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Reviving A Dead Hard Drive The Hard Way

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the path-of-most-resistance dept.

Hardware 415

An anonymous reader writes "This guy went to the trouble of swapping logic boards on a dead hard drive to get his NeverWinter Nights save games back and took photos." I would have just used a character editor to get my stuff back, but clearly, I lack the dedication this gentleman has. Regardless of reason, nice work!

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Backing up is like voting (2, Insightful)

ihummel (154369) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654574)

It should be done early and often. Hard drives do fail and can do so without warning. Therefore it is very important to back up that valuable data.

Appropriate Quote (4, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654617)

My mom, a teacher, made a banner with this quote and posted it in a faculty lounge:
Blessed are the pessemists, for they have made backups.

Re:Appropriate Quote (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654630)

I hope she's not an English teacher.

Re:Appropriate Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654645)

My typo, not hers.

Re:Appropriate Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654649)

Huh? What is that supposed to mean?

Re:Appropriate Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654735)

He's bitching that the parent poster spelled it as pessemists instead of pessimists

Re:Appropriate Quote (1)

xyvimur (268026) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654810)

I know a different version, very popular across my faculty:
Real men don't do backups.
I've seen several times that a laboratory was down for a week or more due to failure and necessity of installing everything from scratch. Of course they do backups of important data, but student labs etc. are not considered as important. But then why do they swear when have to reinstall everything ;-)

Re:Appropriate Quote (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654817)

I heartily agree with that quote. Computer use can turn you into a pessimist too; after losing a months worth of data because you forgot to back up for a while, it kind of makes you think "Oh god, what if my computer fails...better backup stuff" Thankfully I haven't had a HD crash since I had my 240 meg drive (Lost all my Zeliard saves =(((( I still remember that horrible day when I was 9); I've always been able to catch data before the HD failed. But software bugs and hard crashes in Windows really led me to backup things regularly. It's really important, because there's nothing like losing that one important file because you forgot to backup your important stuff. Linux makes it so easy to backup stuff too, so I'm glad I use it now =)

2 rules of backup (4, Insightful) (142825) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654670)

Rule 1. Always have a backup.
Rule 2. If you changed data, see rule 1.

But, what people forget is to test their backup to see if it can be restored from.

Re:2 rules of backup (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654712)

I was looking foreward to this when I read the subject line of your post:

1. do not talk about the backup
2. do not talk about the backup...

Re:2 rules of backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654813)

"But, what people forget is to test their backup to see if it can be restored from."

True, very true.

I had run a backup to a firewire drive because I thought a drive was acting funny and wanted the backup to be current. Well, the drive did give out and I went to restore the backup only to discover that it was substantially corrupted. I copied the backup to another firewire drive to preserve things before attempting to run utilities. I was lucky and was able to salvage almost all of the data. I still have not figured out a good way to test the data other than to boot the drive as a cloned drive and see if everything appears to work.

Re:Backing up is like voting (4, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654671)

Actually, current drives DO warn you when they're failing.

i have 30 gig unit here that used to be on my aunt's box. i replaced it because... SMART told me it was failing.

i attached a new unit on the box, mirrored the disk and took the bad one out.

SMART is an old technology already, is present in all IDE units and all motherboards i've seen in the last 5 or 6 years, but many people ignores it. trust me, worked once for me and my aunt, so download a SMART monitor and put it running along with your lm_sensors daemon.

Re:Backing up is like voting (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654741)

They'll warn you for certain types of failing, but some things they just cannot detect. SMART is a good technology, but like everything it's just one tool among many that can help in a lot of situations, not all.

Re:Backing up is like voting (3, Informative)

gmack (197796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654745)

But SMART only warns you if something they can detect about to die. There are cases where the drive dies and there was no warning at all.

Or cases like the one just mentioned where the fault was with another componant and the damage extended to the drive.

SMART is cool but never depend on it.

Re:Backing up is like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654797)

Actually I've had 3 drives reported by SMART to be failing and I replaced them all. I hav en't lost any data yet, and it's all because of the proper warnings.

