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Recovering hard drive after platter swap


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#1 Darel

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:48 PM

I have a several-year-old WD800 hard drive that died on me.  It was the click of death, and I gave it to two techs who both said it was a hardware fault that would require a platter swap.  So, not having $1000 to blow on this data and nothing else to lose, after fooling around with multiple USB adapters (btoh of which work fine on other drives I have lying around) I bought an identical drive off eBay and did the platter swap myself.

 

When I start it up, it seems to behave somewhat normally.  No death click.  This is much further than I have gotten before with this drive after many failed attempts over many years.

 

However, when I launch Disk Management it immediately recognizes the drive and the space available on it, but says the drive needs to be initialized.  Should I initialize?  Which format (it asks me for a specific format)? 

 

It seems I am not getting any data off it without initialization.  I am currently running iCare and Recover My Files but don't seem to be picking anything up there. 

 

Thoughts?

 

Darel



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#2 dpunisher

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:54 PM

Assuming it is a 3 platter drive, what did you use to maintain platter alignment during the swap?

 

EDIT: Did the controller board and firmware match?


Edited by dpunisher, 03 April 2013 - 10:04 PM.

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#3 Darel

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 05:26 AM

It was an old 80G single platter. 

 

I made sure to buy a HD with exactly the same model number.  How can I verify the firmware version is the same?  Is that one of the "numbers" on the label?  Under Drive Parameters, the "LBA" number matches.  The only number that doesn't match is DCM, whatever that is.



#4 Platypus

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 07:19 AM

I suspect you may be in some difficulty. Click of death usually came about when the drive lost either its first track where the boot sector, partition table etc reside, or the service area in drives that loaded firmware from the platter (or both). Your drive needing (and benefiting from) a platter swap suggests to me that a head was also damaged in a head crash that, either at that time or when the damaged head tried to read the first track, tore up the first track on the disc. That would cause the drive to appear to need initialization, as there would be no boot sector or file system. Apart from the fact that you don't want to initialize the drive, thus overwriting the data content, if Track 0 is damaged the initialization will fail. However the drive seeming to now behave sensibly and having correct parameters suggests it's not an issue involving firmware held on the platter.

 

If this is the scenario, recovery will be uncertain. More advanced software may have success, but if the file system is not NTFS, there will probably be less chance since it's likely the FAT is damaged. With NTFS the situation could be better, since the MFT is not at the beginning of the drive, and unless there is damage to the surface in several locations, may have survived.

 

As a last resort, what your money would get you with the professional recovery service would be facilities like being able to directly access the drive's controller to attempt to read every Logical Block Address on the drive, and then walk any recovered data searching for coherent text, file headers, the MFT etc. This way the data can be examined for as long as required without having to run the damaged drive, with the attendant risk of causing more harm, especially now it has been opened in non clean room conditions.

 

DCM I believe is the Drive Configuration Matrix, but its significance isn't clear, as people report swaps between drives with the same DCM not working, but sometimes a swap when the DCMs are different can work, or partially succeed.


Edited by Platypus, 05 April 2013 - 07:26 AM.

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#5 Darel

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:16 AM

So it sounds like I'm pretty much out of luck then.  Thank you!



#6 Platypus

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 05:22 PM

If you want to persevere, I'd suggest while the drive functions in that less distressed state, try as many different recovery programs as you can. Each will have its own techniques and capabilities, and I've heard report of people having some success after going through 5 or 6 different approaches. As well as free offerings, paid recovery software can have a demo mode to see if it can recover anything. I've heard good reports of GetDataBack, and some folk said Spinrite worked for them.


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