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Hard drive repair (longish)

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by PlainBill, Mar 25, 2005.

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  1. PlainBill

    PlainBill Guest

    Well, I really blew it this time. About a month ago I replaced my 120
    gig hard drive with a new 200 Gig Maxtor, model # 6B200P. In
    violation of my common sense, I did NOT keep the old drive as a
    backup. Well, the new drive went belly up last week - it wouldn't
    even spin up. Some of the stuff on the drive is easily replaceable,
    but many of the pictures of my Granddaughter cannot be replaced.

    I requested an advance replacement from Maxtor, and when it arrived I
    tried to repair the bad drive by swapping the electronics boards. I
    verified these had identical part numbers. This had a limited sucess:
    The new hda does not spin up with the old electronics board; the old
    hda DOES spin up with the new board. However, the drive does not
    properly report it's size. The new drive reports it is 203.9 Gig; the
    new electronics board with the old hda reports it's size as 250 Gig,
    then generates POST errors.

    At this point I can restore the electronics boards to the proper hdas
    and return the old drive to satisfy the terms of the advance
    replacement, since I have not altered anything. The last option I am
    considering is a part which appears to be a SST Serial flash chip. It
    should be possible to swap these between boards if I unsolder with
    chip-quik, but I'm not looking forward to it.

    Does anyone have any experience with these drives, or any advice to

  2. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi PlainBill...

    Just a shot in the dark with the first thought that comes
    to mind, if I may?

    Would it be worth the effort to try telling the old drive/new
    electronics combo how big it is? Instead of letting it tell

    Good luck recovering the pics of your grand daughter's; know
    it would devastate me...

  3. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Well the first bit of advice is to *not* buy Maxtor drives as they've been
    some of the least reliable I've dealt with, obviously that's no help now

    You could try replacing the motor driver IC, it's usually a square 44 pin or
    so SMT chip, replacing it requires some care and skill but it's doable.
  4. JR North

    JR North Guest

    It's sometimes possible to restart a drive that won't spin up by
    removing the drive and holding it horizontally with the cables attached.
    Start the computer and give the drive a very sharp rotational twist
    around the drive axis. If you get it to boot, immediately back up. It's
    better to let the 'puter run constantly, rather than shutting it down.
    Drives rarely fail while running, unless they are very old. No spinup on
    start is a much more common failure mode.
  5. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    That was a fix that worked with very old drives (like 15-20 years old) that
    suffered from "stiction" but this is no longer an issue, these Maxtor drives
    burn out the motor driver chip, no amount of spinning and whacking it around
    will make it spin up.
  6. NSM

    NSM Guest

    Drill a hole in the side and blow compressed air in <G>?

    I did see the techs once try to erase a hard drive with a bulk eraser.

  7. Dan

    Dan Guest

    I'm sure there's some reason this is a stupid idea, but what if he were
    to remove the disks from the old drive & carefully insert them into a
    working drive? Maybe he could pick up a used example of the one that
    has failed at a local used pc place & give this a try. I've always
    supposed that something along these lines must be what done by those
    places who obtain data from drives which have been in fires, run over,
    etc., no?

  8. EL

    EL Guest

    I bet it worked, too! Probably a bit better than they hoped :^)

    Eric Law
  9. someone

    someone Guest

    This is a long standing fictional piece of work.
    The platters cannot be removed from one hdd and read in another - even an
    identical hdd.

    The other work of fiction, electron microscopy.

  10. PlainBill

    PlainBill Guest


    That would be the ideal solution - while I can solder, I'm a lot
    better working with an IC with the pins on .1" centers than smt parts
    - not that there's anything wrong with smt. Now if you would happen
    to know of a source for the software used to program these drives...

  11. PlainBill

    PlainBill Guest


    I tend to agree with you on Maxtor drives, but I have several around
    that have been working perfectly for more than 3 years. As far as
    replacing the motor IC... Well, there's a problem. I'm competent
    when working on a standard DIP package with pins on .1" centers. I
    think I could handle the flash chip with 8 pins on .05" centers. I'm
    sure I'd be out of my depth on a chip with 64 pins on .03" centers.

