Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Repair BAD Hard Drive

Symptoms of PCB failure:
  • No power. No Spin. No Sound. and wasn't dropped.
  • Hard drive does not spin up. Either no sound or a short, quiet tickling sound can be heard.
  • Burning smell. PCB is extremely hot.
  • See burned mark on the printed circuit board.
  • Power surge.
  • Connect the hard drive case to wrong power supply.
  • Hard drive makes "Clicking sound".(click of death)
Symptoms of Seagate 7200.11-12 firmware brick problem:
  • The hard drive runs fine (no clicking sound or noises, errors etc), but can't be detected by the computer
  • The hard drive runs fine and but the size is 0MBs
Symptoms of disk assembly failure:
  • The computer can see the file, but cannot copy the file.
  • The computer can see the hard drive, but the size is wrong
  • The hard drive does not spin but make "beeping sound"
  • failure is because of Falling to the floor, most likely the PCB board is ok, but the disk assembly is damaged.
  • clicking and stop and clicking
An Overview of a Hard Drive

The figure below illustrates the major components of a hard drive. We're not going to focus too much on the theory of operation of a hard drive because there are already plenty of documents available on the web that can do that. Instead, we'll go lightly over how a hard drive works and then focus specifically on failures, and how they manifest themselves to the end user.
When a drive needs to read or write data to a drive, the CPU on the logic board sends a set of commands to the drive through what's called an I/O controller. The I/O controller, which is on the logic board, is usually connected to the drive via an interface cable. The commands the I/O controller uses are fairly high level, such as "get me this number of blocks of data between points A and B on the drive" or "write the following blocks of data to the drive between points C and D." This is obviously an over simplification. Once the I/O controller delivers the commands, it's the duty of the drive controller to implement them and return the appropriate response codes, and in the case of read operations, data back to the system.

Data is written to and read from the drive platters via the drive's heads, which are positioned via an actuator arm. The actuator arm behaves in a manner similar to the tone arm on a record player, but it's constantly moving around on the platter at very high speeds. The drive platters are coated with a magnetically modifiable material that can be used to store information based on the localized magnetic state of a region of the platter. The information on the platters is broken down into what are called cylinders and sectors, along with tracking and positioning information. The tracking information is read by the drive heads and interpreted by the drive controller to position the drive heads to the regions of the platter that will eventually be used to read or write data on the platter.

During a write operation, after the controller positions the drive's heads over the appropriate region of the drive, they modify the surface of the platter by inducing an electromagnetic field over the magnetically modifiable platter surface. During a read operation, the spinning nature of the platter is able to induce a current into the heads much in the same way that a moving magnet can induce a current into a wire. The storage unit on the platter is the sector, which typically stores 512 bytes of information, although newer drives may have sector sizes of 4 kilobytes.

The drive controller, which isn't seen in the diagram is, for those that have seen  a contemporary hard drive, the circuit card that usually takes up the better part of the bottom of the drive. The drive controller is responsible for positioning the drive heads over the drive's platters (the media used for reading and writing data,) activating the drive's heads for reading and writing data when the heads are properly positioned, interpreting and converting the data to a format the CPU can understand, and then sending the appropriate codes to back to the CPU via the I/O controller. During a write operation, the controller will send the system codes indicating whether or not the write operation succeeded. During a read operation, the controller will send the system blocks of data accompanied by response codes indicating the operation succeeded or failed.

The platter is connected to a spindle, which in turn is connected to the spindle motor. The spindle motor is not seen in diagram, but it's underneath the platter(s) and spindle. The spindle motor keeps the platter(s) rotating at a constant velocity, with todays drives typically using speeds between 5400 and 7200 RPM, with some higher performance drives using speeds as high as 15000 RPM. The actuator arm rotates about an actuator axis, with one end having wound coils embedded between a set of actuator magnets, and known as the actuator. The position of the actuator is controlled by increasing or reducing  the current passing through these coils, which cause the actuator to move. All of these functions are controlled/regulated by the drive controller.

Drive Failures and How They Manifest Themselves

Drive failures can generally be categorized into the following classes:

    •    Electromechanical
    •    Mechanical failures
    •    Head/platter failures
    •    Controller failures

Electromechanical failures typically affect the spindle motor or the actuator. Spindle motors, like any motor can simply burn out. The actuator is typically connected to the controller via a flex cable that can develop cracks, break, or become disconnected. EIther of these failures are catastrophic failures, and the drive will not be accessible by the system. Either of these problems can often occur without warning, but a failing spindle motor may be preceded by higher noise levels during the drive's operation.

