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External Hard Drive Dropped, Stopped Working


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#1 joenorwood77

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 10:54 PM

I have one more external hard drive with issues. I dropped it a while back (not a far drop, but far enough). The power still goes on but the laptop does not detect it. Also, the hard drive would make a few clicks then stop trying to boot up.

After some research, along with an understanding that opening a hard drive is at my own risk, I did manage to open it today. I expected to see the head stuck on the platter. It was not. It was right were it should be. Anyways, now when I turn on the hard drive, it makes a high pitched noise. Now my laptop makes a noise when I connect the hard drive, so the computer knows it is there.

At the very least, it will be nice to get this one working long enough to copy all of my movies so I can seed them again. There is nothing sentimental or important on this drive, other than PTP movies.

I will continue to research but any tips and suggestions here will be greatly appreciated!

OK, it appears the high pitch noise was due to me not putting the drive back together. Once I secured the middle screw, the noise no longer happens. However, the drive still does not boot up either. Any ideas? I am assuming a part must have came loose or moved during the fall but I cannot see anything abnormal at first glance.

 

I also did switch it into a new casing with a new power cord and new USB cable, just in case. Still no luck.



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#2 YeahBleeping

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 11:06 PM

Hard drives are put together in ' near vacuum ' conditions.  At this point I really don't think your going to get that hard drive working again.

 

ANY spec of dust on those disc platters will cause loads of issues.  Most likely this drive has mechanically failed  (as evidenced by your descriptions).  Since hard drives are not really meant to be bounced on the floor (accident or not) I would say the possibilities of you getting anything off that drive are nil.

 

This is simply my opinion,



#3 joenorwood77

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Posted 19 February 2015 - 11:14 PM

On Youtube, there are tons of people who show demonstrations of taking their hard drive apart, moving the head off of the platter, and then the drive works. Many of them add that once the drive starts up, the air blowing should remove the dust particles. The only issue is for those heads stuck on the platter, there were some people with some damage to a small part of their data from that.

 

I understand it is a long shot even though internally it appears normal looking. It just appears that some data recovery centers may exaggerate how opening a hard drive will almost certainly ruin any chance of recovering any data.

 

For my situation, I at least wish I could isolate the situation to one issue so I can at least attempt to recover my data.



#4 Taikoh

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 12:19 AM

One thing you might want to do is verify the SMART attributes of the drive in order to make sure it hasn't been put into a pre-failure state. One good system tool for checking HDD status is the Ultimate Boot CD, with my personally preferred tool being HDAT2 (located under HDD => Diagnostics => HDAT2 in UBCD). It boots up pretty fast, supports a TON of hard drive makes and models (I haven't found one it doesn't work with), and displays all SMART attributes and their values and flags. Just burn the UBCD .iso file to a CD/DVD using something like Imgburn and then boot the computer from that CD/DVD.

 

Regardless of the condition of the drive, one of the cool little things I've come across is a last-resort recovery method if you suspect that the drive has failed and absolutely want the data off. If you put the HDD in the freezer for around 24 hours, then take it out and plug it in, you have a decent window of opportunity that the hard drive will (usually) spin up and allow access to the data. That's taking into consideration, of course, that no data got severely corrupted and that the filesystem and/or partitions are still intact.

 

The only reason I even bring that approach up is because you've already voided your warranty and aren't too concerned about getting dust on the platter; the method described above will most likely permanently damage your drive after it fully warms back up, but it's a possibility if there's simply no other way to back up the data and you don't feel like dishing out a few hundred dollars to send it off to a HDD data recovery center.

 

I seriously hope you're able to get the data off of it, and wish you good luck in your data recovery!  :)



#5 joenorwood77

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 12:30 AM

Regarding Ultimate Boot CD, should that be able to work when my laptop does not even list my external hard drive under "This PC" Devices and Drives?

 

I have read about the freezer trick before. I appreciate you adding to it that it will likely ruin the drive once it warms up completely.



#6 Taikoh

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 02:13 AM

It may be able to. I had a hard drive at work today that wouldn't show up in Windows nor Linux and wouldn't show up in the boot devices. However, it showed up in HDAT2, and I was able to check the SMART attributes of the drive.

As for the freezer trick, I've only ever tried it once and had great success. I don't recommend it most of the time though, since it can be highly destructive. This situation might be a rare exception where that would be a possibility; I just don't want others thinking that I condone dangerous or harmful activities on a regular basis. :P

Save the freezer trick for your literal last resort before giving up entirely though. There are many methods for data recovery, but when the hard drive has physical anomalies residing alongside the magnetic data, the success rate of software-based recovery programs are slim to none. =/

#7 joenorwood77

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 02:55 AM

That is interesting that I might be able to check the SMART attributes of the external hard drive, even though it pretty much clicks twice and tries to spin for a few seconds then simply remains idle.

 

I was stupid and because so many people write about the freezer trick, I did decide to put it in the freezer for like an hour and it did not work. Of course once the room temperature hits the hard drive, the condensation rapidly forms. I dried off the outside of it and placed it in front of a fan in hopes that it will be completely dry before plugging it in again. Obviously water and electricity do not usually mix well. LOL I am assuming I should wait 24-48 hours before plugging it back in?

 

I am just glad nothing sentimental was on the drive but it is still inconvenient to lose what is on there. It still seems like everything is physically in tact inside. Hopefully you are correct about the SMART attributes being the issue. So I pretty much either need to burn that program onto a CD or a flash drive? Is there a way to download an exe file and run from my desktop?



