Broken USB connector


#1

Hi,

I’ve been buying WD hard drives for my Macs for 2-3 years now, and have perhaps 30 of them filled (RAW photos).  Today, when I tried to connect my USB cable to one, the drive’s small metal connector broke off inside the unit’s shell.  This is the third time this has happened, and I’m not overly aggressive with them.  So it seems to be a weak spot, and in googling, it also seems a common problem.  The other two information-full, broken, hard drives are sitting in a drawer.

In looking at the warranty section of this site, it seems to indicate that if I send it in, WD will just replace the whole hard drive - not simply put a new USB connector on it.  Is that the case?  If a silly USB connector breaks off, do people simply lose all of their stored information?  I’d call their 800-number but, despite having spent thousands on their products, the site indicates that I’ll be charged $15 just to call.  ?

Thanks for any information. 

Barbara


#2

About the only thing I can suggest is find a electronics repair place it doesn’t have to be a computer shop and see if they can solder a port back on. The boards the port is soldered to is not interchangable because of encryption. Remember Never trust important data to just one drive internal or external no matter who makes it. You need a backup, one copy is not a backup.

Joe


#3

Hi Joe,

Thanks so much for the information - I very much appreciate your assistance.

I read an earlier post where someone mentioned they’d had the connector soldered, but then the information was somehow damaged.  I assumed it was from the soldering.

I have more than one hard drive per photo.   But we fill them very quickly (one every few weeks…which really means 2 every few weeks as we do dupes - and sometimes 3, for really important shoots), and we travel.  So we lack the spare time to know exactly what is on each drive.  Basically, I know all the lost info on the broken drives exists somewhere…but just where…

I figured that, for the money, the drives wouldn’t have such an obviously weak spot.  Pocket Wizard remotes have a similar weak connection spot, but they offer a $5 repair option for broken connectors.  Makes sense with high-ticket items.

Thanks again, Joe.   I’ll wait to see if anyone else responds to indicate Western Digital might actually  be of assistance.  Otherwise, I’ll try the soldering thing, and assume this drive, like the others, will forever just be an expensive paperweight.  Assuming that, it’s the last time I’ll buy from WD!  Hoping I can find drives with more solid connections - or a fair warranty option - elsewhere.


#4

Hi Joe.  I have the same problem the USB broke off the board. Replaceing the drive does not restore the data. I would like to know if anybody has sodered the USB plug to the circuit board. I plan on trying it tomorrow night.  I sure hope it works I oldest son does a lot of sodering on circuit boards. 


#5

Hi Clifford,

Someone might have a better answer for you, but I sent a note to a friend who works for a consumer testing publication.  He said Western Digital hard drives are known to be subpar, and the issue of the USB port breaking is very (VERY) common.  

It was a hard lesson for me, and the fact that WD won’t even take an inquiry on their badly-built (but expensive) product without charging the customer seems criminal.   I certainly can’t imagine why they won’t fix them, if under warranty, for a few bucks. 

My friend recommended  LaCie rugged hard disks.  I did, and I’ve spent the past few days transferring information onto them.  They are solid things.

I hope the soldering works for you!


#6

Thanks for your reply 


#7

We have tried to solder the USB plug onto the circuit board, but this did nothing to fix my drive, as the entire solder point was removed from the board.  I have ordered two separate enclosures to try to move my hard drive and recover the data - to no avail.  As it stands, I have a full 1TB hard drive full of data I can’t retrieve.  WD can’t replace the specific part without sending me an entirely new hard drive, which is money I don’t want to be spending on a product I wish I had never gotten in the first place.

Booo.  Fix this common issue!  


#8

The original USB-SATA bridge board encrypts your data, whether or not you have selected a password. This means that a third party enclosure will not give you access to your data. All you will see is gibberish.

I’ve been informed by a data recovery professional that you can simply swap the USB-SATA bridge PCB in WD’s 500GB My Book Essential,P/N WDBAAF5000EBK. Therefore, I expect that any external WD product where the bridge IC (Initio INIC-1607E) is on a separate board will be similarly recoverable.


#9

my broken off and I just ordered the usb part for 19 bucks and just replaced it myself and it works.  after I  installed the new usb board, i went ahead and glued the wire into the usb in the back of the external drive so it will not be plugging in and out any more.  just fine the part number on the usb board and put number on google and the part will come up.


#10

Thanks a lot  I sure will try it.


#11

This just happened to me this morning.  I removed the plastic shell and found an 8 pronged male plug.  Does anyone know if that might be a way to by-pass the USB plug?


#12

The cheapest solution is to resolder the USB connector, or reattach it with individual wires.

An alternative solution is to replace the PCB, but you will need to transfer the 8-pin serial flash memory IC at location U12 from patient to donor.

You can bypass the USB-SATA bridge, but a direct SATA connection will only give you access to your data in encrypted form, even if you have not set a password. The Initio INIC-1607E bridge chip handles the encryption.

