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Reviving A Dead Hard Drive The Hard Way 415

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the path-of-most-resistance dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This guy went to the trouble of swapping logic boards on a dead hard drive to get his NeverWinter Nights save games back and took photos." I would have just used a character editor to get my stuff back, but clearly, I lack the dedication this gentleman has. Regardless of reason, nice work!
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Reviving A Dead Hard Drive The Hard Way

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  • It should be done early and often. Hard drives do fail and can do so without warning. Therefore it is very important to back up that valuable data.
    • Appropriate Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raul654 (453029) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:39AM (#6654617) Homepage
      My mom, a teacher, made a banner with this quote and posted it in a faculty lounge:
      Blessed are the pessemists, for they have made backups.
    • 2 rules of backup (Score:5, Insightful)

      by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#6654670) Homepage
      Rule 1. Always have a backup.
      Rule 2. If you changed data, see rule 1.

      But, what people forget is to test their backup to see if it can be restored from.

    • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#6654671) Journal
      Actually, current drives DO warn you when they're failing.

      i have 30 gig unit here that used to be on my aunt's box. i replaced it because... SMART told me it was failing.

      i attached a new unit on the box, mirrored the disk and took the bad one out.

      SMART is an old technology already, is present in all IDE units and all motherboards i've seen in the last 5 or 6 years, but many people ignores it. trust me, worked once for me and my aunt, so download a SMART monitor and put it running along with your lm_sensors daemon.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They'll warn you for certain types of failing, but some things they just cannot detect. SMART is a good technology, but like everything it's just one tool among many that can help in a lot of situations, not all.
      • by gmack (197796) <gmack.innerfire@net> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:53AM (#6654745) Homepage Journal
        But SMART only warns you if something they can detect about to die. There are cases where the drive dies and there was no warning at all.

        Or cases like the one just mentioned where the fault was with another componant and the damage extended to the drive.

        SMART is cool but never depend on it.
        • But SMART only warns you if something they can detect about to die.

          So true. S.M.A.R.T did nada when a bottle of deaodorant fell onto my harddrive last year.

        • SMART is cool but never depend on it.

          Amen to that! SMART is only as good as the BIOS that provides the actual reporting. Compaq has traditionally had problems with SMART and Maxtor drives. There is even a Maxtor knowledgebase reference to the "1720" error code on Compaq computers.

          My old Presario came with an 80GB Maxtor drive and started giving me this 1720 message a while back. The Maxtor Powermax utility tested the drive as error free, but the Compaq machine insisted the drive was about to fail.

          C
      • Yes, but there is nothing SMART can do to warn you that a piece of dust is about to get in, causing the heads to crash and gouge a massive scratch across the suface of the disk before they snap.

        And speaking of hard-drive crashes, a friend of mine was laughing at the senesless waste of having a 4 drives set up in a RAID0 mirror where I work. "No way will you lose three. Classic waste of taxdollars!" I month or so later, three of them crashed at once. So there you go. If they had asked ME, the lowely

      • i found a freeware SMART monitor for windows

        http://www.worldstart.com/weekly-download/archiv es /active-smart-monitor-1.11.htm

        installed it and it seems to work fine.
    • "Backups are like voting?" So that's the reason why I'm so lazy with making backups!

      Maybe if someone can miraculously get me interested of politics I could make backups more often...

      (End of a Predictable Joke. Please return to your normal daily posting.)

    • And the Good Ol' Lay-Zee Boy American version of this (field tested at home!): If you find yourself worried about backing up valuable data, the most effective way around this is to just not have any valuable data on your own machine. Find an ISP with no enforced mail quotas, make your POP mailer leave the mail on the server, store all your photos on your geocities website, and leave the rest up to Lord Raiden the lightning god! You know their backups are 100% because you pay them, and heck, if they loose
    • by gfody (514448) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:47PM (#6655055)
      thought you were going to say backing up is like voting - because nobody does it
  • by mjmalone (677326) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:34AM (#6654576) Homepage
    It's interesting how he found that the same brand and model of hard drive can have a vast array of different firmware configurations. This seems like it is a bit dishonest to the consumer who assumes he/she is purchasing the same thing that was recommended to them.
    • by Dylan2000 (592069) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#6654667) Homepage
      I don't think it's dishonest; they're just improving their product over time, same as most other electronic gear.

