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My question

Is there any way of debugging bad (as in no longer recognized) hard-drives? Ideally an open-source tool that can interact with the device to capture/interpret SATA communication and issue error codes such as "platters stuck", "head failure", etc.

The problem

One of my NAS hard-drives, a Seagate ST2000DL003, started beeping/chirping and clicking repeatedly. After a reboot the storage manager no longer recognized the HDD. The sound is similar to this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9i5yixsJbk .

My attempts

I suspected that one of the read/write heads got damaged and was touching its platter because the platters are spinning-up but the read/write heads are making noises when being actioned. With no backup of that drive (shame on me, I know), not willing to pay for professional support (too expensive with no guarantees of recovery) and having another similar drive at hand, I attempted a fix by swapping parts.

  1. Swapping PCBs - did not work: The bad drive (with the PCB from the good one) keeps making the same repeated noises and isn't recognized. The good drive (with the PCB from the bad one) spins-up and makes no noises but isn't recognized either. Note: the two hard-drive PCBs have identical codes: 100617465 REV B .

  2. Swapping read/write heads - inconclusive: I've ignored all warnings and followed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iiEKZhDapo . After removing the head assembly from the bad drive, I discovered that there is no visible damage to the read/write heads (see the attached image) and no visible scratches on the platters. I didn't continue with the head assembly swap, assuming there is no mechanical issue with the drive but rather a firmware issue.

ST2000DL003 head assembly with no visible damage to read/write heads

My pointers rely only on youtube videos (which is not always a good source of information). So, before disassembling a functional hard-drive I would like to narrow down the causes of the problem I'm dealing with.

DISCLAIMER

Opening a hard-drive case WILL void its warranty and CAN lead to total data loss. Such operation should only be performed by data recovery professionals. Having said that, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNJqTPutrJ4 suggests DIY HDD disassembly to be a less risky procedure.

closed as off-topic by Twisty Impersonator, DavidPostill Oct 7 '18 at 19:27

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking for hardware shopping recommendations are off-topic because they are often relevant only to the question author at the time the question was asked and tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead of asking what to buy, try asking how to find out what suits your needs." – Twisty Impersonator, DavidPostill
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • "Swapping read/write heads" the warnings are not for fun. You need a clean room to do that. – DavidPostill Oct 7 '18 at 19:27
  • The problem is even the professionals won’t touch it now. – Appleoddity Oct 7 '18 at 19:31
  • With you're limited knowledge you might actually do more harm than good, but if you are willing to risk it, I would advise swap the platters an put it in a working donor drive. Unless the problem is with the platters you might be able to access the data. Again, you might do more harm then good! – Albin Oct 7 '18 at 20:53
  • @DavidPostill: I've edited the question and added a disclaimer. However, a debugging tool would be useful and would prevent unnecessary HDD disassembly. – Game Instance Oct 7 '18 at 20:56
  • @Albin: Thanks for the advice. I admit my limited knowledge and that this is a hail Mary attempt. I would rather swap the heads as they seem less prone to accidental destruction while handling. Also, the heads are kept in place only by a screw. – Game Instance Oct 7 '18 at 21:01