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Solved Is It Reasonable/Sensible to Attempt to Repair a HDD

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by thewoodworker, Sep 1, 2015.

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  1. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    I have four rather old HDDs that are either not recognized by the system or that cause computer shut down when connected.

    Is it reasonable to attempt to repair these? It is my understanding that the majority of all HDD failures are electrical and not mechanical. If this is true, then I would conclude that most problems are caused by the replaceable control board on the HD.

    BTW I have a circuit board on order to attempt the repair of a 250GByte Seagate HD (a Barracuda 7200.10).

    This HD seems to be an ideal candidate for home repair because it immediately shuts down the computer when power is applied. There is a direct short from the HDs' 5 volt input pin to ground. That short circuit exists even when the board is removed from the HD.

    Obtaining an exact replacement seems to be the trick. I 'think' I have done that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  2. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    It's not as simple as replacing the PCB on most modern drives, you may also have to move the original ROM chip or firmware that contains the specific drive parameters to the new PCB. Unlike older drives, new drives are all slightly different and unique. With the 7200.10 a PCB swap may work because its an older drive.
     
  3. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    Thank you for that tidbit. I was not able to ascertain the age of this drive.

    Here is hoping that the circuit board replacement works. That drive has a complete system, system image and data that I would like to preserve. No crisis if I am not able to do that but...

    I read a lot of controversial information on this subject. I do understand that proprietary information needs to be protected but I also believe that the consumer/user has some rights too. Making it difficult/impossible to repair equipment without going back to the vendor for assistance seems to me to be inappropriate.

    I have several hard drives that are in this condition and I feel abused.

    My "repair board" should arrive in a day or two. I will post the results.
     
  4. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    Do a warranty check on the drive at Seagate, it'll tell you the date of manufacture.

    The actual reason for this is technical not because they want them to go back to them; most hard drive manufacture's don't do drive repairs or data recovery anyways. Each drive has light variances, there's also encryption that some drives do and the ability to lock the drive to prevent unauthorized accessed. This is why the ROM chip or firmware needs to be moved.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  5. DaveBurnett

    DaveBurnett Account Closed

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    To expand on the above:
    All disks have bad sectors - even when brand new. The bad sectors are marked and mapped to spare sectors elsewhere on the disk. This map is stored in the chips on the circuit board. This is done when the disk is first initialised.
    The map from one disk will be unlikely to work properly with different platters.
    Disk recovery firms have the machines capable of reading the platters directly and extracting the raw data. This data can be used to recover files, but - believe you me- it is not easy. I had to do it once for the MOD when they killed a disk with extremely sensitive data on it that they urgently needed. (It just happens that I have been security cleared several times over the years and have(had) approved supplier status and was known to "hack" disks. )
     
  6. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    Well, I have invested $40+ into one of two end results. When the PCB arrives, it will be installed and I'll learn whether or not the HDD has been repaired. If it has not, I will caulk the $40+ to my education in computer repair.

    We'll see in a few days.
     
  7. Oddba11

    Oddba11

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    If this is just a way of passing the time and trying to teach/educate yourself, then have at it. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and money.

    As you mention they are "rather old", I will assume they are all 250gb or less. So you have less than 1TB of possible storage ( on 4 old, unreliable, slow, power hungry drives). For $50 or less, including shipping, you could have a new 1TB drive with a warranty.
     
  8. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    I'll not debate whether what I am doing is wise or not and especially when it comes to financially wise. I am likely much older than you and therefore maybe a bit more frugal than you. I survive on a fixed income. Saving $30 is meaningful to me.

    I debated with myself about spending the $40 for the circuit board. Since I have four HDDs that all exhibit the same failure mode, this one experiment MAY yield a solution for all four (250GB drives), I decided to chance it.

    It may prove to be a total waste too.

    For what it is worth, all of the computer equipment that I am using is OLD. I do have two fairly new monitors (I remember when I bought them) and a wireless keyboard and mouse that is less than a year old. My stuff is not state of the art.
     
  9. DaveBurnett

    DaveBurnett Account Closed

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    For what it is worth, I survive on old cheap equipment.
    Part of the fun for me is the challenge of keeping old things (including me) alive and sticking two fingers up to the salesmen who are continually trying to get me to change to new stuff that is not as well made and often not fit for purpose.
     
  10. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

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    Nothing wrong with using old hardware; I even have a NAS box I made out of old parts running windows 2000. There is however a blatant contradiction in this statement
    Given the fact that you can replace the drive for less than the cost of the circuit board [which most likely will not work] Here is a larger drive for less than the cost of your replacement board;
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA5AD2N05885

    I am not getting the frugal part since you are spending more money with a VERY slight chance of the repair actually working.
    If you are doing this as a learning experience, great. If you are doing this in an attempt to save money, it is being wasted.
     
  11. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    You are absolutely right with regard to that being a wiser way to spend my money and I would have had a larger HDD to boot (no pun intended). When this repair doesn't work, maybe I'll go get a couple of those. I'm still hoping to show ALL the nay sayers that the circuit board was really all of my problem.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  12. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Not to pile on. But those stating the money spent on getting a replacement PCB is better spent on a new hard drive are correct. You not only get a new drive with a warranty but as stated you get a drive which is larger in capacity, faster, and uses less energy. Even if you get the drives working with the new PCB, the drives have already "mileage" on them. Just look at a hard drive as you would a used car. You can put money into fixing a used car but at some point the money spent to keep the car going doesn't make sense in getting a new or newer car. All drives have a number called a MTBF (mean time before failure). This measures how long on average before this drive will fail as tested/estimated/simulated by the manufacturer. Remember, drives are mechanical devices.

    An extreme illustration of this is what I did recently. I had two iSCSI Equallogic storage arrays. Each array has 16 drives in them. I replaced them with a new FC Compellent array with 24 drives. Not only did I gain more capacity, 25 TB vs 18.5 TB, I also saw a significant power consumption drop. My UPS was reporting 30 minutes of power reserve to keep my entire rack running. My UPS now reports 55 minutes of run time with the current load. While I don't have two array shelves with the previous EQL arrays, I do have an additional FC switch needed for the Compellent array. This change is pretty significant and I can also tell by the much lower amount of heat in my basement server room. Plus my new array is much much faster than my two old arrays with a higher spindle count.
     
  13. Triple6

    Triple6 Moderator

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    I don't think anyone is saying the circuit board is not the problem, what we are saying is that replacing the circuit board may not work because of the way some hard drives work or that it may not be the most economical choice for old drives. A solution for one drive may not work for another drive anyways, swapping circuit boards on the latest drives simply will not at all or not without moving the ROM chip by unsoldering it.
     
  14. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    I get it, guys. I do understand what everyone is saying. I do appreciate the advise. I probably should have let this thread mature BEFORE I bought the circuit board. But I didn't. Now I can hardly wait now for it to arrive so that I can see whatever it is that I am going see.

    If it works, I will have a functional old 250GB Seagate Hard Drive that is just waiting to have a coronary.
     
  15. thewoodworker

    thewoodworker Thread Starter

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    While we are on the subject (sorta) would someone please explain what a WD Green Drive is.
     
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