Dead HDD. Swap PCB from 'clunck'-of-death HDD

Posted on 2010-09-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-05
Should I attempt a data recovery by swapping the HDD's PCB?

My HDD died last week. All of a sudden, my PC stopped with a BSOD. I rebooted however, my HDD was not listed as being present. The HDD was not making any unusual noises (which I am very familiar with having suffered many HDD failures in the past). When I removed the HDD it appeared to be considerably hotter than I would normally expect it to be.

There is a good chance it's just a dead circuit board.

I managed to locate the same model HDD which is also dead (having died from the 'clunk' of death - a mechanical failure perhaps?).

Is it worth trying a PCB swap-out with the PCB taken from the HDD that died from a 'clunking' sound in an attempt to retrive data fom my dead HDD? - or should I NOT take this risk and obtain a known good HDD for PCB replacement?

What is your advise.

Thank you.

BTW, the HDD is a Westren Digital WD4000KS (WD Caviar SE16).
Question by:t0t0
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LVL 28

Accepted Solution

Dr. Klahn earned 2000 total points
ID: 33681244
The probability that a PCB from a dead drive will damage the data on your other drive is low, so long as the PCBs are as identical as possible.  The PCBs should be from the exact same model drive and have firmware revision levels as close as possible.

I would not try to boot the drive, however, with a replacement PCB installed.  Booting a system involves considerable writing to the drive, and you don't know what state the drive may be in.  Consider this a disaster recovery, which indeed it is.

Take the "repaired" drive to a working system and attach it as a secondary drive.  Then you can determine whether the PCB substitution worked, and if it worked, what state the drive is in.  If you are lucky, the drive will be intact and you can make a full backup of it to a new, replacement drive.  It would not be advisable to use the "repaired" drive for anything again, since it has failed once.

Then, if the "repaired" drive is still under warranty, replace the original PCB and send it back to WD for repair.
LVL 16

Author Comment

ID: 33681269
Just noticed:

My HDD (silent death)

    Date: 20 DEC 2006 R

2nd HDD (clunking noise)

    Date: 03 MAR 2007

All other info on the labels are identical.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 33681321
I think those two are close enough, being manufactured three months apart and the DCM product IDs being very close.  (It's easier to tell with a Seagate drive, the firmware rev levels are printed on the label.)

Good luck and let us know how things work out if you decide to try it.
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LVL 16

Author Comment

ID: 33681324

Thank you for your reply. Our posts crossed paths.

I take note of attaching the 'repaired' HDD to a boot PC (very wise advice, thank you) - possibly as a slave SATA or via an external USB enclosure. Which would you recommend is safest.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 33681623
Connect it directly, not in an enclosure, as this will avoid introducing more electronics in between.  You may also need recovery software, if the files were damaged in the process.  I use GetDataBack from runtime.org - it costs nothing to try to detect files, and you only pay if you want to actually save the data.
LVL 16

Author Comment

ID: 33699556

My HDD died a silent death. I was convinced a PCB swap-out would enable me to get my data back.

I bought a faulty HDD for 5 quid off Ebay. It was advertised as 'dead' and 'clunking'. I felt certain this was due to a mechanical failure and that there would be a good possibility it's PCB could be grafted onto my HDD.

Before removing the PCB from the 'clunking' HDD, I connected it to a SATA port. The BIOS did not pick it up. The drive was spinning and it was making a single 'thunking' noise ever 1.5 seconds.

I wanted to be familiar with the symptoms of the 'noisy' HDD before using it's PCB on my HDD.

Why the BIOS didn't 'see' the drive alludes me unless this also is a symptom of a (mechanically) dead HDD. I thought if the the PCB is healthy then that's all that's required to make it's presence known to the BIOS. Perhaps someone can clarify this.

I connected the 'replacement' PCB to my HDD and connected it directly to a SATA port on my mobo as a second SATA drive).

When I fired up the box, there was an initial 'shuffling' sound from the drive as it spun up. It continued to spin silently however, it was not detected by the BIOS.

