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  • #2273616

    Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?


    by nataliecohen80 ·

    Are there any hardware tools that can pull apart the read/write heads when it is being assembled
    back to the platter again?
    I got 2 drives, 1 which is bad and the other is perfectly working. And of course the one that is bad
    have all the data with it. The good one is the same model and same exact batch version. The PCB is fine
    because the drive is clicking trying to find the servo track, which I assume the read/write head is bad.

    Now, taking 3 plates out of the current HDA would be a disaster, but I thought to myself, why not just
    change all the parts except removing the plates. Thus, I can just swap all the parts without having to
    recalibrate the platter (since they will not be removed).

    Thus, the only question in mind would be if there are any hardware tools out there that can left the 6
    read/write heads apart at the same time so they can be reassembled back on to top and bottom of
    the patter again.

    PS: Anyone out-here actually have done this? I would like to hear it.

    Thanks for any thoughts and information,
    Natalie Cohen

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2701091

      DO NOT DO IT!

      by pgm554 ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      There are companies that spend a whole lot of money to put up clean rooms that are specifically designed to do what you are proposing.
      If your data is important, send it into ONTRAK or another vendor that has a track record and guarantee.
      Your chance of success without the proper equipment is slim to none.

      • #2713041

        I concur

        by itgirli ·

        In reply to DO NOT DO IT!

        You just can’t do that. There are places where you can get it done, but I would guess that unless you work in a bubble, do not attempt. You will not be successful.

        • #2713841

          DON’T do it!

          by graeme ·

          In reply to I concur

          Send it out for data recovery. As noted – you need laborotary conditions to have any chance of success!

    • #2703456

      There must be an echo in here… DON’T DO IT!

      by prolifiq ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      Without a clean room – static-free, dust-free, contaminant-free, etc. – your data’s going to be toast. Leave that type of task to a DR (data/disaster recovery) specialist.

      If you need data retrieved from a dead drive, some apps will do the job as long as the drive can still get power (R-Studio, for example). I’d try that first before shelling out the $$$ for a DR specialist.

      • #2705607

        how much?

        by simongracesereno ·

        In reply to There must be an echo in here… DON’T DO IT!

        Just wondering what is the price tag and if you know any reputable DR specialist.
        Thanks in advance

        • #3305518

          Pretty Steep for Data Recover

          by 33prism33 ·

          In reply to how much?

          The prices range from about $200 to $1000USD depending on how quickly you need the data back and how hard it is to recover it. This is why you should always back up your important data.

        • #3306625

          That’s steep?

          by jcitizen ·

          In reply to Pretty Steep for Data Recover

          Geez what does it cost to pay all those data entry people to re-enter all the data? I would think 1000 dollars is cheep!

        • #3306235

          WHY NOT TO TRY this.

          by jdii1215 ·

          In reply to how much?

          Google Kroll-Ontrack and look at thier recovery partner’s list. Most folks with that kind of listing are decent at doing what you want. Pricing would be quite expensive unless you sent in your second HD also for parts use. The bad head and arm would, at minimum, have to be replaced and realligned.

          And, ti do that,t he drive would need to be parked so teh arms are not between the platter to begin with. Any dust at all in the drive insides on the platters, and you will get a head crash as soon as or within seconds of time the drive is powered up again. That is why ISO certified clean rooms are a pre-req for this work, and the techs who do it are required to wear ISO certified environmental suits as part of the ISO clean room cert and recert.

          Price, approximately up to in USD figures, $1,500 per hour of tech work plus parts costs from mfr and shipping of those with no guarrantee of full data recovery. This kind of recovery is actually used for VERY critical data recovery only, normally. Return time from time yuou ship can be over 30 days right now, the hurricanes impacting FL gened a lot of data recovery business for the experts, and a wait list.

          A little certified tech like me, who has been working with computers of various generations and types for three plus decades, would not try this platter exchange in his own shop. I would nto send it to the drive mfr either, but the drive mfr tech support is likely to know companies that do this for thier drives and buy parts to do it with. Given the costs involved, I generally consider it not economical to attempt, and suggest the use of Acronis TrueImage 7.0 or better or the newest Symantec Ghost for backup imaging instead, and replacement of HD followed by recovery from backup images and any data backups you have done since.

