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Dropped HD on floor. How to fix


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#1 amadeus

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 12:49 PM

Hi,

I am in great need of your help!

A Maxtor D540X-4K (40GB) disk fell on the floor while it was powered on.

When I connect it to a computer using a IDE->USB cable, Windows can see that a USB device is connected, but it can not see what it is.

The disk engine spins, and there are no strange sounds from it.

Does anyone know what to do, if I would like to get the data back?

Best regards,
Amadeus S.

#2 whiic

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 01:39 PM

First, check that the drive is configured as drive 0 (="master"). Check that all cables are firmly attached and possibly try another USB cable and/or port to connect it to. If this doesn't work, connect the drive internally and see if BIOS can recognize it.
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#3 E.T

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 02:31 PM

Now this starts to remind some of the top ten data destruction methods listed by Ibas...

-Don't drop laptop from table to floor, drop it from helicopter.
-Put laptop into same bag with leaking shampoo bottle.
-Deliver damaged hard drive to data recovery company inside pair of dirty socks causing further damages during transport.
-Leave banana on top of external HD enclosure letting its content spill to inside enclosure.


Windows can see that a USB device is connected, but it can not see what it is.
The disk engine spins, and there are no strange sounds from it.

Lights are on but no one is home?
I would expect at least some serious amount of bad sectors if drive can be gotten to read something.

#4 amadeus

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 03:19 PM

I can't enter BIOS when the disk is connected as master.

At first did I thought that the print board was damaged since the disk could not be initialized, but now I have tried to just connect a print board from an old disk to the computer, and it can't regonize it as a disk.

It is somewhat same syntoms I see here.

Where could the problem be?

#5 whiic

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 04:48 PM

"I can't enter BIOS when the disk is connected as master."

I meant that when running it inside the USB enclosure you configure it as a master. If you install it internally, you use the jumper to configure it properly (i.e if there is already one master connected to the cable, configure it as a slave). If you configure the drive as a master with a pre-existing master on the cable, there'd be two device 0s resulting into a conflict and likely both masters will remain unrecognized by BIOS (or something unpredictable may happen).

Of course, IF the drive was working normally inside the USB enclosure prior to dropping it, it was properly configured and trying another USB cable/port is unlikely to solve the problem. Was it inside the USB enclosure prior to dropping? (I ask this because you didn't mention it. It is possible to have the HDD connected to internal IDE and dropping it while holding it in hand trying trying to evaluate if it vibrates or spins up, etc.)

"At first did I thought that the print board was damaged since the disk could not be initialized, but now I have tried to just connect a print board from an old disk to the computer, and it can't regonize it as a disk."

WTF? "Just connect the print board"? Removed the PCB off the HDD and connected it? Or just connected the data cable and left molex power connector off? Or what did you do? And why did you do that?

"Where could the problem be?"

Gravity? Nope. That'd just be the cause of the problem. The problem might either be broken soldering on PCB or mechanics inside the HDD. The HDD might spin up, but actuator might not be working properly. Does it click on power up? Does it make the same series of familiar clicks it made prior to dropping? Like a DM+9 always makes a "TOK TOK TOKO-TOK TRRRRR" and old Quantums make even more easily recognizable "TIK TAK TIKATAKA(TIKATAKATIKATAKA) TRRRR" (length varies between models of course and some models just make few clicks with no TRRR). I have one D740X audio sample from Anandtech but the audio quality is too poor for me to comment on calibration clicks. I have not owned any D740Xs either.
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#6 amadeus

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 03:44 AM

"I can't enter BIOS when the disk is connected as master."

I meant that when running it inside the USB enclosure you configure it as a master. If you install it internally, you use the jumper to configure it properly (i.e if there is already one master connected to the cable, configure it as a slave). If you configure the drive as a master with a pre-existing master on the cable, there'd be two device 0s resulting into a conflict and likely both masters will remain unrecognized by BIOS (or something unpredictable may happen).

Okay. If I attach it as the only drive in the computer, as master, the computer freezes under the drive detection, so it never enters BIOS.

Of course, IF the drive was working normally inside the USB enclosure prior to dropping it, it was properly configured and trying another USB cable/port is unlikely to solve the problem. Was it inside the USB enclosure prior to dropping? (I ask this because you didn't mention it. It is possible to have the HDD connected to internal IDE and dropping it while holding it in hand trying trying to evaluate if it vibrates or spins up, etc.)

