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2TB external drive "clicking". Bad actuator? or Bad circuit board?

Posted on 2012-12-27
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Last Modified: 2013-01-25
Hi, a friend had a 2TB WD Mybook (sata 3.5” hard drive, wd20eads is the model of the drive) and they brought it to me to see if I can recover any data from it. The first thing I did was took the drive out from the enclosure to verify the problem was not in the power supply or the connector cables (since it is not under warranty I was allowed to open it up). So I connected the drive directly to my desktop PC.  I noticed it was still clicking. It was not detected by my computer at all. I put it in the freezer and connected it to my computer and even in the freezer it was not detected and it continued to click. That ruled out an overheating problem. I let it warm back up to room temp, and although it clicked several times, the drive was detected on my computer  as “allocated space” in the computer management console.  

With it detected I tried running a recovery application and within seconds I got an I/O error saying “bad address mark reading sector 1837888 on HD130; do you want to continue”. I hit yes to all and it just skips all the files and it goes to the end and can not end up reading any data.

So I was wondering if I replace the main board on the hard drive with one that is a good match, if it would likely fix the issue, or does the issue seem like it would be more with the drive actuator?
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Question by:hydrive1902
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 167 total points
ID: 38725698
I doubt the clicking is the control board. More likely (and also as a result of your tests), the clicking is a good actuator working back and forth trying to read a bad spot or get past a big defect on the platters.

If you can readily change the main board, you can try it, but my guess is a bad disk. And since it would not see any data (skipped by all files), you will probably need a recovery service to get the data.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:TazDevil1674
TazDevil1674 earned 166 total points
ID: 38725703
The clicking usually heads the head has stuck in the 'park' position and cant move freely; it could also mean the board is goosed but you usually have to be careful to use same firmware on replacement board.  Maybe try the 'faulty' board on a work drive?

If the heads are stuck you can sometimes get away with a light but firm tap on the side of the drive to 'force' the heads to move - WARNING! THIS CAN DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD!  I have done this to get drive going to get data off in the past.

I have also taken drives apart to manually move heads in order to get data off.

I would be worth noting that there are some very good data recovery companies who aren't very hard to pay to recover data...
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by:dlethe
ID: 38725733
You aren't doing your friend any favors by making things worse.  Placing it in a freezer has high probably of making it worse.   Tell your friend you don't have the equipment and take it to a professional recovery firm.   Many major cities have them and such places typically have 24x7 walk-in support and free estimates.    Figure $500 - $1000.
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by:gt2847c
ID: 38725976
Just a note on the freezer bit...  That was a last ditch try to get a stuck bearing loose (drive not spinning) so you could attempt a recovery.  Stuck bearings were more common on old drives that stayed on for extended periods and then, for whatever reason, were powered down.  Throwing them in the freezer shrunk the spindle enough (some times) to get the drive to spin up again.  It was then a race against time before the drive took a final run.  Condensation from the fast temp change on the inside will often cause head crashes and more or less permanently damage the surface.  Best case it will only cause corrosion.  There is a reason most drive manufacturers put warnings on drives to allow them to get to room temp over a period of time before using them...

Having placed the above drive in the freezer, and then run it up, I would get it to a recovery firm sooner than later if they value the data...
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by:dlethe
ID: 38726002
Freezer trick?!! Gt2847c was being kind.  Using a freezer to "cure" a HDD is right up there with Medieval "doctors" using leeches to cure their patient of a case of bad blood.
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by:gt2847c
ID: 38726009
dlethe...  ROFL...

Back in the days of MFM, RLL and 80 MB drives (listen to me, I sound old don't I?) when the only recovery firm was OnTrack, and they charged $5k just to talk to you, we tried every form of medieval tricks we could...  Most of us didn't have a budget like that...  Wish I still had my wizard's hat... those days it was fun to be inscrutable...
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by:dlethe
ID: 38726042
I'm old too, gt2847, I remember charging customers thousands of dollars in early 80's by doubling capacity of their CDC winchester drives by doing nothing more than using a wire-wrap tool to wire two pins together.  (We were told to spend a minimum of half day doing it because we didn't want the secret to get out, so basically we just disconnected a few boards, put them in a box, took the box to the car, and brought the same one back and put it back in.

(If they only knew ;)
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nobus earned 167 total points
ID: 38726206
in case needed, here some links  for recovery services :
http://www.lowcostrecovery.com/index.html                        data recovery Company
http://www.gillware.com/                                 "           "                   "
http://www.drivesavers.com/services/estimates.html                     "           "                   "

Ask for their fee, and policy !
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by:hydrive1902
ID: 38817377
Thanks everyone. I tried the freezer trick as a last resort, my friend does not have money to send it to a lab, so the options were I could put it in freezer knowing its posable to cause more damage, but also knowing maybe I can recover the data, as I did with my old HD that crashed (I froze it and was able to copy data for 2-3 minutes then it would stop working, so I got extra long usb cable and ran the drive in the freezer, and had the chord running from freezer to my computer to download the data. It worked and I got all my data back.

I was in college at the time, my roommates thought I was nuts! But whatever works!

thanks everyone
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by:nobus
ID: 38817656
tx for feedback
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38818395
Thanks for the update. Your ultimate solution was certainly novel!   ... Thinkpads_User
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