      Obviously anyone with any sense would rather buy the Quaddro997XTurbo-XP drive which was made last week than the one made in June. Why? 'Cause the newer one might have some slight improvements somewhere. Might not have, but just in case, you get the newer one.

      This is how it is with motherboards, routers, CD burners etc. so I don't see why it's a problem with hard drives. better than having to wait a whole product generation for even the smallest improvement.

      btw, can you flash the firmware on hard drives?
    • WTF are you talking about? How is an improved firmware version dishonest to the consumer? Hardware makers make revisions like that all the frigging time. Sometimes, certain parts become unavailable or too expensive so the hardware is revised to replace them. Other times, there are errors in the hardware or the firmware.

      What I find more dishonest is that the asshole who wrote the article is planning to replace a drive that was damaged due to his own fault through the warranty. And then we all have to p
      • "What I find more dishonest is that the asshole who wrote the article is planning to replace a drive that was damaged due to his own fault through the warranty."

        he didn't damage the hard drive. the board failed on him, and he fixed the problem by replacing the board.

        from the article, "Now, I wonder if I can make use of the warranty on the original drive........."

        in view of how he successfully repaired the drive and that he said that at the end of the article, i think he meant that remark in humour and
    • Nearly every product goes through changes through it's life time.

      For example cars goes through numerous changes, eg BMW 520i goes from being 2.0 litre to 2.2 litre in capacity but still marketed as 520i.

      Keeping to the computers your Pentium would have changed and be of a different stepping. Even Play Stations.. going through revisions to make it cheaper to produce (3 chips to 1 chip) and so on. As long as it continues doing what it says it does I dont see the problem.
    • Not the same model (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrResistor (120588)
      The first drive he bought had a different part number, as you can see by looking at the close-up pics he took of the labels.

      Also, firmware can be changed. All it takes is a utility and a .bin file, just like flashing the BIOS on your motherboard (except you can usually do it in Windows). I would contact tech support first, though, and make sure the firmware you need is compatable with the different hardware. You'll probably have to contact them anyway to get the .bin.

      Lastly, if you plan on trying this at
    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @04:22PM (#6656071)
      Not only firmware differences. Some years ago I had a WD 1.6GB drive and the board went bad. I talked to WD and they said that simply swapping the board was not guaranteed to work. The reason is, for every drive, during manufacturing they tweak parameters on the board, sometimes by writing values into an EEPROM. This is done automatically by calibration equipment. Such values control head gain, servos, etc. If you merely swap boards, you run the risk of then getting marginal or erroneous performance. Even in modern drives there is still plenty of analog at the front end, and things like gain and servo tracking in the read channel are important. So this guy was lucky indeed because it was not 100% likely to work.
    • by WoTG (610710) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @08:21PM (#6657044) Homepage Journal
      Someone has already mentioned cars, but in the context of a change that happens during different model years. In fact, cars change during a single year as well! It's not uncommon for people to consciously wait for a few months after the latest car model has arrived in dealerships before making an order. This gives the manufacturer time to "debug" the current model. Little things get fixed or changed here and there. So, on average, the later cars of the same model year are a little bit more reliable.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:34AM (#6654580) Homepage
    RPGs: They kill. [wired.com] They ruin lives [yahoo.com]. Just say no.
  • The Plist and Glist are stored on some hidden track on the HDD platter. As long as the firmware is the same the drive should work. Although I believe drive companies change firmware without changing the "Official" firmware number. This is done because the changes are only "manufacturing" related. (-;
  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:34AM (#6654584)
    I was doing this stuff in the early 80's.
    I even replaced platters on 10 gig drives..

