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Potential static electricity damage

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December 5, 2011 7:50:27 AM

I currently have a USB External hard drive which i had all my data backed upto. Not long ago i got a new blu ray player so i decided to connect the external hard drive up to the blu ray player.

The blu ray player is placed inside the middle level of a glass stand, with the television on the main level. Upon plugging the external hard drive in, it powered up and everything was fine, however, i then placed the hard drive down onto the upper level of the glass stand (Which had the television on).

With it being glass, i had no concern over any electrical damage, even doing searches after the event i found that glass isn't a type of static conductor. Regardless, as soon as i placed the hard drive down, i heard a crackle and then an error popped up onto the television saying the USB device was no longer readable.

I came back to my computer and plugged it in via USB, there was power getting to the hard drive, i could feel it and also i could hear it whirring. However, on this model of Seagate Go there is a light at the back of the hard drive which would light up after a few seconds - After the incident it lit up, but only after about 30 seconds.

Even after lighting up, the hard drive wasn't getting picked up by Windows 7, not at all. I left it a day to try again but there has been no improvement, the harsh thing being that i recently backed up the data to the external hard drive as i upgraded my system, but didn't get around to putting the data back onto my computer.

With it being unreadable i fear i may have lost over 100gb of data potentially.

I just tested the timings on the hard drive, upon connecting the power to the USB i can feel it powering up by the standard vibrations, however on each occasion it took between 50 and 55 seconds for the lights to come on, after which time it wasn't recognised by the computer.

The hard drive is an external USB, Seagate FreeAgent Go 250gb, PN:9KW2A4-500 /// SN:2GE3JRBW.

Hope someone can help with this, at least so i can pull the data off the hard drive.
December 5, 2011 3:53:37 PM

If you have a desktop or even a laptop, remove the drive from the enclosure and hook it directly up to either your onboard SATA or IDE (if its older), eSATA (if you have it (laptop)), or buy a cheap USB to SATA/IDE dongle (like this) for <$20 that comes with a power brick. More often than not, the drive is fine, but the controller is dead. Good luck!
December 5, 2011 4:09:31 PM

You say it's an external Hard Drive... then why would you be concerned with static discharge... it has it's own enclosure.... sounds like you may have a bad enclosure. Like TdiT said take it out of it's enclosure and try connecting it directly to the PC.
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December 5, 2011 6:47:47 PM

The static discharge is more in relation to the crackle that i heard when i placed the external hard drive down onto the glass stand, it seems a bit too coincidental that the crackle occured and then the device became unreadable seconds later.

The casing of the hard drive seems to be made of plastic, but i suppose the internals are what matters really.

Have to say i've never taken a hard drive apart, whether external or internal, have that fear of causing more damage than necessary. If the hard drive is taken apart, then it has SATA or IDE connectors preinstalled on it then, since i havent seen the specific information about what is contained within an external.

As an extra note, i sent a message to Seagate regarding this issue first, to which they replied earlier on. They didn't give me any help at all, just a basic message underlying that it was my fault and i voided the warranty - Didn't give any helpful information at all, just that useless guff about the warranty being voided (Even though i didn't actually bring anything like that up)
December 5, 2011 7:15:35 PM

Either a 2.5" (USB powered) or 3.5" (mains powered) consumer grade "internal" HDD with a SATA->USB (or IDE->USB) interposer is all an external HDD is. You'll find the exact drive for sale as OEM white box, as sold for a desktop PC.

Find a tutorial online for taking apart your specific product line of external drives, follow it, remove the drive, hook it up as described above and, hopefully, recover your data. Chances are it is a clam-shell design, so be careful prying apart the plastic tabs if you have any intention of using the enclosure again after recovering you data (the drive still might be the cause, and if so, the enclosure could still be good).
a b G Storage
December 5, 2011 7:21:01 PM

Hi,

I found that seagate external hard drives are unreliable.