I'd stake my life on technology like that,

Re:Backing up is like voting (3, Insightful)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654708)

"Backups are like voting?" So that's the reason why I'm so lazy with making backups!

Maybe if someone can miraculously get me interested of politics I could make backups more often...

(End of a Predictable Joke. Please return to your normal daily posting.)

Re:Backing up is like voting (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654730)

And the Good Ol' Lay-Zee Boy American version of this (field tested at home!): If you find yourself worried about backing up valuable data, the most effective way around this is to just not have any valuable data on your own machine. Find an ISP with no enforced mail quotas, make your POP mailer leave the mail on the server, store all your photos on your geocities website, and leave the rest up to Lord Raiden the lightning god! You know their backups are 100% because you pay them, and heck, if they loose the data, just ignore that AUP and sue 'em for more than the value of the data. w00000t


oh heck i might as well ask a serious question while i am here. my backup plan is cheap and not-so-good. here it is:

4 drive machine on a lan. machines SCP tarballs of user data over every 6 hours. drives A and B are a software raid 1 (mirror right?) drives C and D share a drive bay, getting rotated every week. every night before i stop by, the data on the raid (A+B) gets copied to drive C or D. then i put the other one in. we have no money, so, this cost us about 600 bucks to set up. can anyone think of a better way i could have spent the 600 bucks, or a better way to implement what I already have?

Re:Backing up is like voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654801)

Why was he using Win XP when NWN runs on Linux?! That fool, games is what keeps Linux from taking off like Windows, and if you don't support the games that are out there for Linux, that is another piece of support lost!

Hardware discrepencies (4, Interesting)

mjmalone (677326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654576)

It's interesting how he found that the same brand and model of hard drive can have a vast array of different firmware configurations. This seems like it is a bit dishonest to the consumer who assumes he/she is purchasing the same thing that was recommended to them.

Re:Hardware discrepencies (4, Insightful)

Dylan2000 (592069) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654667)

I don't think it's dishonest; they're just improving their product over time, same as most other electronic gear.

Obviously anyone with any sense would rather buy the Quaddro997XTurbo-XP drive which was made last week than the one made in June. Why? 'Cause the newer one might have some slight improvements somewhere. Might not have, but just in case, you get the newer one.

This is how it is with motherboards, routers, CD burners etc. so I don't see why it's a problem with hard drives. better than having to wait a whole product generation for even the smallest improvement.

btw, can you flash the firmware on hard drives?

Re:Hardware discrepencies (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654676)

WTF are you talking about? How is an improved firmware version dishonest to the consumer? Hardware makers make revisions like that all the frigging time. Sometimes, certain parts become unavailable or too expensive so the hardware is revised to replace them. Other times, there are errors in the hardware or the firmware.

What I find more dishonest is that the asshole who wrote the article is planning to replace a drive that was damaged due to his own fault through the warranty. And then we all have to pay higher prices for HDs because assholes like him get warranty service when they aren't supposed to. I think Seagate should give him the finger instead of warranty service.

Re:Hardware discrepencies (2, Interesting)

chamenos (541447) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654798)

"What I find more dishonest is that the asshole who wrote the article is planning to replace a drive that was damaged due to his own fault through the warranty."

he didn't damage the hard drive. the board failed on him, and he fixed the problem by replacing the board.

from the article, "Now, I wonder if I can make use of the warranty on the original drive........."

in view of how he successfully repaired the drive and that he said that at the end of the article, i think he meant that remark in humour and wasn't actually planning on abusing the warranty.

Re:Hardware discrepencies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654825)

Well, if the original drive fried a chip, and he bought two more, then yes, he could claim it on warranty.

I've done this myself in an emergency with those damn Fujitsu MPG3* drives and it worked. We had a spare machine with no data on it and it was quicker to swap the board than reimage. We subsequently filed for an RMA and we got a replacement (obviously *not* a Fujitsu.

Re:Hardware discrepencies (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654726)

Nearly every product goes through changes through it's life time.