  • by Slartibartfast (3395) * <.gro.stoj. .ta. .nek.> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#6654588) Homepage Journal
    Ummm... CN: the drive was -dead-. Ain't nothin' short of a new board that would've fixed it. (Okay -- sending the platters out for oodles of money would have, too.) Also, I don't know why this is labeled "the hard way." I've done it three times, en-toto, and it takes about ten minutes so long as you've got the correct Torx/Phillips/whatever. [Note: DON'T try doing it with the wrong tools; you'll probably just strip the head, and then it gets more fun.]

    $.02...
    • So when a hard drive fails is it typically the board that has gone bad? I always assumed that a dead hard drive usually meant something had gotten on one of the platters and corrupted some data. I am not really a "hardware guy" though, so in all likelihood I am wrong. If it is usually the board that goes bad why hasn't anybody capitalized on this idea and offered a service that would attempt to restore broken hard drives for a nominal fee (say 2x the cost of a new one)?
      • Dead drives. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Slartibartfast (3395) * <.gro.stoj. .ta. .nek.> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:44AM (#6654657) Homepage Journal
        Nine times out of ten, a hard drive dies because of media defects -- then you're (pretty) screwed. Sometimes, the stepper motor dies. Then, you're screwed. But, if you give it juice, and either -nothing- happens (no LEDs, etc.), or the BIOS doesn't see it, it's likeley the board. As always, troubleshoot starting with the obvious, and work toward the unlikely.
      • I've had a hard drive show up as dead, non-bootable. I replaced the logic board on it (with one with a slightly newer firmware; lucky for me it worked) and was able to boot.

        Some of the data was unavailable. I think the old logic board must have marked some boot blocks as defects so the entire disk was useless as-was, and the new logic board had a different set of defects in places where some of the actual data was.

        All in all, it saved us a ton of hassle. Since the drive itself was old, and we had a simila
    • Programs like character editors allow you to make a new saved game (on a new hard drive) and then do all the hex editing required to change the character's name, level, experience, skills, equipment, etc. No need to get at the old save game.
      • Generally, character editors can't put your avatar at the in-game place with all the script elements already fired.

        You could always just give yourself a head-start in experience and items if you have to play from scratch, but you still have to sit through all the story elements, redo all the puzzles, etc...
    • Here's a longer version of the pi mnemonic:

      How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!

  • Now, I wonder if I can make use of the warranty on the original drive.........
    In other news: how long before he's swapping logic boards on the webserver?
  • heh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by pb (1020) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:39AM (#6654621)
    I had to do something similar with some wet floppy disks back in the day. (backups, I hear you say? Those *were* my backups!)
  • More dead drives (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MattGWU (86623)
    What's the deal with this? More people I know have lost new IDE drives than I ever recall in the past. Are my friends just unlucky, or do drive just not have the quality anymore? I know this assumes that drives used to be better, and that may well not be true, just this is the trend I've noticed. Is it worth buying a new drive (I do need one...), or is it just going to die on me in a few months?

    As far as the article goes: What a waste! It must be damn nice to be able to buy TWO new drives to replace the l
    • More people I know have lost new IDE drives than I ever recall in the past

      Yes, but you know more people with IDE driven that ever before. If the percentage of IDE drive failure has not changed over 10 years, you would still see more drive failures simply because there are so many more IDE drives in use. However, it still may be the case that hard drive failures have risen as a percentage of overall HD use.
    • No, you're right, storage density has gone up but reliability has really plummeted in recent years. They're making bigger, faster, cheaper hard drives, but they certainly don't last like they used to. Even Western Digital has scaled back their warranty as a reflection of this.

    • Here's what I'm wondering about this -

      Are drives with fewer platters generally more reliable? Often the big push for more storage involves just slapping on a couple more platters and calling it good.
  • by Kegetys (659066) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:41AM (#6654639) Homepage
    hmm... so he switched the whole logic board?

    I did the same thing with a bunch of 1,6GB western digital hard-drives a few years back, I got a pile of broken ones for free and was able to salvage 4 into working condition by changing the logic boards from those that made funny noises to those that sounded fine but the BIOS did not detect.
  • by Crasoum (618885) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:41AM (#6654640) Journal
    causes people to do crazy crazy things...

