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hard drive repair

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Ben Galvin, Aug 14, 2005.

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  1. Ben Galvin

    Ben Galvin Guest

    Hi,

    I'm trying to repair my crashed 200Gb Western Digital hard disk (WD2000JB).
    A few days ago it started making a strange buzzing noise, then about 10
    minutes later died completely. Naturally, I had forgotten to backup the
    contents of the drive (lesson learned). I tried a few hard drive recovery
    services but they were all quoting about $2500 for recovery of a hard disk
    with a mechanical fault - a bit steep for me.

    Ok, so I figured I may as well have a go myself - nothing to lose. I setup
    up a 'clean room' in my bathroom (cleaned it out, used an ion generator and
    the hot steam from the shower to temporarily settle the dust down). I know
    its nothing compared to a professional one, but it's the best I can do. I
    opened the hard drive for about 30 seconds, enough to determine that the
    platters couldn't be moved around by hand. I opened another similar hard
    drive (with no data on it) and was able to move the platters easily, so I'm
    assuming there must be something wrong with the bearings in the hard disk.
    I've managed to get hold of another (almost) identical motor/bearing
    assembly, and I'm going to have a go at swapping them over.

    My problem is that my hard drive has 2 platters inside it (basically like 2
    CDs stacked on top of each other with a 1cm gap between them), but I don't
    know if I need to ensure that they stay perfectly aligned when I moved them
    to the new spindle or not (imagine rotating the top cd around a vertical
    axis by 10 degrees - the data would no longer be sychronised between the 2
    platters). There are no marks or holes to tell the orientation of the
    platters, so it would be very hard to take them both off one spindle, and
    put them on to the new one and preserve this relationship exactly.

    Does anyone know if I need to do this, or have any other advise?

    Thanks,

    Ben
     
  2. Someone

    Someone Guest

  3. Sorry, there is no way in H*** that you will be successful if you
    open the drive in whatever you might call a cleanroom, let along
    trying to swap the platters. And do check out that recent thread
    referenced in another posting.

    This might have worked with 20 MB harddrives in the early days of the
    PC (and even that is very questionable), but no way, no how, with anything
    recent.

    If the data is very valuable, have a data recovery service make the
    attempt.

    Else, chalk it up to lessons learned (about backup).

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  4. Guest

    However, the drive concerned here is only a 200MB drive, so no rocket
    science. You might just make it work long enough to recover the data.
    I'd guess some blowing of clean, canned air while closing the drive will
    also help.
     
  5. JM

    JM Guest

    Actually he said 200Gb.. so it might be asking a bit much :) I did this
    once on a 4 or 6 gig drive that had seized up, held it sideways to minimize
    dust falling in and just broke the platters free by hand. It didn't have
    anything I really needed on it, just some nice to have stuff, so I figured
    I'd try it since it was on its last legs obviously... it actually worked
    fine and continued to as a testing drive for a while before I turfed it,
    although I'm sure if I had done a surface scan some errors would have been
    found here and there...
     
  6. Andy Cuffe

    Andy Cuffe Guest

    The only chance you have is to try to free the stuck motor by hand.
    It might spin up if you give it a push start. Sometimes the heads
    stick to the platters and prevent the motor from starting, but once
    broken free it will work. There's no chance a platter swap will work.
    If you get the drive to spin up, copy the files quickly starting with
    the important ones. It probably won't work long enough to copy the
    whole drive. If you can't live without the data, then spend the
    $2500. Anything you do will render the drive completely
    unrecoverable.

    Andy Cuffe

    <-- Use this address until 12/31/2005

    <-- Use this address after 12/31/2005
     
  7. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi...

    Given that he's already opened it, I'd give him about the
    same odds of getting data off it now as less than winning
    every lottery this week. :)

    If it were me and mine I'd have been inclined to try to
    run it up by removing it from the machine, holding it
    in one of my hands, and giving it a sharp bump or two on
    the side with the heel of my hand while power was applied.

    Used to work back in the old mfm and rle stiction days.

    Take care.

    Ken
     
  8. Jim Adney

    Jim Adney Guest

    My impression is that the relative position of the platters on a hard
    drive is critical to their operation. I think your chance of success
    here is zero.

    You would have better luck seeing if you could do anything about
    whatever is locking up the old bearings. Even then your odds are slim,
    just because of the almost certainty of introducing dirt into the
    drive, but slim odds are better than zero odds.

    -
     
  9. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest


    I've never seen one where the spindle motor actually locked up, that's
    interesting. Once you've opened the drive though there's little chance of
    being able to recover the data and if you swap the platters into another
    drive it most certainly won't work. I really doubt you'll be able to align
    the platters with anywhere near the extreme precision that would be required
    even if you do somehow manage to put them in without destroying the heads
    and at that point even in the cleanest room of your house you've still got a
    drive full of dust.
     
  10. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    An easier way to fix "stiction" which I haven't seen since the days of 20mb
    MFM drives is to briskly spin the drive itself along the axis of the
    spindle, that'll usually break it free without having to open it up. Some
    old drives even had an exposed rotor on the bottom that you could spin by
    hand.
     
  11. JM

    JM Guest

    I'd actually tried that, but this drive was a little too well stuck for that
    to work I guess. I had another drive (an old 80 meg laptop Seagate) whose
    heads would stick in the power-off position. I usually had to give it a
    good smack with the handle of a screwdriver (to the SIDE of the drive) to
    get it going if it hadn't been running in a while. They don't make 'em like
    that any more!
     