If either of these problems occurs, the only way to recover the data will be to send the drive to a facility that specializes in data recovery and attempt to recover the data by pulling the platters from the drive in a clean room, putting them on a donor device, and then recovering the data. Failures of this nature often leave the platters unaffected and the odds that data recovery will be successful is reasonably good, but this procedure is typically expensive. Failures of this nature are usually due to age, and the older and more used a drive is, the higher the probability of their occurrence is.

Mechanical failures are typically, once again, related to the spindle motor and the actuator. In this case the typical cause of failure is bearing wear. The drive's heads typically "float" over the surface of the platter by only a few nanometers, and as the bearings in one or both components wear, it causes excessive motion of the heads over the platters, eventually resulting in head crashes with increasing frequency. The head crashes damage the sectors of the drive containing data, and as time progresses, the problem gets worse and worse. These problems are typically accompanied by drive noises.

If mechanical failures start to occur, you should make sure that you're backing up data frequently, and you shouldn't be surprised if some files fail to backup because they're unreadable. If you use a test tool such as Scannerz, the tell tale sign of this problem will be the development of confirmed bad or weak sectors (damaged, but still readable) on the drive with increasing frequency. In extreme cases, a head crash caused by this problem may spew platter material over other regions of the platter, causing other head crashes. The older a unit is, and the more use it receives, the higher the probability is that this problem will occur. Any regions of the platter damaged will either be unrecoverable or only partially recoverable.

Head and platter failures can occur on any drive, new or old. They're typically referred to as a "head crash." In the preceding two paragraphs we described how they can be induced by mechanical failure, but they may also be induced when the drive is subjected to excessive shock or when a contaminant enters the chamber of the drive. Head/platter failures are characterized by the presence of bad or weak sectors, but in the case of impact or contamination, these may be one time events. In some cases, they may be caused by actual defects in the platters surface.

In the case of shock or sudden impact, the drive is typically in the process of reading or writing to the drive when the event occurs. This problem is obviously more common with laptop computers that might be dropped while in use. The impact causes the heads to be forced onto the platter, damaging the media. The result is typically a range of bad or weak sectors localized to a region of the drive. Many contemporary systems and drives have sensors installed on them to move the heads off the platters in the event of impact, but they aren't 100% reliable - they cannot perform miracles!

In the case of contamination, a particle of some sort has "leaked" into the drive chamber. Hard drives are not working in a vacuum environment, they rely on the presence of air in the drive chamber to "float" the drive's heads over the platter. To equalize the air pressure, drives have a small breather hole with a filter on the exterior of the drive. If a particle can make its way past this filter, the particle may come between the platter and the heads, thus damaging sectors. The damaged sectors may be bad or weak sectors, or a combination of both.

Crashes due to impact are more common in laptops, particularly if the computer is dropped while in use. Crashes due to a contaminant entering the chamber can occur on any hard drive at any time, but they're not common. In most cases, these are one time events, but if the crash is bad enough, it may spew other damaged platter materials over the surface of the platter causing other sections of the platter to be damaged. In severe cases, the heads themselves may be damaged in which case the drive is typically rendered useless.

Bad or weak sectors caused by media should, theoretically, be detected and corrected by the drive manufacturer prior to releasing the product for sale. However, some sectors can tend to lose their ability to retain information over time. This is usually a localized problem and can often be corrected by formatting the drive to re-map the bad sectors to spare sectors.

It is not uncommon for a hard drive to develop some bad sectors. In many cases, this problem can be corrected, but with hard drive prices being as low as they are, in our opinion it's not an unreasonable to consider replacing the drive. As stated earlier in the chapters regarding mechanical failure, if the bad or weak sectors are being caused by such a problem, the number of bad or weak sectors will only continue to increase. Efforts to salvage a drive are often time consuming, and if the problem is actually being caused by a developing mechanical failure, the repair process will need to be repeated over and over again. We recommend that the users of our Scannerz line of products that opt to repair a drive increase testing initially to confirm that the problems are not increasing with use.

Controller failures can range from the obvious to the insidious. An obvious controller failure could be caused by a failure of the supply regulators on the drive controller preventing the controller from actually  powering up. If components on the controller fail, in most cases the controller will prevent the drive from being seen by the system. If a drive is having intermittent problems of some sort, the drive activity is typically very erratic and unpredictable. Last but not least, the controller, being essentially a small computer system itself has its own firmware which can, unfortunately have some bugs in it, and drives suffering from this problem are often recalled by the manufacturer. Controllers do fail, but the reality is it's the most reliable part of the hard drive and the least likely to fail. Most controller failures make the drive completely invisible to the system.

