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Repairing An External


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#1 aommaster

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 03:29 PM

Hey guys!

So a few days ago, I intelligently dropped my Western Digital Essential 250GB Hard drive :thumbsup: (never thought I'd ever do it!) The case had opened slightly, but I managed to close it, and I tried to fire up the hard drive.

All fine. And I thought that was the end of the problem. However, today, I tried to play a video straight from the hard drive, and I noticed that the video would be very choppy, as if there wasn't enough buffer (and I'm pretty sure there wasn't enough) to keep the video running smoothly.

Now, I bought this hard drive about 2 years back, and the warranty has expired. I can still access my files on the hard drive (or at least, I think I can. Every file I tried to access had no problems), but they suffer from a very low transfer rate.

Stuff I've tried that made me sure it was a hardware problem:
1.Changed the electric socket
2.Changed the USB port

I ran a Western Digital Diagnostic tool on the hard drive and it failed on this:
Attribute name: Spin Up time
ID: 3
Value: 6
Threshold: 21
Worst: 6

I'd like to know if there is a way of fixing this. And if possible, could someone give me some instructions on how to do it. I don't care about opening the case or what not, because there's no warranty to worry about. I do have my own soldering iron, etc. if required.

Cheers :huh:

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#2 DJBPace07

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 04:05 PM

Repairing a hard drive is not something most users can do. If you can still use the drive, copy the data off of it in case it fails. An open case will not break the drive since the hard disk itself is contained in another case, the shock of the drop may have broken internal components. The spin up time refers the time it takes the disk to start spinning from stop to full speed.

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#3 garmanma

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 04:55 PM

It is possible that when you dropped it, it might have worked loose from the internal connection. About all you can do is open it and check
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#4 aommaster

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:32 PM

Thanks a lot for the feedback everyone! I'm currently in the process of backing up all the data on the external. What should I be looking for once the case has been opened?

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#5 garmanma

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:43 PM

Well, obviously any small pieces that fall out when you open the case :thumbsup:
Really though, the main thing to look for would be where the drive plugs into
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#6 Platypus

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:22 AM

I agree with the advice to back up the drive contents while it still functions.

With the spin up time being the issue, the drive probably has a misaligned bearing. It is likely struggling to maintain servo lock, so will be having to do continual re-reads to recover from read errors, hence the slow speed. In time the drive motor will probably fail as a tight bearing will make it run hotter, or the bearing could sieze.

Once the data is backed up, you could, if you wish, try "dropping" the drive again - if you can get an idea of the orientation of the drive when it fell, dropping it a few inches onto a firm surface (eg a wooden table) the other way may chance to undo the harm. It may also finish the drive off, but I doubt if it will function for much longer anyway. Spinup is a major pointer to imminent failure.

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#7 aommaster

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 05:28 PM

Hey guys!

So, I tried to resume my backup today (it turns out my computer crashed), so when I started up the hard drive, I hear a clicking sound, as if the hard drive is trying to allign the head, but fails, three times, and stops the hard drive from reading any further.

Has it just died on me? :thumbsup:

Now, I think the going gets even harder, because I want to try and recover the files from the hard drive, so I guess I'll need to hot wire the hard drive after whatever's been damaged has been fixed. (Also, once I open up the hard drive, I want to take pics, so someone may be able to guide me on what to touch, and what not to :huh:)

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#8 dc3

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:06 PM

You may be able to check for a bad connection inside the enclosure of the external drive, but you should forget about opening the case of the hdd itself. All of the external connections are visible on the pc side of the hdd, it there is a problem further than this you aren't going to be able to do anything without the help of a professional trained in retrieving the information from the disk itself.

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#9 aommaster

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:04 PM

Hi!

Thanks for your reply. Okay, so I tried reconnecting the hard drive and it does seem to be detected by windows. I decided to run the windows backup utility before I tried opening the case. However, before the backup could finish, the hard drive crashed again. Now, I can get the hard drive running for a limited amount of time, but it's not enough to complete the whole backup.

Are there any backup utilities I could use that have a feature like "Wait until the hard drive responds, even though hard drive is disconnected from computer".

Any ideas on what to do before I open up the case?

Thanks guys!

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#10 aommaster

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 09:10 PM

Okay, so a little update:
I've opened the hard drive, and yes, it does seem that the actual hard drive (the IDE HD) has suffered some sort of damage. Now, I'm almost certain that the damage is internal, which means that I won't be able to open up the HD's case without corrupting the whole thing.

I did learn a few things from this (e.g. how to open up an external HD, and how they actually work), so it was kinda fun for me. However, is there any way I can apply at home to recover my data?

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#11 Platypus

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 06:53 AM

If the drive will run for a while on each try, rather than using something like Windows backup, which wants to complete an entire backup in one session, you could try manually copying files to another drive, folder by folder. That way when the copy does begin to fail, you can give the drive a break, then try again. If the fault condition is being provoked when the drive gets warm, you can try starting with the drive colder than usual (eg after a while in a refrigerator), to see if this gives you a longer period of operation. Some people have reported success sealing a drive in a ziplock bag and leaving it in the freezer for some hours, but this really is a last resort, that can destroy the drive if internal moisture freezes the head to the platter, or ice crystals provoke head crashes.

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#12 aommaster

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 09:16 PM

Yeah, I've heard of the freeze-the-hell-out-of-your-HD technique working wonders for people. I did a little bit more researching, and I stumbled on an article that stated that the clicks may be because of a faulty HD controller.

Now, what on Earth is an HD controller? Is it the card at the bottom of the hard drive? If so, what card should I get to replace it? I don't think I'm willing to by an identical external HD just to take it apart :thumbsup:

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