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Discussion Starter #1
Relax... HD = hard drive, not Harley Davidson! :D

So, here's my story:
I have a Gateway 610S "Media Center" PC that I use in my home office, for internet, e-mail, word processing, etc. (low-end stuff). However, a lot of my small business data is on the hard drive, and I've been less than diligent about backing up.

Admittedly, I didn't give it much thought, but I think my (stupid) thought process went something like this: Back up my data? Geez, this machine is only eight months old! Surely it won't crap out anytime soon!
Yeah, RIGHT. And the IRS ain't gonna take "I forgot to back up my data and my hard drive died" as an excuse when I fail to produce accurate records about the year's P&L. :crap:

Well, as if to teach me a lesson, it happened. Two days ago, I had worked on the machine for two hours or so, and then left the machine on as I retreated to the garage to do some wrenching (another thread on that later...). My wife later poked her head into the garage to ask me why the computer was "frozen". Turns out she had jumped online to look at some stupid arts and crafts crap, and I'm supposed to believe it was presumably just her bad luck that the machine just quit while she was using it. I jokingly blamed it all on her. She didn't laugh. :huh:
(Actually, I think it WAS just her bad luck.)

When I got to the scene, my poor hard drive was making "static-like" noises that kinda reminded me of an old Hayes modem I had. In other words, not good. The machine powered off, and upon rebooting, displayed a "hard drive not found" message.

Booting with my trusty "Bart PE" CD didn't help; the hard drive simply wasn't being found. So I knew the drive had to come out. It took me over an hour, but I was finally able to disassemble the machine to the point I could remove the offending hardware. To be sure it wasn't the IDE controller in the Gateway, I installed the drive in a spare machine. No luck. I installed it in my external Firewire drive enclosure. No luck. In each case, the drive simply fails to be visible to the host PC.

Please see THIS PIC if you're interested in trying to gain just an ounce of understanding about how frustrating it was to get to the hard drive on this poorly-designed PC. FAR worse than any laptop I've ever worked on!

I've never seen this before; I've had hard drives become corrupted, but I've always been able to re-format them and start over.

Anyhoo, do I have any options to save my data? I don't really give a crap about the drive itself. In fact, I'd prefer to toss it and get another drive, since it's already failed once. What I'm really interested in is the data and files on the drive. Is there a place I can send it that might be able to rescue my data, considering the drive isn't bootable or even "found"? Could the appropriate internals be swapped into another drive housing?

HELP! :idunno:
 

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Data recovery is possible, but not always guaranteed!! And it’s pretty expensive!! You have tried connecting it as a secondary drive right (not the boot drive)? Good luck.
 

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Aaaaah, good old WD doorstop!

If it's not being detected, it's likely the electronics on the hard drive itself. Do you have an identical hard disk that you could swap the circuit board out with?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ND4SPD said:
Aaaaah, good old WD doorstop!

If it's not being detected, it's likely the electronics on the hard drive itself. Do you have an identical hard disk that you could swap the circuit board out with?
Hey!!! I think you're onto something.
(I guess you saw in the pic that it's a WD drive? Good eye!)

But yes, I just may have another identical drive that I could swap internals with. However, I need to find a stinkin' Torx bit small enough for these screws first. Have you ever done this?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I may try the freezer thing. Leaving the machine on may have gotten the drive hot. One would think such a failure shouldn't happen, but you never know.

In the meantime, I'll try and find the proper bit to remove the cover. I think I have one at work.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Taz:

The 70s called they want their desk back.

Yeh what postwhore said. Find an identical drive and swap the electronic board. If you are hearing clicking or some mechincal noise and realy want the data from it ....turn it off NOW.. send it to a data recovery place and be prepared to spend about 3k?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tombstone said:
The 70s called they want their desk back.
Ah, you funny guy.
Not the 70's man...SWEDEN. (It's IKEA, see?) :D

And no, I don't think I'll spend $3K. There will be another way.

I was able to remove the WD's Torx screws with a precision flatblade. Once inside, I realized it would not be a simple task to swap the circuit board.

Me thinks I'll optimistically explore some other avenues prior to trying to pull out the board.
 

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Definitely do the freezer thing. It works more often than not.
If that doesn't work, data recovery is less expensive than most people think. I had to so it once.
 

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TAZ said:
Ah, you funny guy.
Not the 70's man...SWEDEN. (It's IKEA, see?) :D

And no, I don't think I'll spend $3K. There will be another way.

I was able to remove the WD's Torx screws with a precision flatblade. Once inside, I realized it would not be a simple task to swap the circuit board.

Me thinks I'll optimistically explore some other avenues prior to trying to pull out the board.
unless its built like a seagate...the system board to swap is exposed on the underside of the drive. Somewhere on slashdot I read about a guy that searched on ebay for a few identical drives and finnaly got one that was compatible among all the identicals ...same model and the same firmware imprinted on the chips and was able to pull the data.

Me thinks there should only be one ribbon cable to reattach from the board into the sealed area that holds the platters.

Hrm? Ikea you say? Looks like formica. Everything that is old is new again.
 

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I've had success loading a second drive as master and then using the "bad" drive as slave. I have never tried the freezer method. Don't know if that woudl hurt it or not.... Wouldn't condensation on the disk plate be of any concern? (I never use my portable HDD if it's been in a cold car until it warms up to room temp.) I guess I'm just naive that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I can't just do the slave method; the drive isn't even recognized on the IDE chain. ;)

First, I tried the freezer trick. Researched it first. Seems you need to wrap the drive in plastic or put it in a big ziplock freezer bag to keep condensation at bay. The drive got nice and cold, but no dice - still not readable, even after it warmed up a little. I deduced that the drive's controller had failed. (BTW - this freezer trick is known to work primarily on Maxtor drives, as they often have circuit board overheating issues when they fail).

I poked around. I have at least nine PC's around here, and I knew I had another WD 80GB drive somewhere. Well, I found an apparently identical one. And as it turns out, the main circuit board is completely visible and accessible from the bottom of the drive - no need to remove the top cover. It simply comes free after removing four small Torx screws. No ribbon cables, soldered connections or plugs either. :)

So I swapped the circuit board onto the "bad" drive, and used the controller/IO board from my external FW/USB2 drive to connect it to the PC (the "donor" drive was usable/readable in this manner). The first several times I tried to power it up I got nothing...but on the fourth or fifth time, the host PC was actually able to display the contents of the drive. It looked like I was home free. Alas, I was unable to actually read or copy any of the data.

I'm still trying; it seems every time I reboot the PC or reconnect the external drive it acts slightly differently. Getting closer, but not quite there yet. :huh:
 

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Did you try using the diagnostics available from WD? I have had my third WD drive die on me (no I will never buy another one, I don't care how low the price!) and was able to use the DOS level diagnostics to finally get the thing scanned and was able to recover the data off of it. Mine wasn't making really scary sounds either tho... Good luck! NExt time, think RAID 1!
 

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TraumaOne said:
Did you try using the diagnostics available from WD? I have had my third WD drive die on me (no I will never buy another one, I don't care how low the price!) and was able to use the DOS level diagnostics to finally get the thing scanned and was able to recover the data off of it. Mine wasn't making really scary sounds either tho... Good luck! NExt time, think RAID 1!
Or RAID 5 :evilaugh: :smilebig:
 
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