For example cars goes through numerous changes, eg BMW 520i goes from being 2.0 litre to 2.2 litre in capacity but still marketed as 520i.

Keeping to the computers your Pentium would have changed and be of a different stepping. Even Play Stations.. going through revisions to make it cheaper to produce (3 chips to 1 chip) and so on. As long as it continues doing what it says it does I dont see the problem.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654579)


-1 YOU FAIL IT (-1)

handybundler (232934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654702)

Please see subject, you failure.

Kids, there's a lesson in this (4, Funny)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654580)

RPGs: They kill. [] They ruin lives [] . Just say no.

The firmware is not the same when numbers match (2, Interesting)

TerraByte13 (629370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654581)

The Plist and Glist are stored on some hidden track on the HDD platter. As long as the firmware is the same the drive should work. Although I believe drive companies change firmware without changing the "Official" firmware number. This is done because the changes are only "manufacturing" related. (-;

blah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654582)

omg first post GopherMobile

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654583)

first post

been there, done that. (3, Interesting)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654584)

I was doing this stuff in the early 80's.
I even replaced platters on 10 gig drives..

Re:been there, done that. (5, Funny)

krumms (613921) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654658)

I was doing this stuff in the early 80's.
I even replaced platters on 10 gig drives..

Blindfolded. As did any respectable man back then. And we liked it.

Re:been there, done that. (4, Funny)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654789)

I was doing this stuff in the early 80's.
I even replaced platters on 10 gig drives..

Blindfolded. As did any respectable man back then. And we liked it.

--When I was your age, had to walk 40 miles through the freezing rain to get an operating system, with no shoes. And system calls?! Forget about it...

Re:been there, done that. (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654677)

Shit. I meant 10 *MEG* drives, not 10 gig...

Re:been there, done that. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654687)

Now, we know you were lying. ;)

Re:been there, done that. (4, Funny)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654706)

Uphill, both ways, at 30 degrees below zero with 3 inches of visibility.

And we liked it.

Same here... (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654736)

I was doing this stuff in the early 80's.

Same here. I replaced fried logic/interface boards on several MFM and RLL hard drives. This is also done by all of the data recovery firms when they get drives in with fried electronics.

I'm glad that the guy persisted and was successful. I'm sure that he's a clever guy. But this is just not "news for nerds." What's next? A story about how someone changed a program message using a hex editor or made his own printer cable using a soldering iron?

Re:been there, done that. (1)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654748)

I did this too some time back. There's a company around here too who do it apprantly. Basic data recovery, but its better than losing stuff completely.

Anyway, why didn't he backup.... ;)

Re:been there, done that. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654764)

OK, so this is what happened to me during the Advanced Netware 2.15 days...

We had a 386-25 running Netware with a single 150Mb Micropolis SCSI hard drive, bought as a package with the HBA. This server lived in a closet of this sheet-metal fab firm, and it happened to share a electrical circuit with the AC unit on the roof.

According to the electrician, when the AC kicked in it pulled the voltage down on that branch, as we had about 120 amps running through a 100 amp service...

Needless to say, the server died one night, and when we power cycled it there were no SCSI drives to be found. Note, this is while my proposed purchase of an APC backup power supply and a tape backup system were still waiting "approval"...

When asked what I could do about the data, I said: "there's no grinding noises coming from the drive, so maybe we just burned up the logic board - let me order another kit like this one, and I'll see what I can do..."

Long story short, we swapped the logic boards and put in the new HBA, and lo! and behold! the darn server booted!

As a side effect, the serial number for the drive was on the _logic board_, not on the platter assembly. My assistant, not being aware of this, returned the "dead" drive and got a warranty replacement. Also, in two days I had a APC Smart UPS 1500 and a DAT backup drive installed with ARCServe making the backups.

That server lived on that circuit for another two years, and I could tell every time the AC compressor kicked in, as the UPS would kick into SmartBoost and the alarm would go off. 30 seconds later, after the dip ended, it would beep again to say the power was back to OK.

