How to remove platters from 2.5" HDD

Posted on 2005-04-22
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
How do I remove the platters from a laptop hard drive? There is a spindle screw but it will not seem to break loose. I need to swap the platters to another drive to recover data. Any tips/tricks appreciated.
Question by:scotstrickland
    LVL 31

    Expert Comment

    Tips: Don't get your hopes up about this operation.

    If the screw doesn't come loose it could be that it is threaded "the other way", or it was sealed with a locking compound when the stack was assembled, or it was tightenend to a very high torque. Unfortunately, the solution is either to try turning the screw the other way or applying more force. Make sure you have a good screwdriver of the exaxt size and shape required and one that has a good handle.
    LVL 87

    Accepted Solution

    What you are trying to do will not work (99.9999999999%). First of all, in normal operation, these platters are sealed in a dustproofed area. You have openned the disk and now, except if you are doing this in a specially dustclean laboratory you'll have dust on them now. If during operation any dust particles get between the platters and the heads, this will cause a head-crash, wrecking both the heads and the disks. If you have touched disks with your finger (without surgical gloves), your fingerprints and hand moisure will have collected on the disks, this also corrupts data.
    Even if you happen to be in a hyperclean surgical area and have taken care about those points above, You will probably never be able to assemble the disks again so that they can be read with the equipment at your disposal. The platters first have to be assembled so that they run absolutely round, if they run only slightly off center, or slightly up and down, again head crashes will occur. A further point is that the platters have formatting info on them, to tell the electronics where what is stored. This has to be aligned mechanically so that it is possible to get the correct info. With todays disks this has to be so exact, it is impossible to achieve with any normal methods. Your data is either lost already, or you might have a dim chance if you send the disk to a data recovery agency which has all the necessary high tech equipment at their disposal to get data recovered, but there you would probably have to pay thousands plus. Even a quote probably won't be cheap.

    Never open a disk from which you want to recover data, except if you have all that high tech equipment at hand (and then you'd also have the equipment necessary to remove those screws)!
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    here a cheap one :      
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    They probably won't be cheap anymore, as the drive's casing is already open. They might not be able to do it at all as they might not have the necessary hardware to get data from a drive already opened in not "cleanroom" environments, there might now already be too much mechanical damage to the drive. The second point they mention is not to open the casing...
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment


    Any attempt to disassemble the drive is doomed not only to your personal failure, but to make any subsequent attempt by a professional data recovery service impossible.  You can not improve the situation in any way by opening the drives, and from your question, it's clear that you have no idea what the consequences of that would be.  Just as one example, the fact that the heads are over the same track on both platters at the same time occurs because the tracks are created after the platters are assembled on the spindle.  If you losen things, that alignment is irrecoverably lost forever, and there will never be any chance of data recovery.

    The one and only thing that you can do, that might help, would be to replace the circuit board with an identical board from another drive, if the problem is on the circuit board.  And even that has pitfalls that are not obivios, because on many drives there are proms on those circuit cards that are custom programmed for that particular drive, and that won't work on any other drive because some characteristics of every individual drive are absolutely unique.  If the problem is inside the HDA (the head disk assembly), only a data recovery service or manufacturer (with access to clean rooms, parts, and non-user test fixtures) will possibly be able to recover the data.

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