A co-worker gave me her desktop PC to work on, which has a Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATA drive that's dead (70 GB of photographs, with no backup). Of course I mentioned that there are data recovery services, but these are not in her budget, so this is a 'best effort' exercise.
The drive fails both short DST and long DST tests and is making mostly thumping noises, but not scratching, meaning it cannot read sectors, but possibly has not had a total head crash. The most effective tool I've been using is the (paid) version of the Easeus data recovery app. I tried to use some other tools e.g. UBCD, Hirens Boot CD, DD, and lots of other various extraction/recovery tools, but many apps seem to simply fail or freeze when the disk is having trouble reading or timing out.
One interesting thing is that there was some fairly severe fretting corrosion where the drive circuit board meets the disk drive motor. I was hopeful that this was part of the problem, but it was not. On a hard drive the connections from the circuit board to the heads and motor are not soldered, but simply made by the board being screwed tight to the drive frame. The connections to the heads was clean, but the motor connection was nearly worn through the traces on the circuit board. I was tempted to give them a coating of solder, but did not.
I have been able to recover about a gigabyte after freezing the drive, and the next step is to attempt a head-swap. Apparently Seagate has had a problem with a platter coating that flakes off and coats the heads. In some cases simply cleaning the heads can work, other times the heads need to be swapped.
More about common Seagate failures:
So far I have inspected the platters (don't try this at home), and the next step is (seriously) to attempt to clean the disk heads. I've rebuilt a drive before, so with some luck maybe I can get more data....
Call me crazy.....
Note to self: do complete backup of my Seagate Barracuda hard-drive.....
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