Re:been there, done that. (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654782)

thank you. i was like "this is news for nerds?". you think i could swap an identical video card for one that fails in my system....wonder if that would work.

Character editor? No. (4, Informative)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654588)

Ummm... CN: the drive was -dead-. Ain't nothin' short of a new board that would've fixed it. (Okay -- sending the platters out for oodles of money would have, too.) Also, I don't know why this is labeled "the hard way." I've done it three times, en-toto, and it takes about ten minutes so long as you've got the correct Torx/Phillips/whatever. [Note: DON'T try doing it with the wrong tools; you'll probably just strip the head, and then it gets more fun.]


Re:Character editor? No. (1)

mjmalone (677326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654607)

So when a hard drive fails is it typically the board that has gone bad? I always assumed that a dead hard drive usually meant something had gotten on one of the platters and corrupted some data. I am not really a "hardware guy" though, so in all likelihood I am wrong. If it is usually the board that goes bad why hasn't anybody capitalized on this idea and offered a service that would attempt to restore broken hard drives for a nominal fee (say 2x the cost of a new one)?

Dead drives. (4, Informative)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654657)

Nine times out of ten, a hard drive dies because of media defects -- then you're (pretty) screwed. Sometimes, the stepper motor dies. Then, you're screwed. But, if you give it juice, and either -nothing- happens (no LEDs, etc.), or the BIOS doesn't see it, it's likeley the board. As always, troubleshoot starting with the obvious, and work toward the unlikely.

Re:Character editor? No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654679)

Uh. Yes. What he's saying is he would have used a NeverWinter Nights character editor to get the same characters he had before the crash instead of getting the NWN save games off the dead drive.

Actually...character editor would've worked. (2, Interesting)

Quixo-tastic (663394) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654696)

Programs like character editors allow you to make a new saved game (on a new hard drive) and then do all the hex editing required to change the character's name, level, experience, skills, equipment, etc. No need to get at the old save game.

Re:Actually...character editor would've worked. (1)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654734)

Generally, character editors can't put your avatar at the in-game place with all the script elements already fired.

You could always just give yourself a head-start in experience and items if you have to play from scratch, but you still have to sit through all the story elements, redo all the puzzles, etc...

Re: your sig (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654772)

Here's a longer version of the pi mnemonic:

How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!

Yeah, kind of cool hack.. (1)

The Old Burke (679901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654596)

but why didn't he just take backup every week?

Lazyness, I guess. And holydays can't be counted as a good excuse; he could have traveled back in the weekend in the middle and done the backup then.

Re:Yeah, kind of cool hack.. (1)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654643)

You just set up a cron event to do the backup every week...

Re:Yeah, kind of cool hack.. (1)

The Old Burke (679901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654720)

Yes, I do think that a cron event would work just fine with this boot up sequence. []
Like I said you he should have returned in the weekend in the middle to do the backup.

Re:Yeah, kind of cool hack.. (1)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654819)

"with this boot up sequence"

Makes you really feel sorry for the guy, some people just seem to have adversity after adversity.

That guy sure has his priorities right (2, Funny)

SUPAMODEL (601827) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654597)

Now, I wonder if I can make use of the warranty on the original drive.........
In other news: how long before he's swapping logic boards on the webserver?

Re:That guy sure has his priorities right (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654750)

Yeah, but a drive sent in for warranty work will come back wiped and/or not the same drive.

You're kidding me. (0, Flamebait)

mj01nir (153067) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654598)

This is news? Wake me when he actually goes inside the drive to get it to spin-up. Anyone working in IT has probably done this at least once. But since this guy is a slack-jawed Windows home user he thought that this process was terribly clever. Clever enough to post a web page about it. Not news, move along.

Re:You're kidding me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654656)

Anyone working in IT has probably done this at least once.
...ummm no, I choose backups. Been in IT for more almost 20 years. But I then again, some people like it rough.

this guy is a slack-jawed Windows home user
Yepp, That pretty much confirms my last point!!!