  12. JM

    JM Guest

    I guess this isn't likely to work now that the drive's been opened, but I've
    had surprisingly good luck with dead drives by putting them into a static
    bag, sealed up with tape, and leaving them in the freezer overnight! This
    has worked for 2 out of 3 drives I've tried it on, whether it was just
    coincidence or dumb luck (or combinations of the two!). Anyway, when
    there's nothing to lose, you get all kinds interesting thoughts on how to
    revive that drive one last time ;)
     
  13. bz

    bz Guest

    Did you spin them up cold or keep them in the bag, allow them to warm up,
    before spinning them up?

    I would think that spinning them up cold would [at least in Louisiana]
    guarantee condensing water inside and making a real mess of everything.




    --
    bz

    please pardon my infinite ignorance, the set-of-things-I-do-not-know is an
    infinite set.

    remove ch100-5 to avoid spam trap
     
  14. Chris Jones

    Chris Jones Guest

    I think the heads might be stuck, I consider this more likely than the
    bearings failing in a way that would stop the motor.

    I discovered that on some drives (~2GB), the platters have a slight texture
    near the middle where the heads land, whereas they are shiny and flat
    elsewhere. I found that the friction of the heads on the platters is much
    greater when the heads are not on the textured bit. Are your drive's heads
    at the inner region of the platter? If not, perhaps that is why it won't
    start. The question would then be whether you can get the heads to the
    middle without causing catastrophic damage.

    I found that even with the lid off, the drive worked for a while, maybe
    enough to copy a few files.

    Good Luck!

    Chris
     
  15. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest


    You have to spin them up cold, that's the whole point. I haven't had trouble
    with condensation yet but then I don't live in a particularly humid place.
    Still even when it works you usually only get a few minutes before it conks
    out again so you have to copy off the important stuff ASAP.
     
  16. Eric

    Eric Guest

    If the hard drive works at cold temperature, it looks like the circuit board
    has cold solder joints. I will try to re-solder all solder joints on the
    circuit before put it into fridge.


     
  17. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest


    That's not what the freezer does, getting the drive cold affects the
    properties of the IC's themselves as well as it can change the physical
    alignment of the mechanical portion of the drive slightly. I've had some
    luck with the freezer trick but I've never found cold solder joints on a
    drive.
     
  18. bz

    bz Guest

    It also causes differential shrinkage of bearings, etc., and could unbind
    something that was stuck.



    --
    bz

    please pardon my infinite ignorance, the set-of-things-I-do-not-know is an
    infinite set.

    remove ch100-5 to avoid spam trap
     
  19. Asimov

    Asimov Guest

    "Ben Galvin" bravely wrote to "All" (14 Aug 05 11:13:24)
    --- on the heady topic of "hard drive repair"

    BG> Subject: hard drive repair
    BG> Xref: core-easynews sci.electronics.repair:339614


    BG> I'm trying to repair my crashed 200Gb Western Digital hard disk
    BG> (WD2000JB). A few days ago it started making a strange buzzing noise,
    BG> then about 10 minutes later died completely.

    Perhaps the bearing seized or the motor driver IC fried.


    BG> Ok, so I figured I may as well have a go myself - nothing to lose. I
    BG> setup up a 'clean room' in my bathroom (cleaned it out, used an ion
    BG> generator and the hot steam from the shower to temporarily settle the
    BG> dust down). I know its nothing compared to a professional one, but
    BG> it's the best I can do. I opened the hard drive for about 30 seconds,
    BG> enough to determine that the platters couldn't be moved around by
    BG> hand. I opened another similar hard drive (with no data on it) and was
    BG> able to move the platters easily, so I'm assuming there must be
    BG> something wrong with the bearings in the hard disk.

    Drives often have a locking mechanism to keep the platters from
    spinning when the heads are parked, so not being able to move it by
    hand may be normal and doesn't necessarily mean the bearing is seized.


    BG> I've managed to
    BG> get hold of another (almost) identical motor/bearing assembly, and I'm
    BG> going to have a go at swapping them over.
    BG> My problem is that my hard drive has 2 platters inside it (basically
    BG> like 2 CDs stacked on top of each other with a 1cm gap between them),
    BG> but I don't know if I need to ensure that they stay perfectly aligned
    BG> when I moved them to the new spindle or not (imagine rotating the top
    BG> cd around a vertical axis by 10 degrees - the data would no longer be
    BG> sychronised between the 2 platters). There are no marks or holes to
    BG> tell the orientation of the platters, so it would be very hard to take
    BG> them both off one spindle, and put them on to the new one and preserve
    BG> this relationship exactly.
    BG> Does anyone know if I need to do this, or have any other advise?

    One of the platters has clock pulses written it at the factory which
    allows the servos to detect the position. Unfortunately the other
    platter is mechanically attached so it would be remotely next to
    impossible to realign the positions of the 2 platters correctly again.
    One would need to align them radially with pico-degree precision or
    about 1,000,000,000,000 times smaller than the width of a hair. As one
    might guess swapping 2 platters is not a kitchen table top experiment.
    Even a data recovery service wouldn't attempt what you propose!

    Cough up the big bucks for the recovery service or kiss your data
    goodbye.

    A*s*i*m*o*v

    .... Well I defragged my TV and went all the way back to basic cable!
     
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