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Need Expert Help Getting Data off Dead Hard Drive!!!

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  • Storage
  • Disk Error
  • Hard Drives
Last response: in Storage
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March 1, 2014 9:49:38 AM

Hello, this is a call out to all IT wizards out there!

Yesterday morning I powered up my PC to be greeted with a message reading "Internal Disk Error", a message I had never seen before. After having a quick look through the BIOS I noticed that the machine had suddenly stopped recognizing the primary hard drive (containing Windows 7 and about 400-500 installed programs!).

My first course of action was to determine what had actually failed (hard drive, motherboard, cables, etc). After testing various ports and cables I discovered it was indeed the hard drive itself (which appears to have stopped spinning completely).

I do have a secondary drive containing the majority of my personal files (pics, vids, music, etc) which is thankfully safe and running through a backup machine.

However the primary disk drive did contain a vast quantity of current work on the desktop that has yet to be backed up. I have come to terms with the fact that a system restore/reboot is probably in order which would mean installing all those programs again however it's the work files that I desperately need to recover (located on the desktop).

So far I have tried the hard drive in question on 3 other machines and each fails to read it (not surprised as the disk doesn't seem to be spinning at all).

I know there are data recovery programs out there (I have used Piriforms Recuva in the past which was fantastic) but they still require the drive to be readable by the machine.

In addition when the dead drive is attached to a computer it prevents the machine from even loading the OS, it just hangs on the screen before it. I have done absolutely nothing to this drive to cause it to act like this as I was using it perfectly fine just two days ago. I don't own a hard drive enclosure but I have a feeling it will yield the same results as before... Is there anything that I can do to resuscitate the drive long enough to get the precious data off it?

I am in major panic mode as the data is work related and cannot be lost!


Thank you in advanced to any contributors.

- Rob

More about : expert data dead hard drive

a b G Storage
March 1, 2014 10:00:33 AM

you may hear stories of "put it in the freezer" or "put it in the oven",,
but TBH.. if its not spinning/readable at all.. and it "cannot be lost" I think you need the services of a professional data recovery service.

And when you pay the bill, think how much cheaper it would have been to have invested in a proper backup strategy..

Good luck
Cheers
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a b G Storage
March 1, 2014 10:07:51 AM

Rescuing data from a dead hard disk is likely to be expensive think min $500 max many thousands depending on nature of problem & disk size

But some will do no fix no fee
Or cheap diagnostics then big fee if they think they can fix it


Get some quotes from major companies in the field
There was a article about data recovery in the last few months

If the external circuit board had obviously burnt chips the board can be replaced from an absolutely identical drive
The problem is finding a perfect match with same firmware version


Do not try any more your self leave it to the professionals

Regards
Mike Barnes
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March 1, 2014 11:34:38 AM

Thanks for the replies,

I backup my work on a constant basis (to the point where its borderline OCD) so this is a rare scenario for me. It's just the very recent stuff (past few weeks) saved directly to the desktop (for convenience sake) that I need to get back and its only a few hundred mb's of stuff total.

I live in the UK so i'm not sure what the professional data recovery companies charge here, I will do some research. There is zero signs of burning or damage to the circuit board on the underside of the drive or the ports and I am pretty sure i can hear the drive attempting to start up when it receives power, it just doesn't retain the spin...

I don't think i'd ever try freezing or cooking the hard drive in an oven... that sounds like asking for trouble.
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a b G Storage
March 1, 2014 11:53:26 AM

Rob Bloomfield said:

I backup my work on a constant basis (to the point where its borderline OCD) so this is a rare scenario for me. It's just the very recent stuff (past few weeks) saved directly to the desktop (for convenience sake) that I need to get back and its only a few hundred mb's of stuff total..


Im sure if you read back what you are saying here.. you will spot the anomaly (to put it VERY mildly and politely).
I don't care if its 1kb...and "past few weeks"? seriously? (a LONG way off OCD!!) if its important enough that it "cannot be lost".. then there is NO EXCUSE for not having it backed up. You are gambling with any info on a single HDD.. and the old gambling adage holds true.. "don't gamble with what you cant afford to lose"

If you look on web..people report success with heat/freeze.. assumption seems to be that expanding/contracting the components due to the heat change can free them up just enough that they work (sometimes for just a short time.. but enough for people to get their info off).. but I agree.. if its really that important - leave it to the professionals

Good luck..
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a c 327 G Storage
March 1, 2014 8:02:19 PM

If the drive isn't spinning at all, or trying to spin up, then the PCB is most likely faulty. A replacement PCB plus firmware transfer, if necessary, should cost no more than US$50.

Are you sure you cannot hear any sounds, not even faint buzzing noises?

What is the model number?
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March 2, 2014 1:20:53 PM

fzabkar said:
If the drive isn't spinning at all, or trying to spin up, then the PCB is most likely faulty. A replacement PCB plus firmware transfer, if necessary, should cost no more than US$50.

