My first venture into tech support happened many years ago, when I was teaching programming. The Word-processing department were using an Apple IIe network, and the hard drive in the server (a massive 40MB) was not spinning up. They had tried everything they knew how to do, and had given up.
I had read about a phenomena called a "stuck drive", which I thought fitted the symptoms. I asked if it was agreed that the drive was useless, and that nothing I did with it could make things worse. Then I dropped it onto a hard surface. The next sound was the hard drive spinning up.
I was reminded of this quite recently, when recovering an old IBM PC which was not covered by the contract with our outsourced tech support. The same fix, used once again as an absolute last resort, brought the hard drive back to life.
Sometimes the problem is not that the drive won't spin up, but that the head mechanism sticks somewhere. A slight jar is all that is needed to get it out of the position where it is stuck. The risk here is that the same jar could send the heads skittering across the surface of the platters, causing damage which is unrecoverable without specialist equipment. You do have the alternative of sending the drive to a specialist company who will recover your data, but they tend to charge by the megabyte for the service.
Dropping the drive, or the computer containing it, is a tool to be kept at the very bottom of the techie's toolbox. It should be only be used when nothing else works. It should always be tried before giving up on recovering lost data and consigning the drive to the recycling facility.
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