Lets say the USB to SATA interface goes out. It’s the board that does the encryption.
Removing the drive an putting it in a SATA dock or direct to a motherboard without the converter interface results in an unreadable drive because it’s ALWAYS encrypted.
If you can get your hands on another interface on ebay - great- YOU are all fixed up.
the password is stored somewhere on the drive - my guess is a normally unreachable sector.
If this sector gets corrupted, either your password won’t work, or your blank password is now no longer blank.
WD has no mechanism for blanking this password sector, nor do they seem to have any intention of making one.
They also have no mechanism for retrieving your password, or generating a “master” password based on the drive serial number etc. the way that laptop manufacturers like DELL do if you lose your laptop password, and prove ownership of the laptop.
DELL did it right - WD doesn’t care if you lose your data. They seem to think we will all be stupid enough to buy another drive if we lose our password, or if it becomes corrupt. I think they will lose customers left, right and centre because of this practice.
They don’t even offer a utility to mount a drive with a blank password onto a standard SATA interface in case the interface gets damaged.
So - you can swap all the boards you want - unless you can rewrite the firmware to bypass the password checking routine completely, any boards you put on will read the password sector, and demand the password before decrypting the drive for you.
I think it’s time to stop using security enabled Western Digital external drives until they rectify this situation, and create a way for a customer that can prove ownership of their drive to regain access to data on otherwise working hardware.
Yes, drive failures happen - but even a drive with a bad interface or a head that has fallen off can be recovered.
But if the data you recover is encrypted, you still have no access to it. Period. And Western Digital doesn’t care.
They won’t even sell you a USB to SATA interface board to you - and in fact also won’t replace yours if it’s under warranty. They will only replace the entire unit ensuring that your data is gone. Now that is really sad because in the case of a bad USB interface board, they COULD save your data - however they simply REFUSE to do so.
They make claims that it would be hard to stock boards because of firmware revisions etc, but anyone with any knowledge knows that you can flash the board with any required firmware as long as the board itself is the same revision. Besides, I am not even talking about the drive’s board, I am referring to the USB to SATA interface which is responsible for the encryption.
That’s not just being unhelpful, that is blatantly telling us that our data doesn’t matter to them whatsoever, and they will not take even the simplest steps that they COULD do in order to help us in these situations.
People, I say to the hundreds of thousands of you (or even millions) that until WD changes their ways, you might want to consider other alternatives to using these drives for backup purposes. At the very least, don’t get one that has the ability to set a password if you ever want your data back if the drive fails in any way or happens to corrupt your password.