That said, my understanding is that direct SATA access cannot be achieved via the 12-pin header. Instead it requires intercepting the SATA Tx/Rx signal pairs on the PCB.

http://www.datarecoverytools.co.uk/2010/05/05/how-to-connect-and-recover-usb-only-western-digital-drives-with-hd-doctor-suite/comment-page-1/


#13

Woah…where did you find a replacement part, and how did you replace it?  Is it that little piece of metal or something bigger (I am a computer dope)?  Basically, you mentioned the USB board…where is that?  And heck, if you live in upstate NY, I’d pay you to fix mine!

As three of my HDs have broken USB metal thingies, I’ve actually lost a huge amount of photos that I had on two different hard drives (I thought I was smart enough not to put the info just on one HD, for all the good that did me).  

Your solution might be a godsend.  Thanks for posting about it!

Barbara


#14

I have this same problem. First it was the adapter & now I went to use it & heard the USB connector clinking around inside. Ugggg…But, I think I found a very simple, but possibly crazy solution. I took it apart. Not an easy task! Once apart, I plugged it in, and held the broken USB port in place. Since all my connectors looked fine, it just seems to be an issue with it coming loose. Like I said…this is a crazy solution and possilbly not the best or safest. Please do not take this as a sure fix…as I am not at all a computer tech or anything closely related. I am just a girl who loves her tech toys & hates when they go bad…which seems to be happening far too often these days! I am not telling you, or suggesting this is the solution for you. As, I am very sure that this is not the correct way to fix this issue. I am now thinking about just super glueing (carefully) the usb connector back on. It is hard to hold it still, while I wait forever for my large RAW photo files to transfer. I think if I put a very small drop of glue on the plastic part of the USB connector and reattach it…It just might hold long enough to get all my important files off of it. i will let you know what becomes of this project. Now…I’m off to save some family, wedding, and senior memories from being forever locked onto a useless…cheap…thingy that WD likes to call an external drive. Wish me luck ; )

Now for the fine print…I am not responsible for any one who tries this solution…I will not be held responsible for those who may glue their fingers together, get shocked, or lose their data…  


#15

Let me know how it turns out!  I have no friends who know how to solder and I’m not sure who I’d even try - an electrician?  A jeweler?

If Super-glue worked I’d just be thrilled to get my information back.  It’s amazing that I could put it on 3 separate hard drives - to protect it - and 3 USB connectors break off (again, I’m not aggressive with the hard drives - I’m careful with them).

Good luck! 


#16

You wolld just need somebody that fixes electronics and does delicate soldering not necessarily a computer type.

Joe


#17

Thank you for your reply.  Fry’s does not give good advice.  I got a SATA/IDE hard drive adapter and it didn’t work.  My Mac only recognized it once and gave an error message.  I’m looking for someone local who can soder the USB connection.  


#18

Your local TV/AV repair shop should be able to do it.

Otherwise you will need to purchase the identical model and transfer the USB-SATA bridge board. If the bridge chip is an Initio INIC-1607E, then the data on your drive will be hardware encrypted, even if you have not set a password. That’s why your Mac can’t see the drive’s file system inside a third party enclosure. It will still see the actual drive, though.

As for a replacement micro-USB connector, assuming the original is physically damaged, I believe you should be able to purchase a Molex type from Digikey:

http://www.digikey.com/us/en/ph/Molex/microusb.html


#19

I really appreciate your responses about the broken connector on WD external drives and how to overcome the problem of accessing the data on the hard drive using another enclosure.

 You mentioned that in order to access the data, I would have to purchase an identical model and transfer the USB-SETA bridge board.  

I purchased a 2 TB external HD from WD to transfer the data onto, assuming the drive was bad, but now that it appears it is an encryption problem, I wonder if the nearly identical 2 - TB will work if I transfer the bridge board from that one.

If the Bridge Chip on the new 2 TB WD external MyBook is the same as the 1 TB and is marked INIC-1607E.  Can I simply place my drive with the needed data into the other 2 TB drive to retrieve the data?  Or would I need to purchase exactly the same drive because the encryption will be different?  

When you say, “Transfer the USB-SETA bridge board…”  Do you mean just swap the Hard Drive into the good case that has the good plug and it will work?

I anticipate difficulty in returning the new 2 TB drive because it is out the box and such so I was hoping that it might work as a case for my old 1 TB drive with the bad plug.  Is this possible or will there be risk to the data in trying?

Thanks!!!


#20

I am kinda of having this problem, i have a 2tb drive and the usb connector broke as well the front pins seperated from the board. so i thought i would put it into another encloser from my local electronics store. Now here is my question: When i plug the drive into a computer it makes the sound that it reads the harddrive but it never mounts. When i check th edrive on windows 7 disk management it tells me that the drive is unallocated and that the drive is free. Is this becuase its encrypted and i must use a western digital encloser? please i have a ton of data and important data on this disk drive and need a solution. i have another 2tb drive that works should i pop this drive into that encloser? and is the reason the drive isnt mounting on the new enlcoser is because its not a WD encloser?