It's seems my hard drive is as good as dead. It's an old IDE drive, model MPB3043AT. It wouldn't power on when connected to the original PC, so I decided to buy an external IDE -> USB enclosure for it. (I don't know what model it is but you find it here.)
Even when connected to the external enclosure, it doesn't power on and is completely silent.
I also happen to have another IDE drive, model 5T040H4 so I swapped both hard drives several times to make sure it isn't the enclosure's fault. In each case, the normal drive worked perfectly (also connects to my PC) and the problematic one did not.
To give you some background info:
The problematic hard drive has been lying around (well, inside the original PC) for ages until I recently decided to test it out. Everything worked right away: I was able to boot to the desktop and play around with some programs. Unfortunately, the CD-ROM drive didn't work so I decided to take the drive out and try to fix the problem. In the end, the CD-ROM drive occasionally worked but only say 1 out of 10 times.
I then connected the CD-ROM drive to several power and SATA cables to see if it would make a difference (I'd also forgotten the original cable to which it was connected). And yes, I also tried to connect it to the hard drive cable, which I then reconnected to the hard drive several times. During all this, I had to reboot my PC quite a few times.
I suspect that this process caused damage to my hard drive, whichever damage it may be.
My question is quite simply: what would be wrong with my hard drive, and is there a way to recover the data?
I think it really depends on the value you place on your data. If the data is really important to you, as the others have stated, a data recovery service is by far your best option.
However, if you decided that the data isn't quite important enough to pay for a recovery service, there may be a few other things you can try:
-Start by removing the drive from the USB enclosure and giving it a fairly heavy "bump" with the palm of your hand. It may be a "stiction" problem and this may be enough to get the drive working again.
-You could buy another drive of the same model on ebay and just change the controller.
-last, and this would be my very last resort, you could open the drive and look for a physical obstruction of some kind. Try not to touch the platter surface, but it should spin freely
PLEASE BE ADVISED:
In any of these cases if during the your testing the drive spins up, IMMEDIATELY copy you data off. At this point you should feel very lucky and luck tends not to last very long in these cases
Any of the "alternative" approaches is likely to greatly reduce or eliminate the option of using a data recovery service. You have been warned!
Again, it all comes back to the value of your data.
Thank you all for your constructive replies! I think I now have a good understanding of what the methods are.
As to what methods to attempt, some questions come into my mind:
- Given what I described (the drive working > reconnecting the power cables many times > the drive not working) it almost seems there's likely something wrong with the circuit board. Stiction is a common problem, but in my case it seems rather unlikely since (a) I handled the HD very carefully while reconnecting the cables, there were many more and heavier bumps before I opened up the PC than thereafter and (b) one would imagine to hear some noise, however soft in the case of stiction. What do you think?
- Since bumping a hard drive doesn't cost any money (well, not directly) I'm willing to try it first but how bad is it exactly? Is a hard drive that sensitive that it will immediately reduce the chances of recovery? Oh, and what bump are we speaking of.. like a heavy slap on top the hard drive? I've also read stories about twisting your hard drive...
As for opening up the hard drive: For me that's probably a choice between doing that or using a data recovery service.
In the case of stiction the drive may be completely silent.
If the drive doesn't spin up, I believe this would be caught in the its internal POST and there would be no attempt to move the read/write heads
My understanding is that stiction is caused (in the case of drives) from being dormant for periods of time. if not parked correctly heads on the platters, imperfections in the bearing, tiny contaminants in any lubricant used, etc.. The idea of bumping the drive is to possibly loosen up any of these issues.
In terms of force, I would equate it to the force needed for little loud clapping- not enough to kill it, but not normal handling for hard drives
I also agree that a bump probably will not greatly change the prospects from a data recovery services. On the other hand, I am almost certain it will not help them. (and if asked they would advise you not to do this)
so again, it just goes back to what you want to keep on the drive-
If it's some type of irreplaceable data, skip all this nonsense and go with the service. If your just trying to recover your old Warcraft 2 save games, pound away!
I went ahead and decided to send my hard drive to a data recovery firm. There's one particular firm that charges only the recovery itself and not the diagnostics, which is great.
After a few weeks, I received this response (translated in English):
After analyzing your hard drive in our clean room (dust-free space), we've established that the PCB board of your hard drive is damaged. This prevents the hard drive from reading certain service- and data information.
Commenting on the file system and the data structure is only possible after the recovery of the hard drive. Access to the data is not yet possible.
It cannot yet be determined if further damage is to be expected.
This is my response to you:
Kidding aside... I then asked them to return the hard drive, and now it sits safely (albeit damaged) into my hands.
So what do you think I should do? Should I go ahead and order a hard drive or PCB of the same model on eBay?