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Need advice on broken L-tab & bent SATA pins

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  • Hard Drives
  • SATA
  • Storage
  • Product
Last response: in Storage
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March 3, 2011 12:24:29 AM

Hi all. Having a terrible time diagnosing some Memtest fails on my first homebuild, and with all the removing/reattaching of components, I ended up snapping off the L-shaped tab on the SATA port of my Western Digital Caviar Black (1TB) HDD. I also bent the pins, but none seem to be broken off. Is there anything I can do to salvage it? Longterm or even just to copy files off of it?

Any advice? I've sesarched the forums but haven't seen a case quite like this one.

More about : advice broken tab bent sata pins

a c 132 G Storage
March 3, 2011 11:41:54 AM

You need watchmaker's tools for this type of repair, if repair is even possible.

Bent pins can be straightened within reason, by using a technique called 'combing'. For more information, see my post here at: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/285464-30-pins-bent

Don't forget super glue for temporary fixes.
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March 3, 2011 11:52:20 AM

So I don't think I'm probably technically capable enough to pull that off, and once the pins were straight I wouldn't be quite sure how to get the SATA cable to fit because of the broken L-tab.

Is this something that a hardware repair shop might be able to do? The data on there is worth $100 to me..
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a c 132 G Storage
March 3, 2011 12:23:51 PM

Yes, most computer repair shops will be able to recover data from broken drives at a very high price.

The Caviar black 1 TB HDD probably has 4 platters inside. To service/repair/replace this, a 'clean room' atmosphere is necessary.

The SATA as well as Power connectors on the disk are ends of electronic traces from the controller board on the HDD. You can try placing the bare drive carefully on a table and then connecting the SATA cable and the power cable to it. Now try to recover the data that want. It might work.
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a b G Storage
March 3, 2011 3:42:56 PM

What is the L-tab? If it's something on the circuit board, they may be able to steal a circuit board from a different drive of the same model & make it work. Or you could order another of the same drive & try that. It's a bit of a long shot maybe.
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March 3, 2011 3:51:46 PM

I just mean the black plastic tab part of the male end of the SATA connector. It's vaguely L-shaped (to keep you from plugging it in backwards.

Kinda looks like this:

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August 30, 2012 5:55:43 AM

Hey did you ever get that fixed, im having the EXACT problem right now and am freaking out. Id really appreciate knowing if it was possible to fix.



kghastie said:
I just mean the black plastic tab part of the male end of the SATA connector. It's vaguely L-shaped

(to keep you from plugging it in backwards.

Kinda looks like this:

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August 30, 2012 1:33:06 PM

Hi, jbolerjack. Bet you didn't expect to get a reply this quickly, did you?

Anyway, I was never able to "fix" it, despite calls to several computer fixer companies in Chicago, where I lived at the time. But I am still using that drive as my main drive. I plugged it back in, which sort of bent the pins back into place a bit. So it is very loose, but I have it tied and taped up, with black and yellow warning tape to remind me not to bump even the cable. Pretty ghetto fix, but nothing technically complicated.

Good luck!

jbolerjack said:
Hey did you ever get that fixed, im having the EXACT problem right now and am freaking out. Id really appreciate knowing if it was possible to fix.

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a c 336 G Storage
August 30, 2012 8:03:58 PM

@jbolerjack, most modern HDDs store unique, drive specific "adaptive" information in a serial EEPROM chip. This chip, or its contents, needs to be transferred from patient to donor. In WD drives, this chip is usually located at U12.

The following PCB suppliers offer a firmware transfer service, either for free, or for US$10:

http://www.donordrives.com
http://www.onepcbsolution.com
http://www.hdd-parts.com

I would advise that you avoid those suppliers who don't tell you that a board won't work without modification. Often they will attempt to obscure the requirement for a firmware transfer by deceptively describing their products as being "for data recovery only".

Alternatively, if you are not adept at soldering, your local TV/AV repair shop should be able to transfer the chip for you.

Some PCBs do not have a discrete serial flash memory chip. Instead they store the adaptive data inside the Marvell MCU (the largest chip). In this case you will need a "PCB adaptation" service.

The following PCB supplier includes such a service for free:
http://www.donordrives.com/services

If your original PCB has a broken power connector rather than data connector, then one possible solution is to hardwire a legacy 4-pin Molex connector to the PCB.

http://pinouts.ru/Power/sata-power_pinout.shtml
http://pinouts.ru/Power/BigPower_pinout.shtml
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