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The Guru's ROM Dumping News
Hard Drive HDD Data Recovery

Guru's Hard Drive Data Recovery Page

Or simply... Don't Buy An Unapproved Hard Drive ;-)


Hard drives are used in arcade games, modern PCs, retro-gaming PCs and other devices like consoles and TV set-top boxes.
If your hard drive suddenly stops working there's not much you can do right? Wrong! While repairing the inside of the drive is beyond 99.99% of people, one relatively easy fix is to swap out the small PCB on the bottom of the HDD.
I recently recovered all the data from a drive that a local friend had been using to back up data and the drive just failed and switching out the PCB solved the problem and allowed me to copy the data to a new hard drive. But it's not as simple as just swapping over the PCB. There's a small trick that the professional hard drive data recovery companies don't want you to know.... you must also swap over the small 8-pin EEPROM from the original PCB onto the new donor PCB otherwise the drive will not work. That small chip contains the firmware for the drive and also the serial number. That serial number must match the serial number on the (non-user-accessible) service area on the platters so swapping over the EEPROM to the donor PCB is necessary for a successful repair. In many cases you can even read the EEPROM and keep a backup of the firmware if you have an EPROM programmer that supports the chip. The chip can simply be removed with hot air in about 30 seconds, flux added and the new chip replaced with hot air in another 30 seconds. The PCBs are generally held on with Torx screws either T6, T7 or T8 so you need a Torx screwdriver set as well.

However, it is not that simple as hard drive manufacturers are using methods to prevent people recovering data from their non-functional HDDs by putting the drive firmware inside a custom chip. This means swapping out the PCB won't help and there's no chance of any data recovery other than taking the drive to a professional data recovery place and paying thousands of dollars to get your data back. This is very similar to the deceptive practices that Apple is doing with their T2 chip and other custom chips in Macbooks that are not available to the general public so that when that chip dies it is game over for the laptop. The fix in that case is simply don't buy Apple products... the bottom line is they are over-priced and no better than any other computer anyway. Just watch any of the 1000's of Louis Rossmann Macbook repair videos on Youtube and you will see they are basically just pieces of crap waiting to die. If you are smart you will just buy a much cheaper PC which is easy to fix, has a million more programs available (many are free) and have an easy life. For example swapping out the keyboard on a PC laptop takes about 3 minutes to unclip the old one and clip in the new one (for about $20) but on any Apple laptop you are basically screwed because the keyboard is non-removable, which means taking the computer to an Apple service center and paying about 20X the price to get it fixed assuming they will even fix it (most of the time they won't and only do specific repairs). It is even worse with hard drives as many Macbooks are using SSDs that are permanently soldered to the motherboard, meaning when your Apple Macbook dies your data is permanently gone! Wise up people, save your money and buy a PC, install Windows 7 (you don't need Windows 10) or Linux and be happy your PC just works and does everything you need and is easy to fix. Or even better buy a desktop PC which can usually be repaired in minutes simply be removing the bad module and swapping in a new module whatever it may be (motherboard, DVD drive, power supply, video card etc) and the cost is almost negligible. With that said, no matter what type of PC you have, if you value your data, back up your HDD now especially if you are an Apple Macbook user!

Anyway getting back to the subject of this page.... the ideal thing to do is simply not buy hard drives that don't have an external EEPROM. However that info is not widely available, so this page is an attempt to list hard drives that are 'approved' and have at least a chance of being fixed with a PCB swap.

