WD My Passport: After unlocking drive windows box appears "You need to format the disk in drive..."

We have a WD My Passport 1TB external usb 3 drive model 0913B. After plugging it in to a usb port, the CD Drive labeled WD Unlocker is automatically mounted in MS Windows (we tried different MS Windows versions) but after unlocking it using the “WD Drive Unlock.exe” tool, the operating system displays a message box saying: “You need to format the disk in drive : before you can use it. Do you want to format it now?”. We already tried some tools: HDD Regenerator version 2011 says master boot record is damaged, testdisk version 6.14 in the Analyse option displays “Read error” at every cylinder it goes through.
The hard drive seems to be fine and there is no evidence of any hardware damage.
Can you help us?
Thank you.

It sounds like either your drive is failing, failed, corrupted, OR the USB to SATA interface may be damaged.

Unfortunately, testing will be difficult without extra parts.

Try to find a spare USB to SATA board on ebay - because WD won’t sell you one. They seem to believe that if their hardware fails, we are supposed to lose all our data and be happy about it rather than providing us the tools we need to repair the damage. This I suspect is because of some partnership with the data recovery houses which are a giant cash-cow.

First - remove the drive from the USB to SATA interface and connect it directly to the computer with a SATA cable or eSATA/USB drive dock. If the drive is readable, great - even if you cannot see the data, but can now at least read the sectors of the drive (DO NOT do ANY writing to the drive). If the drive IS readable in this state, great - problem solved.

If it’s only readable in that it no longer gives errors when trying to read, but is not readable as a windows drive, then you’re looking at the USB to SATA interface. If it’s still not readable, then you’re likely looking at the drive controller board.

Remember, you need to get the same part number and revision of the board. Being a 1TB, it hopefully won’t be that hard, and it’s not quite as critical to get an exact USB interface board match as it is to get a drive controller exact match for data retrieval.

If you need a drive controller, and replacing it allows the drive to read - back up the drive immediately. Chaces are you got a good enough match for reading, but long term use may produce data corruption unless you are 100% sure you got an exact drive board for your drive.

usb sata board 3.JPG

A last resort is to send the drive to a data recovery expert.

I would say send it to me, but apparently WD considers this to be advertising, and probably doesn’t like that I do it for far less than their affiliates. However, if you happen to figure out where my dot com is by looking at my name, then you might be in luck!

We have also ran WD Drive Utilities on this drive and in the available diagnostic tools we got the following messages: “SMART status failed”, “Quick Drive Test failed” and “Complete Drive Test failed.”.

OK, so this is not a CORRUPT drive.

This is either going to be the USB to SATA interface or the drive controller board.

There is a SLIM chance of it being the power supply, but very unlikely (about 3% chance)

Many thanks to SuperTech-IT, I’m convinced one of the two likely hipotesis you gave is causing the malfunction. The drive is still in the guaranty so we will call for it.