TideLog Archive for the “PC Repair” Category

As it is when shipped retail, this drive is terrible. The drive constantly tries to park its heads, lagging the system, even during copy and move operations. With it being a top end 7200RPM drive, this is unacceptable, especially if like my Clevo, it is installed in a gaming machine. It is the power saving “features” of the firmware that cause it. The drive also exhibits “beeping” symptoms where the voice coils of the arm recieve a high current to wake it up and seek track, the high current effectively turns the coil into a speaker, and it makes a beeping sound. The drive constantly seems to miss beats because of the parking issue, causing the arm to miss and have to be shocked back into place by the controller.

Using tools like HDDScan to disable the APM (Advanced Power Management) and AAM (Advanced Acoustics Management) features aren’t permanent, once the drives are power cycled the issue starts all over again. The drive refuses any permanent disable ATA control commands.

There is a Dell firmware that will get rid of the issue, and take the firmware up to 05SDM1. My Clevo’s laptop’s drive started out with 2SDM1 firmware. The new FW makes the drive visibly quicker. The auto flasher doesn’t work, instead we need to manually force it, I’ll show you how.

1. Download the Seagate Update Utility ISO image, hosted on TideLog, this very blog, by clicking HERE. Extract the ZIP file, you’ll find an ISO file called Seagate Utility.iso.

2. Burn the extracted ISO to a CD-RW or DVD-RW, and restart your computer. When your computer restarts, enter your BIOS and make sure the computer is set to boot from CD.

3. The updater will start on its own, but it will actually fail even though a green screen is shown, you will need to manually force it. It will dump you back at a command prompt, so type:

FDLH -m HOLLIDAY -f 0005SDM1.LOD -i ST9500420AS -b -v

Essentially this line forces the detection of Seagate ST9500420AS drives, and force flashes it, even if the BIOS doesn’t have the Dell asset tag embedded.

4. This works on any machine, including Dell Studio, Asus, my Clevo M571TU, and the M570. Any machine with a Seagate ST9500420AS drive should work fine. Any drives with “GAS” on the end are the same drive but with G-Shock protection.

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HDD Regenerator is the backbone of our data recovery services at Kitamura, coupled with Runtime Software’s GetDataBack series, they are paid for software but pay for themselves if you’re a data recovery specialist.

One big warning I need to make people aware of about using HDD Regenerator 1.71 and lower with an Advanced Format drive that has 4k sectors is that they ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. Versions 1.71 and below DO NOT support 4k sectors on Advanced Format drives! You need to use HDD Regenerator 2011 and NEWER.

If you run these older versions either in DOS or Windows on an advanced drive formatted with 4k sectors, once it sees a bad sector it will regenerate it as a 512k sector, and every single sector after this will be seen as bad, making the drive look totally damaged. IMMEDIATELY STOP THE PROCESS, and purchase HDD Regenerator 2011, and re-run it either as a CD or USB. The newer version will correct the sectors to the proper size.

Don’t torrent it either. Dimitriy Primochenko and his team have done such a great job with this program since it started over 10 years ago, and any IT recovery professional worth his salt, like me, will reward a great team with purchases of their software. The price pays for itself, I use it in Kitamura and personally at home, so reward greatness with kindness and tip him an extra £10 on top of the purchase price.

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I’ve never seen this before, and neither has Google! One of my company courtesy laptops has just had a new screen fitted due to blown backlight tube, but now Windows won’t start. The last time we used it was on an external screen to back up the customer docs to the root of C:\ and do updates. Now all I get is:

RQGEY is compressed

Press CTRL, ALT & DEL to restart

I’ve a feeling something is corrupted somewhere as that error (RQGEY) message is NOT a valid boot failure message, even Microsoft’s site returns no results. I was wiping it anyway, but was surprised at the strange variable. Even if the volume is compressed after installation, the critical components such as BOOTMGR, page file, and hibernate file are bypassed. I don’t think I’ll ever find out what RQGEY is supposed to be….

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As I mentioned in the last post, a lot of so called data recovery engineers like fzabkar on HDDGuru forums will claim that the DCM of a Western Digital drive, and the serial number must match as well as the model/firmware MDL number when doing a board swap. This is NOT true. Here I’ll show you just exactly what has to match on a Western Digital.

As an example I’ll note down the details of my company laptop’s new 500GB WD drive. On the label are the following sets of numbers:

MDL: WD5000BPVT – 00HXZT1 – This is the combined Model and Firmware numbers, this is the MOST IMPORTANT, these are really the ONLY set that MUST match.