Re:You're kidding me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654695)

No kidding. I do this every few months. Next thing you know "The floppy drive light was always on. It was a new PC so I tired flipping the ribbon cable around and that fixed it." will be a headline.

Re:You're kidding me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654824)

How do you treat you harddives man?

morons stabalizing an exploding sphere.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654606)

whilst evile continues to attempt to implode it.

that's it. the scammage is overt. how many fauxking georgewellian billyonerrors do we need anyway?

conservation is not just for po' folk. there's already not enough to go around, despite the lament of the media that we are 'sluggish' in resourcefulness.

never mind the walking dead. back on task.

the lights are coming up. we're in crisis mode. you can help.

yOUR intentions/behaviours ARE relevant.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. get more oxygen on yOUR brains. vote with yOUR wallet. that's the spirit, moving you.

pay attention. that's affordable, & provides immesurable returns.

'invest' in yOUR community (possibly starting next door). be very careful of/thoughtful towards, each other. you're all we've got, here.

pay no heed to the greed/fear based misinformers. your well being is not on their agenda.

the current task remains planet/population rescue. yOUR intentions/behaviours are the recipe.

each harmed innocent carries with it a bad toll. the felons are NOT going to be the wons who must do the repairations. it is you/us.

Wow, I didn't think anyone else had done this! (1)

richboy (201031) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654609)

I had to do this same thing about 2 years ago when my power supply fried most of the devices in my old computer. I had no recent backups of my important data. Wow.

Re:Wow, I didn't think anyone else had done this! (1)

maxlr (621624) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654693)

I had to do this same thing about 2 years ago when my power supply fried most of the devices in my old computer. I had no recent backups of my important data. Wow.

So what you're trying to say is that you didn't have backups of your pr0n collection? This is /. after all...

Slashdot officially sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654619)

Even the sllort are freeing!

heh. (2, Funny)

pb (1020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654621)

I had to do something similar with some wet floppy disks back in the day. (backups, I hear you say? Those *were* my backups!)

More dead drives (2, Interesting)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654632)

What's the deal with this? More people I know have lost new IDE drives than I ever recall in the past. Are my friends just unlucky, or do drive just not have the quality anymore? I know this assumes that drives used to be better, and that may well not be true, just this is the trend I've noticed. Is it worth buying a new drive (I do need one...), or is it just going to die on me in a few months?

As far as the article goes: What a waste! It must be damn nice to be able to buy TWO new drives to replace the logic board on one! Sure, one of the new drives is usable, but the other is shot.

hmm (1)

y0bhgu0d (168149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654638)

if anyone has an idea about a drive that just died on me (Maxtor 4G120J6) i would be much appreciative. Drive spins up, but not recognised by bios. it was working fine, but i came home one day and BAM not recognised. tried in a diff computer, same results. drive alone as master doesnt recognise, and slave w/ my normal config doesnt work. any ideas? i've already filled out the advance RMA form, but i'd sure like to get the data back...

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654805)

If you can afford the cost of a recovery company and it is worth it to you, go that way before you do anything.


Always try the download software from the drive manufacturer before sending it back.

I also used to fish dead drives out of the trash or buy them for a buck at flea markets. It is amazeing the bargans you can get. Recovered drives that were dropped into trash from shoulder height in about 5 minutes.

good luck

I did the same with a few 1,6GB drives (5, Informative)

Kegetys (659066) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654639)

hmm... so he switched the whole logic board?

I did the same thing with a bunch of 1,6GB western digital hard-drives a few years back, I got a pile of broken ones for free and was able to salvage 4 into working condition by changing the logic boards from those that made funny noises to those that sounded fine but the BIOS did not detect.

Porn and never winternights (4, Interesting)

Crasoum (618885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654640)

causes people to do crazy crazy things...

But it totally kills the warantee..;)

But my 60 gig recently bit the dust, and the first thing people told me to do was stick it in the freezer... (just like he did in the article) Of course I naturall say "But that'll kill it."

theirs? "It's dead already, idiot"

Yep (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654652)

What a wanker.

