Hard drive repair and data recovery information
Hard drive repair processes and equipment
The most important tool you MUST have if data is irreplaceable
Trying to determine what the problem is with your failed hard drive can be a guessing game unless you watched it fall two feet from the table.
Even trying to find replacement parts for what you think is the fault can be time & cost consuming

Remember if data is important please consider the experts!




This is much like getting your tires balanced this is a counter weight to enable clean rotation of the HDD Platters, this alignment needs to stay intact for any hope of HDD repairs


My computer will not turn when I plug in the Hard Drive


This will most likely be a power failure of the PCB and the PCB is drawing more power than what the whole computer needs to boot, Chance of repair is high but parts can be an issue
You might also find that the hard drive smells.
Smell or remove the HDD PCB, If the drive smells bad then its has most likely has had a power surge and you could possibly check for obvious physical damage to the PCB





First step in do it yourself hard drive repair
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My Hard drives failed now what is the problem?

Does the hard drive spin?
If so does it click?
Does the armature kick out?
Do the hard drives heads vibrate to initiate?
Is there an odd smell to the drive?
If it doesn't spin do you hear a slight or faint ticking sound?
Does the BIOS see the hard drive?
Does the BIOS see the hard drive as the correct model?
Are there funny characters showing on boot?
Does the operating system blue screen?

With so many faults sounding & looking the same with different causes the best way to diagnose a fault is to start with the least drastic working from the outside in.
Why take the lid of a click hard drive exposing its delicate components to dust & contaminants when the System area was at fault... or the printed circuit board had failed.

I have come across so many recoveries where the client or another technician decided to take the lid off just to have a look!
When in fact what they just did was mess up the original head alignment by removing the head screw to the lid .. just to have a look.
This can be costly & risk the loss of the data.

Important things you should be aware of before you do anything to a suspected failed hard drive

Static discharge will kill a hard drive when handling... especially the internal components
Dust will destroy your data... DO NOT OPEN! In my experience I see so many hard drives destroyed by helpful neighbors when the problem was not situated internal of the hard drive assembly. Just because it clicks doesn't always represent an internal failure.

Swapping the electronics runs the risk of further damage, especially if the revision number of the PCB is different.
You will have a greater success of data recovery with less risk if the original electronics is repaired.



Safe fault diagnostics regarding a clicking or noisy hard drive


On the Side of the base of some models of hard drives... in this case a Maxtor, there is a sticker that collects any contaminants when it comes to dust or the fatal head crash.


Head crash is a term used for describing when the read\write heads make contact with the hard drives platters causing scratches or ditches damaging the platters clean smooth surface, in a lot of cases this will remove all the ceramic coating of the platter leaving a see through glass and platter dust
(THIS IS DEEMED UNRECOVERABLE)
Above is a demonstration of removing the side sticker on a clicking Maxtor HDD to see if the sticker is clean, as you can see this HDD is not in good shape if the sticker is black or contains any type of silver dust then unfortunately you data will be lost and HDD Repairs will not be possible, further more once I had realized the is drive was damaged I removed the Lid to inspect just how bad
As you can see this HDD has had a severe head crash

NOTE if you remove the sticker and it appears to be clean, there is still a possibility of a fine scratch that has not caused any platter dust for the sticker to pick up, but most importantly if it is clean Do NOT REMOVE the top of the drive on your desk and if you do, use a can of compressed air to keep the platters clean before putting the top back on.

Beeping or Humming Hard Drive

If you put power the HDD and you here a beeping sound, this would normally indicate that the spindle motor is jammed
Please see the Common Faults page in relation to this article.
Do NOT under any circumstances undo the screws or remove the platters of the HDD

Demonstrated Below is how balanced the platters are: note the Grey balancing plug in the spindle motor
Many attempts have been made to try & free a jammed Maxtor bearing with minimal success
My hard drive clicks but the platters look OK


It is almost impossible to see platter damage in 40% of cases... What might appear undamaged encourages you to seek multiple parts and self read write head replacement.
But Although with the naked eye the platter seems intact... in this example I have removed the platters and sprayed the drive with a tell all solution, a very fine ring appears, although small, this is enough to kill any replacement parts in seconds




Sorry but the news doesn’t get any better, This ring presides in the system area of this hard drive, This area hold the information required for the drives operation,  so unfortunately this area is unavoidable and what ever parts you put into this drive will be forced to access this area to read the modules for initialization
Hard drive repair diagnostics