Drive Related Problems

A hard drive may appear to be suffering from a problem, when in fact it's being caused by another component. The most common problem is usually a bad cable or connection in the data cable or power cable between the system and the drive. Another, more obscure, and often difficult to isolate problem can occur when cracks develop in the logic board or connectors on the logic board that lead to the drive. All of these problems are typically erratic and difficult to repeat, and they usually get worse as time progresses. Logic board components themselves may be failing erratically, but in this case the result is most often that the system will fail to boot or crash repeatedly without warning.

Symptoms of Hard Drive and Drive Related Problems

The typical signs of a drive or drive related problem are usually the following:

    1.    The drive is making excessive noise
    2.    The drive isn't recognized by the system at all
    3.    The system appears to periodically lock up or delay, often accompanied with a "spinning beach ball."

Item 1. above, if confirmed, is truly a drive problem, and it typically indicates that the drive is failing and needs to be replaced. Items 2. and 3. however, may not be drive related, but caused by other problems in the system or even the software.

Hard Drive Noises

Abnormal hard drive noises typically consist of the following:

    •    Clicking noises
    •    Grinding noises
    •    Squealing noises
    •    Noises similar to a vibration noise

Optical drives may make some of these noises as well, and it's relatively easy to confirm this because noises from an optical drive will only occur when the optical drive is in use or being activated or checked by the system. For the rest of this article, we'll assume that the optical drive has been eliminated as the source of noises.

Clicking noises may or may not be a problem. If the drive has head problems, a repetitive clicking can be caused by controller detecting a failed operation and repeating it over and over again. These will be fairly loud, repetitive clicks. If the drive controller has failed or the firmware has a bug in it, a repetitive clicking sound may be generated by the drive heads slamming into an actuator arm stop (or even the spindle.) These too, will be fairly noticeable and repetitive. Other drives are just plain noisier than others by design and may be characterized by rapid, mild clicking or rattling sounds as the actuator arm moves over the surface of the platters during read and write operations. This is more common in older drives. The general rule of thumb is to be aware of clicking noises that are new, as opposed to noises that existed from day one. New, loud clicking noises, particularly if they're repetitive usually indicate the drive is failing if it hasn't already failed.

Grinding noises can be repetitive, random, or continuous. One type of grinding noise, although we're not sure it should really be called a grinding noise, is a periodic and repetitive "chug-a-chug-a-chug-a" noise, often accompanied by "spinning beach balls." This is typically being caused by the drive attempting to access a bad or weak sector. A bad sector will generate an I/O error, but a weak sector can be read, it just takes a long time (often seconds) to read it. If you're using Scannerz for drive testing, a bad sector will be a sector that fails with an error every time it's scanned, and a weak sector will be identified as a repeatable irregularity. Other grinding noises are usually caused by mechanic failure in the process of developing. Bad and weak sectors can, in some cases be corrected, but mechanical failures indicate that the drive is in the process of failing, and steps should be taken to backup the drive while it's still usable.

Squealing noises coming from the drive can be caused by several sources, with none of them being good. The noises may be erratic or consistent. Consistent squealing usually indicates that the spindle motor that drives the platters is failing. Erratic squealing may also be the bearings in the spindle motor failing, but they may also be sourced to the bearings in the actuator, or possibly even the heads of the drive dragging across the surface of the platter. These are all serious, catastrophic failures in the process of occurring. You should attempt to backup the drive as soon as possible…if it's even possible.

Noises similar to a vibration noise typically occur when an item in the drive is in the process of seizing. The noise is usually due to binding of either the spindle motor bearings or the actuator bearings (more common.) In some cases, the electromagnetic energy being supplied to either of these components may eventually allow the component to free itself and the vibration ends in an almost erratic manner, only to occur again. These are signs that the drive is failing and needs to be replaced. Data should be backed up and the drive replaced as soon as possible. However, as you'll see in the next few paragraphs, you will need to make sure the noises need to be properly traced - a set of bad drive mounts or perhaps a drive that isn't properly tightened or installed can end up presenting the user with similar sounds.

If a drive is suspected of making noise about the only thing you can do is confirm the source of the noise is the drive, and if confirmed, retrieve as much data as possible and replace the drive. There aren't very many moving components in a computer system, but the source needs to be identified. Other sources of noises in a system that can often sound like hard drive problems consist of the following:

    •    Vibration in other parts of the unit
    •    Noisy cooling fans
    •    Optical drives
    •    Other drives

Of the list above, vibration of loose components can be the trickiest to isolate because vibrating components, especially shielding, may correlate with drive activity because the drive's vibration is inducing the noise into the component making the noise. Unfortunately, some modes of drive failure also sound almost exactly like noise associated with vibration. In some cases the unit may need to be opened up and the actual source of the noise traced to its source.