Obviously... (4, Interesting)

Anti Frozt (655515) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654660)

  • "I look at some businesses that do hard drive recovery - the prices are exhorbitant! I could buy 2 replacement drives for those prices."

He seems somewhat surprised that the price of repairing a hard drive is more than buying a couple of new ones. You are paying to get the data salvaged, not the physical disk back.

Having worked in technical support with a database company, I can tell you how upset people can get when you tell them it's going to cost almost $400/hr to salvage their database. Sometimes it could take upwards of 16 hrs to do it depending on the size and extent of the damage.

How far a little proactiveness and an occasional backup of important data will go.

What? (1)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654661)

Why is this a Slashdot story? It's a common trick. In the early days of harddrives, the drive logic was certainly more fragile than now, and I've salvaged several disks this way.

It's not difficult either, even I could make the swap in thirty minutes, and I'm a total klutz at electronics and soldering.

Re:What? (2, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654831)

Agreed, this is a bit silly to post as a "wow, this is just sooooo amazing!" idea. We got in a batch of those crappy little micro dells, the ones that don't even have a CD-ROM drive, and they all came with the same model of Western Digital Caviar (YAAACK!) drives. One by one almost 50% of them failed, onboard controller card just stopped working. Everytime I swapped a card out to salvage the data, I had people ooohing and ahhhing my efforts like it was magic or something. This is not rocket science, anyone reading this article should be capable of doing it themselves.

Tell me he replaced the platter head amp board inside the drive, ok, then I'll be a little impressed. Actually I'm still a bit surprised people can open up the drives and get away with it... more than once I've given people the advice to open the drive and gently spin the platters (by the edge please!) in cases where the motor was going out and wouldn't spin it up and they needed the data NOW. Sure it voids the warranty and probably will tear up the drive, but when the data is more important than the drive, it's a worthy one-shot. One fellow I told that to got his data off, and used a can of compressed air to blow out the drive thoroughly while replacing the lid, and to my knowledge, the drive is still working. (tho I sure wouldn't trust it)

Backups it's not just for datacenters anymore (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654678)

When will people figure out to backup there machines on a regular basis? And more importantly verify those backups. Persoanly I have a large disk farm that doubles up as a media playback and ripping device with a 35 gig DLT haning off of it. Diff backups run nightly with fulls every 2 months I have been working on the same set of tapes for 4 years and this handles my entire network at home. Granted for a home user a small pile of CD-r is probably cheaper if more manpower intinsive. A full backup once a year wouldent be to bad with incrementals daily (how many people make 600 megs of incrementals a week forget daily?)

Linux 2.6.0-test3 released! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654680)

right.... (1)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654684)

At this point even my techy friends are thinking I'm crazy.

Forgive my elitism, but your techy friends must be the same guys that always buy stereo jumper cables with gold heads instead of copper to reduce impedance magnitude.

I hope his monitor stops working next and he uses both hands to fix it.

Replacing logic boards is obvious (3, Interesting)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654686)

I did this with a client who's Fujitsu drive died an ugly death: there was a soot mark next to an IC on the dead drive. Since he'd bought several computers at the same time, I cloned one of the other drives using PartitionMagic, then swapped the PCB on the now-spare drive. No problem. That's got to be considered a trivial repair.

I've also had good luck pulling data off 2.5" drives by pulling the covers and simply running them through a hardware cloning box (about $120 now). The fact that you're reducing their MTBF to something like 10 hours is irrelevant if you get the job done in 20 minutes.

Oh, act lawyerish: only charge for successful recoveries. That way, the clients even sympathise with you if you don't succeed.

The opposite (2, Interesting)

grug0 (696014) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654690)

Suppose your drive dies and it has personal information on it, and you can't recover the drive. What's the simplest and most effective way to wipe the data on the drive so you can throw it out?

Re:The opposite (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654784)

bucket of sulphuric acid
or dip it in liquid nitrogen then smash the platter with a hammer

No Big Deal (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654698)

This is news? I did this when I was 4, last year.

