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Dead HDD?

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February 28, 2010 10:32:43 PM

I have a WD Caviar SE internal drive that isnt being read by the computer. the warranty is void so is this a dead hdd or is there something that i could do to it that might make it work? im not worried about destroying the hdd because it either is fixable or it isnt. it worked for a while then it stopped reading. so if theres some magic i can work with some rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball that might work id love to hear it.


Thank you in advance for the answers :bounce: 

More about : dead hdd

March 1, 2010 2:46:38 AM

Put the drive in a zip lock and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It unsticks the heads from the platters sometimes.
March 1, 2010 1:21:27 PM

No kidding? would it hurt to leave it in there for a couple of hours? is that the only reason it is unreadable at the moment? if so that would be fricken AWESOME! lol i have a dream cast and the reader stopped working so i just took a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol to it and cleaned the head...thats where that comment came from...hope this works going to try it this afternoon.
a c 329 G Storage
March 2, 2010 3:07:59 PM

The freezer plunge trick works sometimes, and sometimes does nothing. IF it works, reports are that it only works for a limited time so you MAY be able to get data off if you move quickly. The trick is specifically for drives that have a problem of internal parts jamming together, and they might loosen up temporarily if their sizes are changed by temperature.

BEFORE you do that, though, consider less drastic steps that can't hurt if they don't work. My first favorite is based on assuming the problem may originate in dirty contacts in connectors. This is especially common in equipment that has been in use for some time and never disconnected. Sometimes the contacts simply accumulate slowly an oxidation film that ultimately makes a contact so poor it does not work. Within this thought there are two types of steps. The first is just the connectors for the HDD's power supply (from the PSU) and its data cable (disk to mobo port). At each connection point simply disconnect and re-connect, several times each connector. Do this carefully so you don't damage of disconnect something else by whacking it. Sometimes this will scrub the contact points clean and it will magically start working! Secondly, on a similar thought line, recognize that there is a printed circuit board fastened onto the HDD as part of it, and that board contains the HDD's own low-level controller. More importantly, it has connectors between itself and the HDD sealed hardware portion. You usually can remove a few screws and gently lift the board off the rest of the unit, which also will disconnect some connectors. Sometimes the connector contacts are actually accessible directly for gentle cleaning. Then you can replace carefully. Do this a few times, too, then re-install the screws. That MIGHT help if poor connections was the source.

If that has not solved your problem, the next step tries a different route. In fact, this is a good idea even if you have got it working again. Go to the WD website and download their disk diagnostic utility package, Data Lifegard. I prefer the version that has you burn a version to an optical disk you can boot from. You boot from it into a mini-DOS environment and run all its tests completely independent of any OS on any hard drive. Those tests will tell you if there is any hardware problem with the disk unit, and in some cases may offer to try to fix them. Pay attention to the info it tells you. For the most part they are non-destructive tests that will do no harm to your data, but there are some that will wipe the disk clean. You have indicated that may not be a problem for you.

Modern disks when first made have a secret store of extra sectors available. In normal operation the disk's own on-board controller monitors all activity. If it sees an indication of weak signals as a sector is used, it will copy the data from there while it's still good, move it to a spare good sector, and retire the questionable one. Most of the time this will preserve the data and happen in the background so you and Windows will never even know. Usually the first time a user learns of this is when the SMART system warns you that this has happened so often that the stock of spare sectors is running low and you should plan to replace the drive before the auto-fix process becomes impossible.

With that diagnostic utility package you can force the HDD unit under test to re-do all this sector checking and substitution on EVERY part of the disk, just in case it missed some. Usually this takes the form of a Zero-Fill operation. THIS IS DATA DESTRUCTIVE. In this operation the disk writes a full set of zeroes to a sector, then reads it back to be sure it worked. If not, it marks the sector as bad and replaces it with a good one. After going through the whole disk this way, you are guaranteed that every sector in use is good (unless, of course, it ran out of spares to use). Once this is complete, the HDD can be treated like a brand new drive (well, not quite - it has used up some of its spares). It should be Partitioned and Formatted for the OS you are using, and away you go. Of course, if you cannot complete the diagnostics without an un-repairable problem, you'll never get to this point.
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