Western Disaster

Recently one of my friend's new hard drives passed on unexpectedly. One day last week the screen said invalid system disk or something to that effect. Then, to add to the fretful loss of valuable data, the hard drive started making a sound. He instinctively turned the pc off. Hoping for the best, he would like to know if, by any means, he can get his data recovered, cheaply? He has a new Western Digital 200 GB, with about 20 GB free. I know that it can be expensive to have this data recovered, so is there another way? Are there do-it-yourself manuals out there on the web?


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  1. I'm not a professional so let me just share what I did.

    When the drive started making a clicking sound I also turned it off immediately. I then booted it up as a slave and moved all the data to another drive. I can't be sure, but at it's worst I only lost data that I haven't missed. At it's best I didn't lose any data.

    I then RMA's the drive and cursed at IBM for ever releasing their cursed hard drives.

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  2. if you cant get the drive to spin up you can LIGHTLY tap the drive with a screw driver handle. that could get it to start. if it makes a screaching sound when it spins your screwed.

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  3. from an article i read in pc magazine. at the time, i found them amusing because i would never try them....but maybe a last resort.

    <A HREF="http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,110320,pg,3,00.asp" target="_new">link</A>
  4. I would avoid tapping the drive with anything, if you have to do that, then tap the motor on the under side, NOT the top.

    It's also worth mentioning, that I have been able to recover full drives of data by running the drive upside down. This is because if a drive is run right way up the bottom set of bearings on the drive spindle are used. Eventually these bearings give up the ghost and make noise. By running the drive upside down, you are using the top set of bearings, hense normally less use and better reading.

    If you want to send the drive away, then the more you play with it now the less likely you are to get your data back, or the more it is likely to cost to do so.
  5. Friend of mine had the EXACT same problem, just minus the noises. After running a utility from WD's web site to test the HDD it found that the cable connector was toast. You could install it, would be detected at post, and even be listed in the device manager but couldn't access it at all. Just my experience


  6. So are WD HDDs crap? I thought they have a good rep?

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  7. I have had great success using WD's hard drive utility software when SMART errors or other mishaps take place with two of the 8 WD drives I have owned. All of them failed very shortly before the warranty and I never bothered to do the RMA [return merchandise authorization] routine. I have never bought another WD drive either. I have seen too many failures at both the home user and corporate levels to warrant using another WD drive unless it was part of a RAID configuration. Hard drives have 'extra space' on the disk surface that is not normally accessed by the head. The WD utility can find weak areas during a surface scan. Weak areas are spots where the data is readable but only after more than the typical number of passes. With WD drives I experienced a pause in PC operations for several seconds, then the drive click-clunked loudly a few times. After the click-clunk the pc would hang or sometimes resume operation as if all was well. The noise is the head being moved from one extreme position to the other, in an effort to re-orient it's position. Most of the drives were damaged in the boot sector or where the OS files were stored, and losing data here would obviously cause hangups. Horrible noises during platter windup are indicators that the head has physically made contact with the surface-it should NEVER touch the surface. I have shown, for demonstration purposes, that the condensation that forms from exhaling onto one surface of a spinning 3 platter 6 head drive [with the cover and warranty :) removed] can stop the platters better than antilock brakes stop your car. It's amazing. Most drives I have dissected fail from 'electronic crashes', not physical ones. Seagate also has a similar utility and I will let you know now: running the scan on a piddly 2.5Gb drive can take a day. 24 hours. Sometimes more, it depends on how often the prog finds 'weak' spots and how much 'free space' that particular drive has. You could also try something like Norton's Ghost, but it will not be so aggressive in copying data and will likely return errors if the source is not easliy readable. If you don't already have an aluminum grinder there then save your data files now, and run the utlity later. Before you drive over your drive you should pop off the cover-the technology under it is awesome. The higher the capacity of the drive, the more reflective the surface; old platters make for great inspection mirrors! They don't fly well though. Older, smaller capacity drives have tan tints that get darker as capacity decreases. You may find a mark on the surface that matches the size of the head: evidence of a light physical crash. Bearings used are BALL bearings, NOT tapered bearings, therefore the load is equally distributed between the two. Running the drive upside-down may keep the offending head off the surface, both bearings are still as functional. Running the drive with the platters up and the heads down may keep other debris out of the way of parts that need to move in order for the drive to operate. You may want to snag the magnet(s) as they are the most powerful you will find anywhere-so powerful they can shatter violently if you allow them to jump to a ferrous surface or another magnet. I even turned an old Seagate 44Mb drive into a super-case blower by swapping a dead PSU fan blade for the platters, cutting a 3" hole in the cover and breaking off the backside of the drive. Provided you can withstand the sound of a 747 taking off under your desk it's a great cooler-it kept my Athlon 600 humming at 750MHz for over a year. Good luck.
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