WD5000 no longer recognized, can't recover

One of my six WD5000ABYS drives is no longer recognized by the computer. Normally I would expect to be able to run recovery tools on a failed disk to recover data, but the disk seems to not register itself as a device at all.

This is what I see:

  • At power-up I see the disk listed during BIOS POST
  • The disk spins up and makes some head moving noises
  • Boot-up takes longer than normal with the disk connected
  • In Windows Disk Management or the Data Lifeguard DOS (FreeDOS) environments the disk is not found
  • Running Data Lifeguard for DOS doesn’t find the disk

Can you recommend a tool or environment that can make contact with the disk and allow raw access to its storage under the current circumstances?

As the disk seems not to register itself with the operating system I wonder if this is a firmware or controller problem? Would it make sense trying to swap the disk’s circuit board with one of my working disks?

Or is this a device where firmware-related data is stored on-disk and this is the area that is failing, leading to the disk not initializing correctly?


Mike Wilson


Replacing the circuit board on a hard drive is not a recommended method for recovering data or drive functions as this will void the warranty on the hard drive. For every hard drive model that Western Digital manufacturers, there are many firmware changes that would make it very difficult to find a circuit board with the same firmware of the defective drive. If you attempt to install a circuit board with a different firmware than the original, this may damage the hard drive further. If you need to recover the data on your drive, please contact one of our recommended preferred data recovery partners.

This disk is from 2007 so warranty is no concern. Did you read that I have six identical disks (bought at the same time) ? I expect them to have the same firmware.

I realize I can spend 1000:s of dollars on a professional data recovery, but the question I am asking is what is typically the underlying problem to the behaviour I am seeing and what (if any) ways I can get this disk to register with the host computer again. Switching circuit board, rewriting firmware, etc. Normally I expect to be able to do a raw read of the disk and then use a utility to do my own data reconstruction from the binary image.