Hard drive cable short circuit, PCB now covered in cable fragments (photos incl.)

Hi, I have a PC where the hard drive power cable short circuited. I noticed this because the computer all of a sudden frozen, then restarted, then blue screened, and then I smelt smoke.

Photos:

- Short circuited cable
- Hard drive PCB covered in black dust

The short circuit melted the hard drive power cable, and blew it into powdery dust all over the hard drive's PCB (printed circuit board). Is there any way for me to recover the data on the hard drive? The data itself is in the magnetic platters inside the drive right, so if I can find a replacement PCB, then I can swap the PCB?

Also, is there any possibility at all that I could just temporarily access the HD, even with the black dust, or does that stuff stop the HD from working at all?

Thanks a ton in advance!
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More about hard drive cable short circuit pcb covered cable fragments photos incl
  1. That's actually a Serial ATA cable in your pictures. An IDE cable has a flat, 40-pin connector on it, and can be either a flat ribbon or a round cable.

    Is this hard drive the only one in the computer?

    Either way, your problem is the same. The cable is damaged. I'd try replacing the cable (any computer store should have replacement SATA cables) and cleaning the PCB, then if the PCB cleans up well with no lingering signs of damage, I'd try plugging it in. I'd actually try using an external USB adapter on that hard drive. If something does go wrong, you're not risking the motherboard, and you can see any problems before it can possibly damage the rest of the computer.

    If the PCB doesn't clean up, you MIGHT be able to do a board swap, with another drive of the same model. However, depending on the brand and model, this may or may not work.

    Casey
  2. cklaubur said:
    That's actually a Serial ATA cable in your pictures. An IDE cable has a flat, 40-pin connector on it, and can be either a flat ribbon or a round cable.

    Is this hard drive the only one in the computer?

    Either way, your problem is the same. The cable is damaged. I'd try replacing the cable (any computer store should have replacement SATA cables) and cleaning the PCB, then if the PCB cleans up well with no lingering signs of damage, I'd try plugging it in. I'd actually try using an external USB adapter on that hard drive. If something does go wrong, you're not risking the motherboard, and you can see any problems before it can possibly damage the rest of the computer.

    If the PCB doesn't clean up, you MIGHT be able to do a board swap, with another drive of the same model. However, depending on the brand and model, this may or may not work.

    Casey


    I have an SATA external enclosure that I can use on this. How safe would it be to try it on it, immediately, with the black powder still on there? At worst, would it do any further damage to the drive, or would the drive simply not start up?

    And if I were to clean it, then would I use isopropyl alcohol? And I know that I can buy the same drive and replace the PCB, so I'll also look into that, but it's a bit tougher to do because the drive isn't as popular anymore.

    Thanks again in advance!
  3. I'd clean it before trying anything. It couldn't hurt, and may actually help.

    As for whether it would work, I'd say you have a 50-50 shot at it. Best case, all the damage was done to the cable, and the black stuff on the PCB is just cosmetic. Worst case, of course, being that the PCB is toast.

    Did the cable just short itself out, or did it short out on the Molex cable it was zip-tied to?

    Casey
  4. How do I know whether the cable shorted itself out, or it was the Molex cable? By the looks of it, it appears to be just the cable...?
  5. Last night, I decided to use an external SATA enclosure for the drive, to see if I could still access it. Initially, I was unable to connect the drive with the enclosure, because the melted connector had fused some plastic onto the gold connectors. I used a Q-tip with some alcohol and vigorously wiped away at the connectors. I then had to use a pair of scissors to cut the plastic, so that the enclosure's connector connect dock with the drive, because some plastic had also fused and got in the way.

    The drive was readable, and generally seems "fine"! The black powder appears to be cosmetic at the moment. I don't think the black powder is moving or anything (like, say, water might), and it seems very glued to the circuit board, so at least it shouldn't get any worse (I hope). Of course, I immediately spent the 1 hour and 2 minutes required to pull off all my 170 GB of data from the drive and onto another one!
  6. Glad to hear the drive still worked!

    From the sounds of it, the SATA cable just shorted itself out. If it shorted out on the Molex cable, the drive would most likely be unreadable since the short would cause the SATA connection to be exposed to more power than it was designed for.

    Casey
  7. cklaubur said:
    Glad to hear the drive still worked!

    From the sounds of it, the SATA cable just shorted itself out. If it shorted out on the Molex cable, the drive would most likely be unreadable since the short would cause the SATA connection to be exposed to more power than it was designed for.

    Casey


    For your second point ("If it shorted out on the Molex cable"), you are saying IF that happened, right? You're not saying that that is actually what happened in my situation? Sorry for being pedantic, but I just want to clarify this, because at the moment I plan on copying the data to a new internal drive and then just putting that back in the same spot as the old drive (with all the black powder). I will replace the Molex-to-SATA cable too, of course.

    EDIT: I think what you said, is actually what happened. It's the Molex-to-SATA cable that shorted out, as seen in the image. Or, are you saying that if the Molex cable itself (as in, NOT the Molex-to-SATA, but rather, the Molex to which this adapter is connected to) shorted out, then that would be even worse?
  8. The Molex connector (which if there is an adapter connected to it, would be a Molex to SATA Power, different from the cable that was burned) carries a much higher voltage than the SATA cable that was next to it, so parts on the PCB would have been burned if those cables shorted out.

    I do recommend looking over the wires leading to that Molex connector, though, just to make sure there is no damage on it.

    If I am not being clear enough, don't be afraid to ask!

    Casey
  9. cklaubur said:
    The Molex connector (which if there is an adapter connected to it, would be a Molex to SATA Power, different from the cable that was burned) carries a much higher voltage than the SATA cable that was next to it, so parts on the PCB would have been burned if those cables shorted out.

    I do recommend looking over the wires leading to that Molex connector, though, just to make sure there is no damage on it.

    If I am not being clear enough, don't be afraid to ask!

    Casey


    I believe the burned cable that I have WAS a Molex-to-SATA cable. I actually just bought a new Molex-to-SATA cable and replaced it, and it worked (with a new internal drive).
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