View Full Version : Data recovery advice.

3rd December 2014, 19:57
I've been asked by a friend of my family for some help. Her husband passed away about 6 months ago, and recently she went to get some family pictures from their external drive. To her horror, she found that the drive was no longer recognised.
She sent me the drive and asked me to take a look. It is a Seagate desktop external drive with a 500gb drive. I have tested the psu and usb cables and they are ok. I have disassembled the casing and tested it with another sata drive and the usb interface is ok. I have hooked up the drive directly to the sata ports on my desktop, and apart from a delay on boot, their is no response.
So, my question is this. The platters and data maybe ok, is it possible to transplant a board from a donor drive from one disk onto another? She is keen to get these photos back, and is prepared to send the drive away for professional data recovery. I am wary of doing anything that may jeopardise her chances of recovery, but equally would like to try and save her several hundreds of pounds if I can.
Worst case scenario, can anyone recommend a good, and competitively priced recovery specialist? Seagate are quoting around 400 for a job like this.

3rd December 2014, 20:10
In the past I have replaced Maxtor and some Seagate HDrive boards and been lucky, but as you probably already know you have to get the exact model and board version if possible and hopefully it can be read again.
I managed to get my boards from Fleabay, got to be worth a try rather than paying the big bucks for a platter swap.
good luck bud.

3rd December 2014, 21:57
+1 to Superduper's post. Companies like Kroll Ontrack can also read the platters, but they would try a controller card swap first. They would only read the platters separately if the drive motor spindle had seized. If the drive is spinning up, doesn't have the 'clunk of death' but the BIOS can't see it, then it's highly likely it's a controller card fault.

3rd December 2014, 22:03
I agree, buy another working drive of the exact same model and transfer boards.(you could try the suspected duff board on the new drive 1st to see if the symptoms move) as the photo's are so vital I would not use any other method after trying the board swop and then pay up the money to a professional service.

3rd December 2014, 23:49
Another yup to replacing the controller board. I've resurrected quite a few HDDs with this method.

4th December 2014, 00:04
Thanks guys, I shall get on the hunt for an exact replacement drive. There is no clunk of death, so hopefully a board change will do the trick.

4th December 2014, 03:55
The PCB donor method will not work on modern drives, but I am unsure if 500GB is modern enough for it to work or not.

The reason is that the high densities of modern drives requires accurate calibration from the factory. This calibration data is stored on the PCB and is different from one drive to the next. Thus, you have to be very lucky to find another HDD which has calibration data that are similar enough for it to work.

Anyway, if you post the exact model of the HDD here, maybe someone has a drive you can try with. I know I have a 500GB Seagate drive somewhere.

7th December 2014, 18:27
Also if at one point you decide to open the case for any reason make sure you have the exact torx settings on how much to tighten the screws on assembly else the drive will not work.

8th December 2014, 14:07
Let us know how got on swapping over pcbs. Fingers crossed for you & the family concerned.

8th December 2014, 14:14
Also if at one point you decide to open the case for any reason make sure you have the exact torx settings on how much to tighten the screws on assembly else the drive will not work.

Never open a harddrive for any reason unless you don't intend ever reading the data again. Even if you get the torque right, if you weren't in a professional clean-room in the appropriate clothing, then you've contaminated the plates.

If the controller board swap doesn't work, then send it to a company who knows what they are doing.

@Demolition: Is the calibration info on the PCB now? I thought they still saved it on the outer track on the plate. Do you have a link to info on this? It would be good to know.