1- go to seagate and download tools (seatools)

It will tell you if you have a problem with the HD.

2- If it's still under warranty you can replace it but you will lose all your data (happens to some of my costumers)

if not you can open the box and try to plug in the drive internally.

Good luck
December 5, 2011 7:28:04 PM

you should NEVER take an internal hard drive apart... an external hard drive IS an internal hard drive, it just has a case around it and a USB connection.

If you did void the warranty(which I can't see how you did) then you shouldn't fear "breaking" it... cause its already broken. Yes, it should have IDE/SATA connections on it when you get it out of the case. Good luck.
December 5, 2011 9:26:42 PM

Looking at the SeaTools option it is promising, when i loaded it up it did actually detect the external hard drive.

However upon running tests (Long Generic, Short Drive Self Test) it ended up coming through as failed, the short test had actual progress, getting about 60% of the way through before the error kicked in.

"Unfortunately, your Seagate product has failed an important diagnostic test, possibly caused by problem sectors which are difficult to read. Now is a good time to make sure that you have a current backup of your important data. If you have not done so already, please consider running the Long Generic test on your external drive. This test has the ability to repair problem sectors that are difficult to read. For more information on this subject, see the Help file topic "Bad Sector Found"."
December 5, 2011 11:56:18 PM

Just a quick update that i just happened to notice by glaring at the hard drive. The lights on the back of the hard drive next to the USB connector at lit up, however the light seems to be fluctuating constantly between lighting up and going dimmer.

I have never noticed this occuring before.

I would probably open up the casing tomorrow, the video's on it make it look simple (...) but my only other concern is i don't have an actual 2.5 bracket to fit into my case.

Another thing i also picked upon, i reset my computer a few minutes agowhile the hard drive was connected to the USB, but upon booting up there was no POST beep, instead the system seemed to lock on the Asus motherboard BIOS loading image.

Upon taking off the USB hard drive, the POST beep occured and things ran as normal.
December 6, 2011 12:47:53 AM

It froze because it was trying to detect the Hard Drive... normal if you have a "failing" Hard Drive connected... You don't need a bracket, just plug it in and leave the case door open... just make sure none of the metal solder joints on the circuit board touch any other metal.
December 6, 2011 10:49:21 AM

Okay i've cracked open the case, for ease of used i used the (now internal) hard drive in my secondary computer, however due to that one being a bit dated that one had IDE hard drives already in it.

This Seagate Hard drive is SATA, when i plugged it in the SATA hard drive would get recognised by the BIOS, but both the IDE drives didn't get listed. Soon as i disconnected the SATA Seagate the IDE drives were once again recognised.

Since my main computer is all SATA, i opted to try in that one begrudgingly. The BIOS did not recognise the Seagate hard drive, but upon loading into Windows Device Manager actually correctly picked up the hard drive - But My Computer wasn't listing it as being present.

It is there, but now i don't know how i'm going to get the data off the hard drive.

I have re-run the SeaTools program now, it passed the SMART test, but when it was on USB powered it didn't give me that option - So i'm trying to do the Short Test to see. So far it is fine.

But again, leads me back to how i'm going to pull the data off that hard drive.
December 6, 2011 10:56:06 AM

Update, all tests failed in the same place as they did just like when the hard drive was an external.

SMART Test = Passed (But this option wasn't eligable when it was external)
Short test = Failed (About 70-80%)
Short / Long Generic = Both failed instantly.

Device Manager still picking up the hard drive though. Nothing in My Computer.
December 6, 2011 2:00:14 PM

Go into 'Computer Management' (its the same window as device manager.... on the left click on 'disk Management'... does it list it in there? If it does, right-click on it and change the drive letter to z: or x:.... now go into Explorer and see if it lists the Hard Drive. If it still doesn't work you probably have a bad hard drive... sorry.
December 6, 2011 3:06:21 PM

The drive is listed within disk management, coming up as "Disk 1, Unknown, Not Initialized" and it then has about 232gb set as unallocated. It seems to be in an offline mode.

