Recovering data from a DEAD HDD - HDD repair. x.x

Hello Tomshardware! I was recently tasked with recovering family photos from a friends HDD. I am now convinced that it has gone through some form of mechanical/electrical failure, as it won't even start up. I have done some data recovery in the past, but for all of those times the HDD's were working in some way/shape/form. This is a bit beyond me, so I'm not really sure what to do at this point. :(

Instead of paying out a ridiculous amount of money for a professional data recovery service, could I theoretically just purchase a new working HDD of the same model so I can swap out the platters? I've never done anything like this before so I really need some advice. I know I would need access to a clean room to do this safely (Damn you dust!), but this seems preferable to shelling out $750.00 for a few family photos. So anything at all to point me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

HDD in question: Toshiba MK3263GSX - 320 GB Laptop HDD
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  1. keep the $750.00 for new drive ,if the drive wont even start, gone cost you more and could be not result of getting the pictures back
  2. I can't say I've ever seen anyone here mention they have done that successfully. I've seen it mentioned several times, but never actually seen someone post that it worked for them.

    IMO, if the data isn't worth the $750 to get it back it's probably best to just move on without it.
  3. Well what you could try depending on the severity of the problem of the HDD is this (but its kind of a last resort besides trying out what you described and buying the same HDD and tranferring the platters to the exact same drive, of which I do not know how to do, and which may or may not work):

    If you wrap your HDD you a small clean dry towel (enough to cover it all) and place it in the freezer for a solid 1-2 hours. Once done, immediately place the HDD in a computer to see if the computer can see the HDD, if it can, try to pull out the data.

    That is - this will usually only work if the drive can get some power - but if the PCB is burnt out or damaged it may not work.

    Otherwise - either might have to try out the same HDD route and transplanting, or maybe shell out a costly 750 for the info.
  4. The cost of setting up your own clean room - even a small temporary enclosure as a substitute - could be well more than having a pro service do the work or you. By the way, do you know how clean is clean, and how to get there? You would need to identify and acquire some specialized tools. Then there is the very considerable matter of knowledge and skill to do the dis-assembly / re-assembly work. You cannot buy that!

    By the way, my guess is the bill from pros would be a bunch more than $750.
  5. If the problem is a failure in the controller card, find an identical drive (capacity and model number) and transplant the working controller. You may be able to recover the data.

    If the failure is in the mechanical drive assembly, short of the pros in a clean room, you are out of luck.
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