How to Recover a Dead Hard Disk?

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Wondering why your hard drive is not working anymore? You didn’t notice the usual sounds such as popping, shrieking, or clicking because it didn’t even crash. It just stopped and backing up was not done before the problem came. How about the important data that are not saved? If you want to recover lost data, your best bet at this point is to call a computer service technician who has a good reputation for data recovery. However, you can also do it yourself if you have good eye for details. Here is a guideline to help you spot the problem and recover a dead hard disk:


Basic steps to do

1. Check your hard drive for possible damage.

  • Detach the hard drive from your device.
  • Inspect the controller board for possible harm or hot spots.
  • Examine any broken parts.
  • Move it slowly from sides, front and back. Pay attention to the noise of rattling metal. The head of the drive could be loose.

2. Change the cable. Plug your hard drive using another cable. Remember that IDE drive requires a cable that is flat-ribbon.

3. Switch the drive pin set up if your drive has PATA (EIDE,IDE).

  • Set to “Master” if it is “cable select” or “slave.”
  • Plug it with no other device for that port.

4. Try other PCI controller or other ID’s. Change ID if there’s no other available controller.

5. Plug it to the other external drive (like USB) or adapter drive.

  • If it won’t spin, pulse the power by putting on or off the external power to drive motor. Wait till it starts spinning.

6. Attach the drive to your device then test it. If you see it working, copy your data to the new hard disk. If it doesn’t work, reassemble that drive with the controller board. This must continue to work.

7. Try to remove actuators.

  • Power down the drive.
  • Slap gently the other side edge. It you find actuators to be the problem, moving the head hard from side to side might break it. With hope, this may spin up the drive and get your data recovered. Don’t do it when the drive is already spinning, it will only harm it.

Replacing the Controller Board

1. While inspecting, see if it’s removable without uncovering the drive platter. Normally, it has the external mounted controller board. If it doesn’t, just stop.

2. Look for sacrificial drive. It’s necessary to use similar model number. Drives should match compatibly. They are available online through eBay. Check carefully the pictures and see if the firmware and the model match well.

3. Detach the controller board from the drive that fails.

  • Remove carefully the screws. Normally, screws are only soft.
  • Learn the correct assembly to the drive. There are drivers that are connected through pin rows and ribbon cables. Avoid damaging those connectors.

4. Detach the controlling board from the functioning drive.

5. Assemble the functioning board to the failing hard drive.

6. Attach the drive to your device or computer. Test if it’s working. If it does, create a copy of your data to other media or hard disk. If it still doesn’t work, assemble again the sacrificial drive together with the functioning controller board.

7. Use aluminium foil in rubbing the connectors below the failed hard drive disk. It will prevent possible corrosion. Be cautious not to destroy the pins. Attach the failing drive and try it again.

All hard drives tend to fail in the long run. And if you’re not backing up your data, better do it now regularly. You can avoid being in a situation where you have to face the difficult data recovery work.

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