Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a 12-year-old, 10gb Maxtor drive that died on me around 7 years ago, but I have not had the heart to throw it away. When the computer powers on, it whirrs silently as it tries to spin up and then it stops.

So, a few years ago, I sent it off for professional data recovery. They were able to retrieve quite a bit from it, but I know there's a bunch more there. It only cost $700, so I just chalked up the lackluster recovery effort to "you get what you pay for" considering that most companies will charge you several thousands of dollars for this kind of data recovery.

When they sent the drive back, I couldn't help but plug it back in just to see if maybe they unjammed something in the process of disassembling/reassembling the drive. To my surprise, the drive had a much healthier spin-up sound and actually stayed spinning for several minutes before winding down to a halt. Windows is even able to detect and interact with the drive, but I get I/O errors after so many minutes of waiting for it to mount.

Before I start doing stupid stuff with it like dropping it on the ground, freezing it, crapping on it, etc, I decided to buy the exact same model off Ebay so that I could swap the circuit boards as a last-ditch effort. While it's en route, I thought I'd come here to ask if this is even a worthwhile effort and, if even remotely so, what should I know before ripping off the old board and slapping on the new?

share|improve this question
3  
+1 I can't bring myself to throw-out failed hardware either. Good question. –  BryceAtNetwork23 Mar 27 '12 at 22:33
    
The only reason why I can't ditch this piece of hardware is because it's a hard drive that contains very old pics and other items of sentiment. If it were a Matrox Millenium or something I'd have tossed it out my car window long ago just to see it break apart on the street. –  oscilatingcretin Mar 28 '12 at 11:48
1  
Well, I think it's over. Oddly, when I swapped the board and hooked up the drive, it spun up real nice, but then the dreaded click of death. I've never heard the click with the old board, so I stuck the drive in a freezer bag and put it you-know-where. I'll try it in a few hours. If that fails, I am going to do the nasty (ie, open it up and swap the platter(s)). Hopefully, it's only one platter, but I'll probably end up destroying it anyway if what everyone says about opening drives is accurate. –  oscilatingcretin Apr 4 '12 at 22:05
    
Can anyone tell me if an incorrect firmware version could cause the old drive to click when it doesn't click with its original board? If that's an issue then I need to find out the current firmware and look for a new one. Is there a way to flash the drive to a specific firmware version? –  oscilatingcretin Apr 5 '12 at 11:52
add comment

4 Answers

Mechanical drives usually experience mechanical failure, which goes beyond the circuit board. There are tiny motors in there - one that the platters rotate on, and one or more servos that the read-heads use to move. There are also a number of other mechanical parts which, when jostled or if in the presence of dirt / debris will cause failure.

Given that, it is unlikely that replacing the circuit board will work.

share|improve this answer
    
I was afraid to hear this answer, but, at $20, I felt it was worth a try. At the very worst, I will have some new experience to share with everyone. I will follow up probably next week. –  oscilatingcretin Mar 28 '12 at 11:42
add comment

If the fault were in the circuit board, then yes, replacing the circuit board could make it work again. I've successfully done this in the distant past.

Unfortunately, the particulars of your problem description make me think the problem with your drive is not likely to be in the circuit board. For one, any professional data recovery service that doesn't suck would have replaced the circuit board first thing if there was any chance that was the problem.

But hey, if you've already bought the identical working drive, you may as well go ahead and give it a shot.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If you disk is visable by the BIOS (which it appears to be according to your OP) I would recommended trying SpinRite. The program is not free ($89) but I have had it bring dead drives back for me.

Even if it does not work for fixing this drive it is a good tool to run once a year to detect and move data off of a bad sector before it is too bad to be readable.

share|improve this answer
    
SpinRite is a great program. I've used it very recently to repair a disk with bad sectors and, in fact, answered one of my own questions here on superuser probably a week ago based on my experience with it. I gave it a shot with this failing drive and I think I had no luck, but I am going to try it once more. –  oscilatingcretin Mar 28 '12 at 11:45
add comment

I have successfully received the PCB from http://www.hddzone.com/maxtor-pcb-others-c-23.html I replaced the BIOS chip on the PCB by the original and it has worked perfectly.I was able to retrieve complete information from the hard disk. Here is also a useful guide for you to find the matching pcb on this site: http://www.hddzone.com/conditions.html

share|improve this answer
1  
Do you mean actually replace the chip or the entire PCB? –  oscilatingcretin Jun 4 '12 at 12:40
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.