How to repair an external hard drive that was dropped?

JimWInHI
JimWInHI used Ask the Experts™
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A friend has a SimpleTech SimpleDrive 1TB 96300-41001-170 external drive and unfortunately his young daughter knocked it off the desk, falling to the floor.  Now the drive is inaccessible.  Are there any steps that can be taken, short of sending the drive out for expensive data recovery, to make the drive accessible again?  I recall a few years ago help desk staff at a firm I was working at got an internal IDE drive that had crashed working again (for a short time) by wrapping the drive in plastic and placing it in a freezer overnight.  Any other suggestions?
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Commented:
The first thing to do is remove the drive itself from the external caddy and try it in a new caddy (or another computer)

If you still cannot see the data you should try these data recovery utilities

http://www.runtime.org
You can run GETDATABACK for free to see if your data is recoverable - You only pay to actually recover your data

http://www.rssoftlab.com/

http://www.ariolic.com/

http://www.nucleustechnologies.com/Windows-Data-Recovery-Software.html

Read This
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Network_Management/Disaster_Recovery/
Depends on what kinda damage the drive took from the fall. IF you have lot of data worth some dollars then dont try messing with it, leave it for the expets. IF you dont mind taking chances I would suggest take of the drive enclosure  and check if all the connections are in place and not loose due to the fall. Connect the drive without the encloure. Do you hear the drive spinning ? If you hear clicking noise the drive is not spinning , you can lightly bump the drive in the middle to start making it sping again. this will work only if the hear a clicking sound and the drive head is not spinning.
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
The #1 rule of data recovery is STOP !!      Do not do ANYTHING that causes writes to the drive.

Having said that, there's a reasonable chance that the damage was to the PCB in the external bridging device and not to the drive itself.     To determine that, do as suggested above -- remove it from the housing and connect it to either an internal port on a PC or via a briding device, such as this:
http://www.buyextras.com/sausb20toide.html

IF the drive is recognized, you MAY be able to simply copy the data from the drive.    If it seems to be working okay, the first thing I'd do is run a full non-destructive (e.g. read only) diagnostic test, such as the extended test in Western Digital's Data Lifeguard tools (these will work even if it's not a WD drive).

If the drive is not spinning (hold it and you can feel the vibration if it's spinning) then the only real recourse is a professional data recovery company [This is an excellent and, by data recovery standards, reasonably priced company with a "no recovery, no fee" policy:  http://www.gillware.com/ ].

If the drive is spinning, but not otherwise accessible, the best recourse is still to use a professional recovery company;  but you may first want to try using Runtime's excellent GetDataBack software:  http://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-software.htm

As for the "freezer trick"  ==>  I don't recommend it, as it can make matters even worse if ANY condensation gets inside the drive;  but if you're not planning to use professional data recovery and otherwise going to toss the drive, it may be worth a try.    I HAVE used it with limited success for folks who weren't willing to spend the $$ for a professional recovery service but wanted to see if we could get SOME of the data.    If you do so, place the drive in a sealed plastic bag;  freeze it for a couple hours;  then quickly connect it via an external briding device (such as the link above) and connect the device to a running PC.    You MAY find that you can access data this way until the drive warms up (a few minutes).    If it helps, you can repeat this a few times to get more data.     Note this will not help if the drive's not spinning.

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