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Fixing an External Harddrive

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Jahan Penny-Dimri, Mar 25, 2007.

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  1. hello,
    i have a Lacie 500GB external harddrive that's been sweet and i've
    stored a lot of stuff on there. Essentially what's happened is that
    it's stopped working and the usual sort of spinning sound of the disk
    in the hard drive has stopped and now makes a repetitive tzz tzz tzz
    sound that's relatively quiet. What i assume is that the data is all
    there and recoverable and that it's just some other mechanisms that
    have screwed up. What can I do?
  2. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    It might be possible to replace the motor driver chip, or swap the
    circuit board over from an identical drive. I've fixed a drive once by
    replacing a mosfet driving the motor but that was an old drive with
    discrete parts while most today use one big IC to do that stuff.

    This is precisely why backups are so important.
  3. Art

    Art Guest

    You will need exactly the same drive board from exactly the same size, type,
    speed of drive you're trying to recover the data from.
    If the data is valuable to you the consideration of commercial data
    retrieval may be recommended.
  4. Ken

    Ken Guest

    All good suggestions if the logic is the cause of his disk motor not
    working. His comment regarding the "Tzz, tzz, tzz" sounds a lot like it
    might be the heads sticking to the platters. If this is the case, a
    jarring of the drive into the palm of your hand while power is applied
    might free up the heads. Older drives encountered this type of problem
    frequently. It is true that newer ones encounter this less, but it
    might still be the problem rather than bad logic.
  5. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Has the OP verified that the power supply is delivering the proper
    voltage/current to the drive? I have a Seagate 300 gig in an external case
    and the it will make sounds like the OP described if the 12 volt supply
    isn't of adequate current. I have a 12 volt 800ma and 2000ma supplies that
    look similar and tried to use the 800ma mistakenly with the drive and it
    made that noise.
  6. Jamie

    Jamie Guest

    I remember a series of Samsung Drives, after about 1 mouth of operation,
    you didn't want to turn them off! other wise, you would have to bump the
    drive in side to get it to start up.
    I got my hands on a bunch of these defective drives (new) and had them
    put in servers, i found that if you kept them running for at least 4
    months or so, they corrected them self's!
    something to do with the bearings not machined correctly in the platter.
  7. Hi!
    I think that's a good assumption. First, check your power supply to see that
    it is working properly.

    If the power supply checks out, the hard drive is probably suffering from
    so-called "stiction" problems. Stiction happens when the drive's heads
    somehow adhere themselves to the platters and the spindle motor isn't strong
    enough to break the bond and start the drive. Gently shaking or rotating the
    drive casing while turning it on may solve the problem. Setting the drive
    casing in the sun or in a cool place (be very careful if you put it in the
    freezer--condensate forming on the drive platters as it warms up may really
    ruin things!) may also cause the heads to loosen up.

    If the drive starts and runs, it may be fine. Still, it would be a very good
    idea to have another drive handy for backup purposes. If there is a failure,
    you may only get a few chances to read your data!

  8. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Nah, I haven't seen this in drives made in the last 15 years or so. It
    took the old oxide coated platters to stick in any reasonable amount of
  9. Ken

    Ken Guest

    Could be, but it is worth the try.
  10. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Does anyone remember what brand hard drive it was?
  11. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    Sounds like the spindle's failing to spin up.
    500GB sounds relatively recent for an external drive. Have you tried
    calling LaCie themselves? Their stuff is high priced & intended for
    non-technical people, so I'd hope that they'd provide good support in
    this sort of situation.
  12. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    Stiction /usually/ (not always) makes drive go "clunk!" on power-up,
    then stay silent. A repeated 'whirrrr' (with a rising, then lowering
    pitch) generally indicates a bad motor tacho sensor or unreadable
    servo data.
    I used this method successfully a number of times back in the old MFM
    days, but the odds of it working are pretty slim with modern drives.
    If you've tried *every* other option unsuccessfully it's worth a try,
    but if it doesn't work, it'll likely ruin the drive permanently.
  13. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    The OP didn't say. (LaCie makes the box, not the drives)
    I used to most often see stiction on Seagates & Miniscribes.
  14. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    Good suggestion. (All my external drives use custom power sockets, so
    I didn't think of that possibility.)
  15. Hi!
    Probably Seagate. I have 250 and 160 GB versions of these drives. Every one
    so far has been a Seagate on the inside.

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