We all know about the problems with the bridge boards and the USB port frequently breaking. I thought I’d post what fzabkar sent me it might help somebody.
In some cases the external HDD has multiple interfaces, eg USB, Firewire, and eSATA. If the USB interface fails, hopefully one of the others will still be functional.
Otherwise, the most obvious solution would be to find someone such as your local TV/AV repairer to resolder the micro-USB connector.
See the following thread where “Aussie Girl” has done just that:
If soldering directly to the PCB proves to be difficult, then you could attach the connector with individual wires. Wirewrap wire would be ideal for this purpose as it is very thin and has a solid core.
A more expedient solution may be to install the drive in a third party external enclosure. However, this will only work when the data are not affected by AES hardware encryption. One way to verify whether encryption is present is to examine the largest IC on the USB-SATA bridge board. For example, chips such as Initio Corp’s INIC-1607E support encryption while the INIC-1607P does not. Also, from a model perspective, Essentials models are encrypted but Elements models are not. Note that the data will be encrypted even when no password has been set.
If the bridge board incorporates encryption, then you will need to find a replacement board from an identical product of the same capacity. If this still doesn’t work, and if the drive is otherwise OK, you can overcome any incompatibility by transferring the 8-pin serial flash memory chip from the patient’s bridge board to your donor PCB.
If the USB-SATA bridge circuitry is incorporated onto the drive’s own PCB, as is the case with 2.5" Passport drives, then you will face an additional compatibility problem. When replacing the PCB on such models, you will also need to transfer a second serial flash memory IC, usually at location U12. This IC stores unique, drive specific “adaptive” data.