Are you sure you cannot hear any sounds, not even faint buzzing noises?

What is the model number?


Thanks for the reply.

I went to a retailer in the UK called PC World today and asked the tech support guy what I could do to retrieve the data off the drive and he said it was the PCB that had failed (which explains why it wasn't receiving any power or spinning at all). But he said that I would have to pay upwards of £700 (around $1200) to get the part replaced and the data extracted.

I asked why it was so expensive and he said that it required tracking down the exact same model number produced in the same month/year.

The Hard Drive details are as followed:

Brand: Samsung Spinpoint 1TB (7200rpm)
Model: HD103SJ
Date Manufactured: 2010.05

Regarding any noises the drive is absolutely silent when connected to a powered up computer. It also remains cold and doesn't heat up at all. I thought I could hear the drive trying to start up before but now I just think I was imagining things or mistaking it with another sound inside the case.

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a c 327 G Storage
March 2, 2014 1:42:51 PM

With any luck the problem will be as simple as a shorted TVS diode. If so, then a fix should cost you nothing.

Measure the resistances of the three components in the following photo clip:

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_TVS_2.jpg

See http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/TVS_diode_FAQ.html

A shorted TVS diode would suggest that your PSU overvolted your drive, so have it checked out first.

If you need more help, please post the results of your measurements.
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March 2, 2014 3:23:57 PM

fzabkar said:
With any luck the problem will be as simple as a shorted TVS diode. If so, then a fix should cost you nothing.

Measure the resistances of the three components in the following photo clip:

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_TVS_2.jpg

See http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/TVS_diode_FAQ.html

A shorted TVS diode would suggest that your PSU overvolted your drive, so have it checked out first.

If you need more help, please post the results of your measurements.


Wow! thats a lot of useful info.

I think you hit the nail on the head in your diagnosis. I am 99% sure it was the PSU that overvolted the drive as I installed a new PSU only last week. I am sure I correctly wired everything up so the fault could lie with the PSU itself...

If the TVS diodes are the components of the PCB that have failed then should I cut them off or order some replacement diodes? I understand from your FAQ that removing the suspect diodes essentially disables the failsafe mechanism so if the PSU overvolts again its curtains for the drive. However I have two other machines in my possession that are both working fine with zero faults would it be safe to snip the diodes off and test the drive in one of the machines I know is safe?

I don't have a digital multimeter but I will order one soon, then I can hopefully get some conclusive evidence that it was the PSU overvolting the drive.
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a c 327 G Storage
March 2, 2014 3:46:31 PM

You should be able to obtain SMAJ5.0A or SMBJ12A TVS diodes from Farnell in the UK. You may also have Digikey and Mouser outlets.

If your board is like the one in that photo clip, then the most likely culprit is the 5V TVS diode. A shorted 12V diode would shut down the PSU, but a shorted 5V diode would most likely have resulted in an open circuited zero-ohm resistor. If that is the case, then simply flow a blob of solder over the resistor and snip the diode with flush cutters. That should get you going, but you must not overvolt the drive again.

Best of luck.

Edit: I would power up the board off the drive to verify that it is OK before giving it the full test.

If you like, you could confirm that the Vcore, Vio, and Vneg voltages are OK. Don't slip with your probes, as catastrophic damage will result.

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_regs.jpg
http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_Vneg.jpg
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March 2, 2014 4:22:16 PM

fzabkar said:
You should be able to obtain SMAJ5.0A or SMBJ12A TVS diodes from Farnell in the UK. You may also have Digikey and Mouser outlets.

If your board is like the one in that photo clip, then the most likely culprit is the 5V TVS diode. A shorted 12V diode would shut down the PSU, but a shorted 5V diode would most likely have resulted in an open circuited zero-ohm resistor. If that is the case, then simply flow a blob of solder over the resistor and snip the diode with flush cutters. That should get you going, but you must not overvolt the drive again.

Best of luck.

Edit: I would power up the board off the drive to verify that it is OK before giving it the full test.

If you like, you could confirm that the Vcore, Vio, and Vneg voltages are OK. Don't slip with your probes, as catastrophic damage will result.

http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_regs.jpg
http://www.users.on.net/~fzabkar/HDD/HD103SJ_Vneg.jpg


Ok, I just took a photo of what I suspect to be the diodes:

http://oi62.tinypic.com/x58e2f.jpg

I have no idea which one is the 5V TVS diode. Please could you point it out to me? (I am nowhere near as knowledgable as you on the subject of electronics/circuitry!)

One says "010 LG." and the other says "012 6V8A".

Forgive my ignorance but i'm not really sure what you mean when you say "simply flow a blob of solder over the resistor".
I do have a soldier iron but have never used it before.

Also how would I power up the circuit board off the drive without connecting it up to the PSU and motherboard?

