Data missing after transplanting replacement Hitachi Dekstar hard drive PCB

I am new to this forum and I need help very badly! I have a question about recovering data from a 1TB Hitcahi Deskstar (P/N 0A38016) hard drive of mine that crashed. Basically I had Hitcahi Deskstar hard drive that started doing the click of death, so I purchased another 1TB Deskstar (with the same model number and that was made two months after mine) as a donor in hopes of doing a transplant. Once I received the donor hard drive I tested it by writing some files onto it and deleting them to make sure that it worked properly (and it did).

I began the transplant by swapping the PCBs on each hard drive. When I did, the clicking noise miraculously stopped as the original drive powered up flawlessly and the clicking noise started on the donor drive (which confirmed that the PCB was in fact defective). I was very thankful that it was only the PCB that was defective and not the read/write head.

The next step that I took was that I swapped and soldered the ROM/NVRAM chips so that the original hard drive with the donor’s PCB ended up with its original ROM/NVRAM chip. I was ecstatic when my original hard drive was detected by my computer after being powered up but my heart dropped when I saw that the entire hard drive (that had 998GBs of irreplaceable files on it) was empty.

I have run two data recovery programs (Recuva and Puran File Recovery) on it since and have become even more confused. The two programs recovered only about 68 files, which were unexplainably the files that I had originally written to the donor hard drive while testing it out. Somehow, files that I had written to the donor hard drive and then deleted were being detected on the original drive after I swapped the PCBs. This doesn’t make any sense…

How could files from the donor hard drive show up on the original hard drive? Is there any data stored in the PCBs? And more importantly, how do I attempt to recover the data from my original hard drive? Is there any hope of data recovery since I have not formatted or written any files over my original hard drive? Are there any programs that you could suggest that might work?

In closing, I wanted to make it known that while I have certainly learned my lesson since this happened (as I have cloned all of my hard drives so I will never be in this position again), I would still really love to recover the priceless files that were on the defective hard drive. I welcome any advice that you might have for me to help me find those files.


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  1. Best answer
    If you ran lame ass recovery programs (that too many people here recommend) then they have written to the HDD and replaced the file allocation bitmaps; making further recovery nearly impossible.

    Try using CgSecurity TestDesk in a Linux environment, I think you've mucked it up too much, sadly at the software step not the hardware step, but it might be worth a shot.

    Once you write to the HDD's allocation bitmap using a 'half arsed' recovery program it tends to mess it up.
  2. So I figured out that somehow I ended up switching the identification labels that I put on each of the hard drives while operating on them, and I basically did the PCB swap on the wrong hard drive (the donor drive). So the data that I recovered was indeed the data that I had written and deleted from the donor hard drive as a test and wasn’t from the original hard drive that I was trying to recover.

    I then discovered that the original hard drive was the hard drive that was still making the click of death and that the donor hard drive was the hard drive that was still functioning properly; I now knew that the PCB swap had not fixed it.

    I figured that the problem was with the heads so I went on to do a transplant of the heads: putting the donor head in the original hard drive and putting the original head in the donor hard drive. But I did not succeed. It went from one head malfunctioning to two heads malfunctioning. I think that I might have damaged the good head during the transplant due the extreme difficulty of removing the head due to the strength of the neodymium magnets.

    Also when I had the original hard drive open, I noticed that there were two rings on the top hard drive platter, which appear to have been from the head coming in contact with the platter and leaving a scoring mark. I realized that if I were to even get the hard drive functioning properly again that I will definitely be facing some sort of data loss. So I will now be sending the hard drive to a professional data recovery company and hoping for the best. Thanks to everyone that posted an answer!

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