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Hard drive crashed. Will not spin up, clicking noise and hot PCB.

I want to know if there is a way to take a working hard drive and swap the platters from a non-working drive in to the working drive and working heads and recover data. Some say yes, some say no. The ones saying no are 99% data recovery services, but the ones saying yes, it can be done, are techies and hobbyists. Is it possible? Assumptions: I have access to a clean room. I have a platter removal tool.

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If you think you have the expertise and have an identical drive and also get lucky, it can be done. The cleanroom helps too. The bigger issue here is that you have data you so desperately need but you have no backup of that data. Always have a backup.

Posted on Apr 22, 2009


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Hitachi simple drive

1- Good idea as long as no "clicking" currently on drive
2- Not going to be easy to get pcb alone

Oct 29, 2013 | Computers & Internet

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The circuitboard on my hard drive has fryed and need a new one

Because of this customized firmware, however, it's not possible to switch out a PCB board in many cases; of course, this varies depending on the manufacturer of a drive. For instance, some older drives have the same basic information on two PCB boards of the same model, provided that both drives were made at about the same time, before more unique adaptives were programmed into the next line of drives. If one of the PCBs fails, there is some chance of making a recovery by simply swapping the boards of the two drives. However, hard drives have contained "customized" firmware on at least an occasional basis since they've become a consumer product, so the chances of a straight "board swap" working are very low. In addition, because of the unique adaptives, it is highly possible to damage a drive further by the placement of a foreign PCB. Data recovery companies must rebuild the firmware information in many situations when the PCB of a drive fails. In addition, occasionally PCB failures cause damage to other hard drive components, such as the heads of the drive (and subsequently the platters, in certain situations). Professional data recovery companies have special processes to treat these problems as well. If you think that your hard drive has a problem with its PCB board, it's important that you don't try to operate the drive any further or try switching out the PCB board with another drive's. Get your hard drive to a reputable data recovery company immediately for an evaluation. A good data recovery company will be able to quickly diagnose the drive's issues and let you know what your options are from that point.

Feb 28, 2013 | Iomega Computers & Internet

1 Answer

Operating system not found

Hi Jana, it is a common problem yes, your hard drive works like an old record player, with a thin needle reading off the hard drive platters where your data is stored. What most likely happened is the shock of the drop damaged the reading needle.

If it makes a clicking noise then you know your platters are having trouble spinning up.

You will need to replace the hard drive

Jan 27, 2012 | Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64BIT...

3 Answers

Drive won't spin up

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 the spindle driver chip on the electronics and make the data can try to swap PCB from another WD drive of the same model but your chances of success are close to zero. Sorry for the bad news, but your drive is most likely toast. I hope this helps.

Jul 04, 2011 | Western Digital WD Caviar Blue WD6400AAKS...

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My iomega hard drive worked fine before, but now won't show on My Computer or Autoplay. Help, please?!

First check whether your computer can see the external drive:
1. Right click My Computer and select Properties
2. Click on Device Manager
3. Expand Disk Drives by clicking the arrow on the left side of it.
Is the IOmega in the list of the disk drives?

If it is, then it is either:
1. The drive is faulty and the ID is from the IOmega controller
2. The drive is ok but severe bad sectors or other failing components prevent the drive to mount.

Testing the External Drive.
Listen closely to the if it sounds like it's spinning or it's doing something.
1. Clicking sound - The hard drive inside the Iomega caddy is faulty, either the pcb or heads, or both
2. Scraping sound - There is a platter damage on the drive. Recovery not possible.
3. No sound at all - Problem with either drive's pcb or the Iomega controller.

If your drive behaves like one above, I suggest you send your hard drive to data recovery companies.

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Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 80GB 6Y080L YAR41BW0 internal hard drive not working think it might be the PCB Board not working.

It's possible that you're correct.

However, finding a Maxtor drive with an identical PCB is not going to be easy. Once you do, you can disconnect the "spinning" part of the disk-drive away from the PCB, and then swap PCB, and see if you can then QUICKLY(!) copy all 80GB to a "new" disk-drive.

Dec 05, 2009 | Maxtor Personal Storage 3100 (M01B080) 80...

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Defect hard drive

If you can get an exact replacement controller even down to the firmware level, there's about a 50% chance it will work. No one can guarantee anything at this point but if the data is valuable enough to you, that's probably your cheapest option. Otherwise, you'll be looking at about $1000 or more for a data recovery specialist to recover data from the drive.

Oct 03, 2009 | Hitachi HTS542525K9SA00 250 GB SATA Hard...

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.

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1 Answer

Not recognized drive.

If you can get an identical Drive you can change the Data PBC Board....... this will work in alot of cases.... if platers and damaged the data is gone..... don't open it....... if you do throw it away....

Jan 07, 2008 | Hitachi TravelStar 80GN 80 GB Hard Drive

1 Answer

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if your PC can detect the harddrive as an external drive there is a possibility to recover your files. try using stellar-phoenix, download it at, register first then you can use their search facility to browse files. I am using stellar-phoenix for a long time, it works well. Good luck

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