Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Bad Hard Drives and Data Recovery

Hard drives fail for three reasons.

1. Disc damage causes parts or all of the platters to be unreadable.
2. Motors fail internally so it doesn't spin up and your computer can no longer read the drive.
3. The arms that move the heads over the platters becomes damaged and loose. The drive starts making loud clicking noises.

The terrible thing here is most the time you don't know your drive is going to fail and data recovery, if possible, is rather expensive ranging from $300.00 to $1800.00 or more. There is one hairbrained method that has worked for me several times when the arms become loose. When you start to hear the clicking noise and your hard drive doesn't read right you need to cease using the drive asap as that just makes the problem worse. Here is an item that can make this next step easier. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3276554&Sku=ULT40112
It's a connector that fits onto the back of your hard drive so you can plug it is as an external USB drive. This might or might not work but if it doesn't then you must set the drive up so you can plug it into another system as a slave drive so the computer doesn't try to read the drive on bootup.

You need to put your drive in a freezer. About an hour should ensure that it's frozen and frosty. By freezing the drive it will contract all the metal parts and tighten them up enough that many times the drive will function normally for quite a few minutes. Take the drive out of the freezer, immediately hook it up to another system, boot up and start copying files as fast as you can. Sooner or later the drive will warm up, the heads will get loose again and you won't be able to read the files again. Re-freeze the drive and start all over. One thing that makes this easier to get your files and keep track of what you're doing is not to copy but to cut and paste. That way you're deleting the files as soon as you copy them so that you know you've gotten the file correctly. You won't get confused about the files you've gotten and the ones you haven't.

This won't work in every instance. It's not fool proof but every file you can get is a blessing if you're looking at loosing all your valuable files or having to pay big bucks to get someone else to retrieve them. Hope this helps someone. Good luck.

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is ther anythng I shud be worried about if my pc fell off the top shelf and is stil working properly

Check to see if your pc has a SSD drive (Solid state Drive).
If it does and it still works.... you should be good.
Reason: SSD units have no moving parts.

Non-SSD drives have spinning platters.
Any hard drives listing rpm's (Rotations per minute) spin at high speeds. Example: 7200 rpm's
A drop like that could cause the heads to crash into these platters.
Just watch to see if data starts to disappear or the pc acts really slow. The good news, most hard drives with rpm listing made recently park the heads to prevent damage from drops or sudden bumps.
Good luck and hope this helps

Apr 11, 2015 | Microsoft Computers & Internet

1 Answer

I have a mad dog external hard drive with data on it; now my computer is saying that the drive is unreadable and corrupted. I can't open it to scan the disc for errors or viruses. What can I do to recover the data?

Is this a hard drive or an optical drive? The model under which it is listed implies that it is a internal DVD drive.
If, in fact, it is a hard drive (fixed platter(s)), you might consider buying SpinRite from Gibson Research. I have recovered data from many drives over the years with it that were considered 'dead.'

May 22, 2010 | Mad Dog Multimedia MD20XSTFI Internal DVD...

1 Answer

where can I find instructions on how to install a wd1200bb as 2nd drive

When it comes to data recovery one of the most common problems Western Digital(WD) hard drives experience is burnt cuircuit board(PCB). WD drives are very vulnerable to overheating, power surges and streaks. Quite often bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to fry spindle driver chip on the electronics and make the data inaccessible. Should this occur the computer would reboot or shut down completely, you would normally notice acrid smell of smoke coming from your PC and when powered on the drive would not spin up at all and appear to be completely dead.
burnt_chip.jpgIf this is the case you can try to swap PCB from another WD drive of the same model but your chances of success are close to zero, especially on newer hard drives. The problem is that logic board on modern hard drive is adapted to the head disk assembly it was manufactured with. In our lab we use specialized software and hardware to rebuild these parameters or transfer them from fried board to make donor PCB fully compatible with damaged drive.

