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Broken SATA Pins Help!

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October 20, 2009 3:59:06 AM

My brother-in-law was helping me repair my computer, and in the process managed to cause a problem with one of my two harddrives in a RAID.

The hard drive's SATA connector broke off in the connector cord. The plastic covering of the SATA pins is what broke off in the cord. In his attempt to reconnect this broken bit (not realizing what had happened), he broke off one of the pins and bent another.

HELP!

What can be done to mend this, and is the data retrievable? Is my hard drive ruined? Is all the data on my RAID lost?

More about : broken sata pins

a c 342 G Storage
October 20, 2009 1:31:47 PM

You say, "in the cord" a couple times. But just replacing a cable would solve that problem. So I assume you mean the broken connector is part of the printed circuit controller board on the hard drive. Is that right?
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October 20, 2009 3:48:59 PM

The broken part is the little pinout on the hard drive itsle. Look's sort of like this: http://www.ithinkibrokeit.co.uk/articles/sata-101/image...

The plastic piece broke off in the equivalent connection on the cord and is stuck, and two of the pins are damaged. One is jammed to far down to connect, and another is broken off.

So can it be repaired, and is the data on my RAID lost forever?
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October 20, 2009 5:54:08 PM

By the way, it's a Western Digital Caviar WD2500 250 GB (set in a RAID with another identical hard drive).
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a c 342 G Storage
October 20, 2009 9:03:29 PM

OK, a tough one, but do-able. From my view, evongugg has the right idea. Take a standard SATA data cable, cut off the connector on one end while making SURE you know which way it is turned, then use the pinout reference to custom-solder the ends of its wires to the right points on the damaged HDD connector. If you are not solder-skillful, get a friend or electronics / computer repair shop to do it. That should allow you to get the RAID array working again so you can BACK UP your data to another medium.

From there you have two choices. By far the easiest is to buy and install a new HDD to replace this one, re-establish the RAID array, and restore your data to it. The harder route would be to try either to replace the broken connector only on the edge of the HDD's board, OR see if you can get an EXACT replacement board for it and keep on using this same drive after the repair.
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October 21, 2009 4:20:26 PM

Not knowing how to do any soldering myself, I contacted my computer-expert friend, and this is his reply:

"Well . . . crap.

I can't really say how screwed you are without looking at it first. Fact of the matter is you are screwed, but I don't know to what extent. Best case scenario is that I am able to repair the sata connector far enough to pull the data off. Problem is, even under the best of circumstances, such a fix would be temporary at best. We would not be able to install the new system with both hard drives.

On the flip side; the worst possible scenario is that the drive is entirely humped. You would need to send both hard drives off to a data recover place to get everything back. If you happen to have $5000 to waste, then this would be your best bet."

Is that a fair assessment of my situation, and do I have any other options than the ones he's outlined?
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a c 342 G Storage
October 22, 2009 6:03:09 PM

He's right, but a little less optimistic than we are. We are all hoping that the drive itself AND its PC controller board are all OK, and the problem is entirely limited to a damaged connector. In that case, soldering wires to the connector pins can establish all the electrical connecti0ons necessary to hook it up to your computer and get it working.

HOWEVER, that is NOT any permanent solution. You really cannot rely on such a system to keep on working. You must get ALL the data off the RAID array onto a safe backup medium. Once that is done, your old HDD is USELESS, so replace it immediately and re-establish the RAID array. Then restore your data from the backup to the rebuilt array. If this all works, breathe several large sighs of relief! That is what your friend called the "best case" scenario.

Your computer-expert friend is expressing doubt this all can work. If the soldering job goes badly, or if there is damage beyond that simple connection problem, access to the disk data may not be available. Then you are screwed!
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