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Data Storage Hardware

Can a Regular Person Repair a Damaged Hard Drive? 504

MrSeb writes "There's a lot of FUD when it comes to self-repairing a broken hard drive. Does sticking it in the freezer help? The oven? Hitting it with a hammer? Does replacing the PCB actually work? Can you take the platters out and put them in another drive? And failing all that, if you have to send the dead drive off to a professional data recovery company, how much does it cost — and what's their chance of success, anyway? They're notoriously bad at obfuscating their prices, until you contact them directly. This article tries to answer these questions and strip away the FUD." What has been your experience with trying to fix broken drives?
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Can a Regular Person Repair a Damaged Hard Drive?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:50AM (#40801679)
    Just 3D print whatever new part you need. A new read/write head? Just pop some plastic in the 3D printer and print one out. Then head over to the clean room and the tool box and jigs and use your dexterity and skill to change the head. Bad IC somewhere? 3D print out a new chip. Yes, 3D printing is the future!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:51AM (#40801691)
    I took my hard drive to the Geek Squad and they wanted $500 to send my hard drive away to get the data.

    I yelled at them and I told them that was robbery. Asked for the manager. But, when I was leaving one of the Geeks told me a secret.
    He said just go home and drill a hole in the hard drive and then set it on top of your new hard drive with the hole facing down. All the data will just pour out to your new drive.

    It didn't work for me, but maybe I didn't do it right?
  • by Georules (655379) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:59AM (#40801761)
    Broken 3d printer? Print a new one!
  • by brokenin2 (103006) * on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:21AM (#40801927) Homepage

    We fixed a drive by trading the pcb with another *IDENTICAL* drive (same rev of board etc)..

    The funny part was that when we went to recover the files they desperately needed back from that drive, all we found were shortcuts to a network drive, where the files had been safe and sound the entire time.. The user just had no idea that they hadn't lost their files..

  • Re:One word (Score:4, Funny)

    by Briareos (21163) * on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:30AM (#40802003)

    Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org] applies again... :)

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:36AM (#40802045)
    Probably used the old 32mm hole. Newer computers are built using 64mm bit technology, you need to use a 64-bit to compensate. It's a very delicate operation though, as 64mm is a very big hole and you need to be careful to keep it perfectly round, else the data will be unevenly distributed.
  • by bayankaran (446245) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:51AM (#40802153) Homepage
    Few years back a 20GB drive I salvaged from an old dead Thinkpad stopped working. No whirring sound, nothing...the green light on the USB enclosure stayed on.

    There was no important data, but I thought "this is the chance to learn how to salvage a hard drive".

    I did the freezer option. I had already used the freezer to kill ants in sugar and bugs in rice. Froze the drive overnight, took it out and immediately connected and waited for whirring sound. No sound. The drive is dead.

    Gave the drive couple of almighty whacks. Still no sound. No life at all.

    I threw it in the dust bin.

    The next day I tried to connect a camera. The SD card on the camera failed to be identified on Windoze and Linux.

    I tried another USB cable. And the camera connected fine.

    It took me a few seconds to remember the old hard drive. Took it out of the trash, wiped it clean and connected.

    The drive works perfectly fine even today. But it still got the smell of decomposed tea leaves.
  • by Antarius (542615) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:58AM (#40802209)
    You need to hang around with people who eat more insoluble fibre.
  • Re:One word (Score:4, Funny)

    by blackicye (760472) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:13PM (#40802319)


    Any home user who has a Scanning Electron Microscope and the appropriate algorithms in their basement can recover data from almost 90% of mechanical failures.

  • by erdos-bacon sandwich (2676113) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:33PM (#40802447)

    You need to hang around with people who eat more insoluble fibre.

    They typically don't have to worry about being backed-up

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @12:45PM (#40802519)

    Did you remember that you also need to drill a hole on the top of the new drive?

    Otherwise, the data will just spill out onto your desk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @02:06PM (#40803083)

    We have personally had to send them a drive of ours - clowns at corp accounting didn't back up their data and lost an accounting drive. That was a $10k lesson I do hope they've learned from.

    Accountants? Their backups are paper, and the backup method is glaring suspiciously at the computer while they use it.

Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. -- Edmund Burke