My friend's HD went dead which had all his Palm sync data on there. I found that his HD was no longer being produced, Quantum HDs. So, I had to get one off Ebay. I could not get the correct matching model and HD size off Ebay because no one was selling it so ... I did some research on Quantum's HD whitepapers and located similar Quantum HDs that were a different size but released at nearly the same time. After swapping logic boards, the old HD revived. I ghosted up the data and imaged it to a new Western Digital HD and all was restored. My research turned up that Quantum made prematurely dying HDs. Then I reinstalled the logic boards back to their original HDs and tested them out. For some reason, both Quantums worked. So, I formated the Quantums and Ebayed both to other buyers who wanted to revive their HDs. No biggie. It's very common. Hell, I never did this before and it worked for me, easy as pie.

Data insurance? (4, Interesting)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654701)

Kind of an afterthought to an earlier comment of mine paraphrased as "Doesn't MTBF mean anything anymore?"

Hard drives have warranties. Sure, these warrenty periods are shortening, but that's neither here nor there. Given that a drive is going to fail eventually, would it be beneficial for drive makers to offer 'data insurance'? Data recovery is expensive because it's not a common practice. If you paid some reasonable, optional $x when you buy a drive, and the drive goes down, and you could send it back to the maker for recovery (having paid 'insurance' on it), the practice would be more common and the price would decrease. The idea being, like most forms of insurance, you are paying less than what the recovery would cost because the rest is subsidized by the other people who pay but never need it. A third party recovery service could offer this as well.

There are a number of issues I can see with this arrangement (privacy, confidentiality of data, what happens when the drive can't be recovered, what if they just SAY it can't be done, etc), but it's something to think about.

Slow news day, huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654704)

All this guy did was replace the electronics.

Big deal.

Lame (4, Funny)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654713)

That's not even close to "the hard way". Every bench tech worth their minimum wage has done this same thing more times than they can count. Execpt they usually know that you need the same firmware before they start.

I'll be impressed when someone gets fed up enough to build a clean room in their guest bathroom and recovers a drive with crashed heads.

Re:Lame (1)

ChozSun (49528) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654746)

Second the lameness... I have done this more times than I can count.

If it is not an arm or platter issue (thus logic board issue) then it will work most of the time.

We had to swap logic boards on IBM drives all the dang time (never had to on a Seagate).

The Coolest Thing (2, Insightful)

pi42 (190576) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654715)

I think that this kind of hardware swashbuckling is pretty neat. I think I would probably just have accepted defeat and called it a day.

But what's even cooler is that the guy went and got his own domain for his dead hard drive. Nice.

maybe someone can help me (1)

too_bad (595984) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654718)

I have a sony vaio laptop which after a year and a half is playing up. Hard drive
seems to be fine when I boot it but after a while I start getting I/O errors. The drive
makes a LOT of clickaty clackaty noises as if its trying to tear itself apart.
When I run badblocks I usually see different sectors reported bad. Of course
when I called the warranty, they want me to download 6 disk recovery set and
reinstall everything on the laptop. When I run badblocks after shutting the laptop down for
a few hours it usually find very few bad sectors and they are not consistent too.

Before I pack this off for warranty (and google knows what other stupid hoops to
jump through) was wondering if anyone else has seem something like this, and got clues ?

He forgot the most important part! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654724)

Put the defective logic board in the new drive and then take it back for an exchange.

I did this on a Quantum Fireball at work (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654725)

The VP of accounting had been, shall we say, non-savvy enough to listen to the IT department's instructions to save all critical data to the network drive instead of the local hard drive. So, naturally, when his desktop machine's Quantum Fireball lived up to its name (as they so often seem to do) we discovered that all his critical data was on that drive. Since losing it was a non-option, I performed a very similar trick to the above. Got it all back, moved it to the network drive. Came THISSSSSSSSSSSSSSS close to giving the numbskull a thin client instead of a desktop, but he made nice with my boss and he got a new laptop instead.