Cooling fans have bearings, and when their bearings begin to fail, the noise can be similar to some of the squealing noises a failing drive can produce. The difference between the two is typically that, at least in most systems, the speed of the fans varies and at some times the fans may not be running at all. Another problem occurs when another component, such as a wire or a piece of shielding is making contact with the fan blades. This can induce a vibration-like noise that may be mistaken for a failing drive. One way to determine if the noises correlate to fan operation is to put your hand over the vents of the system and see if the noise corresponds to air movement being generated by the fans when the system is running a little on the hot side.

Optical drives can often produce noises that can be similar to the sounds generated by a failing drive. In laptops, optical drives are known to cause vibration noises as their mounts come loose or they come into contact with shielding material. Optical drives when initializing or loading optical media may often make clicking noises. Optical drives can fail, often going through cycles of resetting and repositioning the heads producing a repetitive clicking noise similar to that of a failing hard drive.

Finally, if a system has multiple hard drives in it, and it's believed the noises are being generated by a hard drive, the owner will need to determine which drive is making the noise. One way that might help identify the problem is to unmount the secondary drives one by one using Disk Utility to see if the noises stop. This may work, especially if the unmounted drive stops spinning, but in some cases the drive may continue spinning and further evaluation will be needed.

The Drive Isn't Recognized by the System

If the hard drive isn't recognized by the system, it may or may not be a drive failure. The following items identify what can cause the drive to be unseen:

    1.    The drive's controller has failed
    2.    The drive's power source has become disconnected
    3.    The drive's data cable has become disconnected
    4.    The drive isn't formatted or it's in a format the operating system doesn't recognize
    5.    System Management Controller (SMC), NVRAM, or PRAM need to be reset
    6.    The drive's indices are corrupt
    7.    A logic board problem exists

The drive not being recognized by the system may happen to both primary (bootable) and secondary drives. On a primary drive, the system will fail to boot and when the system is powered on, the user will be confronted with one of the following symbols:

Software Problems

Technically, software problems aren’t typically drive problems, but in some cases they may make the system experience lockups and delays similar to those described in the preceding section. Generally speaking, software problems can be often be traced to the following:

    •    Spotlight indexing
    •    Anti-virus software
    •    Driver problems or conflicts
    •    Intensive background processes the user is unaware of

Spotlight indexing, particularly in Leopard and Mountain Lion can be particularly problematic. During an indexing session, Spotlight will index every file on attached drives as defined in Spotlight’s Search Results and Privacy settings in System Preferences. Indexing is drive, CPU, and often memory intensive. When indexing occurs it’s not uncommon for some applications that normally “pop up” when launched to take many seconds to launch, along with “spinning beach balls.” The easiest way to check this is to click on the Spotlight icon in the upper right section of the menu bar and check if it’s in the process of indexing or beginning an indexing session.

Some anti-virus software will cause problems similar to drive problems because they misidentify valid applications or processes as viruses and block them from running, thus causing lockups and delays. The easiest way to check this is to disable the anti-virus software, see if the problem clears up, and if it does, contact the vendor for assistance.

Driver problems or conflicts can sometimes occur, particularly with add on devices such as external hard drives after an operating system is updated or upgraded. Problems can range from extremely slow performance to what appear to be drive failures. If problems that didn’t exist prior to an operating system update or upgrade, you should contact the vendor and ask if there are any known conflicts they’re aware of. If possible, you might want to try to remove any drivers.

Finally, some applications may install CPU or drive intensive processes that work in the background without your knowledge. Two tools that can help isolate this are Activity Monitor, included with the operating system, and FSE, which is a file system events monitor that we sell. Before considering purchasing an FSE license, please read the product profile for it and the information on the section of our site dedicated to FSE because it is generally not a tool for novices. All versions of the fully featured version of Scannerz come with a version named FSE and FSE-Lite.


A common sign that a PCB has been in the wars is a scorch mark, but sometimes there are no visual cues to give the game away. 