    • #2705722

      Reply To: Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      by jurgislasevicius9 ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      As all the others have said DON’T DO IT.
      When you align the drive you are actually centering the head to the centre of the disk’s track and you need specialised tools such as a decent oscilloscope, torque wrench and SUPER CLEAN conditions as well as time.
      In the good “old” days of it 1985/86 it would take about 8 hrs to redo a head crash on drives such as the “Phoenix” BK8 etc, 90Meg (Ninety Meg) in capacity these were almost “prehistoric” in comparison to current technology.
      My advice would be take the dicky drive put it in a plastic bag it would be a good idea to wrp it in a sheet or two of newspaper and put it in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours and set up your machine to get going as soon as the other drive comes out of the freezer set the “freezer drive” to slave and remove all your data to another drive. then if you wish you may take the faulty drive apart and play with it without loosing data, if the above does not work and you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and need the data you can call some data recovery experts and give your drive to them.

      Good luck

      • #2705626

        Controller board

        by praxius ·

        In reply to Reply To: Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

        Sometimes it is the controller board that has burned out and is sending mixed messages to the head. If the freezer trick didn’t work, find the “exact” model number and firmware version of your drive and buy a replacement on Ebay for a controller board organ donor. Replacing the controller board is easy. It’s usually just a few screws on the bottom. Pop it out and pop the new one in.

        • #3296257

          Board swap?

          by huw ·

          In reply to Controller board

          I tried to swap my burnt out controller board on a Fujitsu MPF3204AT with one off the same model I bought on ebay. It didn’t work. I have now bought a second one (in case I’d blown the first) but, following discussions with the seller, he’s just told me that swapping controller boards with one from a working drive won’t work because the information held on the failed drive is unique to each drive.

          I guess that’s why it didnt work first time. Anyone know anything about this?

    • #2705572

      Hard drive recovery

      by markplank ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      It may be the servo track, but if you have two identical drives try swapping the controller card as a first choice. Otherwise, determine the value of your data and send it (or not) out for proffessional recovery. One other tool you might want to try is HD Regenerator, a product that I have had some success with in recovery of sectors and tracks. If it works, immediately back up your data and go and sin no more.

    • #2705570

      Not likely but try this

      by hughesjv ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      Put your drive with the data in the freezer for 24+ hours in an anti static bag Also you can but some of those moister gel packages if you have them. Have both your old and new drives jumpered properly to go in the same machine. Once the old drive is extremely cold; quickly set both drives up in the computer. Two IDE different channels will result in a faster transfer time and the likely hood of recovering your data. Time is not on your side here; so work quickly. Use a ghost disk to clone the old drive to the new drive. This has worked for me 8 out of 9 times I have had the problem you seem to be describing.


      • #2705505


        by javiertunon ·

        In reply to Not likely but try this

        Why does the freezer technique work? I have never heard of such a thing…

        • #2705475

          Freezer …..?

          by mm2057 ·

          In reply to Why

          can anyone please explain how this works & how much success.

        • #2705449

          Cold Metal smaller than Warm Metal

          by bv2 ·

          In reply to Freezer …..?

          With the increasingly smaller tolerances in HDDs today, tossing one in the freezer will shrink the parts and provide greater clearance between the read/write heads and the platter. Always do it as a last resort, however, as once the HDD thaws out condensation will make a damp HDD and water plus metal equals sad techie!

        • #2723973


          by hughesjv ·

          In reply to Cold Metal smaller than Warm Metal

          Yes, you will likely ruin the drive but the idea is to save the data not preserve a bad drive.

        • #2722662


          by michael34 ·

          In reply to Agree…but

          Yea when one of my servers took a dump I froze the drive for 6 hours then put it in one of our other servers and got all the data we needed off. Be sure to plan out what you want before you plug it in and know where it is. Also be sure you have the PC that you want to copy the data too setup (Like make sure one hard drive is set to master and the other slave or it may not find both drives) as you will only get about 5 – 8 min before the drive dumps out on you and since this is usually a one time shot you want to make sure you know what you want and what folder its stored in otherwise you will just be wasting your time.

