TechSpot

Hard Drive Rebuild Help

By EXCellR8
Jul 28, 2009
  1. So I recently picked up a data recovery job and I'm having a real hard time getting the rebuilt drive working. I was wondering if anyone with a good deal of knowledge about hard drive internals and could help me out.

    The original problem was the drive was not being detected and was making a clicking sound. Since the drive is no longer covered under warranty, I proceeded to run a few tests and it turned out that the drive was physically damaged. One of the magnets on the end of the actuator arm had broken off and one platter surface was scratched a good deal. It was not looking good.

    So, I proceeded to order a replacement drive, an identical unit. The drives are a slightly-older 250GB Hitachi Deskstar which is not very common I guess. Since the drive came out of an External enclosure, I ended up ordering another since I could not find the drive itself. The drive came in the other day and when I took it apart it was the same drive, so I was all set there.

    So long story short, I replaced the swivel magnets and actuator arm in the original drive, since you cannot take out the platters w/o removing these components. When I powered up the rebuilt drive, one of the magnets on the new actuator arm broke off... again. So, I figured if I placed the scratched platter under the broken actuator tip, it would work fine but it doesn't. As the drive spins, the arm moves back and forth but does not read or write; it's not being detected either.

    So I guess my real question is there any way to disable a single actuator tip or am I out of luck yet again? At this point I'm not willing to get another replacement drive because the internals are just too delicate to handle without special equipment/magnifying glass. Can I try the platters in another drive? I have a bunch here that I'm not using.

    Any help with this would be greatly appreciated; sorry for the long post. Thanks!
     
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    EXCellR8, i'm surprized that you don't realize that this has to be done in a clean room with you covered from head to toe with a clean room garmet
     
  3. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 869   +8

    what i don't get is why you took the new drive apart
     
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Are you qualified to perform a data recovery job of that magnitude? What you are attempting to do is way beyond what is considered normal and acceptable in the best technical shops. Do you have the bench and the trainng ? We don't see how you can possibly rescue the data on that that hard drive and get it working properly with what you you are describing.
    If you have particularly valuable data, it is now most likely permanently lost unless you are willing to pay the $450 fee it normally takes to begin recovering the data.
    You are dealing with very very close tolerances, and clean room requirements.
    If you have never done this before, tell your client now... so they can take it some place that may help... or you might find a lawyer wants you to pay somebody else to do it.
     
  5. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    yes dustin_ds3000,
    EXCellR8 is acting like this is an every day thing. I have worked in a clean room, and the drive is trashed if not opened in a clean room. I really thnk EXCellR8 is kidding here
     
  6. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    Why would I spend 5 min posting something if I didn't really need help with it?

    Anyways, I realize the task at hand isn't something that's supposed to be done in a regular shop, but the person that owns the drive didn't want to spend the big bucks to send it to the lab. I explained to them how important it is to use specialized equipment; how companies use all sorts of protective gear when taking hard drives apart.

    I didn't want to take the hard drive apart, because I know the extreme risk involved in taking anything out of it. Because of this, I ran all kinds of tests beforehand and came to the conclusion that the hard drive was physically damaged... which it was. I told the owner that there's very little anyone can do under these circumstances, unless of course it's shipped out to a lab which they didn't want to pay for.

    So, they were bent on having me try to swap the platters into an identical drive, which I told them was very dangerous and would probably not work. They told me to try... so I did. I don't see why you guys are making me out to be the bad guy here, especially for even attempting to recover data from a physically damaged hard drive. I've swapped platters before, with acceptable results although the drives I've taken in the past usually failed in about a week after format, if it even worked.

    Anyways, I've contacted the owner several times about the drive telling them it's quite hopeless at this point, as it was when they gave me the drive with the already-scored platter. They were upset that I couldn't recover any data by I explained, to the best of my ability, why it couldn't be done and why it's so important to make backups.
     
  7. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    The hard drive heads fly over the platters at an extremely low height and they do not touch the platters at all...If you see any scratches on the platters data surface, the head that flew over that area is destroyed. The air outside a clean room is dirty. A small peice of dust is like a thousand pound boulder laying on the surface of a hard drive's platter. When a drives read/write head hit this boulder, the head stops flying and may be destroyed and mutilated at the time of the collision. The platters are rotating a a very high seed to. By swapping platters incorrectly, with the improper tools, you make the whole platter stack out of balance. Those "I explained to them how important it is to use specialized equipment; how companies use all sorts of protective gear when taking hard drives apart"... has multi-thousand dollar clean rooms. The drives are never opened outside a clean room environment. Now your hard drive is a paperweight. Salvage the magnets. They are very powerful, and good for magnetizing tools and other things. I hope you don't make a habit of doing this type of thing. I hope you have a little better understanding of what it takes to build and repair hard drives.

    "So I recently picked up a data recovery job and I'm having a real hard time getting the rebuilt drive working. I was wondering if anyone with a good deal of knowledge about hard drive internals and could help me out"...

    What the heck are you asking, I thought. You have to be kidding
     
  8. EXCellR8

    EXCellR8 The Conservative Topic Starter Posts: 1,835

    It's not that I don't have an understanding of what it takes to repair hard drives, it's the fact that the owner was not satisfied until i took the drive apart. I never want to, but after explaining the nature and delicate functionality of the device had failed, I really had no choice other than to turn him away... which almost seems like the better idea now. Since the drive carried no warranty, and the owner refused to pay the lab costs, I gave it my best shot. I've taken apart many drives in the past during CS classes, so it's not like I had no idea what I was up against. Of course the drives I worked on in class were far simpler (mechanically) than these two, so it wasn't easy putting everything back together.

    ...and I have plenty of those pesky magnets lying around, and the cuts on my fingers to prove it!
     
  9. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    "...and I have plenty of those pesky magnets lying around, and the cuts on my fingers to prove it!"...

    I can relate :rolleyes: Those puppies can really pinch you fingers too

    It was this request that really threw me though:

    "So I recently picked up a data recovery job and I'm having a real hard time getting the rebuilt drive working. I was wondering if anyone with a good deal of knowledge about hard drive internals and could help me out"...

    What on Earth could we have helped you with, other than what we said? Making a paper weight?
     
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