How to repair Hard Drive
First things first
The PCB might not be the problem after all, then, but it's the one area of the drive that you should tackle first when something goes wrong. After all, a replacement PCB from a specialist like will set you back around £25 delivered to your door, so it's a relatively inexpensive way of fixing your drive.
If you were feeling plucky, you could just go to a data specialist and get a man in a white coat in a lab to carefully take your entire hard drive apart and put it all back together, in the hope of rescuing your drive, but you'll be looking at a bill for at least £1,000. Unless you really, really need the files on that drive, you'll avoid this route and go down the PCB road first.
Back to life
Does it really work? Well, we tried it on a drive that had suddenly stopped working one day. There were no horrible clicking sounds, it simply wouldn't power on – the thing was lifeless. So, we replaced the PCB with an identical working one and managed to get it working again.
This wasn't after trying it on many different drives – this was the first one we'd worked on, so it wasn't a fluke.
It's worth mentioning that if this works for you, and there's a pretty good chance that it will, once it's up and running again, don't get lazy and put it back in your PC. If it failed once, there's a probability that it will fail again. Our advice is to transfer all your sacred files to another drive and then bin it… or pop it in the trophy cabinet.

. Take drive details down
Get a replacement PCB identical to your current one, otherwise it won't work. Note down the model number (below the S/N), the P/N, the Firmware code, Date code and Site code, as well as the Main Controller IC number, which is located on the main square black chip in the middle of the actual PCB. In our case it was the six-digit code near the top, above the word 'SEAGATE'.
2. Search for it online
Go to and enter the model of the dead drive (in our case, it's the 11-digit code two lines down from the top of the drive) into the search box at the top of the page. This won't give you the exact model, but look through the list of results and find the drive that matches all the numbers you noted down in the first step. Now, buy it!
3. Check your parts
The new PCB should take about six to 10 working days to arrive through the post. When the mail man comes round, you should receive a box with a replacement working PCB inside, as well as a torx screwdriver and installation instructions – not that you'll need this last bit. If something is amiss, email the company and they will get back to you within a couple of days.
4. Remove the old PCB
On top of the PCB you'll see five screws connecting it to the hard drive. Undo them using the torx screwdriver included in the kit, making sure that you don't lose any of them. They're pretty tiny, so once you've managed to remove them all, place them into a zip-lock bag so they don't go astray if you decide to have a break between now and the next step.
5. Attach new PCB
Make sure you ground yourself – an easy way of doing this is to put on an anti-static wrist band – and then carefully take the replacement PCB out of its anti-static bag. Pop it onto your old hard drive, making sure you line it up with the original screw holes. Take the screws from your zip-lock bag and screw the PCB down, ensuring each screw is reasonably tight.
6. Try out your drive
Turn on your PC. Then connect your hard drive to your dock, plug it into the PC and power it up. If the problem with your old drive was due to a faulty PCB, replacing it should now allow your drive to be recognized properly. Access the files you need, then copy them to your PC. Don't attempt to use the drive once this is done: chances are it might turn faulty in the future.

How to get data back from NTFS partition?
What is NTFS?
Before I introduce how to get lost data back from NTFS partitions, let's learn some knowledge about NTFS. NTFS (short for New Technology File System) is the standard file system of Windows NT, including its later versions Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
NTFS supersedes the FAT file system as the preferred file system for Microsoft's Windows operating systems. NTFS has several improvements over FAT and HPFS (High Performance File System) such as improved support for metadata and the use of advanced data structures to improve performance, reliability, and disk space utilization, plus additional extensions such as security access control lists (ACL) and file system journaling. NTFS has become more and more popular. However, data loss issues from NTFS partitions are also have a rapid rise even if you take every precaution to avoid it. This article will give you a free solution to get lost data back from NTFS drives.
Get data back from NTFS volume
Do you think it's difficult to get data back from NTFS partition because of the advantages of NTFS file system? Nowadays it's quite easy to achieve the aim with NTFS hard drive recovery software. Many professional data recovery software can get data back for NTFS. Millions of search results will appear if you google "get data back for NTFS". After a long time seeking and experience, I recommend you a free NTFS data recovery software, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition to get data back from NTFS volumes. Here's a tutorial for how to get data back from NTFS with this free NTFS partition recovery software.
Use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition to get data back from a NTFS volume containing lost file(s) or folder(s) and which didn't lose the partition, please free download and launch this freeware at first.
1. Click the "Complete Recovery" button on the main window of Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition.
2. Select the file types you want to recover.
3. You can see a list of your logical volumes found on your computer.
4. Choose the NTFS volume you want to recover and press the "Next" button. Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition will read file system on selected NTFS volume.
5. After this scanning is finished, you'll see file/folder tree. You can preview some of them, such as:
Why not download the free NTFS data recovery software to get your lost data back now?

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