        • #2706124

          Bad Natalie, Good Freezer

          by robotech ·

          In reply to Agreed

          Natalie, why do you need to do this? Haven’t you heard of the three rules of data recovery? They are listed below in no specific order.

          1. Backup
          2. Backup
          3. Backup

          I’ve actually had to do the freezer trick a few times, mainly for SOHO’s that turn their PC’s off everyday. EXPLANATION: Hard rives are electromechanical devices, the heads spin and they heat up. When metal heats it expands, how much it expands depends on the metal (or alloy of metals). When metal cools it doesn’t shrink back to it’s original size, but mantains some of its bloat.
          That’s the reason why they say it is better to keep your machines running all the time in a business environment.

          Once you supercool a metal, (reducing the temperature to below 0 degrees celsius), the metal shrinks more than it would normally shrink, perhaps even attaining it’s original dimensions (rarely) or close. This gives the drive head enough clearance from the platters to operate normally. However, as the other posters have pointed out, you need to transfer data ASAP before the heat causes the metal in the HDD to expand and regain it’s full dimensions. From experience, the freezing technique usually works about two to three times. However, if the data is critical and you need to save it on the first try or if not risk losing thousands of dollars, I recommend:

          If you are in South Florida and need help, call me and I’ll give you a hand. 😉

    • #3305555

      Got a Clean Room handy?

      by blarman ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      Theoretically, it could work. I used to build hard drives for Hewlett-Packard. The kicker is this – where are you going to find a clean room to disassemble and re-assemble the drive? Disc drives are assembled in rooms 20,000 times more clean than an operating room. And usually, the last piece to assembling the drive is to vacuum seal it – suck out all the air through a specially-sealing screw head.

      As far as the heads are concerned – if you’ve taken the drive apart already – it’s hosed by contamination. And a head comb is necessary to prevent head slap – the part where the heads smack together. That is fatal to the drive. Not to mention that the Head-Arm-Assembly (HAA) has to be carefully removed, then tested prior to re-insertion.

      All-in-all, this is a job for a professional. If the info I’ve given you is new, I would seriously recommend against trying this at home. I can guarantee you that any work done outside of the aforementioned clean room will doom BOTH drives.

    • #3305548


      by randywinzer ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      I know of people who have used in the past. They do good work but be prepared to pay $$$. The last one I am familiar with was a complete recovery of several hundred megabytes of data and it cost around $3,000.00. You just have to decide how important your data is. You could always try the freezer trick, as it is successful the majority of the time, and then use a data recovery specialist if it doesn?t work. Places like Drive Savers routinely recover data from water damaged drives and the like so the resulting condensation of the freezer excursion should be no problem for them. Sometimes the best lessons are the ones that cost you the most, remember those 3 rules

    • #2608785

      Data Recovery Utility

      by ali40961 ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      FREE utility I am currently using on a failed hard drive. WORKS GREAT if windoze can see the drive, but can’t access. BEST OF ALL it is FREE and WORKS GREAT! Recovers DELETED data also!

    • #2608763

      May as well take a sledgehammer and smash the drive to pieces

      by big ole jack ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      because that’s what will happen if you go forward with disassembling the drive by yourself in an unclean environment. Companies like Ontrack have specially designed clean rooms that filter the air down to the micron level and the technicians wear bio suits to prevent any dust or debri from contaminating the internal components of the drive. As others have stated, don’t try to fix it yourself because you’ll only destroy the drive for good. If the data is that important to you, send it to a professional data recovery company. A bigger question to ask you is why don’t you have any backups of this data if it’s that important? There’s no excuse for it!

    • #2608761

      Any where are your data backups, assuming you have any?

      by big ole jack ·

      In reply to Hard Drive HDA Disassembly Tools To Recover Data?

      That’s a better question to ask of you than you asking us how to fix a hosed drive after the fact. You have learned the #1 lesson among all IT professionals….Always have a good and tested backup of your data because it’s pointless to backup a system after you’ve already lost the critical data.

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