drive is not able to find the synchro track to loacte the service area of the disk. Potentail causes are
firmware
head failure
preamp failure
platter damage in the SA area

On this model most common is head/preamp. Generally the diagnosis doesn't go any further since the preamp is attached to the headstak, and replacing the heads replaces both. I don't know of anyone who actually replaces just the chip, I know I sure as heck can't work on components that small with that many connections LOL.

so the firmware in hard-drives are actually very small chips and not software based?
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:12 PM   #12
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The firmware on most drives is in 2 locations, there are two parts to the firmware, what we normally think of as firmware - the actual instruction set and then 'drive adaptives' information that is specific to one particular drive ( head bias, zone map info, translation table, mapped bad sector lists [p-list and g-list] and a host of others ) Lumped together the firmware is the equivalent of the BIOS/CMOS on a PC, BIOS contains the instruction set, CMOS the information specific to a given computer. Depending on the drive manufacturer and even famil/model of the drive the firmware could be located
1) All in a ROM or NVRAM
2) All on the platter in the Service Area - tracks on the platter before track0 that are inaccessible to users and OS
3) Part on the ROM or NVRam and part on the platter
4) On WDs with Marvel chipsets, if there is no U12 chip the firmware is actually in the MCU ( basically the CPU of the HD ) Chip and part on the SA area of the platters
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:40 AM   #13
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Dear Andrew, there may be no help available but, i'm aware of this product now thanks for the heads up if i ever see another one of these prducts again.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:27 AM   #14
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Hi,
I had the same problem (3+3+2 clicks & disk remained dead) for a week or so. I re^n check it with other pc's, and i got impressed with the monotony 3+3+2 clicks. Before i was to throw it, i opened it, removed the disk only and connected it to my 'testing' pc (at the 2nd ide bus).
The first attempt was a fail, but the second was a success and the pc recognized the disk. So i now take a backup to an external 2,5' usb disk and afterwards i 'll use the wd diagnostics tool & if it finds something meaningful i 'll post it.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:36 PM   #15
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funny andrew that your drive was a WD500xxx. I just grabbed 2 of them that had been sitting around for about half a year. both were perfectly fine when I put them away. 1 had the 3 clicks of death and isn't recognized by bios. The other clicks as well and is recognized by bios but I can't seem to do anything with it. not impressed.

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