I am at a loss.

I examined both PCB's. Thay have identical IDs: '2060-701383-001 REV A'.

I found a suppplier of HDD parts: http://www.hdd-parts.com/10060502.html who list a replacement PCB for my HDD (WD4000KS-00MNB0) for 50 Canadian dollars.

The site makes it clear there are two different PCBs: '2060-701383-001 REV A' and '2060-001383-001 REV A'.

I know the '701383' matches my HDD (and I've already tried this without success). Is it worth purchasing a replacement PCB and trying it on my HDD?

Interestingly enough, the above supplier states, if the PCB does not do the trick, I can ship BOTH PCBs (mine and the one they supplied) back to them so that they can do a firmware transfer (wow! what service!) although they don't mention cost.

I feel I ought to give this a try...
LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 33700193
In my experience, when the BIOS does not detect a drive, there is a problem with the PCB.  Even if the heads or platter assembly have problems, the PCB generally responds with basic drive information and SMART status corresponding to "I'm really, really sick."

I think you may have purchased a drive with a dead PCB.

LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 33702582
Re:>> "Even if the heads or platter assembly have problems, the PCB generally responds with basic drive information" << erm, ya,....I thought so too until...
recently I seem to encounter Segate SATA drives, for instance 7200.12, once the drive does not spin, seems it cannot read the drive geometry or s.m.a.r.t information of the "sub blocks" off the platter, and thus does not even appear to BIOS.  I've not seen enough others to say if that's more common with all modern drives or just that manuf. models of firmware, or be 100% certain
Anyway I thought it an interesting change or difference of expected behaviour so @DrKlahn and other EErs may want to try to take notice of when they encounter as well.
LVL 16

Author Comment

ID: 33703011

==>> "it cannot read the drive geometry or s.m.a.r.t information ... and thus does not even appear to BIOS"

Would disabling SMART in the BIOS make any difference?


==>> "you may have purchased a drive with a dead PCB"

I have no real way of confirming this. Perhaps, buying a 'known good' PCB is $50 well spent if it turns out you're right.

Any suggestions?
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 33706388
Unless the data is that important to you, I wouldn't bother.  A brand new drive would give you the best chance for success, but it has to be recognized by the BIOS.  A drive that does not spin up but has an otherwise healthy PCB seems like it should be detectable by the BIOS.  The incident where it didn't happen might need more control over the other variables.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 33750767
This model drive is well known for head failures. You can attempt the PCB swap, but there is adaptive data stored on the PCB that may be required. Can you post a picture of both PCBs? I am interested in the component side specifically. As a side note, if you are looking for donor parts always get fucntioning devices.
LVL 16

Author Comment

ID: 34081349
Received the following reply from Advaanced Data Recovery base here in the UK....

Hi Paul,

Yes we can recover from this type of hard drive failure.

Our address details are below, please send the drive to our address below with your contact details. We will contact you once we receive and run a scan on your hard drive to determine what data is on the drive.

It should be straight forward to recover all your data, the quote for the recovery is £275+vat, this price includes:

1) No Fix No Fee service. This means if we don't recover your data you don't pay us.
2) Free Upgrade to our Emergency 48-72 Hour Service.
3) Free Backing up the data to CD-ROM/DVD.
4) Free Express Courier return of your recovered data.
A backup disk would be extra, a 1tb external disk would be £65+vat

Best Regards,
Our Address:
Advanced Data Recovery
88 Kingsway,

Telephone Number:
0207 1121770
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 34081604
Looks good.  Depending on the value of the data I'd be tempted to trust it to the pros.

You might be very interested in the reference links @nobus posted in his comment to a similar question on EE recently.  Check those out.  For instance, did you know it's common nowadays for the PCB board to have stored alignment information so if you did swap PCBs you'd need to transfer that too?  Also, possible a fried diode on the PCB is what needs attention.  Interesting.  http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/Q_26577983.html
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 34936457
This question has been classified as abandoned and is being closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See my comment at the end of the question for more details.

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