This guy is so cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654731)

What can one say? I guess a collective "Bravo!" is appropriate.


Inertia (1)

mattcasters (67972) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654743)

I remember one instance where I had to go and take a look at a mail and file server at a university. It was an old RS/6000 and the drive had gone silent after a shutdown. Now as it happens, the machine had been running for years and years without a shutdown (and without a backup) in a non-ventilated area and so the drive motor was probably close to being dead. The drive wouldn't start to spin. The trick then was to open the box, start the machine and gently tap on the drive with a screwdriver. It somehow helped the motor to spin back up.

Cheers acros the room as the machine booted up again because as it appeared, years of scientific works where on that drive. It made them realize how much human sweat you can store on a few hundred MB.

Cheers, Matt

The hard way? (4, Interesting)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654753)

This approach seemed expensive, but as far as bringing a dead drive back to life through surgery, this seemed pretty easy.

"The hard way" would have been buying a new drive, taking it to a cleanroom and transplanting the platters! You'd more than likely lose the use of the 'donor' drive, and there's a higher chance of failure in this much more invasive procedure, but that would be much more article-worthy.

great (1)

meshko (413657) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654760)

Someone will now buy a hard drive from his brother. A hard drive with the controller removed, put in a different drive, removed again, put back in and all that in an environment quite different from the original manufacturers sterile assembly plant. Ethical.

Other than that, of course, it's really cool.

Usual practice for completely dead disks, right? (1)

getha (97821) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654763)

At the shop I work at, this is common practice with drives that give absolutely nothing when connected to power. That is, given the drive is a fairly recent one, and therefore still has a stack of brothers in inventory. Often works too. Swap board, hook it up with a blank HD, pull a copy of the data, unswap the board and ditch the bad HD.

Customers love you, if it works.

Tsk, tsk... (1)

Sutekh-Acolyte (695745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654774)

Now let's not promote cheating, Cowboy... ;-)

Hey, even if it's semiethical since he took much time to develop the characters and lost them unfairly, assuming he crafted a character with the exact same items and attributes to replace it, it still promotes cheating...

wondering... (1)

guile*fr (515485) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654783)

I was wondering if this could be applied to the infamous deathstar ibms?

and doesnt the logicboard contains the list of bad

Congratulations (0)

Chexsum (583832) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654802)

I also have a Seagate drive (older 1.2G though) that had a part of its board fried and I kept the drive around to get the important data off it (via platter-swapping) although I never got around to recovering it. =)

Pop a few pills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654812)

I use Viagra to fix my hard drive!! Works every time.

Ohhh, they didn't mean THAT hard drive.

Don't buy Seagate and IBM (1)

obsid1an (665888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654815)

Another poor sap that bought a Seagate or IBM ATA harddrive. I've killed 2 IBM harddrives and have since got a WD. I know Seagate makes good SCSI and it looks like they are making good SATA but their ATA drives suck.

It's A Fake! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654823)

This was a totally fake demonstration. The whole thing was made up. You can't open up a drive like that and expect it to work. Modern drives have a mechanical self destruct that would destroy the platter once the outer thingy is removed. It's a combination of magnetic sand and a tiny M-80.

They won't die if you take a backup. (1)

hopbine (618442) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654827)

Thats why you take backups, so they will not fail. One word of caution though, I hope he was wearing an "anti-static strap" when he did all of this work.

Once Upon A Time...Any IDeas? (2, Interesting)

grimani (215677) | more than 11 years ago | (#6654829)

I had a physically dead know, the dreaded click of death.

Being pissed as I was, I opened up the damn thing and got ready to wreak havoc on the platters.

But I chickened out, (what kinda chemicals might that thing spew out?) and put the drive back together.

To my surprise, the drive worked again!

My room is was a nasty, dusty place I bought a new drive, mirrored the old, and never used the fixed drive again.

I still have it in my old Quantum 6 Gig drive.

Any ideas what was wrong, and how opening the sealed platter compartment might fix anything?

character editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6654830)

WTF is a character editor, oh elite masters??!!!
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