    But it totally kills the warantee..;)

    But my 60 gig recently bit the dust, and the first thing people told me to do was stick it in the freezer... (just like he did in the article) Of course I naturall say "But that'll kill it."

    theirs? "It's dead already, idiot"

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I had a guy at work who had been saving his work to the HD instead of to the servers where it would have been backed up. The day before he was to present the results of his project to the president of the company, the drive failed.

      It would spin up, and apparantly work for a few minutes, then spin down.

      Suspecting heat-related problem, I stuck it in the freezer for a few hours, tried it again, got it to run long enough for the PC to finish booting & to copy the data, then it failed again.

      Like your peo
  • Obviously... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anti Frozt (655515) <chris,buffett&gmail,com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:44AM (#6654660)
    • "I look at some businesses that do hard drive recovery - the prices are exhorbitant! I could buy 2 replacement drives for those prices."

    He seems somewhat surprised that the price of repairing a hard drive is more than buying a couple of new ones. You are paying to get the data salvaged, not the physical disk back.

    Having worked in technical support with a database company, I can tell you how upset people can get when you tell them it's going to cost almost $400/hr to salvage their database. Sometimes it could take upwards of 16 hrs to do it depending on the size and extent of the damage.

    How far a little proactiveness and an occasional backup of important data will go.

  • Why is this a Slashdot story? It's a common trick. In the early days of harddrives, the drive logic was certainly more fragile than now, and I've salvaged several disks this way.

    It's not difficult either, even I could make the swap in thirty minutes, and I'm a total klutz at electronics and soldering.

    • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

      by v1 (525388)

      Agreed, this is a bit silly to post as a "wow, this is just sooooo amazing!" idea. We got in a batch of those crappy little micro dells, the ones that don't even have a CD-ROM drive, and they all came with the same model of Western Digital Caviar (YAAACK!) drives. One by one almost 50% of them failed, onboard controller card just stopped working. Everytime I swapped a card out to salvage the data, I had people ooohing and ahhhing my efforts like it was magic or something. This is not rocket science, any
  • When will people figure out to backup there machines on a regular basis? And more importantly verify those backups. Persoanly I have a large disk farm that doubles up as a media playback and ripping device with a 35 gig DLT haning off of it. Diff backups run nightly with fulls every 2 months I have been working on the same set of tapes for 4 years and this handles my entire network at home. Granted for a home user a small pile of CD-r is probably cheaper if more manpower intinsive. A full backup once a
  • At this point even my techy friends are thinking I'm crazy.

    Forgive my elitism, but your techy friends must be the same guys that always buy stereo jumper cables with gold heads instead of copper to reduce impedance magnitude.

    I hope his monitor stops working next and he uses both hands to fix it.
  • by Bushcat (615449) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:47AM (#6654686)
    I did this with a client who's Fujitsu drive died an ugly death: there was a soot mark next to an IC on the dead drive. Since he'd bought several computers at the same time, I cloned one of the other drives using PartitionMagic, then swapped the PCB on the now-spare drive. No problem. That's got to be considered a trivial repair.

    I've also had good luck pulling data off 2.5" drives by pulling the covers and simply running them through a hardware cloning box (about $120 now). The fact that you're reducing their MTBF to something like 10 hours is irrelevant if you get the job done in 20 minutes.

    Oh, act lawyerish: only charge for successful recoveries. That way, the clients even sympathise with you if you don't succeed.

  • The opposite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grug0 (696014)
    Suppose your drive dies and it has personal information on it, and you can't recover the drive. What's the simplest and most effective way to wipe the data on the drive so you can throw it out?
    • Re:The opposite (Score:3, Informative)

      by belroth (103586)
      Stick it in the oven (not the microwave) on the higest temp for three hours, should demagnetize the platters nicely.
      If you want some fun, to complete the job, drop it in a bucket of cold water afterwards.