Sort of. It was connected using an "open" IDE->USB connector that have no enclosure. It is a universal connector that works for 2.5", 3.5" and SATA drives, so the only protection the disk had when it hit the floor was the cable had taken some of the velocity.

"At first did I thought that the print board was damaged since the disk could not be initialized, but now I have tried to just connect a print board from an old disk to the computer, and it can't regonize it as a disk."

WTF? "Just connect the print board"? Removed the PCB off the HDD and connected it? Or just connected the data cable and left molex power connector off? Or what did you do? And why did you do that?

Yes, I tried to just connect a PCB to the IDE->USB converter, IDE cable and molex.

The reason was that I find it strange that the disk that I dropped on the floor can't even be regonized. I would assume that if a disk can't be regonized it means bronken PCB. So inorder to test this, I removed a PCB from an old disk, and just connected it.

But to my surprise, and IDE and moxel connected PCB does not be initialized as a harddisk, or initialized at all for that matter.

So now I conclude that it is not the PCB that is damaged, but something else. Finding a new PCB would be the easiest thing =)

"Where could the problem be?"

Gravity? Nope. That'd just be the cause of the problem. The problem might either be broken soldering on PCB or mechanics inside the HDD. The HDD might spin up, but actuator might not be working properly. Does it click on power up? Does it make the same series of familiar clicks it made prior to dropping? Like a DM+9 always makes a "TOK TOK TOKO-TOK TRRRRR" and old Quantums make even more easily recognizable "TIK TAK TIKATAKA(TIKATAKATIKATAKA) TRRRR" (length varies between models of course and some models just make few clicks with no TRRR). I have one D740X audio sample from Anandtech but the audio quality is too poor for me to comment on calibration clicks. I have not owned any D740Xs either.

Now that yoy mention it, I don't think it makes these sounds anymore. If it very quiet on spin up. That's a bad sign I guess...

#7 jboles

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 06:28 AM

I've uploaded a sound sample of a Maxtor D740X here... your D540X should sound somewhat similar when it starts up. If it isn't making those sounds anymore, I think it's safe to say it's dead and you should (depending on how much you value the data) consider engaging the services of a data recovery professional.

Edited by jboles, 02 January 2007 - 06:29 AM.

#8 whiic

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 06:29 AM

amadeus: "Sort of. It was connected using an "open" IDE->USB connector that have no enclosure. It is a universal connector that works for 2.5", 3.5" and SATA drives, so the only protection the disk had when it hit the floor was the cable had taken some of the velocity."

Unless it fell on an object lying on the floor, it'd be unlikely that there'd be excessive force applied to the PCB since the sides of the HDD have ridges. Pretty much the only direction of falling that would apply excessive force to the PCB would be if it fell down on the edge where the external connectors are. That's like 1 out of 10.

Of course the PCBs own inertia will cause stress while bumped, but the internal mechanics are likely much more vulnerable to this type of shock. We are talking about mechanical shock while operational. Non-operational shock can be 200...300 G and it doesn't necessarily kill the drive. Since the drive may survive even that high shocks when powered of, and since PCB has no moving parts, the PCB is likely to survive the same 200...300 G even when operational. The internal components can't. Operational shock tolerance is only a few Gs to a few dozen Gs, depending on pulse duration.

See, dropping a HDD from height of meter is usually enough to kill or damage even a powered down HDD. Some calculations:
P = m*g*h
K = .5*m*v^2

v^2 = 2K/m
= 2P/m
= 2*m/m*g*h
= 2*g*h
v = sqrt(2*g*h)
= sqrt(20) (falling from 1 meter)
= 4.4 m/s

If you have a soft carpet on the floor, it might permit the HDD do decelerate for a distance of 5mm => approx 1...2ms shock duration
(4.4 m/s)/1ms = 4400 m/s^2 = 200...500 G

A hard floor with no carpet and multiply the shock value by 5 or 10.


So, even with a soft carpet and HDD powered down, it'd still be above non-operational shock specs. Thus, I wouldn't give too much hope in recovering the HDD and/or it's contents, but you can of course do a visual inspection of the drive. Since it was dropped without an enclosure, it might have landed in pretty much any orientation. There might be damage to PCB (which is pretty much the only thing that you can fix) or the top cover might be dented inwards, jamming the mechanics. Other than those two, the damage is probably internal and invisible to outside inspection, and also impossible to repair without spending a fortune on data recovery. (Dented top cover, is another thing you can't just fix yourselves. You can only diagnose it.)