When you click on the offline option, to bring it online it comes up "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error".

I also rerun the Seagate File Recovery, it finally kicked in after 2 hours, after which time it gave an error

"The device is experiencing too many read errors or its performance is below acceptible for logical recovery. in order to prevent further damage we strongly recommend cancelling scan process"

Just gutted i can't get anything off the hard drive, looked so promising once i used the SATA on it with it getting recognised by the device manager.
December 6, 2011 3:08:30 PM

yea, sorry. :( 
a c 353 G Storage
December 6, 2011 3:11:01 PM

My quess is that, inaddition to possible component damage, the MBR and File allocation table are toast. If you can see the dive in disk manager, but not in My computer normally indicates the the drive is no longer initialize. If you re-initialize the drive, parttion and format the drive - YOU will loose all data. The fact that it fails seagate test tend to eiliminate the use of 3rd party disk data recovering tools.

Added: I see you found this out. End added

Other Comments.
"With it being glass, i had no concern over any electrical damage" The build up of an electrostatic charge has little bearing on the fact that one material is an insulator (ie glass). The build up is a function of relative position (ie Glass and air) on a ESD chart. Most combs are nylon, also an insulator - Run it thru your hair and it becomes highly charged. Relative Humidity (RH) plays a big role and in the winter months RH is Low which increases the possibility of generating and ES charge.

Also: Some of the Newer external USB drives (Not yours) have the USB -> Sata interface built into the drive. Reason I mention - You can not just Plug a newer "removed" external 2 1/2 in dive into a sata Connector. Can easily tell, just google part number of the drive (Also hopefully the connector on the Drive should be differrent).
a c 307 G Storage
December 6, 2011 3:13:22 PM

I have a small scar on my arm that reminds me that static charges travel just fine over glass.
a c 353 G Storage
December 6, 2011 3:25:46 PM

Another example - Take an old CRT picture tube, discharge all voltages, take it outside wait a hour and touch the aquadag (mispelled) anode - will probably find your self setting on the ground.
December 6, 2011 4:24:59 PM

Packed the hard drive away for now unless something more concrete (No, not yet slamming it into the floor) comes along.

Who knew just one second of placing it onto level ground would have any effect, it's strange, as i had an anti-static bag next to me at the time but i had just opted to not place it under the drive, maybe that would have made all the difference in the world.

Still, i got to finally open up an external hard drive and play around with it, something i had dared not do before. While the data at the moment is unrecoverable i'm sure it is still there so one day maybe.

Should have bought a backup for my backup :'( 
December 15, 2011 10:18:44 AM

While it has been little over a week now, just doing a small bump, i recieved a SATA hard drive docking station and i felt it rude to at least not try the old hard drive again, same as before occured obviously.

But i did a bit more looking and a program called TestDisk came up, it seems a lot more intensive than the Seagate one, and unlike the Seagate one, it worked straight away, rather than locking up for one hour before finally coming around.

I started running it at 8pm last night, its now 12pm the following day and is currently sitting at 80% completed, so the process is slow, very slow. However it will no doubt be completed before i finish work tonight, which will then be 24hours after starting the scan.

It's split into 3 sections, disk information, analyse cylinders and read errors. The worrying thing is, the read errors are progressing at the same rate as the cylinders, and i don't know if this is a good or a bad thing... This is how it looks.

Disk /dev/sdb - 250gb / 232gb CHS 30401 255 63
Analyse cylinder 23808/30400: 80%
Read error at 23807/249/62 (1ba=[generic numbers])

The numbers are increasing in increments of 1, upto i assume the 30400 mark, but the read errors are stating the same increments. The website i checked regarding the TestDisk states the next section should say "structure okay" - However it doesn't give any information on if it DOESN'T say that.

Guess i'll find out in a few hours.
!