Hitachi Deskstar 500GB external USB2 Problems

This drive has worked just fine for several years. yesterday, the PC (Laptop - W7 Ultimate) hung so I rebooted and it would not recognise the external HDD. I've played around with it a bit. Uninstalled, reinstalled etc. but only cccasionally is the drive recognised and then trying to access it results in the app hanging.

The drive spins up OK and you can hear the heads moving but it does now get very hot.

its actually my old backup drive so there is nothing mission critical on it (New backup hastily taken :-) ). However, it would be convenient to get some of the stuff back.
Any ideas as to what I might try?
Any mileage in getting a 2nd model and trying to swap the platters over?
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More about hitachi deskstar 500gb external usb2 problems
  1. Trying to swap the platters may be a terrible idea. If I am correct the slightest speck of dust can really mess something up. I'd start by trying to get it to recognize on a linux distro
  2. You could try removing the drive from the case and plug it right in to the MB, or a different external case. I've had the usb/sata interface fail on a couple drives but the disk was still good.
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