And don't open the top cover to inspect it more closely. Because the internals are extremely sensitive to microscopic dust particles. Open it only if you have already lost your hope on data recovery or recovery of the physical device. If you howeven decide to open it, post us a few pictures. I'd like to see how screwed up the internals are after such an extreme operational shock.

Here's some projects that might be of interest:
http://hackedgadgets...ead-hard-drive/
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#9 jboles

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 06:34 AM

The reason was that I find it strange that the disk that I dropped on the floor can't even be regonized. I would assume that if a disk can't be regonized it means bronken PCB. So inorder to test this, I removed a PCB from an old disk, and just connected it.

But to my surprise, and IDE and moxel connected PCB does not be initialized as a harddisk, or initialized at all for that matter.

The sounds the disk makes when it starts up are part of its power-on self-test. If that self test fails (or something is preventing it from completing) then the drive won't expose itself to the system and will not allow itself to be detected. Presumably this is to prevent damage to the computer or further damage to the drive if the computer starts trying to use it.

#10 whiic

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 07:03 AM

That, plus some portion of the drive's firmware may be stored on the platters so called "service area".

Either way, a HDD without access to the platters (either due to bad service area or due to bad R/W head(s)) will not be recognized or will be recognized incorrectly.

With a mechanical shock like falling from a table while platters spinning, it's very likely that the heads will crash on the media. If it was writing data, there might be off-track write, but in bumbs of that magnitude a physical contact with platter surface is extremely likely to occur. And not just touching the platter but hitting it quite hard.

Considering some drives (like Quantum ProDrive) have had a habit of literally dropping it's sliders off the actuator arms in normal usage, I see it's not that impossible for something like that to happen on a drive that under typical (non-dropping-from-a-table) condition doesn't exhibit such a tendency. And even if any of the sliders didn't come loose, they might just be severely deformed, unable to fly correctly or the trailing edge (where the actual read sensor and write coil reside) damaged due to hit.

Someone who actually has dealt with these cases of operational shock would be more qualified to describe the nature of havoc caused. I'm just guessing it'd most likely be the heads or spindle motor. But since spindle works normally that leaves just the heads. Of course the actuator bearings, coils, arms, erc. might twist and deform, but that might happen with equal likelyhood even during non-operational shock as these parts are not affected by the rpm of the spindle/platter assembly.
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#11 amadeus

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 09:47 AM

I've uploaded a sound sample of a Maxtor D740X here... your D540X should sound somewhat similar when it starts up. If it isn't making those sounds anymore, I think it's safe to say it's dead and you should (depending on how much you value the data) consider engaging the services of a data recovery professional.

It doesn't sound like that at all. It's a steady noise right from the start...

Thanks for this sample :)

#12 amadeus

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:37 AM

And don't open the top cover to inspect it more closely. Because the internals are extremely sensitive to microscopic dust particles. Open it only if you have already lost your hope on data recovery or recovery of the physical device. If you howeven decide to open it, post us a few pictures. I'd like to see how screwed up the internals are after such an extreme operational shock.

I have now opened it, and there is nothing to notice. It looks perfect...

From now on I will be a lot more careful with hard drives =)

#13 whiic

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:21 AM

Now, plug into a power connector and let it run for a day or two. See if it starts to make funny noises as the R/W head starts to crash into dust particles and eventually grind it's way through the platter. Because that'd be fun. :P

Have you by the way seen the video where someone removed the actuator arm and unscrewed the top cap that kept the platters in place, then powered on the HDD and all the platters (in fact he put platters of multiple HDDs inside the one HDD case) came out of the HDD (which was on it's side) and started zooming across the room and collided into a ramp of where the platters changed direction and flew up and hit the roof? That was a funny video. I kinda reminded me of a website that collected all sorts of gadgets made of office equipment, all intended to be used as weapons. No doubt a HDD could be one of them...

Anyway, have fun.
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#14 Brad.B

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 03:45 PM


And don't open the top cover to inspect it more closely. Because the internals are extremely sensitive to microscopic dust particles. Open it only if you have already lost your hope on data recovery or recovery of the physical device. If you howeven decide to open it, post us a few pictures. I'd like to see how screwed up the internals are after such an extreme operational shock.