At this stage this page is going to be mainly listing Western Digital branded HDDs of any capacity and any form factor (2.5" and 3.5") but I will be listing other random drives I have lying around here too. For other brands, it seems to be easy to identify 'approved' Seagate and Hitachi drives because the parts are visible on the top side of the PCB without having to remove the PCB from the drive, so if you are going to buy a Seagate or Hitachi hard drive be sure to look on the PCB for the 8-pin EEPROM before buying it! Also be sure you identify the 8-pin chip as an EEPROM (usually with a '25' in the part number) as some other power-related parts can be in an 8-pin chip that look similar but are definitely not an EEPROM. Some 2.5" drives use a TSSOP8 chip such as 93C56. These are much smaller than the chip used in 3.5" drives and require a bit more care to swap over. The EEPROM will usually be located next to the largest chip on the PCB. As far as buying new drives, let's look at reality.... most people just buy the cheapest HDD and WD HDDs are in that category so it makes sense to list mainly WD HDDs. Note not all WD HDDs have an EEPROM, later models put the firmware inside a Marvell-branded custom chip so those models should be avoided. I even found some 500GB and 640GB WD drives from 2005 that didn't have an EEPROM so this has been going on for many years, but it depends on the drive model as some new models have an EEPROM and some don't. There's no hard rule. A friend recently purchsed a brand new 4TB Western Digital HDD and it actually has an 8-pin EEPROM and I recently purchased a brand new Seagate Skyhawk Surveillance drive that also has an 8- pin EEPROM! The only way to know for sure is to check it. The external EEPROM chips are available in sizes up to 64Mbit (8 Megabytes) which is plenty of room for any firmware so there's no reason to put the firmware inside a custom chip except to lock out the user! Shame on you manufacturers for using planned obsolescence to force people to buy a new drive when the old one fails! Hopefully manufacturers get the message and change their evil ways and produce better products.... I doubt it but you never know!

Note: Earlier hard drives always used a surface mounted TSOP flash ROM so those older drives are not listed here. This page is mainly dealing with drives that would likely be in a current PC you own and use or a game console or retro-gaming PC running either DOS or an older 95/98 version of Windows, or a drive in a TV set-top box or similar video recording device or a hard drive in an arcade machine (which btw often fail prematurely because they were powered on 24/7 in arcades for many years).

If you have access to a reasonably common and modern hard drive (i.e. from around 2005 onwards - see note above) not listed here that has an 8-pin EEPROM on the PCB, take pics of the drive top and bottom and the component side of the PCB (with a note about the EEPROM part number which usually can't be read in photos) and send them to me and they will be added to this page. The end result should be a good database of hard drives that can be repaired without too much trouble when the fault is a bad PCB.

Also note, when looking through my external backup drives (WD Elements, Seagate Expansion, etc) I found several drives that had no EEPROM on the PCB and I immediately backed up that data to an approved drive and will keep the unapproved drive on a shelf as a backup. I suggest you do the same, so if you look through your external backup drives and see a drive that doesn't have an EEPROM, get your stuff off that drive NOW and back it up to an approved drive, because when that unapproved backup drive fails it is game over.


LIST OF APPROVED 3.5" HARD DRIVES

# Brand/Model PCB Number & EEPROM
Images
001 Western Digital
WD20EARS
2TB SATA
2060-771698-002
EEPROM: Pm25LD020
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
002 Western Digital
WD10EZRX
1TB SATA
2060-771824-008
EEPROM: 25U206A
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
003 Western Digital
WD800JD
80GB SATA
2060-701335-005
EEPROM: SST25VF010
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
004 Western Digital
WD3200JB
320GB IDE
2060-701314-002
EEPROM: Atmel 25F1024AN
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
005 Seagate
ST3750630AS
Barracuda 7200.11
750GB SATA
PCB 100466824
EEPROM: 25X40L001
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
006 Hitachi
HUA722010CLA330
1TB SATA
110 0A90188 01
EEPROM: 25FU206
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
007 Hitachi
HUA722020ALA330
2TB SATA
110 0A90201 01
EEPROM: 25FU206
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
008 Western Digital
WD20EARX
2TB SATA
2060-771698-004
EEPROM: 25X20BLNIG
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
009 Seagate
ST3160815AS
Barracuda 7200.10
160GB SATA
100428473
EEPROM: Atmel 25F512AN
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
010 Seagate
ST2000DM001
Barracuda 2000GB
2TB SATA
100687658
EEPROM: 25FS406
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
011 Hitachi
HDS721010CLA332
1TB SATA
110 0A90233 01
EEPROM: 25FU206
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
012 Western Digital
WD800JD
80GB SATA
2060-701335-005
EEPROM: Atmel 25F1024AN
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
013 Toshiba
DT01ABA100V
1TB SATA
110 0A90377 01
EEPROM: MXIC 25U4035
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
014 Seagate
ST1000DM010
Barracuda
1TB SATA
100774000
EEPROM: 25Q00811
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
015 Seagate
ST31000322CS
Pipeline HD .2
1TB SATA
100535537
EEPROM: 25FU406B
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
016 Western Digital
WD40EFRX
NASware 3.0
WD RED NAS Hard Drive
4TB SATA
2060-771945-002
EEPROM: Winbond 25X40CLVIG
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
017 Seagate
ST4000VX007
Skyhawk Surveillance
4TB SATA
100788341
EEPROM: Winbond 25Q80EWS06
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
  More coming soon.....        