All Western Digital hard drives are also well-known for their firmware problems.
Firmware of the drive is not located on the logic board as most people think. Main part of firmware is stored on the platters in so-called Service Area. Service Area occupies the negative cylinders of the surface and contains a number of firmware modules. If one of the modules gets corrupted the hard drive fails to initialize correctly and stops working making the data inaccessible. In such case the drive usually spins up fine, it doesn't click but has one of the following symptoms:
  • it is not found in BIOS at all
  • identifies with its factory alias(for example WDC ROM MODEL-MAMMOTH---,WDC ROM MODEL-HAWK---),
  • shows up with wrong S/N (for example WDC-ROM SN# XYZ---) or capacity,
  • identifies fine but fails to read any data or boot up operating system giving I/O device errors whenever you try to access LBA sectors.
If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail" or "No operating system found" or "USB Device malfunctioned" error or "S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed" or "Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter", "Hard drive not recognized", "Drive Mount Failure" or some other hard drive boot error. At the moment it is not possible to fix this kind of problem at home. It is quite a complicated job and requires use of specialized expensive equipment and deep knowledge of hard drive design and data recovery technology to repair the firmware. Luckily, it is not usually necessary to open the HDD in clean room and order donor drives, so chances of successful data retrieval are close to 100%.
Another quite common symptom Western Digital drives experience is clicking/knocking/clunking/sweeping noise.
heads_ok.jpgThe drive spins up, and and the heads start clicking with a constant or intermittent sound while unsuccessfully trying to locate firmware zone: , , , . Usually this is a sign of damaged or crashed heads and it means the drive needs to be opened in a class 100 clean room environment in order to replace head stack assembly. Don't try to open the drive by yourself - you could damage the platters making your data unrecoverable.

Western Digital drives also have common problem with spindle seizure. Usually this occurs after a fall and the drive either doesn't spin up at all with a siren sound: or starts up with loud noise unable to gain enough rotational speed: . Data recovery in such case involves removing platters from the hard drive in clean room environment and putting them into matching donor. This complex and precise procedure requires a lot of experience and use of specialized hardware to maintain platters in perfect alignment.
WD laptop drives(Scorpio, UE,VE series) share some typical 2.5 inch HDD problems. One of them is heads sticktion to the platter surface.
headstick2.jpgHeads are normally parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, but sometimes after a fall or abnormal termination they fail to return to their regular parking position and are left on the surface. Immediately after the motor stops spinning they stick to the ideally smooth surface and it becomes impossible to free them without proper tools and experience. Don't attempt to open the drive by yourself - you will damage the platters and this will make your data unrecoverable. There is one more problem that is typical for all Western Digital drives: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media the platters are covered with starts to degrade and magnetic domains can't turn in the desired direction by writing element of the head. This is how bad sectors appear.
When the drive starts reading data from such unreadable bad sector it could start freezing, scratching and sometimes even clicking: . Usually on boot up you would get "SMART failure predicted" or some other SMART-related error. All this leads to further damage to the surface, heads and causes more data loss. Any further reading attempts would just add up to the problems and could make your data unrecoverable. In our lab we use special imaging hardware tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring low level checksum check. That's usually the only way to retrieve as much files as possible from such sectors.
If you experience any of the symptoms described above with your Western Digital WD1200BB-00CAA0 please feel free to contact us to get upfront quote on data recovery from your failed drive.

May 18, 2009 | Western Digital Caviar WD1200BB 120 GB...

2 Answers

seagate hard drive , samsung hard drive

Most ACTUAL hard drive failures are fall into one of three categories: ? Read/write head failure ? On-board electronics failure ? Damaged or worn disk platter. If your hard drive was working then you experienced a hard drive error your only real chance of ?repair? is to format the drive from scratch and run chkdisk (or similar program) on it to identify and block out any bad areas on the hard drive platters. In the case of a physically damaged board some people have had some success swapping an IDENTICLE board from another working hard drive. Since you ruin a drive (unless its dead as well) to fix another that is only something you do to recover data, not fix the drive. The bad news is no home user has the skills, tools or clean room environment to successfully replace the heads or platters in a hard drive, assuming you could buy them. Typically posts that give bad news are marked poorly and the only reason I?m posting this is to try to save you some aggravation and time so be kind 

Jul 17, 2007 | Samsung SpinPoint P80 SP0802N 80 GB Hard...

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