I have now opened it, and there is nothing to notice. It looks perfect...

From now on I will be a lot more careful with hard drives =)

Aw, geez, I don't pay attention to the forum for a couple of days and it goes to heck.

Am I crazy or did NOBODY here suggest using a professional recovery facility, the likes of OnTrack, etc. BEFORE the poor guy opened up his hard drive and pretty much dashed all hope?

-Brad

#15 whiic

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 04:09 PM

Brad.B: "Am I crazy or did NOBODY here suggest using a professional recovery facility, the likes of OnTrack, etc. BEFORE the poor guy opened up his hard drive and pretty much dashed all hope?"

You're crazy. No offence but since you said it yourself.

Possibility of using professional data recovery was recommended, mentioned or at least implied by three (3) different people in this thread. Why is it that we are so obsessed about professional data recovery that even mentioning it thrice (3 times) in one thread is not enough? Professional data recovery is for professionals who are likely to become unprofessional as soon as their boss hears about what happened. The rest of us are unlikely to pay thousands of dollars to get back the pr0n that was downloaded from the Net. Unless it's a very good collection of it. Meaning a priceless one. With squirrels. And pirates... and a guy called Jem.

No. Not Jem... because he is worthless.

Edited by whiic, 03 January 2007 - 04:12 PM.

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#16 Brad.B

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 04:40 PM

Possibility of using professional data recovery was recommended, mentioned or at least implied by three (3) different people in this thread.

I'm re-reading the thread now and I don't see what you're talking about. Only ONE person - jboles - suggested professional services. I missed that post on the first scan. Otherwise there are posts from you suggesting the jumpers and cabling, describing sounds of failure modes, describing shock forces and risks, ET mentioning more amusing ways of destroying data (does suggesting transporting the HD in dirty socks really constitute a recommendation or even an implication?), and ultimately you telling the guy not to open the cover "but if you do"...

Nice.

Why is it that we are so obsessed about professional data recovery that even mentioning it thrice (3 times) in one thread is not enough? Professional data recovery is for professionals who are likely to become unprofessional as soon as their boss hears about what happened. The rest of us are unlikely to pay thousands of dollars to get back the pr0n that was downloaded from the Net. Unless it's a very good collection of it. Meaning a priceless one. With squirrels. And pirates... and a guy called Jem.

I make no assumptions about the value or the nature of the data. Value is subjective. Potential costs are fairly up-front and I leave the task of weighing the value, up to the victim. Value is subjective. Things are worth what people are willing to pay.

My brother recently hesitated to pay the US$800 or so that it would have cost to get back four or five years of family pictures. If I were one his kids I'd be scarred for life knowing that he even had to think twice about it.

The big thing in my opinion is to mention the option of professional recovery as quickly as possible because hard drive failures, specifically ones which involve platter/head collisions, can snowball (figuratively and literally) and the longer a drive is operated the less change of recovery there is.

Are squirrels and pirates a Finnish thing or is it just you?

And what's the URL? ;-)

-Brad

#17 whiic

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:07 PM

Brad.B: "My brother recently hesitated to pay the US$800 or so that it would have cost to get back four or five years of family pictures. If I were one his kids I'd be scarred for life knowing that he even had to think twice about it."

I'd be scarred if I heard my parents paid $800 to recover pictures of my childhood (regardless whether they thought twice or not).

Actually I might pay $800 for secure elimination of those photos. HDD crash would be nice, but unfortunately the pictures are old-style printed one. Makes it more complicated to destroy all of them and without raising suspicion.

Like you said, value is very much subjective. Some things have negative value and shouldn't exist at all. Something like George W. Bush.

Brad.B: "Are squirrels and pirates a Finnish thing or is it just you?"

Squirrels was a reference to some older discussion that has taken place in SR. One of the post included mentioning of "rare squirrel pr0n". I'm not sure but I think the topic was data recovery even back then... I could try hitting the Search button to find it.

Pirates and some gyu named Jem was a reference to How to Kill a Mockingbird swf-animation.
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#18 whiic

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:19 PM

Here's a link to some Awesome:
http://www.stanford....codary/tkam.htm

And the other (but there's a lot more at Hacked Gadgets):
http://hackedgadgets...tters-released/
Antec 1200 | HX520W | Commando | Q6600 G0 @ 3.15GHz | Noctua NH-U12F | 8GB of RAM | HD 4670 (passive)
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