      Out of curiosity I took failed drive apart to see what was inside, the platters make nice shiny toys, you could even use them as shuriken I suppose...

  • Data insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MattGWU (86623) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:49AM (#6654701)
    Kind of an afterthought to an earlier comment of mine paraphrased as "Doesn't MTBF mean anything anymore?"

    Hard drives have warranties. Sure, these warrenty periods are shortening, but that's neither here nor there. Given that a drive is going to fail eventually, would it be beneficial for drive makers to offer 'data insurance'? Data recovery is expensive because it's not a common practice. If you paid some reasonable, optional $x when you buy a drive, and the drive goes down, and you could send it back to the maker for recovery (having paid 'insurance' on it), the practice would be more common and the price would decrease. The idea being, like most forms of insurance, you are paying less than what the recovery would cost because the rest is subsidized by the other people who pay but never need it. A third party recovery service could offer this as well.

    There are a number of issues I can see with this arrangement (privacy, confidentiality of data, what happens when the drive can't be recovered, what if they just SAY it can't be done, etc), but it's something to think about.
  • Lame (Score:5, Funny)

    by lucifuge31337 (529072) <[ten.tcepsortni] [ta] [lyrad]> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:50AM (#6654713) Homepage
    That's not even close to "the hard way". Every bench tech worth their minimum wage has done this same thing more times than they can count. Execpt they usually know that you need the same firmware before they start.

    I'll be impressed when someone gets fed up enough to build a clean room in their guest bathroom and recovers a drive with crashed heads.
    • Re:Lame (Score:5, Funny)

      by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:21PM (#6654915) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but did you take pictures, make a self-congratulatory web page, then submit it to slashdot?

      It's all in the marketing.

      -Peter
      • Re:Lame (Score:3, Funny)

        by MsGeek (162936)
        Food for thought, from forgotten comedian Arte Johnson:

        "The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
        The homely hen lays one.
        The codfish never cackles
        To say what she had done.
        We ignore the codfish
        While the homely hen, we prize.
        The moral of this story is,
        IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE."

        I don't know why I remembered that, but I did.
    • Re:Lame (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rorschach1 (174480)
      Tried it once. Failed miserably. Not due to contamination, but from damaging some of the internal hardware. I did hear a story once of a local tech who managed to swap spindles without the help of a cleanroom, back when 40 and 80 meg drives were the norm. It worked for just long enough to back up the data, and then failed permanently.

      My attempt was actually more of a clean bench than a clean room... it was a plastic-enclosed work area kept positively pressurized with filtered air. I think it did a goo
  • The Coolest Thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pi42 (190576)
    I think that this kind of hardware swashbuckling is pretty neat. I think I would probably just have accepted defeat and called it a day.

    But what's even cooler is that the guy went and got his own domain for his dead hard drive. Nice.
  • I have a sony vaio laptop which after a year and a half is playing up. Hard drive
    seems to be fine when I boot it but after a while I start getting I/O errors. The drive
    makes a LOT of clickaty clackaty noises as if its trying to tear itself apart.
    When I run badblocks I usually see different sectors reported bad. Of course
    when I called the warranty, they want me to download 6 disk recovery set and
    reinstall everything on the laptop. When I run badblocks after shutting the laptop down for
    a few hours it usually
    • Intermittant problems like that are the worst, because they think it doesn't exist or that it's software, etc. Sometimes it's just best to make it a dead computer. You could try backing up your data, yanking the disk drive, and microwaving it for a second or two. That'll make it nice and dead, and with luck they'll just pop in a replacement and you'll be on your way.

      Lawyer speak: If this doesn't work I'm in no way responsible!!!
  • The VP of accounting had been, shall we say, non-savvy enough to listen to the IT department's instructions to save all critical data to the network drive instead of the local hard drive. So, naturally, when his desktop machine's Quantum Fireball lived up to its name (as they so often seem to do) we discovered that all his critical data was on that drive. Since losing it was a non-option, I performed a very similar trick to the above. Got it all back, moved it to the network drive. Came THISSSSSSSSSSSSS
  • The hard way? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MattGWU (86623) * on Saturday August 09, 2003 @11:54AM (#6654753)
    This approach seemed expensive, but as far as bringing a dead drive back to life through surgery, this seemed pretty easy.

