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Hard Drive Crash -- any chance...

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 8:18 am
by mcnichol
Our external HD sputtered out this past weekend. 250G of stuff, mostly not backed up -- I know, I know. I'm ready to give up the ghost on this but...

...anyone have any last ditch ideas on how to get it up enough to get it running again to get some data off it?

I tried conencting via firewire and usb -- nothing. I read about freezing it, did that, and then read about the problems with doing that. Still nothing too. I also took it out of the enclosure, popped it into the PC (it's a SATA drive, if that matters), and BIOS won't recognize it. Weird thing is that, if I even have it plugged in and tell BIOS during startup that it's there (set that Drive number to "On"), it won't boot from the main SATA drive with Windows on it, and tells me there's now no boot drive. As soon as I turn it to "off" again, it boots up fine. I tried a few jumper settings on it that I found on the Western Digital site (ie. forcing it to 150kb/s transer rate) and nothing. I tried using one of those shareware programs that can look at dead drives by sector... it doesn't even show up in there because i can't even tell the BIOS to turn on that SATA port without running into boot up probs.

Seriously, if you have any other ideas that I didn't try, I'm open.

Thanks in advance.

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 9:05 am
by slappywhite
When you froze it, I take it you put it in an airtight bag? like a zip-loc? And by "open the enclosure" do you mean you actually disassembled the HD and exposed the internals?

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 9:14 am
by bradisntclever
slappywhite wrote:by "open the enclosure" do you mean you actually disassembled the HD and exposed the internals?


Most external HDs are really just PC HDs in external enclosures. If Bob took it out of the enclosure to put into his PC, he definitely didn't start taking the drive itself apart.

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 9:24 am
by James Snacker
I know some people that have had success recovering data by replacing the circuit board on the drive. The way it was explained to me, some large percentage of hard drive crashes are due to failures in the circuitry rather than the mechanics of the platters, heads, etc. If you can find an identical drive (ebay, maybe?), you can swap out the pcb and try reading from the drive. My co-worker who did this was able to pull off all of his old data. He said that the old drive wasn't particularly happy with the replacement pcb (as in the drive was making lots of funky noises), so he didn't continue using the drive after he'd done the data recovery. He did, however, move the new pcb back to the new drive and then use that one for everyday storage.

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 9:41 am
by slappywhite
bradisntclever wrote:
slappywhite wrote:by "open the enclosure" do you mean you actually disassembled the HD and exposed the internals?


Most external HDs are really just PC HDs in external enclosures. If Bob took it out of the enclosure to put into his PC, he definitely didn't start taking the drive itself apart.


Just checking I've had people bring in HD's to work for me to "look at" that they have actually taken apart. at that point you can't even spend the 5 grad to send it off to drivesavers, it's pretty much toast.

Replacing the board works if the damage is to the electronics and not the physical drive, I've had a lot of luck with that.

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 10:20 am
by mcnichol
yeah i just took the whole drive out of the external enclosure. But I was tempted to take it apart further and try hammer-related data recovery on the platters themselves.

is the board you guys are talking about the one that attached directly on the underside of the drive itself? i like that idea so long as i can find a cheap replacement. my guess is that it is electronics-related as i don't hear any of the mechanical noise that i thought came with typical hard drive failure (clicking, etc.).

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 11:05 am
by Jessica
If you want to take it to someone, I've always had good luck with PC Guru. They are a little acerbic, but they get the job done nicely.

PostPosted: April 7th, 2008, 4:36 pm
by James Snacker
mcnichol wrote:is the board you guys are talking about the one that attached directly on the underside of the drive itself?


Yes. That's the one.

PostPosted: April 8th, 2008, 8:20 am
by mcnichol
Thanks for all the considered responses everyone.

Just to put some open-ended closure to this...

I did some googling on what I'm trying to do -- replacing the circuit board on the actual drive -- and found some answers. According to some major computer geeks who called Western Digital to determine this for certain, the model number on the drive (which on mine is something close to WD2500JS-0HSB40) would have to match exactly, and the last 3 digits of the 7 digit batch number would also have to match exactly. After googling around some more, Ive detemined that finding this magic doppelganger drive would be next to impossible, at least in the short term.

And I have considered taking it to PC Guru or Geek Squad or any places that do data recovery, but the starting cost for what would need to be done is upwards of $1000 (and often way more) and I don't have that kind of money, at least to justify recovering some documents and photos.

Again, thanks for all the help and direction though y'all.

PostPosted: April 8th, 2008, 9:26 am
by slappywhite
If you leave can leave it at Coldtown I can take it to work and try some of the tricks we use here, I can't promise anything but it's worth a shot... I have class today so I can grab it from there.

PostPosted: April 8th, 2008, 10:00 am
by mcnichol
Holy crap! Thank you! How unexpected and awesome.... pm coming your way shortly...