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Can I swap circuit board on an SATA drive?

Posted on 2010-08-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-06-26
I have a defective 250 gig Western Digital 10,000 rpm drive. I think the problem is the controller card on the exterior of the drive. The drive spins up. The drive is fairly quiet. Just will not access. Can I change the circuit board from an IDENTICAL drive and put it in my drive? I don't know if there are things maybe written to a ROM on the card and perhaps it might be keyed for ONLY the platters on this exact machine. There are probably very few Experts that can answer this question. Please do not reply unless you are POSITIVELY SURE that your answer is correct since I'm trying to save the data on the drive.
Question by:Need-a-Clue

Assisted Solution

the_scotsman_ earned 500 total points
ID: 33461378
I've done exactly this in the past...swapped the circuit board from one drive to another, to recover data from it.

It worked without a problem...although I'm not sure if all drives are the same.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 33461401
You have additional constraints ... one of the biggies is that the firmware revision of the board must match the original (in addition to the part number).  Second one is that the board didn't come from a disk with OEM firmware.

Assisted Solution

celdridgeMadman earned 500 total points
ID: 33461408
I've done this before with success, but these were the exact same model drives. I can't say if this will work in your case as I don't know what each circuit board does for every make and model hard disk.

If your are so concerned about the data on this drive that you are not willing to try and swap the board for fear of damaging it then I suggest you take it to a data recovery specialist instead of attempting to fix it yourself. Do give you 100% certainty that no harm will come to the data on this drive I suspect the people here will need a lot more information, not to mention that it is not certain to be a problem with the circuit board on that drive.
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

dekkar earned 500 total points
ID: 33461445
This is one thing that data recovery experts do when you take your disk to them...

They will swap the board, or even swap the spindles out into another HDD to get data off them... However this has to be done in a dust free environment etc etc.....

You can try swapping the boards... Just make sure you use the exact same model. If its the board that is at fault, you may be able to get stuff off it...
LVL 47

Accepted Solution

David earned 500 total points
ID: 33461450
I agree with above post..  What you are attempting is a hail mary.  Just because you don't hear any sounds does not mean that the board is bad.   Granted it is higher probability the board failed then media, but odds do not favor the expense & time to acquire the right board & revision number, especially a known good board. Maybe the motor is somehow locked and drawing too much current.  This would cause your replacement board to fail as well.

  Other constraints are that the replacement board must not have come from a disk that had the SECURITY FEATURE set enabled, and that you just don't screw it up. :)

If data is worth $500+ to you, then at least get a free eval from a recovery service.  Maybe they will tell you if it is media or electronics.  If it is electronics only, then price is generally rather inexpensive and they will replace the board with proper one and you will get your data back for a few hundred dollars, net.  You will also be able to sleep at night knowing you didn't fry anything.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 33461485
I'm going to put this drive in the freezer all night in a hermetically sealed enclosure. Many people say that this has worked for them. I'll also look for an EXACT drive. It is a Dell product. That makes things a bit more complicated. Thanks to all the Experts for your great advice.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 33461647
The freezer trick CAN damage it, due to condensation.  This is not a riskless endeavor.  (But I admit I have done it in the past myself, but only in situation where budget did not allow for professional recovery).   Even if the freezer trick works, you typically don't have more than a few minutes unless you are working in a meat locker, so unless you just need a small number of files at a specific address, probably best not to try.  It certainly won't "fix" anything long enough to get 250 GB worth of data.
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