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Trying to revive dead Hitachi HDD

This is a discussion on Trying to revive dead Hitachi HDD within the Hard Drive Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Greetings to the GODS of ubergeekdom, The HDD on my 3.5 year old Dell laptop died, and I've discovered my


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Old 03-25-2010, 08:04 PM   #1
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Greetings to the GODS of ubergeekdom,

The HDD on my 3.5 year old Dell laptop died, and I've discovered my backups weren't backing up (that HDD seems to be bad too).

Here are the specs from the HDD:
...Hitachi Travelstar
...Model HTS541040G9SA00
...Serial ATA
...40 Gb
...RPM: 5400
...F/W: C60G
...P/N: 0A27472
...MLC: DA1340
...CHS: 16383/16/63
......... A145121
other numbers scattered around the label:
...N13508 E182115 T
...RoHS D33373 04-4088(B)
...DS/N TH-0WC003-12567-64H-1QR2
...DP/N 0WC003: C/O TH:
...HDD S/N: MPBBP0X2J6G5YM
...Rev A00

A friend with a USB SATA caddy and some HDD recovery S/W plugged the disk in and it didn't even spin up. We put the disk in the freezer for 30 min., gave it a few hand-spins, and voila: it spun up and was 'seen' by his computer, but recognized as having 0 bytes and no identifying info.

I found a working duplicate manufactured only a couple of weeks prior to my own and thought I could replace the board and get it running.

(1) Is this a reasonable effort to make?
(1.5) i.e. are my chances of success about even? Better than even? Worse than even? Or approaching zero?
(2) Are there any pitfalls I should know about?
(3) Is an external USB caddy good enough to communicate with the host computer (one of your gurus said in a similar post that the USB caddies don't communicate all of the ATA data to the host ...)
(4) Any body have any other ideas? suggestions? warnings?

Thanks in advance,
~unemployed S/W geek
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:33 PM   #2
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That drive has a reasonable chance of success for a board swap, however the label info is not the most critical. Model number must match, but the white label on the PC Board is what you need to match on Hitachis The sy,ptoms you are seeing however are indicative of a head failure. The identifying info is not on the board, but on the platters in the service area. The fact that the critical firmware adaptive modules are on the platter are what makes these drives a good candidate. The label you are looking for on the PCB has four lines of numbers. The first two lines must match exactly, lines three and four - the closer the match the better. Also, an MLC match is not rquired, but seems to help. The USB interface prevents direct communications with the ATA controller on the drive, and doesn't pass some of the low level commands and protocols that may be needed. Mounted directly to a desktop motherboard is much preferred. Best guess on your actual problem is probably stiction since it spun when you manually turned the platters, make sure you do not touch the platter surfaces, the platters need to be spun from the center hub with equally distributed torque - wron application of torque when freeing stuck heads can cause the platters to go out of alignment. Do not open the drive again until you are completely ready to recover the data. Also avoid freezing, since you have already allowed dust into the drive, freezing will allow moisture to condense on the platter, the dust will stick to the moisture and an ice drop will form. If this happens, when the heads hit that ice, you will damage the heads and probably render the disk unrecoverable.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:44 PM   #3
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***THANK YOU!!!***
I shall move forward tomorrow!
(we didn't actually open it up yet, just gave the whole thing a spin and got it un-stuck with centrifugal force)
~uS/Wg
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:37 AM   #4
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OK well don't open it then :) Make sure thsoe first two lines on white label of the PCB are exact matches or it will likely not even spin up. I think tho in thios case you have an internal issue, heads, preamp, platter damage, as opposed to a PCB issue
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:41 AM   #5
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Swapped out PCBs (even tho the last letter of the second line of code on the white label was A on the new PCB and B on the old PCB. Still wouldn't spin up until frozen, but did spin up, but this time the computer never saw it at all.

NOW FOR THE BAD PART: Replaced original PCB and inserted dead HDD into an open SATA drive slot on my friends computer w/ OS:Windows 7. (dead HDD still cold from freezer)

His computer was on (he says it has "hot swap" ability). The dead HDD spun up. My friend went thru a series of items off the START menu the last of which was something like "scan for disks" or "refresh disks".

After what seemed like almost a minute the monitor went BLACK for ~30 seconds, then went pure blue (like BSOD only no message). Friend said this was it's "no signal" state.

Fortunately he tried his VGA monitor and found a "Windows repair request" that could only be seen on that monitor (?). and was able to fix the problem

But why would plugging in a dead HDD cause a system crash?

What/where is the cheapest data recovery service? Now I'm scared to even try fixing this thing.

Thanks again!!
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:59 AM   #6
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The minimum for reliable recovery is going to start out about $800 plus a parts drive. Costs could go up to maybe $1500 - $1800 depending on teh issue. This is however a relatively easy drive to work on so it should be at the lower end. Make sure in this case the vendor you choose has an in house clean room - while there are some reliable shops that do send their clean room work out to other labs, a lot of the lower priced shops try the shotgun approach to recovery, and end up causing more damage and increasing the costs. They recover logical failures - those that are recoverable using software tools. A dedicated data recovery shop will have the equipment and personnel to be able to correctly diagnose the drive, and the facilities to safely open it and recover the data. Freezing is never a good idea however. You can easily cause more damage. Drives are not air tight, the air is the same inside the drive as outside. As with anything you put into the freezer, moisture will condense from the air. The smooth surface of the platters makes the perfect surface for this condensation, which will freeze into small ice drops. When the heads hit this block of ice sever damage to the heads can occur. The moisture on the platter surface is also not a good idea.
Even a computer that is hot swap capable should not be plugged in hot to an internal connection. It is too easy to get an arc - hot swap bays generally have some way to disconnect the power to the drive by a switch, before the drive is actually removed from teh connector. You could well have a spindle or motor issue, if that is the issue, then the drive could be pulling a high current from the PSU which could easily cause a low voltage condition or a spike to other components which could cause the crash.
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