Apologies for the lengthy post but I wanted to put in enough details for the experienced folks to be able to offer help and for the inexperienced folks that follow to get some useful info.
I’ve got a stack of 4 Studio LX 2TB drives connected to my Windows XP system. They were bought at different times but they are the same model and capacity. Recently, one of the drives has been generating “delayed write” errors in Windows. This would occasionally happen across all the drives - which I had chalked up to issues with the firewire 800 interface - but usually just rebooting the drives and the system would cause things to start working again. This time, this one drive just continually kept causing errors…I figured that was my warning to start backing up that data and getting off that drive.
During the various sessions to copy data off the drive though, I started getting CRC errors in Windows. Thinking that the problem still had something to do with the Firewire 800 interface, I disconnected that and connected the drive via USB. No change. I also started to notice that even though I was getting CRC errors when copying the data, there were some times when a directory/files that caused CRC errors and wouldn’t copy one time were then able to be copied another time…leading me to believe that the drive itself may not have an issue…I started to suspect the electronics surrounding the drive. Further reads here firmed up that opinion.
So now I just wanted to find a way to get the data off the drive. I decided to crack open the case and access the drive inside. I only found one article on how to open that type of case but I couldn’t really make that work and ended up (gently) mangling the case a bit to get inside. I made sure not to damage any components inside but it’s clear that the case will eventually be heading for the scrap heap.
Like many before me, I saw that the drive inside was a SATA drive, so I pulled it, opened up the Dell Windows machine, and connected it inside to see if it would read. Drive manager could see the drive but called it “uninitialized” and a Windows wizard popped up, asking me to initialize it. Wanting to go slow, I cancelled and did a bit more research…
I saw various posts talking about the encryption, etc and realized that just putting it in a machine wouldn’t make the data readable. I pulled it out, connected it back to the Studio LX board and confirmed that it would show up in the machine as before (so no damage) but I knew I still wouldn’t be able to read all the data without error. I started to think about canabalizing one of the other Studio LXs to use the hardware board…but I knew that I’d lose the case…and didn’t want to potentially screw up the data on a second drive… I thought about looking for a Studio LX on eBay and canabalizing that instead…
Then my brilliant mind kept thinking about the encryption. Could it really be that all the data is encrypted on the disk? I brought up the SmartWare software and disabled the security feature…took about a second. I started thinking to myself that if this thing had full disk encryption, there’s no way that it could only take a second to disable it across the whole disk…
First question : Does the Studio LX really use full disk encryption?
I thought about the performance implications of full disk encryption and figured that can’t be the case…and started thinking about the HTFS formatting that I always do when putting in a new one of these…figured that if it’s formatted to NTFS, then perhaps by turning off the security feature, it may be readable by the Dell desktop…I put it back in. No change; windows wanted me to initialize it. This time, I did…
So the drive was now initialized. I did the first “destructive” thing to the drive, hoping that once initilaized, Windows would be able to access the HTFS data and I’d be home free. No dice. Windows now called it “unpartitioned”. At this point, I stopped. Pulled the drive back out and reconnected it to the Studio LX board and connected the USB back to the desktop.
Ooops. Now the SmartWare software is now saying “No writeable WD SmartWare partition found”. Since it was able to read it before, I suspected the initialization in Windows screwed something up. I disconnected and reconnected the USB a few times…no change. Restarted the Studio LX electronics a few times…no change. Then I read this article from fzabkar and confirmed in my mind that initializing was a bad thing to do. But seeing the reference to a “relatively” easy repair if the previous poster had stopped at initialization, I am hopeful. So that’s where I am. Full stop.
Second question : I want to get the Studio LX hardware back to the point where it can read/recognize the WD partition and the data on it. How do I “undo” the effects of the Windows initialization process?
I figure I will worry about the next step - how to successfully access the data - after I recover from the Windows initialized disk problem.
Thanks to all!