  12. PlainBill

    PlainBill Guest

    In this case it isn't a 'stiction' problem. The failure is in the
    controller, not the hda. I usually leave the computer on 24/7, but
    it's kind of hard to replace the motherboard with power on. In this
    case, the drive worked perfectly after the motherboard was replaced; i
    went belly up when I moved it (power off) from the workbench to the
    computer desk.

  13. PlainBill

    PlainBill Guest

    There are a few problems with the idea. The number one problem is my
    lack of mechanical dexterity. I'm OK on things like sparkplugs, lug
    nuts, and assembling kid's wagons, but when I get down to the really
    delicate stuff, I'm SOL.

    Picking up a used drive isn't likely - Maxtor just went into
    production with this line. A new drive wouldn't be impossibly
    expensive; as a matter of fact I have on right here! The problem is
    the electronics board contains SOMETHING about the characteristics of
    the drive. With 1 million bit serial chip, it could be a LOT of

    What you describe is pretty much what a data recovery place would do.
    However, they presumably have the capability of matching the
    controller characteristics to the drive. I don't.

  14. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi PlainBill...

    I was thinking of a much simpler solution... and one that
    wouldn't run the risk of doing damage to the new controller
    card and getting Maxtor upset in the process...

    What I'd consider trying is to go into bios, and rather than
    letting bios auto-detect the drive, instead entering the
    heads/cylinders etc info yourself.

    The downside to this is that you'd have to somehow get the
    info first... from either Maxtor if they'd tell you, or
    someone else who had a similar drive that does report the
    203.9 size correctly.

    Another thought that came to mind since the first post...
    Maxtor's have drive limiter pins on them... not possible
    that it was on one but not the other? I can't recall which
    it is, but it's definitely one of the "end" ones. Look at
    the little data sticker. One end pair will be marked as
    the master/slave or something; the other end pair won't
    even be mentioned. That one will be the size limiter.
    Might be worth a shot.

    Good luck.


  15. The EEROM has a map of bad sectors when the drive is low level
    formatted at the factory. Changing the chip won't help unless both
    drives had exactly the same bad sectors at the time they were formatted.

  16. Inspect all the SMD chips for hairline cracks and loose solder balls
    under the leads. You might get lucky and repair the board. Did Maxtor
    offer any guarantee to attempt to recover data from a drive that's still
    in warranty?
  17. Guest

    *not* buy Maxtor drives as they've been
    I've had bood luck with the Diamondmax series, but I have seen plenty
    of their cheap drives go bad. The drives they sell to Compaq etc. are
    the low end, and I really do think the Diamondmax drives have better
    quality control.

    IMO WD drives are the worst. Clunk clunk clunk. Its probably one design
    flaw that's not easy for them to change, but who cares WHICH part
    causes you to lose your data.

    Now that I think of it, I've only seen one bad Seagate, and it was
    spindle bearing sticktion you could whap it on the side just right and
    it would work fine. This only happened when the drive got cold and it
    was about 8 years old at the time.

    Seen one new bad Diamondmax, but honestly, I dropped it. It was only
    from a height of about 1", but it hit a very thick and firmly supported
    glass table. It hit right on the bottom.

    Yes I have seen a few bad Maxtors, but they were not Diamondmax, they
    were all either the kind you get from OfficeMax or something, or OEMs
    in a Compaq or an Emachine or something. On the other hand I've seen
    alot of WDs bad in 3 years, sometimes sooner. I lost some irreplacable
    data on one of them and swore off of WD forever. If the Diamondmaxes
    start failing me I'll go with Seagate, unless you have a better

  18. Guest

    I'm sure there's some reason this is a stupid idea

    Not stupid, but unworkable. Some things are determined by individual
    tolerances of mechanical parts. If you could lowlevel format the drive
    you might use the platters, but this does not retrieve lost data, it
    erases everything.

    Opening the platter chamber in a HD requires a clean room, or close to
    it. I read once they had a running HD open somewhere and simply blowing
    cigarette smoke at it caused it's immediate failure.

    Now I know why they have air filters.


  19. I've got piles of bad hard drives, and they cover a wide swath of
    manufacturers. All of them have had bad models. I recently scrapped 25
    Seagate 1004 hard drives that had been rebuilt and failed a second
    time. If you listened to everyone, you would be afraid to use any hard
  20. Yes, but in a relatively clean office environment, they won't die instantly.

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