Hard Drive doesn't appear on Dell

Posted on 2016-08-05
Last Modified: 2016-11-22
This morning, the hard drive on the user's Dell minitower didn't appear.  User called Dell, and they ran diagnostics, which didn't show a hard drive connected. They don't want to send the computer back for warrantee repair, because their hard drive will be trashed.

Are there any other diagnostics that can 'wake up' the hard drive and enable the files to be extracted without the expense of DriveSavers or some high-tech recovery company?

Can the drive be attached to an external case and something run?

Any other advice?   Thanks.
Question by:computerlarry

Assisted Solution

Knightsman earned 31 total points
ID: 41744409
depending on the interface, lets assume SATA

you can order this and try it out of the machine:

However, if the drive is not reading at all.  Check the BIOS if the BIOS sees the drive.   If it does not see the drive, the HD is probably toast anyways.
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:William Fulks
William Fulks earned 31 total points
ID: 41744412
Sounds like either the drive went out or there is a problem with the motherboard. You could always try using a different cable - maybe borrow one off the DVD drive, if you have one - and see if that helps.

Installing it as a secondary drive in another PC might help, too. There are external USB docks available.

But all of this depends on the drive actually working. If the drive has died it won't matter what you try to run it on. That's why you should backup your data always, because when things like this happen it's too late unless you employ some expensive recovery service.
LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 31 total points
ID: 41744437
My experience (a lot of it) is that vendors have zero interest in the contents of a broken hard drive.

Do you have a backup? If not, you need to consider recovery services as posted above or walk away from it all and start fresh.
LVL 29

Assisted Solution

by:Rich Weissler
Rich Weissler earned 31 total points
ID: 41744483
Confirm the cables are tightly connected to the drive.
Confirm that the drive is getting power: During boot, can you feel/hear the drive start to spin?  Are there any indicator lights on the drive?

If the drive powers up... clicks or pulses, then powers down...  then a data recovery service is the safest option.  

The problem MIGHT be the drive's controller board... and you might be able to diagnose / replace the controller board.

Assisted Solution

awed1 earned 31 total points
ID: 41744532
The drivesaver's approach is expensive, but if you want the data and don't have a lot of time for fooling around with the drive, and if they say they can get the data, then their methods it usually work and is a good option.
Depending on what went wrong with the drive and how much time and energy a person has to devote to restoring it, there are methods that may or may not work to get to the data, but in the end, those methods take time and energy and give no guarantee.
If the data is recoverable and if it is that important, trust it to the professionals and pay the big bucks.
If you just want to fool with it to see if you can accomplish the recovery, you could try some of the alternative methods.
A google search "fix dead Hard Drive youtube" will show you the different approaches.
But, really these approaches are more for hobbyists than for anyone else. If the data is valuable, pay to get it back or as John said, "Walk away."
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LVL 91

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 31 total points
ID: 41745171
you can use my article for troubleshooting/ backup the drive

***on modern disks it is not possible to replace the logic board
the article refers to an old 80 GB IDE drive
LVL 47

Accepted Solution

dlethe earned 252 total points
ID: 41745388
Well, chances are overwhelmingly high the HDD failed.  Dell won't fix the drive, they'll replace it, and they are under no obligation to destroy that disk.  In fact, Dell could just do a crappy job of wiping the drive, and then selling it as "refurbished".  

Doing anything with that drive when you do not know the health of the disk risks data loss.  If you can't diagnose to make sure it HAS to be the disk, and everything else is absolutely fine, then your only course of action is a professional recovery.  (Assuming data is worth $1000+)

Even cloning a disk puts a great deal of stress on it.  Powering up a disk that had a small chunk of ferromagnetic material that is flying around at 7200 RPM or whatever can destroy a lot of sectors quietly while it is powered up.

So test everything but the disk, w/o touching the drive further.  Don't be afraid to tell customer you are out of your realm and don't have the equipment or training to even think about recovering data.  It is their data, not yours, let them make the call.
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:Gerald Connolly
Gerald Connolly earned 31 total points
ID: 41745394
@Rich - because of the way modern drives work (look up PRML), replacing the drive motherboard may or may not work - variables that are very specific to THAT drive are stored on the drive motherboard, so it may work but cannot be relied upon to be completely reliable thereafter.
As a way of recovering data off a failed drive its acceptable, but not for continual use as the chance of data corruption is high
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

dlethe earned 252 total points
ID: 41745585
Board replacement is a waste of time and effort. Vital settings and remapping info are in the board, which would generally have a different part number depending on the firmware if a SATA disk.  I doubt you could even get the right part anyway
LVL 34

Assisted Solution

Michael-Best earned 31 total points
ID: 41748075
I use the following with great success:
HDD Regenerator

Expert Comment

by:Christopher Most
ID: 41751291
I also agree with Knightsman for a quick test.  The USB attachment is almost a must for any tech.  However the link he gave would only be good for a 2.5" HDD since it has no external power.  You may want to get a unit like this one:

This one has an external power source to power up the 3.5" drives but will also work with 2.5" drives.

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