S/N: WXM1xxxxED69 – This is the Serial number, which is UNIQUE TO EVERY drive, so you will NEVER EVER find a board with matching one. Every product in the world has its own personal unique number, just like humans have unique fingerprint patterns, so this is irrelevant if you’re seeking a donor board. I’ve replaced some characters in my serial here with x’es to anonymise it.

WWN:50014EE206116170 – This is a World Wide Name number which is the unique manufacturer identity.

DATE: 18 MAR 2012 R – This is the manufacture date. An R next to it means Recertified, it will also have Recertified written on the right of the big bold capacity marking on the top left of the sticker, as my drive is recertified. This DOES NOT have to match on a donor, the recertified status is irrelevant, it simply means that Western Digital have re-checked it as a customer return and recertified it as new, reprinting the label to show this.

DCM: EBOTJBB – This is the Drive Configuration Matrix string, which identifies the configuration of the drive, such as type of motor, number of platters, heads, and even the casing etc. This does NOT have to match, as a quick Google will often reveal different capacity drives with the same DCM. Mine for example is shared with a WD5000BMVW 500GB, and a WD3200BMVV 320GB, so these morons such as fzabkar on forums like HDDGuru are talking through their arses by saying they’re unique and that the ROM chip must be swapped. Most of the firmware and S.M.A.R.T data is stored on a reserved section of the platter, making their claims even more irrelevant.

DCX: TH16X3FZE – This is the drive’s Batch number, so that Western Digital know which factory it came from, what date it was made, and probably the engineer who soak tested it and which line it rolled off. This DOES NOT need to match for a donor board, it is IRRELEVANT.

To sum up, the only bits you really need to worry about is the Model/Firmware string. I have Western Digital drives as small as 10GB and as large as 2TB in my portfolio that I’ve used my own guidelines on over the years and I’ve never had any head/track/sector/cylinder issues, the drives have often worked better than they did with their original boards.

I’ve swapped 1,000 Western Digital drive boards over the past 6 years like this using my own guidelines, and each drive is perfect, even my own drives. I consider myself a data recovery professional, as I have performed many platter and arm swaps in a friend’s clean room as well as board swap and data recovery, especially on Western Digital drives, as I love them and have never used any other drives in my own computers.

fzabkar isn’t even a professional, as he uses phrases like “will most probably not work”, and “as far as I’m aware”, which sounds like he’s just using pure guesswork. I’m not, I’ve been doing this many years and have yet to have a WD not pass a board swap.


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Today a customer brought his Core 2 Duo desktop in, saying “It wouldn’t load Windows”, that was all he could tell me. Powering his box up, the hard drive was being recognised, but it wasn’t spinning, I didn’t even hear the “start-buzz” (the buzzing noise some drives make as the drive motor starts, the noise is the voice coils in the motor recieving the high start current), on a lot of desktop WD’s it’s like a “wuudearrkk” sound, this one was totally dead.

The arms on a drive will not unlock from the park clamp until the platters are spinning and the air vacuum inside the drive creates centrifugal inertia, along with the arm actuator coils activating, to gently release the heads together.

Upon removing the drive from the computer, and unscrewing the control board, it was apparent that the SMOOTH motor spindle starter & driver chip had failed catastrophically, along with the Q8 3.3v voltage regulator for the spindle driver, as my picture below illustrates. The thing that struck me on his system was that he was booting Windows from an old IDE drive (the WD2500), yet his data drive was a SATA Samsung! They should have been the other way round!

It is apparent that the chip has overheated and started to burn up, possibly because the drive either has failed bearings that caused high resistance, or it has simply shorted and died.

To fix this all you need to do is find a board with matching part number and firmware, such as WD2500KS-00MJB0. A lot of forum morons say that the DCM (Drive Configuration Matrix) also has to match otherwise you’ll need to desolder the ROM chip, THIS IS NOT TRUE. I have recovered at least 1,000 Western Digital drives in the last 6 years by board transplant, and we’re talking from old 20GB WD200’s up to new WD20EARS 2TB drives, and all I have ever done is match part number with firmware. The DCM is simply an architecture code, it is NOT a firmware date code. DCM’s are often identical on different capacity drives! The firmware revision is combined with the part number, like WD1200UE-00KVT0. The secondary code after the dash is the firmware.

Only these two have to match on a donor. If any of these so-called professionals on forums tell you otherwise, they obviously don’t know their job properly and are trying to overcharge you for unnecessary work.

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