#8 joenorwood77

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 03:15 AM

One more thought is I do have another Seagate 4TB hard drive. I wonder if I can use parts of the working one to recover from the one with issues? Only problem is I still have no clue what is wrong. I will still try using Ultimate Boot CD first and go from there. I might not get to that until Sunday or Monday...



#9 Taikoh

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Posted 20 February 2015 - 07:15 AM

Yeah, an hour definitely wouldn't do the trick at all. You'll also want to use something to prevent condensation before it happens, such as putting it in a zip-lock bag or wrapping it in a paper towel (or a couple of paper towels). Also keep in mind that by sticking it in the freezer for under 24 hours and not keeping condensation out, you may already have eliminated any chance of the possibility of recovery. That's not absolute or certain--it's completely possible that you can try again with success, but freezing it is only to be used as a last resort for good reason: The HDD is being physically altered in a way that it shouldn't be altered.
 
There are numerous different theories as to why the "freezer trick" works, but scientifically speaking (from middle/high school physical science classes), freezing the hard drive would not only slow down the magnetic data's atoms, but it would also shrink the metal parts of the hard drive (i.e. almost all of it). This means that if, for example, the actuator arm is catching on something and can't move freely as it should, then freezing it would physically shrink the mechanical parts of the drive and it may unhinge itself from whatever it was catching on--even if only temporarily. Additionally, since freezing it packs the magnetic particles together more tightly, you're more likely to get a more consistent read of the actual data on the hard drive, especially if the head is hitting that dust particle (shrinking things may cause the head to "skip" over the dust particle, in practice)--again, only temporarily.
 
You can try to attach it to your computer while it's still in the freezer after 24 hours (still in the zip-lock bag or paper towels, etc.) via SATA-to-USB cable (or IDE-to-USB cable depending on your HDD connectors), which might actually be advisable before taking it out. Remember that condensation forming on the platter means H2O molecules forming on the platter, which might even be more damaging than dust getting on the platter. Just keep in mind how ineffective this method really is; you shouldn't rely on this method to any viable extent whatsoever. This is only to be done to bridge the gap between "I want the data" and "I don't want to send it in to a data recovery laboratory."

 

So I pretty much either need to burn that program onto a CD or a flash drive? Is there a way to download an exe file and run from my desktop?

 
As for installing UBCD, if you don't want to do it manually (which can be intimidating at first), then there are programs that you can run that will automatically install it to, say, a flash drive. One of these that I recommend to newcomers is YUMI, but know that installing YUMI to the flash drive will erase all data on that particular flash drive.
 
First, plug your flash drive into your computer. After downloading YUMI and plugging your flash drive in, run YUMI and select your drive's letter (which you can find by going to "Computer" or "My Computer"), then make sure the "Format X: Drive (Erase Content)?" box is checked. The X: part will change depending on which drive your flash drive is mapped to; for example, mine reads "Format F: Drive (Erase Content)?" since it's on the F: drive.
 
Once you've checked the checkbox, click on the "Select a Distribution" (AKA "Step 2") dropdown menu and select "Ultimate Boot CD (Diagnostics Tools)" near the bottom in the "System Tools" section. After you've select the Ultimate Boot CD entry in the dropdown menu, click on the "Download Link" checkbox next to the dropdown menu and answer "Yes" to launching the download link, and this will start to download UBCD.
 
After UBCD finishes downloading, click on Browse and navigate to where it saved ubcd533.iso, which is usually in the C:\Users\[username]\Downloads folder, where [username] is your actual Windows username. When you've selected the UBCD .iso file, click on Create. This will start formatting the USB flash drive and installing YUMI and UBCD onto the flash drive. Once the entire process completes, you can exit the YUMI program. You should now be able to restart the computer and use the USB drive to boot the computer via the boot menu, which you can usually accomplish by pressing one of the F-buttons during startup (for example, pressing F12 during boot brings up my boot menu). This varies from system to system. You can also change the boot order in the BIOS so that your flash drive loads before your HDD.
 
A big con to installing YUMI is that it's a little more complicated than just burning an .iso file to a disc--however, one of the biggest pros to YUMI is that if you ever want more tools or programs to boot from, you can just run the YUMI program again and select another tool to put on the USB (this time WITHOUT checking the "Format" box at the beginning) and continue as normally. This will not only keep UBCD as a bootable option, but you'll now also have whatever else you want to boot as an option.
 
And yes, you WILL be able to use the USB drive as normal (i.e. a storage device) after you install YUMI.  :thumbup2: 
 
 

One more thought is I do have another Seagate 4TB hard drive. I wonder if I can use parts of the working one to recover from the one with issues? Only problem is I still have no clue what is wrong. I will still try using Ultimate Boot CD first and go from there. I might not get to that until Sunday or Monday...


As a notice beforehand: For this to work, both hard drives MUST be the same exact manufacturer and same exact model. Otherwise, swapping components will not work to any acceptable degree.
 
If your issue is with the actuator arm or the electrical components in the hard drive, then simply carefully swapping the PCBs (printed circuit boards) or carefully swapping the platters should work, depending on what's causing the issue. If you touch the platters with your hands/fingers or you drop the platters at this point, you can scrap any hope of data recovery.
 
 
 
Remember that opening your hard drive will cause irreversible damage to your drive. The little hole on the tops of hard drives that read "DO NOT COVER" are meant to do two things. The first is that it equalizes air pressure between the hard drive and the air around it which prevents pressure from building up inside or outside of the device, which could potentially push the actuator head closer to the platter and really mess up the data on the drive. The second is that it acts as an air filter, keeping out any dust, since dust particles are MUCH bigger than one bit of magnetic data.
 
Please keep us posted on how it goes or if you have any additional questions!  :lol:


Edited by Taikoh, 20 February 2015 - 07:27 AM.





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