Shingled (SMR) recording drives can be found in many of today's external drives but are also used, for example, in NAS network storage devices. Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba previously sold SMR hard drives, which they forgot to mention in the specifications. Customers could buy such a disk unknowingly. Today, information about the recording technology should be included in the disk's datasheet, but especially for 2.5” external drives, customers do not investigate this parameter. For ordinary consumers, SMR will be an entirely unfamiliar term.

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We dealt with data recovery for a client who used a Hitachi (HGST - Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) HTS541010B7E610 hard drive in an external USB box. The disk was supposed to be used for data backup. This term is often mentioned by clients and yet there is a need to address data recovery. The essence of data backup is to back up data from location A to location B. If we only move the data, it is not a backup.

The external drive fell and the data backup did not actually exist. In such a case, it is advisable not to reconnect the disk again. However, the client not only reconnected the disk but also attempted to repair it after discovering that the data was not accessible and the disk was making unusual noises. These unprofessional interventions are often fatal for hard drives, and we strongly recommend avoiding them. Instead, you can use our free diagnosis.

The hard drive showed damage caused by the fall, subsequent switching on, and also unprofessional handling. The complicated attempt to recover data consisted of cleaning the affected data platter, replacing the read heads and other disk components, modifying the service data of the disk electronics (PCB), and subsequent modifications also in the service area of the hard drive. We used parts from a WD hard drive, model WD10SMZW, which is compatible with HTS541010B7E610. HTS541010B7E610 drives are actually manufactured by Western Digital, which owns Hitachi.

Shingled recording hard drives (SMR) use different track widths for writing and reading, allowing tracks to overlap. This allows a larger amount of data to be written to the same area. On the other hand, the technology also has its pitfalls and limitations. Just translating physical addresses (PBA) to logical addresses (LBA) requires not just one translator (a service module determining the location of data on the disk) but two translators. The second translator, called the 2nd level translator, is often damaged in case of mechanical defects. This results in the loss of the original data structure on the disk. And this was the case here. The overall recovery process was very complicated.

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Fortunately, the client only requested a few files. We were able to recover this data after a complicated data recovery process. The conclusion of the entire implementation was successful. However, it is always better to prevent problems with regular backups!

Some other hard drive models from which we have already successfully carried out data recovery: WD10EARS, WD10EFRX, WD10JMVW, WD10TMVV, WD15SMZW, WD2000JS, WD20EFRX, WD20EZRX, WD20NMVW, WD20SPZX, WD3001FFSX, WD30EFRX, WD3200AAKS, WD4001FFSX, WD40EFRX, WD5000AAVS, WD5000LMVW, WD6003FRYZ, WD80EFAX,
and many more…