I really appreciate your help and advice but I am definitely a novice with electronics!
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a c 327 G Storage
March 3, 2014 2:10:40 AM

"LG" is the 12V diode.

"6V8A" is the 5V diode. It probably has a breakdown voltage of 6.8V, hence its part marking.

Before you do anything, measure the resistances. I'm only guessing that the 5V diode is shorted. There could very well be more serious problems.

As for flowing a blob of solder, what I mean is to cover the "000" resistor with solder so that it forms a bridge between its two ends. This resistor acts like a fuse, so you will be bypassing the fuse, but only after removing the shorted 5V diode.

Alternatively, you could remove the diode and use sharp pointed tweezers to clamp both ends of the resistor. If the drive attempts to spin, you can then be reasonably confident that the rest of it has survived, in which case you would go ahead and apply the solder.

When I say to test the board before attaching it to the drive, I mean that you should power up the board via its SATA connector in the usual way after unscrewing it from the drive's body.
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March 3, 2014 9:20:48 AM

fzabkar said:
"LG" is the 12V diode.

"6V8A" is the 5V diode. It probably has a breakdown voltage of 6.8V, hence its part marking.

Before you do anything, measure the resistances. I'm only guessing that the 5V diode is shorted. There could very well be more serious problems.

As for flowing a blob of solder, what I mean is to cover the "000" resistor with solder so that it forms a bridge between its two ends. This resistor acts like a fuse, so you will be bypassing the fuse, but only after removing the shorted 5V diode.

Alternatively, you could remove the diode and use sharp pointed tweezers to clamp both ends of the resistor. If the drive attempts to spin, you can then be reasonably confident that the rest of it has survived, in which case you would go ahead and apply the solder.

When I say to test the board before attaching it to the drive, I mean that you should power up the board via its SATA connector in the usual way after unscrewing it from the drive's body.


Thanks for the reply,

I have a digital multimeter now and am just trying to figure out how to use it.

I need an idiots guide to measuring the resistances of a 5V diode!

Im worried I will cause more damage plugging the red cable into the incorrect slot and using the wrong setting.

I know the black cable goes in the slot marked "COM" but not sure about the rest (I am a completely new to all this!)

here is the exact digital multimeter I am using:
http://www.lcr-meter.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Dig...
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March 3, 2014 9:59:46 AM

Ok I think I figured it out using some guides online.

The black lead is hooked up to the "COM" socket and the red lead is hooked up to the ohm reader (VΩmA) just like in that pic.

The reading for the "000" resistor is "001" using both sides of the meter leads.

The reading for the 5V diode is "516" with the black lead on top and the red lead on the bottom and when I reverse the configuration (using red on top and black on the bottom) the reading spikes quickly from anywhere between "1100" to "1999". The reading resets back to "1" after a few seconds.

The reading for the 12V diode is "803" with the red lead on top and the black lead on the bottom and the reverse configuration (red top, black bottom) yields no reaction at all (stays at "1")

I hope this information is of some use!
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a c 327 G Storage
March 3, 2014 2:04:24 PM

The resistor and diodes are OK, so the problem is not a simple one. :-(

However, the most you need to pay for a replacement PCB, including firmware transfer, is US$50:

http://www.onepcbsolution.com/229283366s.html
http://search.store.yahoo.net/yhst-14437584971410/cgi-b...

The firmware chip is the 8-pin component below the Samsung SDRAM in the following photo:

http://ep.yimg.com/ay/yhst-44463692235217/278a-3.gif

You could take the voltage measurements I suggested to narrow down the cause of the problem, but it will probably only be a post mortem exercise.
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March 3, 2014 2:35:03 PM

fzabkar said:
The resistor and diodes are OK, so the problem is not a simple one. :-(

However, the most you need to pay for a replacement PCB, including firmware transfer, is US$50:

http://www.onepcbsolution.com/229283366s.html
http://search.store.yahoo.net/yhst-14437584971410/cgi-b...

The firmware chip is the 8-pin component below the Samsung SDRAM in the following photo:

http://ep.yimg.com/ay/yhst-44463692235217/278a-3.gif

You could take the voltage measurements I suggested to narrow down the cause of the problem, but it will probably only be a post mortem exercise.


Dang, I knew it wasn't going to be a simple fix :( .

Are there any online shops in the UK that sell replacement PCBs?

Thanks for taking the time to help me out though.
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a c 327 G Storage
March 3, 2014 2:44:19 PM

There is a guy at HDD Guru who goes by the name "pcimage" (http://www.pcimage.co.uk) who offered to supply a PCB, and do a firmware transfer, for EU50, but I don't know whether it was a one-time offer.

You may or may not need a firmware transfer, but I don't know for certain. You might get away with a straight PCB swap, provided that the firmware version is a match.

There is also another quirky problem where the firmware itself can become corrupted ("FIPS" corruption), in which case a firmware transfer will migrate the same problem to your replacement PCB. That's why those voltage measurements would be helpful.
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