Note: Hitachi and Toshiba hard drives are the same type (probably manufactured by Hitachi-LG Data Storage). Start of PCB number on parts side is 110, on the other side it is 220 with the other numbers the same, so when searching for replacement Hitachi/Toshiba HDD PCBs, search 110 0A9xxxx and also 220 0A9xxxx.

List of UNAPPROVED 3.5" drives (no EEPROM on PCB)

Note most of these drives use a BGA control chip with a large white M and a part number 88i88xx made by MARVEL.
This chip contains the firmware and can't be accessed so AVOID ANY DRIVE USING A MARVEL CONTROL CHIP!!

Samsung HD753LJ 750GB SATA - DO NOT BUY!
Samsung HD102UJ 1TB SATA - DO NOT BUY!
Western Digital WD10EAVS 1TB SATA - DO NOT BUY!
Seagate ST3120025ACE U Series 9 120GB IDE - DO NOT BUY!
Western Digital WD6400AACS 640GB SATA (PCB#: 2060-701590-000) - DO NOT BUY!
Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500GB SATA (PCB#: 2060-701477-001) - DO NOT BUY!
*Seagate ST3250310AS Barracuda 7200.10 250GB SATA (PCB#: 100468303) - DO NOT BUY!
Quantum Fireball ST 6.4AT ST64A011 6.4GB IDE (PCB#: 20-113435) - DO NOT BUY!
Quantum AT Fireball lct 20 QML30000LD-A 30GB IDE (PCB#: 20-12232) - DO NOT BUY!
Quantum Fireball EL 5.1AT EL51A012 5.1GB IDE (PCB#: 20-11364) - DO NOT BUY!

* This drive has a location for an EEPROM but the chip is not populated on the PCB. Other drives using the same PCB might have the chip and are therefore ok.


LIST OF APPROVED 2.5" HARD DRIVES

# Brand/Model PCB Number & EEPROM
Images
001 Western Digital
WD1600BEVT
Scorpio Blue
160GB SATA 2.5"
2060-771692-006
EEPROM: Pm25LD040
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
002 Seagate
ST500LM021
Momentus Laptop Thin
500GB SATA 2.5"
100729420
EEPROM: Winbond 25Q40BWS15
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
003 Hitachi
IC25N080ATMR04-0
Travelstar
80GB IDE 2.5"
100729420
EEPROM: Seiko S93C56B TSSOP8
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
004 Western Digital
WD800BEVS
Scorpio
80GB SATA 2.5"
2060-701424-002
EEPROM: ST 25P10VP
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
005 Seagate
ST9808211A
Momentus 5400.2
80GB IDE 2.5"
100342240
EEPROM: Atmel 25F512A
Approved HDD
Other Side
Approved HDD
PCB Top
Approved HDD
Drive
  More coming soon.....        

Note: For these 2.5" drives, Hitachi and Toshiba hard drives are the same type (probably manufactured by Hitachi-LG Data Storage). Start of PCB number on parts side is 110, on the other side it is 320 with the other numbers the same, so when searching for replacement Hitachi/Toshiba HDD PCBs, search 110 08Kxxxx and also 320 08Kxxxx.

List of UNAPPROVED 2.5" drives (no EEPROM on PCB)

Note most of these drives use a BGA control chip with a large white M and a part number 88i67xx made by MARVEL.
This chip contains the firmware and can't be accessed so AVOID ANY DRIVE USING A MARVEL CONTROL CHIP!!

*Western Digital Scorpio WD1200BEVS 120GB SATA (PCB#: 2060-701450-011) - DO NOT BUY!

* This drive has a location for an EEPROM but the chip is not populated on the PCB. Other drives using the same PCB might have the chip and are therefore ok.
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