    "The hard way" would have been buying a new drive, taking it to a cleanroom and transplanting the platters! You'd more than likely lose the use of the 'donor' drive, and there's a higher chance of failure in this much more invasive procedure, but that would be much more article-worthy.
  • by meshko (413657)
    Someone will now buy a hard drive from his brother. A hard drive with the controller removed, put in a different drive, removed again, put back in and all that in an environment quite different from the original manufacturers sterile assembly plant. Ethical.

    Other than that, of course, it's really cool.
  • Thats why you take backups, so they will not fail. One word of caution though, I hope he was wearing an "anti-static strap" when he did all of this work.
  • by grimani (215677) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:07PM (#6654829)
    I had a physically dead drive...you know, the dreaded click of death.

    Being pissed as I was, I opened up the damn thing and got ready to wreak havoc on the platters.

    But I chickened out, (what kinda chemicals might that thing spew out?) and put the drive back together.

    To my surprise, the drive worked again!

    My room is was a nasty, dusty place too...so I bought a new drive, mirrored the old, and never used the fixed drive again.

    I still have it in my house...an old Quantum 6 Gig drive.

    Any ideas what was wrong, and how opening the sealed platter compartment might fix anything?
    • by eap (91469) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:41PM (#6655024) Journal
      Any ideas what was wrong, and how opening the sealed platter compartment might fix anything?

      You probably had what we in the industry call "Data Pressure Buildup". This occurs when bits fall off your hard disk into the casing. The controller then writes new data into the spot where the old bit fell off. However, now you've got extra bits floating around in your platter compartment.

      Eventually, the miscreant data starts clogging up the pressure equalization valve and the pressure in the drive increases to a point where the heads cannot read or write anymore information and are actually repelled by the media surface -- thus the clicking sound.

      A quick solution is to slightly open the hard drive so the bits can escape. Just make sure you are not near any sort of data network, because the leaking bits can escape onto the Internet and cause further damage. This further illustrates the need for good internal firewall rules.

  • I've done this... twice.

    About a year ago, I had a Quantum Fireball IDE drive die on me as the result of me plugging something into the motherboard improperly... I could actually see the burn spot on the circuit board of the HD where it got fried. But all my data was on there!

    So after much thought, I came to the realization that it takes a lot of abuse for the data to die, so I bought an identical Quantum Fireball, and swapped the boards.

    To my glee, it actually worked, and my replacement HD has been f

  • by codepunk (167897) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:12PM (#6654861)
    Who on earth would spend that type of effort just to recover a drive with XP on it...
  • Reviving A Dead Hard Drive The Hard Way
    Hmmm, sounds like a job for Mulder & Scully - The last thing I need is a possessed hard drive...
  • I had to do that back in '93 on a Seagate SCSI drive. Luckily I had several of them, so I didn't have to buy one to get the working circuit board. I got my data off the one and then put the board back to into the "donor". So in the end I only lost one drive but not the data. The hard way is opening the drive in a cleanroom and reading the data off manually with a scanning head. That's why they charge thousands for that service.
  • Many years ago I used to buy large quantities of dead harddrives from Gateway Computers. I took the logic boards off every one of them and using a known good logic board and a known good drive I'd quickly figure out which logic boards were good and which drives were good. Combine good with good and I'd usually end up with a nice pile of working drives which I resold on Usenet for a nice profit. The dead drives I would either RMA back to the manufacturer or sell as dead drives. That was back when a good
  • deadharddrive.com (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrispl (189217) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @12:40PM (#6655018) Homepage
    I can't belive this guy spent money registering "deadharddrive.com" for one page on how he got his saved games back.

