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Realistic to replace a hard disk platter?

Posted on 2006-10-20
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The owner of our company had his personal home computer crash last week.  Upon examination, the hard drive was not showing up in bios and was not even spinning up...no movement or vibration at all.  I did the typical troubleshooting things like putting a new hard drive into the computer to make sure the cable or motherboard or power supply were good (which worked just fine) and then taking the suspect hard drive and placing it in a know good PC, only to find it still won't even spin up.

I found an identical hard drive on Ebay and purchased it.  My hope was that the circuit board on the bottom of the hard drive was bad.  There are simply 5 screws that need to be removed, and a small data cable in order to replace the circuit board.  I got the new hard drive in this morning and verified it worked properly.  I then replaced the circuit board on the old drive with the new, know good board.  The hard drive still won't even spin up or show up in the bios.  So, my guess is that the hard drive motor, or some other internal component is bad.  Since I have an identical hard drive that is good, is there even a remote possibility that I could simply replace the disk platters in the bad hard drive into the new drive?  The owner doesn't want to spend the $800 - $1000 and send the hard drive off to some clean room and have them try to recover the data on disk platters.  So, at this point, since the person is pretty much out of luck and unwilling to spend the big dollars for a professional recovery company, I thought I would give it a try, but I wanted to see if anyone else has ever performed a similar proceedure with any success.  Am I just having wishful thinking that disk platters can simply be replaced?

Thanks for any advice.
Jeff
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Question by:jbobst
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by:
Callandor earned 1600 total points
ID: 17775528
> Am I just having wishful thinking that disk platters can simply be replaced?

Yes - if you get a speck of dust on any of the platters, you can cause the drive to crash.  Trying to move the platters is likely to get them contaminated, and the professionals use a "clean room" that has filtered air to reduce particles to 100 per cubic foot or less (see http://www.coastwidelabs.com/Technical%20Articles/Cleaning%20the%20Cleanroom.htm).  You can try the lower data recovery costs of www.gillware.com, but if the data isn't worth the cost, then you should just replace the drive.  For a fun project, you can try replacing the drives inside a clear clean plastic bag with air pumped in from a HEPA filter, but don't expect it to work.
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Assisted Solution

by:teamorange
teamorange earned 400 total points
ID: 17775817
Hey Jeff.
    Check out the thread I posted a while back.  Freezing the drive actually worked in my case...

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_21998260.html

Keith
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by:jbobst
ID: 17776766
Thanks for the input.

Well, I decided I had nothing to loose and attempted to switch the disk platters from the bad drive to the good drive.  I didn't use a clean room or even an air filter, but I took the chance.   After I opened up the drive case on the bad drive, I immediately found the problem which was the disk spindle motor was siezed.  It won't budge at all.  So, I pulled the disk platters off and put them on the good spindle.  After I reassembled the drive, I put it in the PC and tried to boot.  The disk spun up, but there were some strange clicking noises for a few minutes, and of course it never booted up.  So, it was an interesting exercise, but in the end, just didn't work.

Thanks for the help.
Jeff
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Expert Comment

by:Dickison
ID: 24212728
If the dead drive is a boot drive, trying to boot from the drive with the swapped disks is asking too much.  You should instead make the drive a secondary drive in another computer and use disk data recovery software to try to recover the critical data.
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