Raising the dead: Can a regular person repair a damaged hard drive?

Edit: This story wasgoed written to detail the options a user has when a hard drive with significant gegevens dies unexpectedly. Many of you have left comments advocating the freezer trick, stating that used spil a Hail Mary, you’ve had good results. I do not dispute that the freezer trick *can* work. If you have a hard drive you don’t indeed care about, and you’re nosey to see if you can get the gegevens, by all means, freeze it.

If you do need your gegevens back to the point that you’re considering paying someone to retrieve it, do not freeze the drive, even spil a Hail Mary. You may very well make the problem worse and end up costing yourself money.

On June 22, 2012, my primary hard drive, a Samsung HD103SI, calmly passed away. There wasgoed no warning – no grinding, no clicks, clacks, or unexpected ontsteld. One uur, I wasgoed working on a story, the next, I wasn’t.

It quickly became clear that something more serious than a ordinary system lock had happened. Post-reboot, the HDD would spin up slickly, beep 12 times, and then spin down. The drive wasgoed never recognized te BIOS, which nixed any chance of using disk recovery software to samenvatting gegevens.

This is a story of my efforts to repair the drive myself, my research into the question of whether or not users can repair modern hard drives, and the results of my efforts. If your drive is still detected ter BIOS, you may be able to use software instruments to retrieve your gegevens. Here, wij’re going to concentrate exclusively on hardware-related failures, and what your options are.

Part of the reason for writing this story is that gegevens recovery is difficult to accurately research unless you’re fairly versed ter it to commence with. There are dozens of gegevens recovery firms, all promising clean rooms, the latest devices, and very trained professional staff. Many firms deny to publish their prices online, which makes comparisons difficult, and it’s evidently common for petite companies to farm rough jobs out to larger ones.

This one, for example, is pretty much toast

Step 1: Broadly identify the type of problem

There are two broad categories of problems that can nuke a drive: PCB issues and internal component failures. If the problem is inwards the drive, skip down to Step Three. If the problem is on the PCB, there is a glimmer of hope.

Original pic courtesy of mdproductions.ca

The best kleuter of PCB problem to have is a gargled Transient Voltage Supressor (TVS) diode, spil shown above. According to Seagate’s FAQ, a TVS diode “protects a sensitive circuit by diverting hurting overvoltages and spikes away from the fountain.” When a spike occurs, the diode blows. Because the diode is no longer functional, the drive won’t power up. Snip the diode off, and the drive will function normally, albeit te an unprotected style. Copy your gegevens overheen to a functional unit, throw the old one, and count yourself fortunate.

My hard drive unluckily didn’t diegene this way. There wasgoed no visible harm to the PCB but when I eliminated the houtvezelplaat and flipped it overheen I found a burned-out voeling point.

Step Two: Understand your options

From here, you’ve got two choices. You can opt for a replacement PCB, or you can buy an entire donor drive. It’s significant to secure spil close a match spil possible inbetween the original HDD and the donor drive/houtvezelplaat. Te my case, that meant finding an HD103SI PCB that matched my drive’s make/monster number, PCB number, houtvezelplaat revision, and drive family (Trinity, ter this case).

The drive controller specimen number and PCB codes are outlined te crimson.

Understand this: Simply substituting the PCB almost certainly won’t fix a dead drive. If it does, you’ve gotten fortunate. Each drive ROM contains parameters and gegevens unique to that particular device – if the parameters for your dead drive are different from those contained on the donor PCB, it won’t function.

Te my case, I opted for just a PCB. Te retrospect, a utter drive might have bot the better option, but the purchase only set mij back $22 and

14 days while my part took the slowboat from China. Interchanging out the PCB eliminated the 12 beeps, but accomplished nothing else. Beep-less, my drive sat mute – spinning, but unrecognized te BIOS.

Your options at this point depend on what sort of HDD you have. Some hard drives have an externally mounted ROM/NVRAM chip that can be liquidated and soldered on to a fresh PCB. Other drives, like mine, incorporate the ROM into the controller. The only way to find out is to go digging for information online, and you’ve got to apply a strong sort filterzakje to estimate the value of what you’ll find. A number of dubious websites advertise a “PC3000 PCI” card, for example, but this is almost always a Chinese clone of the original product, and is far too old to treat modern drives te any case. The real PC3000 UDMA test lijm runs overheen $4000 – far more than the typical cost of a gegevens recovery.

After my ordinary PCB interchange didn’t work, I determined to attempt to repair the burned contacts on the original houtvezelplaat. Here, your options are to either buy a conductive ink schrijfstift or to use something a bit more discreet. I took the modest option, trotted overheen to an wagen parts store, and picked up a rear window defroster repair kleefstof. I taped off the bruised voeling, applied the conductive ink, talent it 12 hours of drying time, fired up the drive…

My repaired PCB. The burned voeling is at the far lower right of the group

And nothing had switched. The drive still spun up, emitted twelve beeps, and spun back down.

That wasgoed my 2nd major frustration and it leads directly to the next step…

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