    I would have thought that name would have been snapped up by a data recovery service years ago!
  • by gregm (61553)
    I've done this numerous times and it even worked a couple of times. I once completely disassembled a WD 540 meg ide and changed out the stepper motor. Rather than put it all back together I fired it up without the cover on my bench in the basement and it lasted for about 6 hours. Plenty of time to get my non-backed up files off before some dust or smoke (yes I was smoking while doing it) killed it.

  • ...oh why did you put your data back on a drive with the same firmware version as the one that crapped out? Wouldn't it have been more reasonable to keep it on the newer drive, which perhaps fixes whatever problem the older one had that made it fail, rather than use the old revision and enable for the possibility of this happeneing again?

    Perhaps it wasn't the board, perhaps the power supply sucks or something...but perhaps it was a firmware bug?

    Just make backups nightly and you'll be fine :-D
  • by kfx (603703) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:34PM (#6655323)
    Backing up is like voting--most people don't do it but they still think they have the right to complain about the results of their laziness.
  • by yroJJory (559141) <me@@@jory...org> on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:36PM (#6655328) Homepage
    I bought 4 Maxtor 80 GB drives and had one seize up on me. I was fairly certain that the logic board had fried itself (the screws anchoring the drive came out and the drive started floating free in the metal chassis).

    Since I had 4 identical Maxtor 80 GB, I waited until Maxtor sent me a replacement, swapped the logic boards, brought the drive up immediately, and dumped everything over. I sent the drive with the bad logic board back and resumed work.

    I doubt I would have gone to the trouble of asking vendors to look up their firmware versions had I not bought several identical drives!
  • by zapp (201236) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @01:46PM (#6655377)
    First:
    I look at some businesses that do hard drive recovery - the prices are exhorbitant! I could buy 2 replacement drives for those prices.

    then...
    So I go get a replacement hard drive
    ....(this drive doesnt fix it)....

    So I ring around some places and besides having to deal with some hopelessly non-tech sales people I actually find a shop that goes to the effort of looking on the drive for me and it's the right firmware! Cool! I go and buy this one.

    So he doesn't want to have the data recovered cuz it costs the same as 2 new drives...
    but he buys 2 new drives to recover this hard drive?
  • IBM DeathStar (Score:3, Interesting)

    by muffen (321442) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:04PM (#6655453)
    One of my favourites - put the hard drive in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer - cooling it down shrinks the parts and may enable the drive to spin up properly. I actually try this and get lots of funny looks from my wife. Still, it doesn't work.

    This trick can work on some IBM hard drives. IBM had a problem where you would hear a clicking sound. The reason for the clicking was sometimes that the disk had increased in size due to the heat, and the heads were unable to compensate. Putting the drive in the freezer made the disk shrink getting the heads correctly aligned again.
    Obviously, the drive did the same thing after 10 min, but atleast you got the most important data off the drive.
  • Data recovery prices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LauraW (662560) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:23PM (#6655542)
    "I look at some businesses that do hard drive recovery - the prices are exhorbitant! I could buy 2 replacement drives for those prices."

    Um, he did buy two replacement drives in the process of fixing the dead one. (He said he was going to try to return one of them.) The DIY approach was probably a lot faster, though.

  • by Cheeze (12756) on Saturday August 09, 2003 @02:24PM (#6655544) Homepage
    I had to revive a drive that failed after a power failure. The machine had been on for a few years straight and the old scsi drives it had used oil bearings. These bearings seize up sometimes if they are allowed to cool.

    So i took the drive out of the computer and did everything you would normally do to a drive that was not spinning up, Shaking it, trying different power connectors, etc. Nothing worked. I figured there was not much damage that could be done with a little brute force, so i took a screw driver and started hammering on the side of the disk while it was plugged in. That didn't work either, so i figured it was time to use some REAL brute force. I took the drive and lifted it up about 3 feet off of the ground (still plugged in and powered up) and let it drop. That drive spun up and worked fine for another 6 months until the whole system was scrapped.

    Your mileage may vary, but when it comes down to a broken drive, if it's not spinning, there's not much more damage you can do to it.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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