Boot drive in desktop went out. What to do?

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by DiscostewSM, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. DiscostewSM
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    DiscostewSM GBAtemp Guru

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    So my main drive stopped working while I was reading my emails today. It gave a long but low sound like it was spinning down until it stopped. It froze my computer like you would think (running Win8.1), so I went and rebooted. Now when it tries to boot up, it buzzes a couple of times, 2-3 times when the computer initially powers up, and 2-3 times when the BIOS tries to identify the drives. It finally gives up and only my secondary drive gets listed. When I tried Ubuntu Live CD, it tried to access it again, but failed to mount. Within that OS, the drive does not get listed like the rest.

    The drive itself is not normally an internal drive, but was the drive in the old WD MyBook external drives. I began using it as my main drive after the enclosure/controller stopped working and my previous drive went out. I plan to get a new drive, but unlike my last drive, this one still has important information on it. The last one gave me some indication that it was going out, so I was able to get what I needed before it went kaput. This one gave no indication. The drive is built like a brick, and as heavy as one too. The look of the drive in the picture is exactly how it looked when I first took it out of the enclosure at least a good year ago. Oddly enough, the screws on top are not only hexagon in shape, but the ones not under covers look like they were purposefully stripped.

    I've never dealt with the internals of an actual drive before, so before I do something careless to attempt to get my data back, I figured I'd ask you all first. Is there anything I can do, or am I SOL?

    I apologize for the massive pictures. I took the pictures on my phone and using that phone to make this post.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
     
  2. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Unfortunately this is not something you can repair. Mechanical failure means drive would need to be sent to recovery center which easily cost $5K+ to recover files.

    Hopefully this teaches you the importance of multiple backups, and periodic checking of SMART data.
     
  3. npbg6464

    npbg6464 Member

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    If the data on your drive was really important and you want to take a shot at recovering it in the future, you need to buy the same model drive with a manufacture date as close as possible to that of your dead drive, and matching firmware. Then in the future if you get access to a clean room and have steady hands, you can try swapping the heads and PCB board of your dead drive. If your drive has more than one platter, whatever you don't unscrew and move them - they're synchronized and moving one platter relative to another will render your data permanently unrecoverable. Your only other option would be to send it to an expensive recovery service, like trumpet-205 mentioned. I had transplanted drive heads before 3 times without a clean room and had 2 successes and 1 fail. In a clean room your chances should be much better, especially if the platters themselves are undamaged.
     
  4. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    You would need a drive platter removal tool when dealing with multiple platters, otherwise it is likely you'll misalign the platters.

    To move platters from one drive to another, it needs to be same make, model, and PCB revision. This of course is assuming that platters are undamaged.
     
  5. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    It has been my experience that the mybook type drives (often the less brilliant quality drives) and the enclosures they come in (nice and prone to overheating) do not make the most reliable of combinations but that is besides the point.
    For a failure like this you might consider the freezer fix. Normally such a thing is for when drives fail to spin back up when powering up but if it was just idling when reading emails it is still possible.

    The idea runs you stick it in a ziplock back with some silica gel (the stuff that says "throw away, do not eat" or some rice -- the stuff you have around to sort mobile phones when people drop them in the toilet) and put it in the freezer for an hour or three. Afterwards try it in an enclosure or the machine.
    It might work until it warms up,it might work for 10 minutes and it might not work at all but it is worth a go. It it works you can repeat the procedure.

    It enables the drive mechanicals (which are coated in grease that ends up like tar, especially after a hard life) to work for that final time.
     
  6. DiscostewSM
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    DiscostewSM GBAtemp Guru

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    Thanks for the responses and suggestions. Unfortunately, it seems the drive is too far gone, and I don't have the means or resources to try anything other than "home-made" methods that so far have not worked. So, rather than spend too much time trying to get it to work, I'm calling it quits. The way it went out was not what I considered normal, so that should have been a good indication that it was not going to be recoverable.

    So anyways, gonna have to get a new drive. Likely two with how important backups are, but I'm unsure of the configuration. SSDs look like they're dropping in price, but I just don't know whether it's actually needed over a higher-capacity HDD. With the 2nd one, I was thinking of an external of decent size. Unfortunately, my system does not have USB 3.0 ports to accommodate high transfer speeds (the CPU/MB is at least 6 years old). An addon card would fix that, but from what I see, they're all PCI-E, and the lone one in my system is right next to my massive GeForce 550 Ti, so it might be a tight snug (not on the fan side though). What would you all recommend for someone on a tight budget?
     
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    You can get higher capacity SSDs but they are crazy expensive right now compared to similar size drives. That said splitting the difference between a small ish SSD (60 gigs is more than enough for windows 7 and a good chunk of programs) and a spinning drive for bulk storage works well, by the way the number of choice when looking for SSDs is IOPS (though check read and write speeds as well) and you do not want low ones there.

    If the card is not going to be on the fan side as long as it is not bridging connections you should be good. If you are still concerned there is such a thing as a PCIe riser card/cable ( http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61nqb0oSujL._SL1200_.jpg ), which pretty much do what you think they will.
     
  8. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Don't use SSD (or any flash drive and memory card) for long term unpowered storage. They are the worst medias when it comes to unpowered storage, highly prone to bit rot. They can lose data as soon as 6 months when they are never powered once.

    When making backup, use two different medias. Example, an HDD in your PC and BD-R copy stored outside. Make sure you use checksum (preferably SHA1 or above) on each important file to detect bit rot.